Ever since I was a child, when I would willingly wake up at 7 o’clock in the morning, my mother always told me to “eat my breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day.” I never really questioned her, I mean I was a child. But this idea of breakfast being the most important meal of the day was blasted everywhere. I saw it in school, on television, and especially around caring parents. But now I finally question it, for why would this meal be more important than any other meal? Aren’t they all just sources of calories needed for everyday energy?
So, what is the evidence that breakfast is most important?
We must first establish what we mean when we refer to “importance”. When talking about food, we look to the digestive system. Food gives us energy to take on the day, but overconsumption can lead to weight gain and under-consumption can lead to weight loss. When we look at the response variable of weight within the changes in the digestive system, what is happening with our metabolisms is what causes such changes.
There is popular belief that eating breakfast, rather than not eating, boosts and regulates your metabolism. Metabolism is the process of turning food into energy and waste. By boosting your metabolism, you are able to convert more calories into energy, in a way thought to assist you in losing weight, if that is your goal. However, in a recent study completed by the University of Bath in London, they have concluded otherwise. 33 volunteer participants were randomized in the study, to compare Body Mass and cardiovascular indexes between the two groups of “breakfast eaters” and “breakfast skippers”. Based on the results, neither group showed significant findings, as there was not a great enough change in body mass to affect resting metabolism. Although, eating breakfast did cause more activity of thermogenesis within the body. However, we can only conclude based on this study, that people in London have no change in body mass depended on whether or not they eat breakfast. We also cannot conclude that losing weight is any healthier than gaining weight.
Another belief is that breakfast prevents one from over eating later on in the day. This belief is countered, because it has been found that it is what is in the breakfast that will prevent one from overeating later on. In another study completed by The Obesity Society, 57 participants were randomized and split into 3 groups, either eating a high protein breakfast, relatively normal protein breakfast, or no breakfast at all. This test was completed over 12 weeks. To examine hunger, they assessed future intake and ending body weight. The high protein diet prevented the participants from gaining fat mass and reduced consumption (in calories) daily.
This goes to show that breakfast is just a time to eat. Our weight is dependent on total calorie intake versus expenditure. Eating vs. not eating breakfast does not mean you will consume less later, and it is now recommended to eat when you are hungry, but in moderation, as three-core meals now make one feel obligated to get all the calories in at once. Rather, we should place importance on the content of our food. High protein diets show a decrease in overall consumption, benefitting those that want to consume less every day. If one tends to eat more calorie filled carbohydrates and fatty foods instead of protein and nutrient rich food, not only will they tend to eat more, but their body indexes will take a turn for the worse.
As a college student, I now do not feel obligated to eat breakfast, especially since I am not really hungry in the morning. I would rather eat when I am hungry, or when there is a need for energy, instead of forcing food down my throat because of popular belief. We can conclude that breakfast is not the most important meal of the day, as no meals really are. All meals are the same, simply times to take in calories. When we go to the commons for food, we should eat for the nutrition, not for the timing. Otherwise, I’ll be forcing senseless carbs of donuts, muffins, and French toast sticks in my stomach.