You’ve likely been told at some point in your life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You may have even heard the old saying, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” But is there any truth to that? While there are differing opinions on the “most important meal of the day,1 title, we definitely believe breakfast is important for a healthy diet.
Breakfast is also the most frequently skipped meal of the day,1 and it gets skipped for a lot of reasons: a lack of hunger upon waking up, not enough time to make it, not liking breakfast foods, wanting to cut calories to lose weight, or too much effort to make. Whatever the reason, skipping breakfast means skipping out on all the benefits this meal has to offer.
5 Benefits of Breakfast
1. Boosts your energy
Many people forget the literal meaning of the word “breakfast”, which is to break your fast. After you’ve been sleeping, it’s time to refuel and get that energy boost. Be sure to eat a meal that contains a blend of carbohydrates, protein and fat to give your brain and muscles everything they need to get going.
2. Provides essential nutrients
A recent study showed that skipping meals certainly does help people cut calories, but it also lowers the quality of a person’s diet.2 This was found especially true for breakfast. People who skip breakfast miss out on fruit, whole grains and dairy…three food groups that are less commonly eaten later in the day and provide essential nutrients, like vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin D and calcium.
3. Helps control blood sugar levels
A recent clinical trial showed that when people with or without diabetes skipped breakfast, their blood sugar levels were higher compared to the days they didn’t skip breakfast.3 Additionally, if a person with diabetes on certain glucose-lowering medications skips breakfast, it can lead to potentially dangerous low blood sugar.
4. Helps manage weight
Many people think that skipping meals leads to weight loss. Ironically, research has shown that skipping meals, specifically breakfast, can lead to weight gain.4 Of course, the quality of your breakfast still matters - eating a breakfast high in calories and added sugars won’t help with weight management.
5. Improves mental health
Most research showing that breakfast improves mental health and learning has been done with children and teenagers5, but this doesn’t mean adults are out of the picture. While most of us aren’t full-time students anymore, we’re always learning and can benefit from all that a healthy breakfast has to offer.
4 Healthy & Delicious Breakfast Ideas
1. Overnight oats
Overnight oats are a way to make oatmeal without cooking. Instead of using the stovetop or microwave, you soak raw oats in your choice of milk with add-ins like fruit, nut butters or seeds, and then refrigerate the mixture overnight. Typically, people will store the oats in Mason jars. To save yourself time, prepare enough jars for every morning of the week.
2. Mug muffins & make-ahead muffins
Muffins can be a great breakfast option…but not always. The gigantic muffins you find at a coffeehouse can send your blood sugar through the roof and, if eaten regularly, they can contribute to weight gain. The best muffins are those you make at home with healthy ingredients. Mug muffins are an easy option because you can prepare and cook them in the microwave in 5 minutes or less. Or you can make a batch and freeze them. All you need to do in the morning is pull one from the freezer and microwave it. Pair your muffin with a protein, like scrambled eggs or unsalted nuts to complete your meal.
3. Smoothies & smoothie bowls
For those who aren’t too hungry upon waking up, something light like a smoothie or smoothie bowl is a great option. Most people know what a smoothie is, but smoothie bowls are a newer trend. Think of them as denser smoothies that you eat with a spoon and add toppings like nuts, seeds and granola. Like overnight oats, smoothie and smoothie bowl recipe ideas are endless.
4. Homemade cereal
Many people gravitate toward ready-to-eat cereals and flavored instant oatmeal for breakfast because of how quick they are to make. Unfortunately, these cereals lack protein and can be loaded with added sugar. In fact, sweetened breakfast cereals are one of the top sources of sugar in our diet.6 You can make your own cereal in little time and in a much healthier way. For example, a recipe with oatmeal or muesli as the base is usually a good option. Use your favorite Splenda® Sweetener and add chia seeds or flaxseeds for a protein boost.
Back to our question: Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Some healthcare professionals and researchers would say yes, but technically the jury is still out on that. What we do know is that this meal has a lot of benefits, so start your day right with a healthy, balanced breakfast.
Explore more from The Kroger Wellness Festival.
1. Pendergast, F. J., Livingstone, K. M., Worsley, A., & McNaughton, S. A. (2016). Correlates of meal skipping in young adults: a systematic review. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 13(1), 125.
2. Zeballos, E., & Todd, J. E. (2020). The effects of skipping a meal on daily energy intake and diet quality. Public health nutrition, 23(18), 3346–3355.
3. Jakubowicz, D., Wainstein, J., Landau, Z., Raz, I., Ahren, B., Chapnik, N., Ganz, T., Menaged, M., Barnea, M., Bar-Dayan, Y., & Froy, O. (2017). Influences of Breakfast on Clock Gene Expression and Postprandial Glycemia in Healthy Individuals and Individuals With Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Diabetes care, 40(11), 1573–1579.
4. Ma, X., Chen, Q., Pu, Y., Guo, M., Jiang, Z., Huang, W., Long, Y., & Xu, Y. (2020). Skipping breakfast is associated with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and metaanalysis. Obesity research & clinical practice, 14(1), 1–8.
5. Pengpid, S., & Peltzer, K. (2020). Skipping Breakfast and Its Association with Health Risk Behaviour and Mental Health Among University Students in 28 Countries. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity: Targets and therapy, 13, 2889–2897.
6. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020.