The Importance of Breakfast

Monday, May 7, 2007 - 12:43pm

By Katie Clark, MPH, RD

The most important meal of the day is a title that breakfast just can't escape. When you feel yourself thinking about skipping this all-important part of your morning, put these pearls of wisdom back in your mind:


A sausage, egg, and cheese croissant sandwich at the Drive-Thru is better than no breakfast at all, right? Not necessarily. If you make the effort to eat breakfast, why not do it right? And while you are at it, do it at home. The likelihood of eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast drops dramatically once you walk out the front door. To get in the habit of eating breakfast at home, try these tips:

  • Make yourself a pot of oatmeal at the beginning of the week and heat up a small portion each day.
  • Buy five nonfat yogurts and cut up enough fruit for a work-week's worth of breakfast.
  • Keep nonfat milk and high-fiber, high-protein dry cereal in your pantry.
  • If you are in a rush, grab a banana and some nuts for the road.
  • Breakfast does not necessarily have to include "breakfast food"; leftovers of self-prepared meals are better than any convenience store's offerings.

For more information on healthy breakfast suggestions see the following article from TheDietChannel: Boost Your Metabolism: Quick & Easy Breakfasts to Jump Start Your Day.

Better Performance

Children who eat breakfast regularly perform better in school. Just ask any teacher. When you are not hungry, you can focus on other tasks. Children who eat breakfast also perform better on tests. You can extrapolate this to your life: Adults who eat breakfast perform better in the workplace and home environment. Breakfast helps reduce distraction and can actually help you feel more alert.

For more information on the performance benefits of kids eating breakfast see the following article from TheDietChannel: Brain Food for Kids: Feed Your Children So They Excel at School.

Pleasantly full feeling

People who eat breakfast eat less throughout the day. You may be saying to yourself, "But breakfast actually makes me hungrier!" This is true, if it is unbalanced. Try combining a bit of protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and fat at every breakfast. This combination makes you feel full for longer than a straight carbohydrate breakfast will. A whole-wheat bagel with low-fat peanut butter is a better option than a white bagel with jelly. The protein, fat, and fiber in the first breakfast slows digestion and stomach emptying. In this way, it outlasts the carbohydrate load of the latter breakfast, even if the calories are similar.

It is okay to feel hungry between breakfast and lunch. Prepare yourself for this situation by packing a snack with less than 250 calories. If you feel guilty about eating so often, keep this in mind: A healthy small breakfast and a healthy small snack in order to get you to a healthy small lunch is a much better option than a gigantic fattening early lunch you attacked because of morning food depravation.

Looking out for number one

Starting your day with breakfast sets you on the path to success that day. Breakfast helps avoid distraction, helps you avoid overeating, and enhances your attentiveness and performance. Breakfast should be high in fiber and protein, moderate in fat, and adequate in carbohydrate. Most people can sustain themselves for a few hours on a breakfast of 250-350 calories. But skipping that small amount entirely could be the biggest mistake of your day!

For further information on the why you should eat breakfast see the following article from TheDietChannel: Why It's Important to Make Breakfast a Priority.