Why is Breakfast so important?

Breakfast Week is upon us. The Shake up Your Wake Up has been building up (check out www.shakeupyourwakeup.com) with the campaign pushing for inventive ways to start the day. The underlying message is not to forget breakfast. But is breakfast really important? And should it be the main meal of the day?

There is a consensus amongst dietitians that you should eat within one hour of getting up (I personally heard within 20 minutes of waking up). The theory is that your body hasn't eaten all night and needs energy to start the day. Having something to eat not only provides fuel to get you going but it helps to balance out any sugar drops, thus reducing any blood sugar problems and preventing diabetes. There is a body of research from USA that shows that people who have breakfast are less likely to be obese and less likely to reach for fatty or high sugar snacks later in the day. There is also evidence that people who have high fibre breakfasts have regular bowl movements and fewer intestinal problems. Amongst children, children who have a good breakfast before school have better concentration levels, which have been linked indirectly to better grades. 

Then of course there is the old wives's tale of a big breakfast fills you up for the day. Particularly said of porridge. I cannot find anything that proves one big breakfast will last you all day. It seems everyone gets hungry by lunch time!

So how big should your breakfast be? According to the Shake up your Wake up campaign your breakfast should be 20%- 35% of your daily guideline intake. Sounds pretty big to me! Before drastically increasing your breakfast, it is worth noting that people who eat a healthy hearty breakfast are also much more physically active, do not smoke and eat healthily throughout the day. So changing to a big breakfast isn't automatically make you thinner and increase your metabolism. Write down what you typically eat in a day and then see if it falls within the recommended calorie intake - NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk has a good BMI calculator to help. Then see what portion can be your breakfast. Healthy options are oatmeal or porridge, low sugar high fibre fortified cereals, fruits, yoghurt or eggs. It seems the key here is to eat something within one hour of waking not necessarily making it the meal of the day. 

Originally posted Jan 2015.