Is breakfast actually the most important meal of the day?


Breakfast is just not on my daily agenda. 

It simply doesn’t fit in between my 6:15 wakeup and 7:00 departure for school. Even though most breakfast foods are pretty basic and quick to make, I can’t bring myself to break my strict schedule for subpar food that I’ll be just as happy without.

Time and time again, I’ve been chastised for my tendency to grab coffee as a substitute as I run out the door. The most common argument I’ve heard is the cliche “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” And yet, I seem to be fine without it. Is skipping breakfast really such a big deal?

Apparently, yes. 

It’s not just about getting enough fuel to make it through to lunch, though that is one of the most important functions of breakfast. While you sleep, your body uses a lot of its stored energy for growth and repair. Breakfast can replenish that energy as well as your protein and calcium. Moreover, it replenishes your blood sugar which is necessary for your muscles and body to work effectively. 

Breakfast can also kickstart your metabolism, leading to an increase in calories burned a day. By eating in the morning, you are telling your brain that there is no need to conserve calories, that it is okay to burn them. 

Research suggests that there is a link between people who eat breakfast and having a lower BMI. Though the connection exists, experts are still unsure if breakfast is the cause of the lower BMI because of the increase in calories burned it causes or if it is because people who eat breakfast are generally more informed about nutrition and health. 

However, they do know that people choose to eat breakfast consume less fat throughout the day and are less likely to overconsume. Skipping breakfast throws off your body’s rhythm of fasting overnight and eating during the day and messes with your circadian clock. As a result, you crave and snack on high-fat and high-sugar foods. But, studies have shown that this can effectively be prevented by taking the time in the morning to eat a high-protein meal. 

Furthermore, eating a balanced breakfast is an easy way to get all the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs. Breakfast foods are typically high in calcium and fiber as well as a part of food groups such as dairy and fruit that doctors say are essential in daily consumption, especially for kids. 

For kids and teens in particular, it is crucial to get in the habit of eating breakfast. Obviously, kids are growing and need the nutrients breakfast provides, but it is also a critical time in one’s life for habit-making as those habits will often stretch into their adult life. 

Should you not eat breakfast continually, you are greatly increasing your risks for a multitude of health conditions such as obesity and heart disease — a 27% higher chance of heart disease to be precise. Additionally, there have been many connections between eating breakfast and lower levels of LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol.

Another serious condition that breakfast can help prevent is diabetes; breakfast helps improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Habitually neglecting breakfast increases the risk for type two diabetes in women by 20% and in men by 21%.  

If you add eating a late dinner on top of not eating breakfast, the compound effect is detrimental to your health, raising your risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease even higher. 

But eating breakfast doesn’t only impact us physically; it also has many mental and emotional benefits. Research has proven that students who eat breakfast earn higher test scores than those that don’t. The cause lies in breakfast’s ability to improve focus, memory, and retention.

Regarding the emotional aspect, it also can put you in a better mood. Without breakfast, you are more likely to be cranky, tired, and altogether unpleasant. Eating breakfast can also reduce your stress by diminishing your body’s unconscious stress and therefore your conscious stress. 

All this considered, I can see why it is so essential to eat breakfast. Perhaps, I might need to work on carving out some time every morning for this meal that is so critical to my health.