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February 2019

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Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

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Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Post by AlleyRose on Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:29 am

It's advice that tends to get drummed into us from an early age: "Eat your breakfast! It's the most important meal of the day".
Yet many of us just can't face food when we first get out of bed. Or, we're too rushed to get out of the house, so we simply don't bother.
But is it OK to skip breakfast, so long as you get a couple of decent meals later in the day?
Dietitian Kerry Leech says all of us should eat a healthy breakfast every day. But as a meal, it is no more important than lunch or dinner.
You need to eat breakfast because it 'breaks your fast'. When you wake up in the morning, it's generally been eight to 12 hours since your last meal. And even though you've been sleeping, you've still been burning energy, Leech says.
"Sometimes, people actually use more energy sleeping than doing things like watching TV, because they are more active during sleep. What your body is doing over that time of not eating is taking energy from other energy stores. Part of having that next meal, breakfast, is topping up those energy sources you've used overnight and allowing you to prepare for the rest of the day."
Don't skip breakfast
It's never a good idea to skip breakfast, Leech says, as it can affect both your mental and physical performance throughout the day.

  • For children, it has been shown that concentration levels at school markedly improve when they eat breakfast.

  • Those who are physically active will perform better if their energy supply has been boosted by having breakfast.

  • People who eat breakfast tend to have more positive moods and more energy than those who skip this meal (and 18-hour interval between dinner and the next meal).

  • People who eat breakfast tend to have fewer problems managing their weight than those who skip breakfast.

So, if you're skipping breakfast to lose weight, you might want to think again. A satisfying breakfast can help prevent over-eating later in the day.
"People often think they are going to help themselves to lose weight by not eating breakfast, and thereby limiting the amount of energy intake, but they will actually end up consuming more throughout the day", says Leech.
But breakfast isn't the only meal you need to eat – lunch and dinner are also essential. This is because skipping meals tricks your body into thinking it's heading into a starvation period, causing your metabolism to slow down. When your metabolism is slower, your body burns fewer kilojoules and holds on to any fat reserves.
Eating regular meals throughout the day helps to ensure your body is burning energy efficiently (that is, converting more kilojoules into energy that you can use throughout the day), and not storing fat.
What to eat?
If you don't have time to prepare a healthy breakfast before you head out in the morning, don't fret. You just need to eat something substantial within a couple of hours of getting up.
According to Leech, breakfast should make up one-third of your daily requirements and getting a balance of foods into it is important.
Carbohydrates – such as wholegrain cereal or toast – are a good breakfast option, as they are a good source of energy and fibre. But keep an eye on the nutrition panel of breakfast cereals, as many of the more popular varieties contain very high levels of sugar and salt.
But breakfast doesn't have to mean a bowl of cereal. You can also include a wider variety of foods. Try eating some protein – such as eggs or baked beans – as these will help keep hunger pangs at bay. And breakfast is a great time to get some extra calcium, so try to include some yoghurt, milk or cheese.
Similarly, while vegies aren't the first thing that comes to mind at breakfast, cooked tomatoes, spinach or mushrooms can help you reach the daily target of five serves of vegetables a day.
So, once again, your mother was on the right track. You do need to eat your breakfast, but it is only one part of having a healthy diet.

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