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Nutrition Articles  ›  Meals and Food

Learn to Love Breakfast

Reasons to Make A.M. Eating a Habit

-- By Leanne Beattie, Health & Fitness Writer
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Need more convincing? Here are a few reasons why breakfast is so important for everyone in the family:
  • Breakfast boosts memory. Eating breakfast improves memory and learning ability. One study of college students found that those who ate breakfast scored 22 percent higher in word-recall tests than students who skipped breakfast. Breakfast raises your blood sugar, which is needed to make the memory-boosting neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
     
  • Breakfast boosts mood and performance. A Harvard study showed that children who ate breakfast had 40 percent higher math grades and missed fewer days of school than non-breakfast eaters. Kids who skipped breakfast were twice as likely to be depressed, four times more prone to anxiety, and 30 percent more likely to be hyperactive. When children who "rarely" ate breakfast began eating breakfast "often," their math grades increased one full letter grade, and their levels of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity all decreased. While this study looked at children, it is natural to assume that adults would see similar results related to work performance and mood.
     
  • Breakfast boosts nutrition. Breakfast eaters consume more nutrients each day than breakfast skippers. Eating an a.m. meal particularly increases one's intake of important nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and fiber.
     
  • Breakfast boosts heart health. Blood tends to become "sticky" overnight, making it more prone to clots in the morning. According to researchers at Canada’s Memorial University in Newfoundland, eating breakfast "unsticks" your blood. Skipping breakfast triples the blood’s clot-forming potential—and the risk of morning heart attacks and strokes. Recent studies have also found that cold cereals fortified with 400 micrograms of folic acid help curb homocysteine, a blood factor that boosts the risk of heart disease and strokes.
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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

  • 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:

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    - 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
  • I really enjoyed this article because I am definitely the type of person who struggles with eating breakfast and have a "I could take it or leave it attitude" about it because I do not feel hungry until at least 11:30am. I have been making myself at least eat some yogurt and a piece of fruit lately.

    I also found this part to be interesting:
    "When children who "rarely" ate breakfast began eating breakfast "often," their math grades increased one full letter grade, and their levels of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity all decreased."

    My daughter is only two now and does eat breakfast every day at the babysitter's (and at home on the weekends), but I want to make sure that when she gets to be school age that we make time for her to eat in the mornings before school because it is so important to do. I most certainly don't want her to be at a greater risk for depression, anxiety, etc. (that runs in our family enough as it is!!). - 8/14/2013 10:31:57 AM
  • JScott what does Hemp look like and does it need to be purchased at a Health foof store??

    Thanks for sharing : ) - 4/14/2013 10:14:07 PM