Mom always told us to eat our vegetables, button our coats and eat a good breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day. Was she right?
As with most things, listen to your mother. Breakfast isn’t just important, but it really should be your biggest meal. In a recent study, researchers found that breakfast eaters were more likely to be at a healthy weight than those who skipped breakfast and those who made breakfast their biggest meal lost “two and a half times as much as” those who ate larger dinners. Those people also saw other benefits like reduced belly fat, improved hunger levels and better blood sugar levels.
The reason for this probably has to do with your body clock. Think about it -- your body has been fasting all night, conserving energy, so if you eat a large meal early on, you wake up your metabolism and kickstart your energy levels for the rest of the day. Breakfast helps you get on to the right foot and you have more time to burn all those calories you’ve just consumed. It makes grabbing a muffin or a quick bowl of sugary cereal seem like a bad idea.
But what about the intermittent fasting movement, where you eat during only during the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. (or another eight-hour window of your choosing)? There hasn’t been a ton of research done on it yet, but one pilot study from last year found that “intermittent fasting improves blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity and lowers blood pressure.” More research is needed, but experts suggest that you may want to consider arranging your eating plan for the day without skipping breakfast and just finish eating earlier in the day instead.
As for you breakfast skippers? Don’t do it (if you can help it), because you’re putting yourself at increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as slowing your metabolism and raising stress hormones. If you’re not hungry in the morning, eat something small with protein (eggs or Greek yogurt are always good bets) paired with a low-glycemic carbohydrate like whole grains and sweet potatoes. A little something is absolutely better than nothing.
And of course, just because you eat a good breakfast doesn’t mean the rest of your day can fall apart -- lunch and dinner are important, too. Watch calories over the course of the day and eat when you’re hungry. Listen to your body, if you’re not going to listen to your mom.
TL; DR: Eat early in the day, like your mom always said, because breakfast really can make or break a day of healthy eating. Plus, breakfast is awesome, so why would you miss it?