Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Many of us have been ingrained with that being an understood “rule of life,” and research seemed to support that there was a correlation between breakfast eaters and bodyweight.
But is that really the case?
Well, it depends.
Some recent studies have shown that there actually isn’t a relationship between people’s bodyweight and whether or not they eat breakfast. This is in part due to the fact that we have different chronotypes, or biological clocks. These varying chronotypes are our natural pattern of waking and sleeping as well as energy and fatigue. Some people truly are “night owls” and others are “early birds” but there is no best chronotype.
No matter what chronotype you have, it may account for your eating preferences during the day. If someone gets up early, they could wake up hungry and feel the need to eat. Others find the thought of eating first thing unpleasant and tend to eat only something little or avoid it all together. Our natural preferences and times of day we feel most hungry do go hand in hand with our biological clocks that are largely genetic, so there is little we can do to change it.
But before you go throwing away your toaster…
If you have been a lifetime breakfast skipper but only because you are feeling rushed or strapped for time in the morning and wake up feeling hungry, you might want to look into your habits. There IS a link between not eating enough calories in the morning and overeating at night. That 400 calorie breakfast you skipped at 7am might very well turn into a 2,000 calorie kitchen raid at 8pm.
On the other hand, some people who don’t eat first thing in the morning when they get up and instead consume their first meal later in the day could be perfectly well regulated without over-eating later to compensate.
This is why the answer to this question is: well, it depends. There is no such thing as a “best diet” for everyone. If you have a natural chronotype to not eat first thing and can regulate yourself naturally throughout the day, great! But if you are consistently a breakfast skipper who tends to binge at night on foods that aren’t the best source of nutrients, it’s time to look into your eating habits.
WHAT you eat for breakfast matters too. As good as it is, that bowl of cinnamon toast crunch isn’t going to satisfy you (and your GI tract) like some lean protein, fiber, and good carbs. If you are constantly stretched for time in the morning but end up overeating later in the day, it’s time to revisit your eating habits and consume some more calories earlier. This way you won’t be feeling starving by the time dinner rolls around.
But Mornings are HARD!
I get it; mornings can be so tough. Around our house there are kids that need fed and dressed for school, lunches to be made, a dog to attend to, school drop offs, and at some point I need to get ready for my day too. Getting everyone out the door on time for school and work is difficult enough. I definitely don’t have time to sit down to enjoy a nice relaxing meal. Guess what always falls to the bottom of my list: eating breakfast.
But, when I skip breakfast, the rest of my morning is foggy and I don’t have enough energy to get everything I need to done. I also tend to be someone who overeats later if I don’t get enough calories in earlier in the day. So, here are a few tips for how to get some calories in first thing in the morning without having to sacrifice anything else.
Make a Protein Shake
Throw spinach, protein (usually unflavored collagen peptides), almond milk, a handful of frozen blueberries, a little frozen banana, and a spoon of chia seeds in a blender to make a smoothie full of fiber and protein.
Try Some Oatmeal
In the afternoon (or on the weekend) I’ll make enough oatmeal to last a few days. Then I can simply reheat a single serve portion to have a quick meal ready to go at breakfast. The kids love this too so I can feed us all in one shot! Check out our favorite recipe HERE.
When we make pancakes, I make a bigger batch (I like birch benders mix) and refrigerate/freeze the leftover pancakes to use on crazy days. Add a bit of plain greek yogurt + berries and I’m set.
Egg Bake For The Win
If I have time on the weekend, I will cook egg bites in muffin tins with lots of veggies that I can eat throughout the week for a fast, protein packed breakfast.
And When All Else Fails…
If everything is going wrong, I will toss a RX bar (have you tried the new vanilla almond flavor yet?!) into my bag to eat on the way to school drop off. Add a big water bottle full of icy water and I am set.
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Scott-Dixon, K.; Beradi, J.; Pierre, B.; Kollias, H.; DePutter, C. (2019). The Essentials of Nutrition and Coaching. Precision Nutrition Inc.
About the Author
Karen Hazelton is Precision Nutrition Level One Certified and a Healthy Steps Nutrition Coach. Her sports background is in tennis, and through hard work and dedication she earned a Division One tennis scholarship to University of Northern Colorado. An important component of her training was developing strength in the weight room. Being physically strong and having a good foundation of metabolic conditioning was essential to playing her best on the court. After earning a degree in mathematics, she moved back to her hometown of Tucson and became a high school math teacher.
Karen loved her work as a teacher, but after taking time out of the classroom to raise her two young kids, she realized how she missed coaching and working with athletes. That led her to obtain her training and nutrition certifications. She loves to see clients use fitness and nutrition to become stronger, happier, and healthier versions of themselves.