Often you hear people say „Breakfast? I do not eat it. I cannot eat anything in the morning, I am not hungry in early hours.“ As a physical therapist and a coach I know how wrong skipping breakfast is but I can also understand that simply saying „you have to“ without giving explanations does not work. Therefore I will provide 8 arguments why one should eat a morning meal.
- Your body needs it. What is breakfast anyway? The meaning behind it is simple – we are breaking the fast. Sleeping for 8 hours means that during this period of time we do not eat – threfore we fast. Glucogen stores are depleted, and the body has to use other sources to get energy and thus gets weaker. Eating a nutritious meal will start the protein synthesis and the perfect environment for building muscles is created.
- Be healthy. A longitudinal 20 year-long study, showed that skipping breakfast for a longer period of time leads to weight gain and disease risk. Those participants who skipped breafast from childhood to adulthood had a higher BMI, waist circumference, and LDL-cholesterol level than those who consumed breakfast at both ages. It is well-known that breakfast skipping has been closely connected with overeating and obesity: eating nutritionally balanced breakfast may prevent you from having cravings for different (usually rather unhealthy) snacks later during the day.
- Be strong. There are still some athletes who do not appreciate a proper morning meal even though it has a proven effect on performance. In a study in which athletes had to perform an exercise test, the ones who ate breakfast were able to exercise for 137 minutes as compared to the only 109 minutes of athletes that skipped the meal. Earlier research additionally showed that athletes who were given an energy bar 5 minutes before the exercise, improved their previous workout time by 10%. Athletes who had eaten breakfast 4 hours prior to the exercise and were additionally given an energy bar 5 minutes before the workout even showed a performance improvement of as much as 20%.
- Be smart. When going to school, work or to practice, our brain needs energy as desperately as our muscles do. Having a proper breakfast has been aknowledged to enhance the ability to perform tasks that require visuospatial memory and alertness. In addition to improved cognitive function, people with a proper morning meal generally felt more positive while conducting different tests.
- Be happy. Most of us have probably experienced getting irritated more easily and experiencing the world to be somewhat darker place when we are hungry. Due to a recent study, skipping breakfast decrease perceived level of energy and cheerfulness among children who were used to regularly having their morning meal significantly. Even kids who only had one cereal bar for breakfast felt more lively, happy and less anxious compared to children without breakfast. It is also interesting to know that even if you have to choose between two meals that may appear different in calorie content (cereal or muffin breakfast) but are actually the same, people who decide to go for the seemingly healthier option, feel fuller, more relaxed and satisfied about their weight and body image. The power of perceptions is miraculous!
- Be a true friend. If you have breakfast together with someone then there is a big chance that your eating habits will influence theirs. Numerous studies have shown that young women tend to eat more when their meal partner eats more and vice versa. In addition, associations have been found between adolescents and their friends: if one eats in the mornings than it is more likely that his or her friends are doing it as well. So in order to be a good friend, it is important to have healthy eating patterns!
- Time to be sinful. Since breakfast is followed by a long day full of activities, all the energy consumed during the meal will be spent progressively. If the appetite for chocolate or a creme cake is unbearable then it is best to eat it in the morning. Everyone knows about the old Mongolian expression: „Keep breakfast for yourself, share lunch with your friend and give dinner to your enemy”
- Successful people do it. If this article has not changed your mind about eating breakfast yet, maybe some celebrity-examples may convince you. There are legends that the food king Michael Phelps eats around 4000 calories simply for breakfast. True, the amount of fat he consumes would take any other person to the cardiologist’s practice. But regardless of the final amount of calories, Phelps is an athlete who takes his morning meal seriously. Nastia Liukin, a gymnast and 5-time Olympic medalist has stated that although she does not feel like having breakfast at all, she eats it for the good purpose. Even LeBron James does not find 6.30 am to be too early for breakfast. However, not being an athlete is not an excuse for skipping the first meal of the day – benefits can hopefully be seen and felt after a short period of time, so everyone should give him/herself a chance to be healthy and fit.
Hopefully this list will convince as many people as possible to take a few extra minutes in the morning for a bite. Eating breakfast gives you an advantage over people who tend to skip it, being an athlete or not!