Nutrition Articles

Learn to Love Breakfast

Reasons to Make A.M. Eating a Habit

As a working mom with three kids at home, mornings are always hectic. Getting everyone up, fed, dressed and out the door takes precision timing and a level of organization that most businesses couldn’t match. And while I insist my children have a good breakfast every day, making sure I have something to eat before I start work is usually at the bottom of my priority list.

Don’t get me wrong—I know all the reasons why I should eat breakfast. But knowing what I should do and actually doing it are two very different things. But it was my desire to lose those ten pounds that really prompted me to start eating in the morning.

A 2002 study by the National Weight Control Registry, a group of more than 3,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year, found that breakfast eaters were more successful at maintaining their weight loss. Another study found that women who skipped breakfast made up for it by eating more throughout the day. So even though I thought I was saving calories by skipping breakfast, I was actually eating more overall (probably because I was hungry).

But why does breakfast make the difference? Scientists have proven that eating at regular intervals helps your brain sends a signal to your body, telling it not to store the calories as fat—that you literally aren’t starving. When you skip meals however, your body can switch into "starvation mode," hanging onto every calorie because it doesn’t know when, or if, the next meal is coming.

By the time you get up in the morning, 10 to 12 hours have passed since your last meal and your body is in fasting mode. Eating soon after rising will literally break this fast (see where the word "breakfast" comes from?) and fire up your metabolism for the day. If you aren’t hungry as soon as you get up, have something nutritious to eat anyway, even if it's small. After two to three weeks of eating even a small breakfast (like yogurt or fruit), your body will reset your appetite and you'll begin to naturally feel hungry in the morning—that's a good thing!

A morning meal also gives you a head start on getting the five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day. Banana slices on cereal, a glass of juice, or diced veggies in an omelet all count towards your daily requirements, while some calcium-rich yogurt, milk, or soymilk help you get the nutrients you need to build strong bones.

If you find it hard to get up in the morning, eating breakfast may help boost your energy levels (and mood), by raising your blood sugar levels and increasing your ability to concentrate.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • I can't run on an empty stomach, but a big breakfast would result in an upset stomach.

    Every morning my WW toast with PNB & OJ fuels my run. Afterwards I'll eat a mid morning snack. Then lunch, mid afternoon snack and dinner.

    Nearly 6 years of maintenance now, so this works for me. - 9/13/2015 3:05:11 PM
    Because I grew up allergic to several foods like milk and eggs, I limit my amount. In fact, I do not eat eggs at all unless they are used as a binder for cakes, pies, etc. I do not have much or an issue with drinking breakfast shakes; i.e., Special K Protein Shake. Besides eating foods like yogurt w/fruit, breakfast shakes, or oatmeal, are there any other options to having a healthy breakfast? I don't have time in the mornings to cook like everyone else. Additionally, I do like my bacon, sausage, biscuits, just to name a few. These items are high in calories but I do like to enjoy them once or twice a week; more so on the weekends. - 11/14/2014 4:44:49 PM
  • It is time to stop parroting the myth that the body goes into "starvation mode" if one does not eat breakfast. Studies have proven that "starvation mode" doesn't kick in until approx 60-72 hrs after fasting. Not only that, but the metabolism has a slight INCREASE when a meal is skipped! (See Mansell and Zauner's research.) As a scientist, I think looking at the original research is important. Not passing off Old Wive's Tales as facts also helps! Eat breakfast if you wish, but not because you are trying to ward off "starvation mode." See also the MN semi-starvation experiment and several peer-reviewed articles by George Cahill. Repeating a myth often does not make it fact. - 2/8/2014 10:41:13 AM
  • I love my breakfast. Weekdays breakfast is generally 1/2 cup raisin bran, skim milk, 1/2 cup OJ and a sliced banana. It's also my quiet time and the one meal I have complete control over meaning I don't have to take my DH's preferences into consideration since he's still asleep and doesn't want to eat b'fast. (He'd rather sleep, I let him). - 1/18/2014 10:20:35 PM
  • I've just been diagnosed with fasting hypoglycemia, and met with a registered dietician to discuss my diet. For folks with blood sugar challenges, eating breakfast is imperative to level out blood sugars. I feel SO much better now that I'm eating something for breakfast regularly that has both fiber and protein. I'm most definitely not a morning person and I doubt I ever will be, but I'm much more productive in the AM now that I'm eating breakfast. It doesn't have to be complicated, a bowl of oatmeal, apple with peanut butter or a high protein, low sugar breakfast shake, but I'd encourage non-breakfast eater to give it a try for a few weeks and see how your body responds. Not everyone necessarily needs to eat breakfast, but it's certainly been a dramatic change for me. So there's my n=1 study! :) - 1/18/2014 8:26:38 PM
  • I wish someone would give a reference showing that scientists have shown that eating at regular intervals is important. I've never seen any evidence for how fast "starvation mode" sets in and I doubt it starts after twelve hours. Skipping breakfast only leads to eating more if you aren't paying attention to hat you eat - 1/18/2014 11:00:49 AM
  • I know it's the most important meal of the day but sometimes I miss it. - 11/30/2013 12:24:30 AM
  • Breakfast is NOT the most important meal...this is just a saying to promote and sell packaged "breakfast" foods!
    If you are hungry in the morning then by all means eat your breakfast, but if you are not hungry you should not force feed yourself and think that doing so will help you lose weight!!
    Stop believing everything you read and listen to your own body! - 10/18/2013 4:00:52 PM
  • I'm just not hungry in the morning. I just am not a breakfast person and refuse to force myself to be because some article says it's important. I can pull up 5 articles that contradict this one in fact basically every other day Yahoo is switching back and forth from "you must eat breakfast" to "breakfast is overrated"! Personally I listen to my body and eat when I am hungry and not eat when I'm not!! - 10/18/2013 3:58:05 PM
  • I'm a long-term weight-loss success story, and I haven't had breakfast in YEARS. And I have plenty of energy throughout the day for work, exercise - and responding to the onslaught of articles purporting to tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I wait until late afternoon/early evening until eating, and my experience is reflected in studies by Dr's David Levitsky and Mark Mattson: that is, after skipping meals, subjects eat more than they otherwise would, but not enough to close the caloric gap. One ends up eating less overall.

    You don't need breakfast to jumpstart metabolism - you can do so with a glass of water and a brisk walk or run. The body does not go into starvation mode in 24 hours - that would be more like 72 hours. I'm big on citing studies for proof - don't have time for that now, but I'm going to stick with what has helped me succeed in an area dominated by often soul-crushing setbacks and failure. CAVEAT: the fasting or 'semi-fasting' is more problematic with women as I understand it than it is for men. But I highly recommend at least considering it, and doing research. if you're one of those on the "diet go-round." Then again, what do I know:

    - 9/30/2013 5:13:38 PM
  • I always eat brekkie, but hubby and younger daughter don't . I nagged the for ages about it, but since having watched a doco recently refuting the "starvation mode" claim for those who don't eat it, i have stopped nagging. Latest research shows that you need to eat below you body's daily calorie requirement for almost 3 weeks before "starvation mode" kicks in. They also found out that eating small amounts every 2 or 3 hours rather than 2 or 3 meals a day, makes no difference to weightloss rates.
    I would recommend rather than following the latest diet fads or celebrity trends, just go back to the basics of calories in vs calories out. (and make those healthy calories in) - 9/30/2013 5:40:31 AM
  • I have breakfast every day! It IS the most important meal of the day and it's NOT over rated! Enjoy your breakfast! - 9/6/2013 3:07:52 PM
  • Breakfast is the most over rated meal of the day. Do yourself some good and skip it. The obesity in this country is rampant. Stop eating so much! - 9/6/2013 11:21:50 AM
  • Loving this article! My son and I have breakfast each morning. I completely agree with the break .... fast term. Recently I have made and effort to do sitting or standing exercises while fixing my son's food and only after he has finished eating do I sit down to log in and eat. - 9/5/2013 9:28:17 AM
  • Today, I had kale and black beans, with a banana and 2 figs for breakfast. I never miss breakfast, I would say not in the last 10 years. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I schedule time in my day for it. - 9/5/2013 8:46:01 AM

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