The importance of breakfast

Me, drinking coffee, while going to work

Breakfast is the first meal of the day and it literally indicated the meal that breaks the fasting of the night.

Breakfast is usually described as the most important meal of the day. Adelle Davis once said: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”

When we wake up, our body produces cortisol. This gives us the sensation of awakening. Usually, we tend to drink coffee right after waking, but it is actually not the best moment to do so. The cortisol peak occurs around 8 am and caffeine stimulates the cortisol release. Therefore, our body is already trying to make us feel awake. The best moment to drink our beloved coffee (have a look on the chemistry of coffee) is between 9.30 and 11.30, when the cortisol level is reducing.

Three studies by Adolphus, Fayet-Moore and Leidy analyzed the importance of breakfast in children and adolescents.

Adolphus analyzed several previous studies regarding cognitive and academic performance of adolescents. The studies suggest that breakfast consumption has a positive effect on cognition. Adolescents, who used to have breakfast, have better results in tasks requiring attention, executive function and memory.

Fayet-Moore analyzed the impact of breakfast skipping and breakfast type (cereal and non-cereal) on the health of 4487 Australian children aged 2-16 years. Only 4% of the children skipped breakfast (most of them were aged 14-16 years old). Breakfast consumers had higher intake of calcium and folate and lower intake of total fat, compared to breakfast skippers. Moreover, cereal consumer had a higher intake of fibre, calcium, iron and carbohydrate and lower intake of total fat and sodium, compared to non-cereal consumers. The prevalence of overweight was lower among breakfast consumers and even lower among cereal consumers.

Leidy and collaborators studied the impact of normal-protein or high-protein breakfast on appetite control, food intake and body composition in 57 overweight breakfast skippers adolescents. The results show that the daily consumption of a high-protein breakfast prevented the gain in body fat, reduced daily hunger and food intake.

The last research I want to talk about is the one of Uzhova. Researchers studied the impact of skipping breakfast related to the cardiovascular risk. Breakfast habits of 4052 adults between 40 and 54 years old were studied. Some participants skipped breakfast, others had low-energy breakfast and the rest of them had high-energy breakfast. Results show that skipping breakfast is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

To conclude: drink your coffee after 9 am, don’t skip breakfast if you want to perform well and stay healthy, eat cereals and protein during breakfast to lower the risk of overweight and atherosclerosis.

References:

Adolphus et al., “The Effects of Breakfast and Breakfast Composition on Cognition in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review”, 2016, https://doi.org/10.3945/an.115.010256

Fayet-Moore et al., “Impact of Breakfast Skipping and Breakfast Choice on the Nutrient Intake and Body Mass Index of Australian Children”, 2016, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8080487

Leidy et al., “A high‐protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger, in “Breakfast skipping” adolescents”, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.21185

Spence, “Breakfast: The most important meal of the day?”, 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgfs.2017.01.003

Uzhova et al., “The Importance of Breakfast in Atherosclerosis Disease”, 2017, DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.08.027

Published by Martina Bodner

Biotechnologist, PhD Candidate in Food Chemistry, Science Teacher, STEM and autism advocate, mother.

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