Why Breakfast Really Is the Most Important Meal

Both Moms and scientists agree: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  A recent study in teens showed that eating breakfast, particularly one high in protein, reduced hunger later in the day. Teens who skipped breakfast showed increased activity in regions of the brain associated with reward-driven eating behaviors.

Ten teenagers were asked to skip breakfast, eat a typical breakfast of cereal with milk or consume a high-protein meal of Belgian waffles and yogurt.  Researchers then compared functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) among the groups and found that those who skipped breakfast showed increased brain activity associated with hunger and food cravings prior to lunchtime. Those who ate the high protein breakfast verses the low protein meal showed the least amount of food driven brain activity. When participants were asked about feelings of hunger, those who skipped breakfast reported a greater urge to overeat at lunchtime. Don’t feel like you have to cook a huge breakfast for your teen every morning though, cereal (particularly high protein) is fine. In a USDA study of over 9,000 adolescents, cereal was found to be a healthy breakfast choice for adequate nutrition and weight management.

Benefits of Breakfast
Between 1980 and 2008, the number of overweight adolescents has tripled and currently accounts for one in five American children. Many teens skip breakfast as an attempt to control this excess weight gain yet previous studies have shown that individuals who consume breakfast daily have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who skip the meal.  Missing out on those vital calories in the morning may contribute to overeating later in the day, selecting unhealthy snacks due to uncontrolled hunger and therefore foster weight gain.

Previous studies have shown that children who eat breakfast are generally more physically active, maintain healthier body weight, eat more vitamins and minerals, and perform better in school. Eating breakfast has even been linked to minimizing the risk of lead toxicity.

Sounds like a few good reasons to get breakfast back on the menu in the morning.  Here’s how to maximize your morning meal with tips from the American Dietetic Association:

Start with Whole Grains
Whole grain carbohydrates provide energy, fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  In order to add healthy carbs to your breakfast, try oatmeal (yet not the instant packs) and whole-grain products such as breads, cereals muffins, waffles or pancakes.

Add Protein
Proteins contain amino acids, which build, maintain and replace tissues of the body.  Try lean proteins like an egg, slice of cheese, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter or a sprinkle of wheat germ atop just about anything.


Remember Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are just loaded with anti-oxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  It’s easy to incorporate fruits at breakfast since Mother Nature packages each one in a ready-to-go container for us.  Before heading out the door, grab a banana, pear, apple, grapefruit or whatever else might be in season.  Don’t forget about frozen fruits like blueberries and strawberries, which can be whipped up into a smoothie.  Chopped vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrots and tomatoes can be added to your morning omelet or served up raw in a juice.

Afraid you don’t have time for breakfast?  Learn more about how to grab a quick and healthy breakfast on the go.

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  • We always say breakfast is important but why is important very few know. Thanks for the post as it is important to know why breakfast is important. How it help in weight loss and making fit and healthy.

  • Love this! I used to groan when my mom made me eat breakfast every morning before school, but I always knew there had to be some mom-wisdom behind it. Now I know why, and I’m thankful that she made me do it…I always eat breakfast now!

  • Soooo important. I am a Chiropractor at FOSTERing Wellness in VT. We try to educate all of our pt’s on a healthy lifestyle, obviously FOOD is a BIG part of that. You are what you eat! A quick high proteing breakfast many of us in the clinic have daily is a protein shake with mixed berries or fruit (the more organic the better), I will even throw in some spinach to “sneak in” a veggie… Check out the following info: http://www.fosteringwellness.net/doctor/chiropractor-Brandon/breakfast-the-most-important-meal.htm

  • I am studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the more I learn the more I use my knowledge to better my own health. As for breakfast, I enjoy poached eggs on a slim whole wheat bagel. I can’t handle all the bread in a regular bagel. I also enjoy oatmeal with chia seed and ground flax. I only use honey as a sweetener no more sugar for me. They call salt the white death, sugar must be the grim reaper!

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