Breakfast in the morning: yes, or no?

avocado and egg on bread with leafy greens

Ah, a question as old as time. Probably. Maybe not as old – but certainly one that has been long debated in the realm of health and nutrition. Should I skip breakfast?

Some advocate it as the most important meal of the day, while others question its necessity altogether. Here in the UK, like in many other countries around us, there is an abundance of shifting perspectives on breakfast habits amidst changing lifestyles, diets, and emerging research. That said, what’s the latest insight into determining whether breakfast in the morning is a must or can you skip breakfast?

The benefits of breakfast

Breakfast has historically been hailed as crucial for kickstarting metabolism and providing essential nutrients after a night of fasting. Which makes sense, at first glance. However, recent trends suggest that skipping breakfast might not be as detrimental as once believed. A consumer report on British breakfast habits has shown, that a vast majority of us eat indeed the first meal of the day – a whole 93% of adults eat it at home every morning. Favoured by the pandemic and the trend of working at home, these numbers have risen – though going back into offices has seen a return of our beloved on-the-go breakfast food. The remaining 7% cited a lack of time or appetite as reasons why they wouldn’t eat in the morning.

Advocates of breakfast often highlight its potential benefits, including improved cognitive function, better mood, and better-sustained energy levels throughout the day. Furthermore, breakfast can offer the opportunity to consume important nutrients such as fibre, calcium, and vitamin C – of course, vital for overall health.

healthy balanced breakfast with egg blueberries avocado and nuts

What about skipping breakfast?

On the contrary, proponents of intermittent fasting argue that skipping breakfast can aid weight management and promote metabolic flexibility. A recent study explored the effects of breakfast timing on metabolism, suggesting that the body’s response to food may vary throughout the day. Proving, even, that people eating a small breakfast or skipping it altogether, and a big dinner lost significantly less weight than the other way around.

Despite these varied perspectives, what seems evident is that the quality of breakfast matters, of course. A sugary pastry or a bowl of sugary cereal may not offer the same benefits as a balanced meal rich in protein, healthy fats, and fibre. Coffee in the morning is perfectly fine, though alternatives such as matcha tea with its antioxidants and more gentle energy boost without the jitters often associated with coffee have risen in popularity for a reason.

The distinction is crucial, especially at a time when obesity and diet-related diseases are still a rising public health concern in the UK. It remains a multifaceted debate. While breakfast can provide essential nutrients and overall well-being for some, others may not experience adverse effects from skipping it. The takeaway is to focus on the quality of food consumed – however much or at which time of the day. As with any aspect of nutrition, balance and moderation are key.