Why is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

I have heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” countless times throughout my life. My parents have said it to me, I have read it in various blogs about how to lose weight, I have seen it on TV shows, and I even tell myself that when I wake up really hungry (aka every morning). But despite the many times that I have heard this phrase, I have never questioned why it’s true. Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?183_-_joeys_shirt

John Ivy, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, states that breakfast is what sets us up to take on the day. Not only does it give us the energy to perform physically, such as getting up and making it through the walk to class, but it also allows us to wake up our brain and function intellectually (1). During the day, most people eat meals every 4-5 hours and usually snack in between. At night however, people go much longer without eating anything because they are sleeping, causing carbohydrate levels to decrease dramatically. Both the muscular system and the nervous system benefit from higher levels of carbohydrates, creating more susceptibility to drowsiness and lack of motivation. Breakfast restocks the body with the necessary carbohydrates to have a productive and energetic day.

In addition to supplying your body with strength, breakfast has the ability to lower stress. Stress is a major concern for college students, so any remedy big or small can make a big difference. Like I said before, we don’t eat anything while we sleep, so our carbohydrate and glucose levels continue to lower as time passes. At a certain point in the night, the body needs to prevent the glucose levels from dropping too intensely, so cortisol (the stress hormone) is released in order to alert your body to start breaking down muscle and fat. In order to reduce the cortisol levels, glucose needs to be added to the body to replace it. The best way to do this is when you first wake up, so that way you don’t start off your day stressed out!


The International Journal of Obesity performed a study to understand more about missing breakfast and weight gain. The longitudinal, observational study included providing just under 14,000 boys and girls ages 9-14 with questionnaires asking about their breakfast habits, their BMIs, physical activity, inactivity, energy intake, ethnicity, and school work (2).The questionnaire was mailed to the children once every year for three years. The null hypothesis in the study is that skipping breakfast does not cause weight gain, and the alternative hypothesis is that skipping breakfast does cause weight gain.

The results surprised me because the overweight children that participated actually lowered their BMI by not eating breakfast compared to those who did eat breakfast. However, the children with an average weight for their age had their BMI increased when skipping breakfast regularly compared to those who do eat breakfast. Reverse causation could not be provided as an explanation due to time passed. However, there could be some third variables such as family history and income. Overall, there was a positive correlation between breakfast consumption and weight loss in children with average BMIs. Despite overweight children losing fat by skipping breakfast, there were still many positive results from breakfast consumption. They reported more energy and better quality of school work. I think that the benefits outweigh the costs for children with all body types.

Even though the study was only relevant to children ages 9-14, John Ivy also reported many potential gains from eating breakfast daily for all ages. I am going to be sure to continue eating my oatmeal with fruit, and I am going to encourage you to eat your favorite breakfast too!

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Source 1: Ivy, John L. “Why Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day | EAS Academy.” EAS Academy. Abbot, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

Source 2: Berkey, C. S. “Longitudinal Study of Skipping Breakfast and Weight Change in Adolescents.” Nature. Nature Publishing Group, 10 May 2003. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

8 thoughts on “Why is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

  1. Kateryna Okhrimchuk

    The results from your research, which is widely supported by many studies and surveys, has always puddled me because I am definitely an outlier. When I was in high school, I never ate breakfast for the first 3 years because I never had time to make it/buy it, and I felt perfectly fine until it was time to get lunch, and my grades never suffered either. When I did finally decide to start buying a bagel with cream cheese and jelly in the mornings my senior year because I started class later, I felt myself slipping into a “food coma”, or a state of sleep or extreme lethargy induced by the consumption of a large amount of food, my first two class periods. And I ended up gaining a bunch of weight because now I was eating three meals a day instead of my usual two. I feel that eating breakfast can only help you lose weight if you cut down on what you’re eating for lunch and dinner, but these studies never mention that you need to do that. Maybe the problem with kids ages 9-14 is what they actually eat, not the times that they do. Children are more likely to consume sugary foods and beverages, possibly making that a cause for the weight gain they experience.

  2. Matthew Porr

    I personally hate breakfast and I don’t agree that it is the most important meal of the day. When I wake up I don’t feel like eating at all. Also I don’t think that my school performance is suffering due to my lack of breakfast. However, during class if didn’t eat breakfast, I will start to get hungry. I can see how this can be a distraction to many students and potentially affect their school performance. My story is considered anecdotal evidence which is weak, but I think if you surveyed enough people you will find if breakfast is beneficial or not.

  3. Samantha Liebensohn

    Anna, this post jumped out at me because my parents have always nagged me about making sure I eat a nutritional breakfast. But having a 9 a.m makes it hard to wake up extra early to go to the dining hall so I usually settle for a coffee and MAYBE a granola bar. After reading your blog post I will most definitely be changing that bad habit. This was post was very informational and really taught me a lot about why breakfast is important. I decided to look up some quick and easy breakfast ideas to make it more convenient to be able to make breakfast in the mornings. Here is a list of some great ideas: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/healthy-meals/breakfast-to-go/mustard-avocado-dill-whole-wheat-muffin-boiled-egg

  4. Isaac Chandler Orndorff

    Anna, I really liked the post! I would say make it a tad longer, but you did well explaining why breakfast is important and how it affects weight loss. My question for you is, is there more of a benefit to eat breakfast and wake up earlier, or to skip it and sleep in? 9 times out of 10, I choose the latter, and always find that two meals a day is more than enough for me. I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks, so to do without breakfast means I should be more drowsy, but I never am. Over the summer when I was working, I would eat breakfast everyday. I never felt more neergized and focused, but I did always feel hungrier come around lunch time. So, I would have to disagree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

  5. jgb5274

    Your post grabbed my attention because I am a firm believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For most of grade school my mom basically brain washed me into thinking that and made me eat breakfast every morning, it was really annoying but in the long run I thank her for it because I was never hungry or tired in school. Now being in college it is much harder to eat a healthy breakfast (or just breakfast in general) because depending on what time I have class I don’t know where or when I would get it. After being used to eating breakfast for so many years, the days I don’t eat it I feel extra hungry, tired, and sometimes develop headaches. Could my headaches just be a coincidence or could they actually be from the lack of breakfast? https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/trigger-factors/hypoglycaemia/ This talks about the need for carbs in our body so that it can be turned into glucose for our blood and if this doesn’t happen (can occur by skipping breakfast) then the brain is the first part of the body affected causing the headache.

  6. Michael David Kresovich

    Anna , I enjoyed reading your article. It was cool to read something that I have been wondering a lot about lately. For my personal experience, I alway ate breakfast before school , but since college time is limited. Somedays I skip and I can even notice it in my performance. This article was good overall. I found this , it is pretty neat.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL5hZ0dOy3E

  7. Asaad Saleh Salim Al Busaidi

    The headline of your post grabbed my attention. I used to not eat breakfast sometimes in the morning and just drink water and go to classes until 1:30 when I usually eat lunch. However, I noticed that I could not function well in the morning when I do not eat breakfast, but I did not change my habit thinking that it there could be a benefit such as weight loss until I read your post. I was really shocked to read that there a study that says that eating breakfast can actually help me lose weight, however, the study did nit provide biological mechanism and could also be to chance because of the fact that the study was observational and has used questionnaire for their data, which could increase the chance of getting a false positive conclusion. In addition, I have included a link for an article that says that having breakfast could actually cause weight gain and has included some reasons.


    could suffer from texas shhotter problem and could be inacuurrate becasue of the questionnari simil

    he null hypothesis in the study is that skipping breakfast does not cause weight gain

  8. Margaret Marchok

    Anna- I really enjoyed your post. I am also a huge believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I always try to eat breakfast before I leave my apartment. If I don’t, I know it will make me super hungry later on in the day, which will cause me to eat a lot later on in the day. As someone who really tries to not too much money on campus, one skipped breakfast could be detrimental. All of the reasons you listed as to why breakfast is important really resonated with me. However, there is one reason that I eat breakfast that could be added to your list. As I mentioned, if I don’t eat in the morning I get really hungry. When I get this way, I find it very hard to pay attention to class. I find myself more concerned with when I can eat next as opposed to what my professor is actually teaching me. So, eating breakfast actually helps me concentrate a whole lot better in class. This article also lists some benefits of eating a good meal in the morning- http://www.symptomfind.com/nutrition-supplements/benefits-of-eating-breakfast/. Enjoy!

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