MCGC Nutrition

Do I really need to eat breakfast ?

Marie-Claire Gahel-Calouche

When you are short on time in the morning, the last thing you want to do is spend extra time prepping breakfast. But should you skip it altogether? Many people believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And while there is some debate on the subject, there is no denying that breakfast has several benefits. Though the studies on the topic are divided, there are many great reasons to keep the morning meal…even if it is something as simple as yogurt and a piece of fruit.  


Is there a correlation between weight gain and skipping breakfast?  

Though there are observational studies that point out that those who do not eat breakfast tend to have a higher body mass index, they do not show cause-effect. 

Some studies have shown that people who eat breakfast have better overall nutrition than those who do not. Breakfast eaters are also more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and be at a healthy weight. Note that this had nothing to do with the breakfast itself but that people who ate breakfast tended to have a healthier lifestyle.  In other words, people who eat breakfast might just have healthy dietary and lifestyle habits.  


Does this mean you should cut out this meal? 

There are many great reasons to keep eating breakfast. 

First off, it is a wonderful way to get an early start on your daily nutrition. By eating a nutritious breakfast, you will be able to make sure that your body is getting the sustenance it needs to start the day off right. What is more, starting off with a breakfast meal is one way to better benefit from the nutrients of those foods since certain nutrients like protein and calcium are better absorbed when distributed over the day. If you work out in the morning you will find important calories to be able to perform better at that sport. Also, if you have diabetes, breakfast is essential. In this case, I would always recommend breakfast be present. Remember that breakfast means ‘break -fast.’ For those living with diabetes, the carbohydrates and other nutrients present in that meal are crucial for blood glucose control! Regular meals are another key strategy in the management of glycemic control so meal skipping, including breakfast, would not be recommended. 


It might help memory in children and adults. 

There are some studies that point to better memory and concentration in children when having breakfast. Furthermore, there seem to be potential benefits for memory, particularly delayed recall, in healthy adults. 

A few nutrients of benefit include B vitamins, complex- carbohydrates and fiber, calcium, and protein. These are also important for growing bones and muscles! And of course, these nutrients are also of benefit to adults! Personally, I ensure daily that my kids (and I) enjoy a healthy breakfast and benefit from important nutrients for growing bodies (and those who are trying to stay healthy). 


It is a great way to get important nutrients into your diet. 

Not only does breakfast give you the energy you need to get through the morning, but it is also a wonderful way to get important nutrients, like protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and fiber, calcium, and antioxidants into your diet, just to name a few. And while there are many quick and easy breakfast options available it is important to choose foods that will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck, such as wholegrain cereals, nutritious smoothies or my favourite,  overnight oats. Need some ideas? Including ingredients like chia seeds, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, whole fruits are just some nice ways of including whole foods with a nutrition punch! 


It can help reduce the risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. 

Despite the unclear benefit (or lack of) on weight loss, there seems be cardiometabolic benefits for those who consume breakfast daily and a reduced risk of the development of type 2 diabetes or hypertension. Of course, these are all conditions that can be reduced by making healthy lifestyle choices, including choosing a nutritious breakfast option rich in whole grains, whole fruit, low-fat dairy products or dairy alternatives and healthy fats.  

So, whether you are looking to improve your cardiovascular health or type 2 diabetes, eating breakfast is a good place to start. 


If you do not like breakfast, try a morning snack.  

There is no rule that says you must have breakfast. There is no rule that says you must eat as soon as you wake up either. If you want to eat in the morning but lack the time why not try a morning snack instead? This can be as simple as whole wheat crackers with cheese, fruit and low-fat yogurt, a banana, and walnuts or even a quick smoothie to slowly sip throughout the morning next to your morning java fix. 


What should I eat for breakfast to reap nutritional benefits? 

I am a believer in whole food over pre-boxed/ pre-made stuff. I much prefer the stuff that has a short ingredients list and that is long in the nutrients of benefit My favourite go-to are simple whole grain toast with natural peanut butter, 1-2% plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt for a protein boost) with fruit and a sprinkle of homemade granola, a morning smoothie on the go and even a quick low-fat cheese sandwich and a couple of walnuts halves and a fruit or a Mason jar with my quick and easy overnight oats. Sometimes the no-brainer, simple and transportable eat- at-work option sometimes is best.  


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