In this post, I share 7 benefits of breakfast and answer the question of why it's important.
Read on if you want to learn why I went from intermittent fasting and skipping breakfast to starting my days with a big plate of deliciousness!
If you want to find 3 recipes for hormone balancing breakfasts, you can find some ideas here next!
Have you ever wondered if or why you should eat breakfast?
From improved hormone and gut health to kicking that nagging craving for a salty snack late a night, breakfast can be the easy solution you never knew you needed.
Why is breakfast important?
The 1960s marketing message of breakfast being the most important meal of the day has faded into the background in recent years.
Research in 2022 shows that 15% of Americans don't eat breakfast these days.
Skipping breakfast isn’t necessarily new. Lots of people either aren’t hungry in the morning or don’t have time. But a recent shift came with intermittent fasting, one of the most popular eating trends of the 21st century.
Intermittent fasting often includes delaying breakfast or skipping it altogether. In 2020, 75% of Americans reported having tried intermittent fasting. That’s a lot of delayed or skipped breakfasts!
So the question is this: is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? And if so, why is breakfast important? I can only share my knowledge and personal experience. But for me, skipping breakfast regularly is a no-no for my health.
You get to decide what works for you. As is the answer for many things when it comes to individualizing health habits, go with what makes you feel best and works for the season of life you're in.
7 Benefits of Breakfast
1. Helps regulate your hormones
Healthy hormones are integral to help you feel your best. They literally regulate everything your body does, and they are the messengers that keep your body systems connected.
The foods you eat affect this balance. Below are some examples of how eating a nutrient dense breakfast can improve your hormone health!
2. Blood glucose regulation
aka: blood sugar control.
Keeping your blood sugar relatively stable throughout the day helps you maintain energy. It also keeps your risk of type 2 diabetes at bay. Avoiding blood sugar dips can help you be less irritable or hangry. Your loved ones will appreciate me for this one! Eating a nourishing breakfast sets your day up for success when it comes to stabilizing blood sugars.
3. Cortisol balance
Cortisol helps regulate your response to stress, both physical and emotional and it affects almost every organ and tissue in your body. It helps control your metabolism, suppresses inflammation, influences your sleep, and is part of blood pressure regulation.
Since cortisol is a stress hormone, even every day stress can cause elevated levels of cortisol. Chronic cortisol elevation over time ultimately lead to inflammation in the body as well as stored belly fat.
While it’s normal for cortisol to raise and lower throughout the day, you want to keep the level relatively stable just like your blood glucose. Having a breakfast loaded with nutrition can help prevent cortisol lows and highs. Of the 7 benefits of breakfast, this is the one that may actually improve your overall health the most.
4. Leptin and Ghrelin control
Grehlin is your hunger hormone.
Ghrelin signals to your body that it’s time to eat.
Lepitin is your fullness hormone
Leptin is the opposite of ghrelin. It signals to your body to stop eating.
Keeping these 2 hormones happy helps to control your hunger and fullness cues and are a major factor in your metabolism and weight management.
Have you ever had that feeling like you just can’t seem to get full? Chances are, something is off with your leptin. Having a nourishing breakfast to start the day can help!
An analogy to help you remember Ghrelin and Leptin
I always get ghrelin and leptin mixed up. So I have come up with an easy way to remember them:
- Think of Ghrelin as a gremlin. Well-intentioned at first and mischievous when provoked. I can't speak for you, but my hunger is a bit like that. Sweet and quiet, and then loud and honestly a little mean when I don't listen. And never ashamed to interrupt whatever I'm doing to get his point across.
- Leptin is like a little leprechaun. Searching for the gold of satiety and guarding it when he finds it. Sometimes when I ignore him, he goes overboard and has a little too much fun, and I end up having to unbutton my pants in order to breathe after a meal. But I'm learning to listen to him and stop eating when he tells me to.
5. Improved Gut Health
Gut health is massively impactful to your overall health.
There are trillions of microorganisms in your gut. Having a healthy ecosystem between those little guys helps keep the peace (ie: helps you maintain good health).
A healthy gut is associated with things like better cognitive function and focus, improved mental health, better immunity, and reduced inflammation.
Eating a breakfast high in fiber and nutrients helps to improve and maintain good gut health.
Coffee on an empty stomach is bad for your gut
If you are a coffee drinker, breakfast is particularly important. Having coffee on an empty stomach has a negative impact on your gut health over time.
So eating breakfast with your coffee is even more important and one of the 7 benefits of breakfast so those of us who can't say no to that liquid gold.Looking at you, my fellow cup of joe fanatics.
You wouldn’t go outside or let your kids go outside and spend hours in the sun without sunscreen, right? So don’t let your gut spend hours basking in an acidic drink full of caffeine without some food to protect it!
6. Decreased cravings and snacking
In a 2021 study published in Science News, breakfast skippers were shown to miss out on key nutrients during the day. They were also shown to have lower quality nutrition and increased snacking throughout the day.
Have you ever tried to stop snacking so much but feel like you're always hungry? Me too.
People who skip breakfast tend to eat more added sugars, total fats, and carbs during the day. Mostly because of (you guessed it), snacking.
When I was intermittent fasting and delaying breakfast until around 10 or 11 AM, I noticed that I would get pretty ravenous in the afternoon around 4 PM. I also had more bedtime cravings.
I don’t know about you, but when nighttime cravings strike and I’m in the kitchen for a midnight snack, I’m not whipping up a healthy spinach and egg scramble, I’m reaching for popcorn, chips or chocolate.
7. Energy for your day
The last of the 7 benefits of breakfast might just be the best one. What do you do when you have an afternoon slump and need a quick energy boost? Do you reach for another cup of caffeine or mindlessly munch on a snack?
How great would it be to have an energy boost that is healthy for you? Even better, what if you could find a way to avoid that afternoon depletion altogether? Think of how much of a difference it would make if you had the energy in the afternoon to actually WANT to work out or play with your kids after school.
Believe it or not, breakfast can be the solution. Eating nourishing foods at breakfast helps give you energy throughout the morning and also throughout the whole day. So if you are trying to kick that mid afternoon coffee break that leaves you up late at night, try starting the day with a healthy breakfast!
So now you know! Breakfast gives you benefits like helping to optimize your metabolism, regulating your hunger and fullness cues and decreasing inflammation. I’ll take my breakfast with a side of more energy, and decreased cravings, please! 🙂
If you enjoyed this article or learned something from it, I would love to hear from you! 🙂 Please feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch on instagram @mallorythedietitian.
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