Breakfast eating is not a new topic for the Poliquin readership, but because it is so very vitally important to every aspect of your success including getting the body you desire, it is time to revisit the issue with a focus on relevant research.
I attach so much importance to breakfast that it actually dictates the venues I choose to hold PICP and BioSignature courses. I will only teach where I can have a great breakfast. I go to the point that, for example, when I was teaching in Spain, I hired someone beforehand to bring the right foods to the hotel every morning. Spanish breakfasts are not the most nutritious ones…no wonder they insist on taking a siesta in the afternoon… Read my piece on eating breakfast on the road for some tips on making it a successful start of the day.
The following is a brief list of the good stuff eating breakfast can do for you:
1. You’ll be leaner.
There is significant evidence that people who skip breakfast have a higher body mass index (BMI) and are more likely to be obese. When diet composition is analyzed through the use of food diaries, researchers find that people who eat breakfast consume a better diet and macronutrient profile. Plus, breakfast eaters consume fewer calories over the whole day than those who omit it. Breakfast skippers are not only more likely to have more fat than those who eat it, but they are more likely to get even fatter due to susceptibility to overeating later in the day. For a diet for optimal body composition check out The Meat and Nut Breakfast article at.
2. You’ll lower your risk of getting diabetes or becoming insulin resistant.
Skipping breakfast and other meals leads to the body’s cells becoming less sensitive to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that carries sugar around in the blood, taking it to be used as energy in cells or converting it to fat for storage. When you skip meals and the cell receptors become less sensitive or resistant to insulin, it leads to excess sugar floating around in the bloodstream. The body then tries to produce more insulin to get sugar into the resistant cells. This creates a problematic cyclical pattern resulting in weight gain, insulin sensitivity, and ultimately diabetes. Obesity and diabetes rates are 50 percent lower in breakfast-eaters compared to breakfast skippers.
3. You’ll eat a better variety of foods.
Breakfast eaters tend to make better overall food choices throughout the day. Breakfast skipping encourages overeating at later meals and snacking, which often takes the form of unhealthy high calorie choices. In their overall diets, breakfast eaters typically consume more vegetables and milk, fewer soft drinks, and a lower intake of junk foods such as French fries.
4. You’ll eat more protein and more vitamins and minerals.
Breakfast eaters are more likely to get enough micronutrients such as calcium, zinc, iron, and vitamins in their diets. They also get a better proportion of protein than breakfast skippers, although the percentages that people commonly consumed (10-12 percent protein of total diet) are still lower than optimal, especially for an athlete or anyone interested in being lean and looking good.
Breakfast eaters get a larger amount of fiber in their diets, a key element of health and ideal body composition. Fiber and protein are thought to be one of the reasons for breakfast eaters having better body compositions. Check out The Protein Goal Diet for thoughts on protein consumption for fat loss.
5. You’ll be smarter.
Research shows that eating breakfast improves performance on free recall and recognition memory tasks. It will also help you to sustain your memory function for several hours after eating by modulating both short- and long-term metabolic responses.
You’ll also do better in school. Eliminating breakfast has been associated with poorer test scores on measurements such as the SAT. Plus, among students of all ages, breakfast eaters get better grades and have better reasoning capacity.
A study of the effect of different types of breakfasts on cognitive performance compared eating a sugar-filled ready-to-eat cereal with a more nutritious oatmeal, finding that subjects who ate the oatmeal had better mental reasoning test scores. In reality, breakfast should be more nutritionally sound than just oatmeal and should include a good portion of fat and protein.
6. You’ll be less likely to smoke, drink, or die.
That’s right! If you eat breakfast, research shows that you will be less likely to engage in health-compromising behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or not exercising.
Even better, studies have found a positive association between breakfast eating and reductions in mortality due to a variety of causes. Eating breakfast is related to a decrease in the risk of dying from diabetes, cancer (partly because it decreases your chance of being obese), or a cardiovascular-related complication such as heart disease.
7. You’ll be healthier and have more friends.
Breakfast eating is associated with improved social function, better interpersonal relationships, and decreased attention deficit disorder. Research on children and adolescents shows that subjects who eat breakfast get along better with their peers and have fewer social conflicts. It’s reasonable to assume that adult breakfast eaters reap the same benefits, especially in light of how breakfast affects cognitive function.
Female breakfast skippers are more likely to have fertility problems and menstrual irregularities such as dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is a risk factor for psychological disorders and gynecological diseases, indicating the importance of breakfast eating on quality of life for women.
8. You’ll be less likely to develop an eating disorder.
Even though breakfast skipping is common, it is a disordered eating pattern since the body needs fuel after a night of rest and fasting. The term “breakfast” literally means “breaking the fast” and is necessary for starting the metabolism, fueling brain function, and powering the body for the physical activity of life.
Research shows that breakfast skippers are more likely to develop an eating disorder. In some cases, breakfast skipping becomes a habit with the intent of using it as a weight control strategy. An Australian study of 13-year-olds found that females who skipped breakfast were significantly more likely to be dissatisfied with their body shape and to have been on a diet than breakfast eaters. In adolescents, females are more likely to skip breakfast than males, and subsequently have poorer nutritional profiles and overall health.
9. Your kids will be healthier, leaner, and smarter too.
Kids whose parents eat breakfast are significantly more likely to eat breakfast themselves. The fact that parents ate breakfast also increased the overall healthiness of their kids’ meals, including the appropriate breakdown of carbs, protein, and fat in the diet. These kids were also less likely to be obese or overweight and had lower BMIs than children whose parents skipped breakfast.
Take note that frequent family meals also increased the likelihood that kids would make healthy food choices and have a better body composition. Children of parents who skip breakfast have less education by age 16, get lower grades in school, and achieve a lower overall education level in life. They also tend to have more behavioral problems and a lower quality of life.
10. You’ll be happier.
People who eat breakfast have lower rates of depression and a better all around quality of life. Research shows that eating breakfast improves mood levels and decreases irritability levels throughout the day.
And it makes sense, if you’re leaner, smarter, healthier, less hungry and more satisfied, why wouldn’t you be a happier person?
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Allbritton, Jen. Morning Nourishment: Bountiful Benefits and Creative Ideas. Wise Traditions. 2011 Apr 6. The Weston A. Price Foundation. http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/2187-morning-nourishment-bountiful-benefits-and-creative-ideas
Copyright ©2011 Charles Poliquin