Is Breakfast Really The Most Important Meal Of The Day?

Breakfast has long been heralded as our most vital meal. Many of us were raised with the instruction to always make time for a hearty breakfast, which is widely believed to have several health benefits. According to the Better Health Channel, breakfast "replenishes the stores of energy and nutrients in your body," which can help you function properly as you get through your morning. Breakfast is also a good chance to consume essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and can increase your brain power and mental performance. But despite the persistent age-old advice to always eat breakfast, the first meal also happens to be the one that people skip the most.

People miss breakfast for a plethora of reasons, both consciously and accidentally. Some folks decide not to eat breakfast when trying to limit their caloric intake for weight loss, or because they have no appetite early in the morning. Others don't intend to skip breakfast but end up missing out when they're running late or are disorganized in the morning. Whatever the reason, breakfast skippers are usually criticized for not eating the most important meal of the day."But is breakfast really that crucial to our overall health? If not, can skipping breakfast even come with its own benefits?

How crucial is breakfast to a healthy diet?

Research shows that eating breakfast is linked to improved memory and concentration, and a lower chance of health complications such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (via WebMD). However, Medical News Today asserts that these benefits come from observational studies only. Put simply, people who eat breakfast are less likely to experience high blood pressure or heart disease, but the studies don't prove that eating breakfast is causing this effect. Furthermore, research does conclude that skipping breakfast does not have a significant impact on weight loss or gain. Both those who eat breakfast and breakfast skippers have been shown to end up with the same amount of total calories at the end of the day.

Healthline dismisses the notion of breakfast kick-starting your metabolism as a myth. The website also reports that skipping breakfast as part of intermittent fasting can lead to health benefits, including reduced calorie intake, improved metabolic health, and increased weight loss. It's important to note, however, that intermittent fasting isn't suitable for everyone, as some people can experience blood sugar drops or headaches during fasting. People who skip breakfast may also be at an increased risk of missing essential vitamins that are typically found in breakfast foods, including calcium and iron.

Ultimately, updated research shows that while eating breakfast is linked to the mentioned health benefits, it's not crucial to overall health as long as you're consuming enough nutrients elsewhere in your diet. If you do decide to eat breakfast, certain food options may be more beneficial than others.

What does a healthy breakfast look like?

Foods that are traditionally eaten for breakfast in Western countries tend not to be healthy everyday choices. Processed sugars in white toast, bagels, muffins, and sweetened cereal can increase blood sugar and insulin levels, while saturated fats in bacon and sausages can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke (via Harvard Medical School). The salt in processed meats can also raise your blood pressure.

With these effects in mind, consider opting for foods that are instead rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Typically, you can find these nutrients in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and eggs (via Nutrition Australia). Some expert-approved breakfast ideas include wholegrain toast with avocado, boiled eggs, porridge with fresh fruit, whole grain cereals with skim milk, fruit and vegetable smoothies, and low-sugar yogurt.

If you'd like to eat breakfast but find yourself running out of time in the mornings, try meal-prepping on the weekends (via Insider). Plan what breakfasts you'd like during the week and prep them ahead of time to limit your weekday cooking. It can also help to organize grab-and-go breakfasts that you can eat quickly, including low-sugar pre-packaged protein balls or homemade wholegrain fruit and muesli muffins. Alternatively, you can set your alarm for a few minutes earlier every morning to give you enough time for breakfast. While breakfast is not crucial for a healthy diet if you're getting enough nutrients elsewhere, it can satiate morning hunger and help you meet your daily nutrition requirements. So, if you do like to eat breakfast, don't let disorganization stop you.