Eating breakfast isn’t just for kids. Although you’ve probably stopped growing, your body is constantly renewing itself, replenishing your skin, hair and nails, replacing old tissues with new, breaking down and rebuilding bone and generally keeping your body in the best shape possible.
How does your body do it? With the nutrients food delivers. Breakfast is especially important because after a long night’s sleep, the body is low on energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.
So that’s one really good reason to eat breakfast. How about five more?
1. Breakfast-skipping is linked with being overweight
Although a direct effect of skipping breakfast on weight has yet to be determined, studies indicate that people who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight or obese. One large study found that breakfast skippers were 4.5 times more likely to be heavy than those who ate breakfast1. Obesity was also related to how many meals were eaten out1, so when you get the chance, make your breakfast (and pack your lunch) at home!
2. Breakfast helps you balance out your protein
Americans get plenty of protein, but we tend to eat most of it at the dinner meal. Protein is essential for developing and maintaining lean muscle, but if we’re not getting enough protein throughout the day, muscle maintenance is not at the maximal level2. And when we finally get some protein at dinner, it’s largely wasted because the body can only use so much at one time. Use breakfast to pump up your protein. Include eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese and lean meats in your morning meal.
Another benefit of protein in the morning is that it’s likely to keep you full longer, as another study found. Those who ate protein at breakfast said they felt satisfied longer than those who at the same amount of protein at other meals3.
3. Breakfast is packed with the nutrients most of us don’t get enough of
Pastries and fatty breakfast meats don’t count, but if you stick to breakfast foods like whole-grain cereal and milk, fruit and yogurt or eggs and whole grain toast, you’re much more likely to meet your daily dose of necessary nutrition. Those who skip breakfast tend to have lower levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, vitamins A, E, B6, C and folate4.
4. Eating breakfast benefits blood sugar and cholesterol levels
A small study found that when lean, healthy women skipped breakfast, their fasting blood sugar was higher, along with their cholesterol, upping their risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Skipping breakfast caused the women to eat more throughout the day than when they ate breakfast, too5.
5. Skipping breakfast won’t save you calories
It may seem like eliminating a whole meal must lead to weight loss, but the opposite appears to be true. Many studies have found that those who skip breakfast tend to eat more during the day and are more likely to be overweight or obese (see Number 1 above). One study found that skipping breakfast is associated with higher risks of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure. Whether those diseases resulted from the extra weight non-breakfast eaters tend to carry or from skipping breakfast itself needs further research6.