Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether a breakfast should be obligatory or if it’s actually OK to skip it. Some will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, while others will tell you that they are unable to eat anything in the morning. So where is the balance? As usual, there is no universal rule. Breakfast has real nutritional benefits but it is not the ideal start to the day for everyone and not all breakfasts are the same! So to shed some light on the subject, let’s answer the most frequently asked questions on the matter.
What is the breakfast for?
Being the first meal after a long fast of 10 to 12h, on average, breakfast is both good for the neurones (your intellectual activity and your concentration) and as a gentle wake-up for the digestive system. This is why we should not eat too much and what we do eat, should be easily digestible. Because it precedes the activities of the morning, its role is to provide enough energy to get us through until lunch without a need to snack in between.
Is it obligatory to eat a breakfast to lose weight?
Yes, and no. Well i’m not risking much by saying that, am l?…But wait, let me explain myself. To lose weight, there are two solutions available to you.
- Consume less energy than what the body needs.
- Expend more energy than what you obtain through your diet.
But be carful! “Eat less” does not necessarily mean to starve yourself and to “expend more” does not mean you have to go running 3 hours a day to eliminate yesterday’s MacDo, or this morning’s pastry. We are obviously talking about rebalancing the diet by eating better and nourishing the body enough to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Therefore, you could conclude, that whether there is a breakfast or not doesn’t really matter! Which is true, because as long as you respect your daily caloric load there is no reason to gain weight. One study showed that people who skipped breakfast were, on average, thinner than those who ate it. So there it is, I’ve convinced you, you will no longer eat breakfast. Well, that could be a mistake …
Indeed, studies have also shown that a regular breakfast helps us maintain the same weight. Eating a breakfast also reduces the risk of snacking in the morning which will mean you have a decent lunch which should also, in theory, reduce the chance of snacking in the afternoon. So in short, everything is more balanced.
You’re lost ? Well, here is my opinion. If you want to pay attention to your waist and are hungry when you wake up, do not deprive yourself, eat a balanced breakfast. Conversely, if you are not hungry, do not eat anything! The most important thing is to follow your bodily sensations. If you are not hungry it is simply that your body is not needing energy. So, wait and take something to eat later.
If I’m not hungry, should I force myself to eat?
Well, no ! For the same reasons stated above, it is not absolutely necessary to force oneself to eat a breakfast. Concentrate on what you feel. After all, maybe 7am in the morning is not your time, or maybe you ate too much the night before? Hunger may come later, when you have fully woken up. In this case, plan a homemade snack and shift breakfast to a later time, if needed.
What is a balanced breakfast?
A bowl of chocolate milk, cereal and a glass of fruit juice, now that’s the favourite breakfast of the French. And what if I told you it’s far from being the perfect breakfast. Indeed, it’s a little minefield of fast sugars of minimal nutritional value and satiety. The ideal breakfast should meet the needs of the body. After a good night’s sleep, your body needs to be rehydrated, filled with energy and to be satisfied for 4 to 5 hours. The ideal composition is based on three main components:
- A drink, hot or cold for hydration.
- A whole cereal product (wholemeal bread, oatmeal) to provide sustainable energy and for satiety.
- A dairy product for protein and calcium intake.
To these components, you could add the following, according to your hunger and needs:
- A portion of fruit: for a quick energetic boost, a supply of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- A portion of fat: to increase the satiety of the meal and provide fat soluble vitamins, in the form of seeds or an oilseed paste, for example.
- A portion of meat, fish or eggs: for a protein intake which also helps to increase the satiety of the meal and iron reserves.
- A sweet product: to bring immediate energy and pleasure.
I don’t have time to eat in the morning. Can I nibble something balanced?
Getting up earlier can be difficult for some, so why not make your breakfast the night before? Cut up little slices of bread and prepare your yoghurt, fruit or homemade cereal bars.
For or against breakfast, it’s up to you to choose, there are arguments on both sides. The most important thing is to adapt it to your lifestyle, habits and listen to your feelings. My final tips on the matter:
- Eat only if you are hungry.
- Limit breakfasts that are too sweet and try to choose raw and unprocessed foods.
- Cut down on cookies, instead opt for whole grains, juices and compotes without added sugars. Read the labels of your products to make sure they do not contain too much sugar.
- Leave at least 3 hours between breakfast and lunch
- If you wake up late on the weekends, eat a light lunch or brunch!
If you need a breakfast idea, have a look at our recipes on the blog.