We've all heard this before, ‘’breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” - but why? To answer this question, let's first look at what happens when you eat and when you don't (fasting, sleeping, busy living).
When you eat, food provides you with energy in the form of protein, fat and carbohydrates (1). Your body uses this energy as fuel for activity and also stores some of it for later use. Coupling this with enough vitamins, minerals, water and other nutrients, you're ready to go! Good nutrition, combined with a healthy lifestyle, gives you the fuel you need to perform, be the best version of yourself and live a long and healthy life. So, when you eat your first meal of the day (breakfast) you bring energy to your cells in a timely manner so that they can function properly, the rest of that energy being stored is for when you are not eating but still need fuel.
When you’re not putting in proteins, fat or carbs, i.e. sleeping, your digestive system finishes processing what you have eaten during the day and uses the energy you have stored to continue doing tasks that are vital to you. No need to eat 24 hours a day to feel energized, have a heartbeat, breath and think properly. During sleep, your body restores, rejuvenates, builds muscle, repairs tissue and synthesizes hormones (2). That’s a lot of tasks for a sleepy human, hey?! Meanwhile, your mind relaxes, dreams and wanders. Fortunately, as we said before, you don't need to eat during these times, because your body is a fine-tuning machine that can distribute your stocked fuel during times like these (3).
So, when you finally wake up and have breakfast, after a long period of not eating, your body has been using its stock of fuel for a few hours now - and it needs to pack up with renewed energy to meet the upcoming challenges of the day! The night has acted like a fast - your body can handle it without any problems, but it's important that you eventually replenish your stock or you’ll function at a slower rate as your body will try to save its remaining fuel! Obviously, you cannot go days without eating something or you will literally eat yourself by drawing on your reserves!
In a nutshell, the first meal of the day breaks this fast and allows you to get back on your feet at a rate of 100% or say 200% for some of the harder mornings! Considering that during the day you need more energy than during your sleep, it is more than time to put gas in your almost empty tank after a long night of sleep.
That's why many say the first meal of the day in the morning is so important: it allows you to replenish your energy level and restock fuel for your day! That’s notably why we call this meal break-fast: to break the fasting period of the prior night (4). It should be nutritious, intentional and provide you with good, long-lasting energy to rock your day because you need to function at the top of your game and have plenty of energy to achieve whatever your day demands or desires. As the first meal of the day, it's the perfect opportunity to start the morning with healthy, mindful habits. According to many health experts, an ideal breakfast should have a source of protein, whole grains, a source of fiber, a source of vitamins and minerals to help start your day strong and with purpose (5). Hmmm, we know a breakfast that sounds just like that. ;)
Good morning everybody!
- Bélanger Marc, LeBlanc Marie-Josée, & Mercille Geneviève. (2021). La nutrition (5e édition). Chenelière Éducation.
- Assefa, S. Z., Diaz-Abad, M., Wickwire, E. M., & Scharf, S. M. (2015). The functions of sleep. AIMS Neuroscience, 2(3), 155-171.
- Dimitriadis, G. D., Maratou, E., Kountouri, A., Board, M., & Lambadiari, V. (2021). Regulation of Postabsorptive and Postprandial Glucose Metabolism by Insulin-Dependent and Insulin-Independent Mechanisms: An Integrative Approach. Nutrients, 13(1), 159
- Online Etymology dictionary (2021), Breakfast (n.), https://www.etymonline.com/word/breakfast
- Government of Canada (2021), Make healthy meals with the Canadian Food Guide. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/make-healthy-meals-with-the-eat-well-plate/