As a breakfast aficionado, I fully embrace the well-known phrase, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” While I enjoy breakfast because it’s my favorite meal of the day and I can shovel bacon into my face nonstop, it turns out there is research out there suggesting that big breakfasts can actually play a major role in your long-term health and mood.
So first things first—eating a big healthy breakfast is important. If your first meal of the day is stacked with sugar and refined carbohydrates, you’re ingesting a ton of useless calories that’ll mess up your insulin and energy levels later in the day (and give you major health problems down the road). A healthy breakfast that has a good amount of protein, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates and fats helps keep your metabolism raised throughout the day. That’s because after 8 hours of sleeping, your metabolism will have slowed considerably, only to kick back into gear when you wake up in the morning. Eating a big healthy breakfast that your body can process naturally helps to initiate thermogenesis, the metabolic process of digesting food and using it for energy rather than fat storage. According to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, eating breakfast can increase your resting metabolism by up to 10 percent.
With improved metabolism, you’re bound to maintain a stable bodyweight (or even experience some weight loss). Consider the results of a 2013 study published in the journal Obesity. Over a 12-week period, two groups of obese and overweight women were put on a strict, 1,400-calorie-a-day diet that consisted of mostly healthy foods such as grilled chicken, egg whites and salad (though milk chocolate crept in there too). One group ate a breakfast of 700 calories, a lunch of 500 calories and a dinner of 200 calories. The other ate a breakfast of 200 calories, a lunch of 500 calories and a dinner of 700 calories.
The researchers found that the group that ate the large breakfast and small dinner had lost nearly two-and-a-half times as much weight as the group that ate the small breakfast and large dinner (18 pounds to 7 pounds). “An isocaloric weight loss diet with exchanged caloric intake between breakfast and dinner differentially influences weight loss, waist circumference, serum ghrelin and lipids, appetite scores, and insulin resistance indices in overweight and obese women with the metabolic syndrome,” the researchers stated.
We already know that bigger breakfasts help to keep your metabolism working well, but another benefit one can experience is increased satiety throughout the day (i.e. you feel fuller, so you’re less likely to snack).
Another study, this time published in the journal Diabetologia, found that bigger breakfasts and smaller dinners helped produce lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.
Lastly, starting your day off with a big healthy meal not only energizes your body—it helps to improve your brain power by providing you with essential fats, vitamins and minerals that will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and stave off drowsiness and lethargy. As a result, your mood will be substantially improved as well.
Photo courtesy of David McKelvey/CC BY NC ND 2.0