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Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day?

Many call into question the importance of breakfast while others swear by food consumption immediately after waking up. Read to understand the argument from both standpoints and you can be the judge.

The adults in our lives have long lectured to us about the importance of breakfast, repeating the quote, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” However, the scientific community is far from reaching a consensus on the age-old saying. Many call into question the importance of this time of eating while others swear by food consumption immediately after waking up. Today, we will look at the argument from both standpoints and you can be the judge.

breakfast: image by pexels

It is important to notice that the food industry has made an entire market out of specific “breakfast foods”. To any American kid, that word evokes an image of Cheerios, waffles, pancakes, bacon, and the list goes on. The idea of eating lunch or dinner foods in the morning is extremely unappetizing or unacceptable to many. Why is this? In several Asian countries and other cultures, the concept of specific foods in the morning is nowhere to be found. [1] Heavy meals full of rice, meat, and hearty protein are consumed right after waking up.

Looking at American breakfast foods, it’s not hard to see why health problems are plaguing our country. Common foods like muffins, yogurt, breakfast bars, granola, and pancakes are totally lacking in nutrients while piling on sugar equal to most calorie-laden desserts. While healthy options like oatmeal and smoothies exist, perhaps we need to start opening our minds up to different foods.

breakfast bad.jpg
unhealthy options: image by pexels

For students especially, a nutritious breakfast has been shown to increase energy, focus, and grades at school.[2] For those that will be on the go until lunchtime, the consensus is that something should be eaten. Waiting until extreme hunger will result in low glucose levels and a lack of ability to think and perform tasks efficiently. [3]

However, if you ate a large meal the night before and wake up still full, is it still important to eat?? Scientists suggest that in these cases it is best to wait and listen to your body’s hunger levels. A study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that breakfast is not a necessity to maintain a healthy weight. [1] Many recommend waiting around 12 hours from dinner time the night before to breakfast the next morning, known as intermittent fasting. For example, a 7 PM dinner means a 7 PM breakfast while a 9 PM dinner means a 9 AM breakfast. In this case a cellular process called autophagy cleans out waste left by damaged and dead cells in the body. Failing to clean this out contributes to ageing and age-related diseases. [2]

So, there is really no good single answer to this question. Each day should be taken as a different case and a decision to breakfast…or not to breakfast must be made based on the night before, and your hunger levels now. Additionally, staying away from the highly processed sugar bombs we like to call breakfast will do nothing but aid you in conquering the day ahead!


[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-skipping-breakfast-bad

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878450X17300045

[3] https://www.popsci.com/eating-breakfast

Hi! My name is Sindhuja Uppuluri and I'm a junior from Austin, Texas. I'm passionate about medicine, but high school has allowed me to discover the power of scientific breakthroughs as well. Being an ISEF alum, I have had the opportunity to not only expand on my own discoveries but be exposed to an ever-expanding network of young innovators and scientists. When I’m not in a lab, you can find me at a debate tournament, working on one of many clubs at my school, or drinking copious amounts of coffee. I can’t wait to use this platform to contribute exciting and informative content to you all!

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