Breakfast: The Most Important Meal Of The Day?
15th Jun, 2021
Ever wondered why breakfast is referred to as the most important meal of the day? The clue is in its name: we’re advised to eat it to break our overnight fast and it’s this process that boosts our energy levels and restores our glycogen levels to keep our metabolism healthy. Find out how a substantial breakfast can help you to make smart food choices and fuel your body:
Running on empty:
The body’s energy source is glucose. Glucose is broken down and absorbed from the carbohydrates you eat. The body stores most of its energy as fat. But your body also stores some glucose as glycogen, most of it in your liver, with smaller amounts in your muscles. During times of fasting (not eating), such as overnight, the liver breaks down glycogen and releases it into your bloodstream as glucose to keep your blood sugar levels stable. This is especially important for your brain, which relies almost entirely on glucose for energy.
In the morning, after you have gone without food for as long as 12 hours, your glycogen stores are low. Once all of the energy from your glycogen stores is used up, your body starts to break down fatty acids to produce the energy it needs. But without carbohydrate, fatty acids are only partially oxidised, which can reduce your energy levels. Eating breakfast boosts your energy levels and restores your glycogen levels ready to keep your metabolism up for the day.
"Eating breakfast has long term health benefits. It can reduce obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes."- NHS
Start as you mean to go on:
If you don’t have breakfast, you might find you feel a bit sluggish and struggle to focus on things. This is because your brain hasn’t received the energy (glucose) it needs to get going. Studies suggest that not having breakfast affects your mental performance, including your attention, ability to concentrate and memory. This can make some tasks feel harder than they normally would.
According to the latest evidence, we should all be aiming to consume around 15–25% of our daily energy intake at breakfast as eating a substantial meal for breakfast jump-starts your metabolism and, thus, helps you burn more calories throughout the day. When you eat breakfast you’re telling your body that there are plenty of calories to be had for the day. When you skip breakfast the message your body gets is that it needs to conserve rather than burn any incoming calories. “Studies have found that although people who skip breakfast eat slightly fewer calories during the day, they tend to have higher body mass index, or BMI,” says Christy C. Tangney, PhD, a clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center and an expert on the effects of diet and nutrition on heart health.
"We need to move away from one-size-fits-all advice"- Tim Spector, Professor & Author
Finding a balance:
Breakfast has become “very, very limited” in the UK, says Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and author of Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Food is Wrong. Eating a healthy breakfast isn’t just about picking one dish that’s packed with plant foods and healthy fats, says Spector. It’s also important to vary what you eat over a period of time, as the more variety there is in your diet the better it is for your gut bacteria. At TYME we know it’s hard to make the right choices so we want to help to keep breakfast easy, interesting and nutritious. Our menu has a range of ready-to-eat breakfasts that can be enjoyed hot or cold, so you can kick-start every day the way you want.
Image credits: Irving Penn, Vogue & Maurizio Di Lorio