People seems to be lumped into one of two categories: breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers. There is no one best option, however this dietitian tends to steer most people towards the breakfast eating option. Here are my 5 reasons why (with one bonus reason)
1. Regular bowel habits. Overnight our bowels are dormant while we sleep, meaning usually we do not wakeup to use our bowels overnight. That first morning meal triggers our gastrocolic reflex, aka that first morning poop is stimulated by food entering the stomach, making room for this next meal and a new days’ worth of food in the gut.
2. Diet Diversity. A meal skipped is a lost opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements for the day. Breakfast is often a high fibre meal that can consist of wholegrains, dairy, fruit, fats, and protein! Rarely do I see a breakfast skipper who is meeting all their core food group and nutrient requirements. Some of the main nutrients at risk are dietary fibre, folic acid and calcium.
3. Post-exercise recovery. This one is for those early morning gym buffs, joggers, swimmers and power walkers etc. Eating a meal post exercise aids in the recovery of the muscles and keeps those post exercise hunger pangs that come on a few hours later at bay.
4. Increased satiety throughout the day. Clinical studies have found that those who eat breakfast are more likely to have decreased levels of hunger, desire to eat, future food consumption, and ghrelin levels (hunger hormone). Fullness levels also increase as the day goes on in comparison to those who skip breakfast with those who skip breakfast also found to consume higher quantities of sugar, higher carbohydrate snacks in the evening.
5. Promoting better sleep patterns. It has been found that the timing of food intake, and irregular eating practices such as breakfast skipping, disrupt behaviour patterns related to sleep-wake cycles and circadian clocks.
Food intake or exclusion at the wrong biological time (i.e., during typical wake-sleep times for most individuals) leads to changes in metabolism related to sleep-wake disturbances and circadian misalignment. It has been speculated that eating breakfast is ideal to establish ingestive behaviour throughout the day, which may affect sleep-wake cycles and overall sleep health.
And lastly, my personal favourite reason to have breakfast in the morning is to take a moment to yourself before starting a busy day to sit down, enjoy a meal and have a breather before rushing off to work or school drop off!
By Caitlin Scane, Accredited Practising Dietitian