Breakfast is it really the most important meal of the day?

People always claim that breakfast is the most crucial meal of the day, but is that really a valid and scientifically backed statement? Or is it just one of these myths that will vanish very soon?

As a matter of fact, there is some physiology to it, as eating breakfast prevents the person in question from getting too hungry during the day and stuffing all necessary calories in the last meal. The last item leads to the conversion of the body into a dry sponge and shifting it into a starvation mode, which works then as an unselective Hoover. Generally speaking, without eating breakfast, a person becomes more vulnerable to cravings and less likely to make healthy choices in the morning and later on throughout the day. As a matter of fact, this is a disaster, whether the person in question is eagerly trying to follow a nutrition program or just eating for good health.

Anything that will be ingested once the hunger phase kicks in, will be immediately stored in the human organism to prepare it as a reservoir to be ready for the next long fasting phase. This long daily fasting phase will also lead to a marked decrease of the basal metabolic rate and the fat burning furnace of the body.

To start with, one has to mention here, that eating breakfast gives the person in question a mental advantage. When a person starts off the day, the body is in desperate need of fuel, after a very long fasting phase, which took place during sleeping. From a scientific point of view, glycogen stores start to deplete. If the person in question did not have had any food by lunch, he/she will start to feel fatigued, thus affecting both mental and physical performance.

One study that tracked nearly 10,000 young people from adolescence into their twenties found that not only did skipping breakfast lead to being overweight, but people who did not manage to have breakfast on their morning schedule also increased their eating at fast food restaurants, and both unhealthy behaviors caused them to gain weight, beside the negative impact on mental performance.

The Importance of Breakfast: Focused Thinking

Recent research also suggests that there are advantages to both eating breakfast and choosing certain foods in particular.  Several studies have shown that children perform better in school when they have eaten a high-fiber, low glycemic index breakfast like oatmeal, rather than a sugary cereal alternative. The same approach will work for adults who go to work early and have to make swift decisions.

For sustainable energy, one should mate high-fiber foods with proteins that promote alertness, like egg whites, turkey, chicken, fish, and lean meats. Breakfast can also be a smoothie, a homemade high-fiber muffin made with added egg whites and low fat/fat free milk, nonfat dry milk powder, or whey powder instead of water to enhance the protein content. Besides hot cereal made with low fat/fat free milk, other ideas to try are smoked fish or hummus on whole-grain or rye bread or on half a whole grain bread or bagel.

Vegetarian breakfasts have the built-in option of eggs and/or dairy products, but for vegan breakfasts, a bit more creativity is needed. Vegan breakfasts can be easy, quick, and energy-boosting if the appropriate components are utilized.

Complex carbohydrate foods based on whole grains (such as hot cooked wholegrain cereals, muffins, or granola) are a perfect choice for getting revved in the morning, yet are easy on the appetite. Smoothies and other fruit-augmented recipes make satisfying breakfasts for those who like their morning meal on the lighter side. And in the third group are those who like to start the day with a good dose of protein.

Here is a list of what people might consider keeping in one’s food store:

Good-quality cold breakfast cereals: Choose organic, whole grain varieties.

Granolas: These are good on their own or mixed with other cold wholegrain cereals.

Embellishments for hot and cold cereals: Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds

Flour tortillas: These are great for roll-ups and breakfast quesadillas

Fresh fruits in season: Bananas are welcome all year around; berries are good for summer and oranges and mangoes are delicious in winter. Strawberry and kiwi are health bombs, which should also be implemented in a healthy nutrition regimen.

Whole grain flours for pancakes and waffles: Whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, and cornmeal are especially useful. One might also like to stock good-quality prepared pancake and waffle mixes.

Fresh whole grain breads, rolls, bagels, and English muffins: One should mix and match for variety, while keeping some in the freezer as a ready option to be grabbed anytime, matching the hectic life-style of the current century.

Spreads for bread: All-fruit preserves, non hydrogenated margarine, nondairy cream cheese, peanut butters.

Yogurts: For vegans, soy and coconut yogurts are good choices.

Non-dairy milks: Almond, rice, hemp or soy milks in aseptic cartons are useful to have on hand in plain, vanilla and/or chocolate flavors.

With all the above-mentioned guidelines, What Women Want…Magazine readers will have several healthy options to select from, in addition of having several crucial reasons to wake up early and have breakfast with their children. If someone wants his/her children to be following a healthy and balanced nutrition program, one has to be an excellent role model and mentor.


Dr. Alhussein El-Shennawy

Nutrition Consultant and Personal Trainer
Copartner Kheiralla Clinic

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