We look into how eating a healthy breakfast on a daily basis can help you lose weight, improve your mood and even ward off some diseases.
Your mother was right all along – breakfast actually is the most important meal of the day.
Most of the current official nutritional guidelines even recommend that you eat breakfast daily and it is claimed that by skipping it you are raising your risk of obesity. Unfortunately, although this advice can easily be followed, it still appears to be a problem as it was found that up to a quarter of Americans are regularly skipping breakfast (1).
Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast tend to be healthy with a lower chance of being overweight or obese and also have a low risk of numerous chronic diseases (2, 3). Yet since these studies are observational studies, they cannot demonstrate causation. There is an increased likelihood that those who eat breakfast have a healthier diet as they consume more fibre and micronutrients (4, 5). Some research even suggested that people who skip breakfast also have more unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and exercising less (6).
So if you need some inspiration to make a habit of eating a regular morning meal, read through to find out what happens within your body when you skip breakfast:
Breakfast is literally meant to mean ‘breaking the fast’ from the time you’ve spent asleep throughout the night. Eating in the morning helps to restore glycogen and stabilise the levels of insulin. By ignoring and not replenishing your glucose levels in the morning you will end up feeling overly hungry, irritable and fatigued. These symptoms are the first thing you’ll experience in the morning especially if you skip your morning meal (7).
Some evidence suggests that by eating breakfast you can encourage your body to burn more calories throughout the day. When you don’t eat any food for a long period of time, your body begins to store as many calories as it can, in order to prepare for a potential period of starvation. As metabolism levels slow down, the body even turns to the glucose which is stored in your muscles as a backup source of fuel, which effectively means that your muscles waste away (8).
Eating breakfast can have a positive effect on cortisol – the primary ‘stress hormone’ which is produced by adrenal glands. The levels of cortisol are highest at around 7 am in morning, which is why it’s important to eat something so that you can bring the hormone levels back down. When cortisol levels are too high, you will most likely feel anxious or jittery (9).
By regularly skipping morning meals you are more susceptible to weight gain and at an increased risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol (10, 6, 11, 12). A study over the length of sixteen years found that men who skipped breakfast daily were twenty-seven per cent more likely to experience heart attacks or have coronary heart disease as the cause of their death (13).
One of the most common reasons that people avoid eating breakfast in the mornings is because they simply don’t feel hungry. If you can relate to this, you can start your day with a milkshake or a healthy smoothie instead. Aim to keep your dinner portion sizes small and cut back on alcohol and any snacks just before you sleep, so you can work towards building a healthier routine for yourself. Find this nutritional information interesting? Study an online nutrition course at your own pace and simply invest in your own personal development.
For more information on the nutritional effects of skipping breakfast, see our nutrition and weight management course.