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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Stock

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

A breakfast table filled with various foods

You've probably heard your whole life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is it?

The answer, like most of nutritional science, is........sort of.

Reason #1 - Breakfast breaks the fast

In recent years, there has been more research into fasting and situations where it might be effective, but let's leave that aside for now.

Let's pretend you ate supper yesterday at 6pm. Then, you didn't eat afterwards and then went to sleep. So, when you get up at 7pm, it's already been 13 hours since you've eaten last. The longer our bodies go without food, the slower our metabolism gets. Our metabolism is our body's furnace, it burns calories, which can reduce our fat stores, or prevents calories being stored as fat.

So, ideally, our metabolism is running as high as possible. Having breakfast kick starts the metabolism into burning again after along period without food.

Tip #2 - It sets up your energy for the day

If you have a job, or a family, or things to do, you need energy to live your life. Putting some calories into your body first thing in the morning gives you the energy to start your day.

Feeling good in the morning sets yourself up for as good a day as you can have. It also prevents you from running yourself into a caloric deficit throughout the day. If you don't provide your body with calories, then start burning them by living your life, you will create a caloric deficit. This can lead to feelings of fatigue, moodiness, confusion throughout the day.

Okay, breakfast is important, but what do I eat?

We've already talked about Canada's Food Guide, and how it's a great template for lunch and supper. It's not great for breakfast, simply because it focuses on half a plate of vegetables, and not everyone likes to eat vegetables at breakfast. If you're one of those people who likes to eat savoury, dinner type foods in the morning, great! Eat your breakfast as per Canada's Food Guide for breakfast too.

If you're not, and it's okay if you aren't. Then, we don't worry about the proportions set out in Canada's Food Guide, but focus on eating one food from each category - a starch, a protein, and a fruit.

When we used the old food guide (the rainbow you might remember), we talked about servings. They were confusing and hard to calculate, but for fruit, using a serving size can be helpful.

One serving of fruit is a piece of fruit that fits in your hand (apple, orange, peach, etc.), or a ½ cup of cut up fruit/berries. It can also be a 'medium sized' banana - you can try to figure out what that is. But really, it's a guideline at best. Meaning, that eating half of a cantaloupe for breakfast is likely too much fruit, and if you're having a clementine, you can probably have two.

But I'm not a breakfast person, what should I do?

There are people who can't stand the thought of food in the morning, or those who just don't feel hungry until hours after they've woken up.

If you are one of those people, my advice is - do what you can.

If half of a granola bar, one bite at a time, is all you can manage, great! Putting anything in your body will get your metabolism going, so anything helps. If sitting down to a plate full of food isn't your thing, think of what you can handle, and do that.

Maybe you need to take a bite of a banana here and there while you're getting the kids out the door - fine! If it takes you half and hour to eat your yogurt - also fine! Do what you can, and don't worry about it. Something is better than nothing.

As always, work towards where you want to be. Going from 0 to 100 is difficult and unnecessary. Set yourself small goals and work on making progress. Click here to contact me if you want to talk more!

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