Do I really need to eat breakfast?


This is what a dietitian really thinks about all the rules around the first meal of the day. 

Photo: iStock

We’ve heard it all before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.” “Fuel your body for the best start to the day.” Sound familiar? Thought so.

And most of us know what we need to do, the problem is actually putting it into practice. You see, breakfast means having something to eat in the mornings, and the challenge for most of us is finding that little window of time to have something to eat when we’re rushing to get to the gym, get the kids off to daycare, or simply get to work. So, do you really need to eat breakfast? Well, let’s start by breaking it down.

Breakfast or ‘breaking the fast’ is simply that. Breaking your fasting period after being asleep for (hopefully) 7-9 hours. When we are at rest, our bodies don’t require the same fuel that we do when we’re active, so after a certain period of waking time, you might find your stomach starts sending signals that it’s time to eat! That’s good, because it means your metabolism is up and running and your body is looking forward to having a top up of fuel. When you eat breakfast, the carbohydrates you eat are broken down into glucose, which gets sent straight to your brain, and wahlah – you’re up and at it. You might find after brekkie you’re a little less sleepy and have a little more energy. That’s your brain saying “thank you!”, and as a thank you back you’ll find you’ll be able to focus much better and think straight – yep science has proved this to be true #workgoals. Your muscles will also love you too, as the glucose is also transferred to the muscles for energy and the protein you eat is used to help with muscle recovery and growth. So long story short – yes, breakfast is a MUST.

So what’s the best time to have breakfast?

The truth is, there is no one perfect time, the main thing is that you have it! If you prefer to eat as soon as you wake up, go for it. If you prefer to eat once you get to work, that’s perfectly okay, too. Try to avoid having brekkie when you’re doing something else, for example, driving to work, as your brain won’t register your food as much (due to doing more important things like driving!), so you might feel the need to eat again soon after.

What is the best thing to eat for brekkie?

Aim to start your day with long lasting carbohydrates – think muesli, grainy toast or porridge; a source of protein – think eggs, yoghurt or milk; a piece of fruit and plenty of water to keep you hydrated. So, putting it all together, you might like to have some toasted muesli with Greek yoghurt and blueberries, or you might prefer some porridge topped with banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon. On the weekends try smashed avo with eggs and a side of spinach, or why not whip up some pancakes and enjoy these with some strawberries and yoghurt. Whatever you do, make sure you find that little window and enjoy a fresh start to the day!

Dancer Amrita Hepi shows you how to stretch at your desk.

Jemma O’Hanlon is an accredited practicing dietitian and advises Jenny Craig.



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