By Phoebe Si-En Thong : final year Nutrition and Dietetic student
Reviewed by Rebecca Greco, Accredited Practising Dietitian, MND, B.HlthSci (1A)
Why is breakfast so important?
Glucose is our body’s main energy source. It is produced when the body breaks down the carbohydrates from the foods that we eat. When glucose is not needed for energy, it is stored in our liver and muscles as glycogen.
When we wake up in the morning, our glycogen levels are low as we would have gone overnight without having any food. Once all the energy from the glycogen stores is used up, the body will start breaking down fatty acids to produce the energy it needs. However, without carbohydrates, the fatty acids are only partially oxidised which can result in a drop in energy levels.
Therefore, having breakfast is important as it helps to replenish our glycogen stores, boost our energy levels, and kick start our metabolism for the day.
Research has found:
– Many children who skip breakfast are significantly heavier than those who do not.
– Skipping breakfast may reduce mental performance and attention span.
– Eating cereals that are high in fibre reduces fatigue.
– People who eat breakfast have more nutritious diets than people who skip breakfast. They also have better eating habits as they are less likely to be hungry for snacks during the day.
– Skipping breakfast becomes more common with increasing age.
Benefits of having a regular breakfast:
– Boosts energy levels.
– Improves metabolism.
– Provides many beneficial nutrients and boosts your fibre and calcium intake (compared to no breakfast).
– Reduces the chance of consuming excessive amounts of high energy foods later in the day.
– Stabilises blood sugar levels.
– Improves memory and concentration.
Tips for starting a regular breakfast routine:
– Prepare your breakfast the night before.
– Stock up your fridge and freezer with breakfast options (e.g frozen fruits and vegetables for a quick breakfast smoothie).
– Wake up 10 minutes earlier to give yourself time to have your breakfast.
– Make some “easy to grab” breakfasts (e.g muffins, granola bars).