How Important is Breakfast?

Everyone has heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the deal,” but is that actually true? Throughout my entire K-12 life I was extremely spoiled when it came to breakfast. My Mom made breakfast for my sister and I every day during that time period. Not pop tarts or cereal, but actual delicious filling breakfasts like eggs, or pancakes.  

I miss those days, because ever since I’ve come to college I’ve stopped eating breakfast and just eat lunch and dinner. I don’t believe my dietary switch is that unhealthy, but just to be safe I decided to research whether or not breakfast is actually all it’s cracked up to be.

Before starting my research on the importance of breakfast I had no idea how hotly debated this topic was. Both sides of the argument have convincing scientific arguments, so I decided to be scientific myself.

The null hypothesis is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In order to reject the null hypothesis (at least on a personal level), I will base my research on three main topics: Does eating breakfast help maintain a healthy weight, does it boost energy, and does it increase mental acuity.

I started by researching the effects of breakfast on weight. The general assumption amongst people is that breakfast kick starts your metabolism, which in return helps you with maintaining a healthy weight. I looked at the results of several different scientific studies to assess the results for this one. What I’ve found is that skipping breakfast is associated with having a higher weight. However, multiple scientific studies have shown that despite there being an association, there is no hard evidence that skipping breakfast causes weight gain. A  2014 study that used 309 participants in a randomized control trial found that the decision to eat or skip breakfast had almost no effect on weight loss. So if my goal with breakfast was to lose weight, I’d be better off finding other methods to drop the pounds.

Next I researched whether or not breakfast boosted energy. The results of this search were much simpler to sift through and analyze, because it is universally accepted that food is the body’s fuel. A healthy balanced breakfast provides essential nutrients that can power the body throughout the day.  A balanced breakfast usually contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and other nutritious items. Breakfast is useful because the simple carbohydrates in some of the foods are quickly used by the body to provide a quick source of energy. Aside from providing a quick boost of energy, proteins, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates help to fuel the body for hours after the meal. In short, breakfast is beneficial because food does provide an energy boost.

Finally I researched whether or not eating breakfast provides a mental boost. I began by looking for scientific studies focused on academic performance, and whether eating breakfast had a positive impact of students performance. One report I found analyzed results from 19 studies in which researchers tracked the calories consumed by children and compared the calorie consumption to classroom performance. The results of the study found that there was a strong positive association between eating breakfast and positive academic performance.

Based on what I’ve found from my research, I cannot justify rejecting the null hypothesis. Although there is no strong scientific evidence that eating breakfast alone has an impact of weight loss, there also is no evidence that breakfast leads to unhealthy weight gains. Based on the fact that food is the energy source humans rely on to power daily activities, and balanced breakfast foods provide energy both quickly, and for hours after the meal I can only confirm that breakfast provides an overall energy boost. And as it comes to academic performance, studies show that there is a strong association between breakfast and positive academic performance. Although association does not mean that breakfast definitely provides an academic boost, considering the low cost and other benefits of a meal in the morning it is probably good to eat it just in case it does have a positive cognitive impact. Breakfast was my favorite meal of the day growing up, and now that I’ve done my research I’ve decided to stop skipping it from now on.


3 thoughts on “How Important is Breakfast?

  1. Patrick Winch

    I loved this post. I ate breakfast every single day in high school, but like you, since coming to college I have been unable to maintain that streak. And, I often find myself tired during the day and in need of a nap. I wasn’t quite sure if not eating breakfast had any relation to that feeling- but your article inspired me to do a bit of research. The article I found (link below) elaborates on what to eat and how it can affect your sleep. It says that we should eat our bigger meals for breakfast and lunch, then eat lightly before bed- which is the exact opposite of what I do. Very interesting!

  2. Brian A Vargas

    Very informative post, I found myself in the same position and didn’t ever eat breakfast after I came to Penn State. Not having a kitchen in your dorm makes it very easy to skip a meal in the morning. Even when I went home I usually choose to skip it, I did started to realize my energy levels were lower but I didn’t have the urge to eat so early after not doing so for so long. Time also played a huge factor on if I could cook something up before having to leave for class, I still usually don’t eat a breakfast like I used to in high school but rather drink a protein shake or have some sort of small snack. This has made me feel a lot more energized when leaving my place in the morning.

  3. Dylan Huberman

    I agree with your analysis of the situation, as breakfast is very important. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a meal to start off my day in my life, although I might skip lunch or dinner if I had the previous meal later than usual. Anyhow, while I believe breakfast is extremely important, I do not think it is the only meal that is essential to the performance of our bodies. Going to sleep hungry, to me at least, is the worst thing to do because all you can dream about at night is what you wish you had for dinner. Hunger in general is the overarching problem, not just hunger from passing up breakfast, as being over hungry any time isn’t great. Take a look at the link below for more.

Leave a Reply