It’s often easier to skip breakfast to spend more time in bed before starting an everyday morning routine.
However, it's a sacrifice that could ultimately lead to consequences that plague an entire day.
Mary Grieb, a registered dietician for Community Howard Regional Health, quoted a saying that provides a broad outline for how one should optimally eat throughout the day.
“There’s an old adage I like … ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,” she said.
That’s because, as the day goes on, people tend to become less and less active. That usually leads to a lessened likelihood of burning calories throughout the day, she explained. The larger the meal at the end of the day, the fewer chances one has to burn the calories it contains.
For breakfast, Grieb recommends foods rich in protein and fiber. She said food like Greek yogurt is a great source of both of those nutrients. It’s also something that doesn’t require preparation time. Eggs are another good option, she said.
Milk is a good choice, but Grieb said she recommends cow’s milk over other alternatives, such as almond milk. That’s because it’s richer in nutrients like calcium, protein and vitamin D.
She also included whole grain bread and cereal to the list, and said cheese is good in a limited amount but shouldn’t be overdone because of its saturated fat content.
Breakfast foods have a tendency to be more nutrient-dense than food associated with lunch or dinner, Grieb said, giving fortified cereal as an example. Fortified vitamins are put in a form that is more easily absorbed into the body.
This makes breakfast a good opportunity to start the day with a healthy dose of necessary nutrients.
A well-balanced breakfast filled with those kinds of foods – ones that are high in protein and fiber – helps maintain a steady blood sugar level. That helps give a person a “full and satisfied” feeling.
“Once we eat a meal in the morning, it gets your metabolism raised, so you’re burning calories from the very beginning of the day,” said Grieb.
Skipping breakfast might seem like a way to cut down on a day’s calorie consumption, but Grieb said studies show the exact opposite is often the case. Skipping breakfast can lead to higher calorie consumption.
That can be for a couple of reasons.
Making breakfast usually means some level of planning went into the meal preparations. That’s a luxury that one might not have later on in a day, and with less control over food options, one may end up eating less nutrient-rich food.
“If you’re going to eat breakfast, you pretty much have to have planned it,” said Grieb. “Most of us eat better when we’ve planned the meal, rather than just grabbing something.”
Also, skipping breakfast obviously leads to more hunger, so someone may make up for skipping breakfast by simply eating more food later in the day.
“So their overall calorie intake is still higher,” she said. “They may think they’re keeping their calories low by not eating breakfast, but it just doesn’t seem to work that way in most studies.”