Is breakfast that important?

Have you heard these before:
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”
“Having breakfast will keep you properly fueled all day long”
“Eating breakfast can help with weight loss”
There are probably many more sayings, expressions and slogans we heard throughout our lives.
So let’s see what we should really know about breakfast.

What is breakfast?

As implied, having breakfast normally breaks our fast. As most of us sleep during the night, and will not eat during that time, our body would normally be in a fasted state during these hours. Therefore, the first food we consume after that fasting period will break the fast.

Is there an ideal time to break a fast?

Well, yes and no. Some people will benefit from eating soon after waking up, some would do better waiting a bit and some would max this process to their advantage by fasting for a few hours before their first bite.
The test of time, the effect on our energy levels, hormones, our overall health and many more factors, all come into play when it comes to one’s ideal breakfast time.

What about Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting or IF basically means allowing ourselves a smaller window to consume foods during the day. Within a 24-hour period of time, a common window is 6-8 hours for food consumption, while the rest of the time would be for abstaining from eating. Does IF provide any health benefits? Some. To certain people. Is it something everyone should do? Nope. Is IF helpful with weight loss? If the caloric intake is smaller than the caloric expenditure, then yes, but in that sense, that would make IF no different than any other weight loss regime. Overall the best answer to these questions (and most nutrition questions) would be: It depends.

Will I be tired if I skip breakfast?

Another hard push on breakfast is the concern with energy levels throughout the day. We are concerned that by not having breakfast early enough, we may not be fueled properly to successfully go with our day. As we are all different, some people do not feel hungry in the mornings and imposing breakfast on their body may create certain discomfort. Others may feel more inclined to have a large, satisfying breakfast following which they do not feel hungry for long enough.

My key messages are:

  • Breakfast is the first meal that breaks the fast after a night’s sleep. It does not necessarily have a specific time attached to it. One can enjoy breakfast at 7 am and the other can equally benefit from it at 10 am or later. It changes from one person to another depending on a variety of factors and goals.
  • Having breakfast or not does not necessarily translate to weight management. For weight loss, we need to consume fewer calories than we expend, which can be reached in a variety of ways.
  • Our choice of eating schedule should match our goals, lifestyle choices, preferences, health, hormones and many other factors. As we are all different, there is no one plan that fits all.
  • Breakfast contents and sizes vary throughout the world from one culture to another and from one person to another. A proper breakfast would be a nourishing, healthy, satisfying one that will fit the individual, their lifestyle and goals. The timing of such a breakfast would be a personal choice as well, provided the individual is in an overall healthy state.
  • The quality of our breakfast and overall daily choices of foods are not less important than the timing. We should put an emphasis on the quality and quantity of foods we choose to eat, in addition to the timing.