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Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

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Lauryn Lax, nutritionist extraordinaire, is back with her thoughts on breakfast.

Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day. You may have heard fitness trainers or dieticians say eating breakfast can help boost metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. Obviously, breakfast must be super important. Well, yes and no.

Does Eating Breakfast Really Matter?

“Nutrient timing” is a buzz phrase in the world of nutrition. Simply put, nutrient timing means eating specific nutrients, such as protein, carbs or fats, in specific amounts at specific times.

Any time we sit down to eat, we invest in our body’s personal health, for better or for worse. For example, say you sit down to eat a bag of Skittles for breakfast. More than likely, you will experience low energy throughout the day. But if you eat a more balanced meal, you will fuel your cells’ metabolic needs for the day.

However, claims that breakfast is the most important meal of the day are not 100 percent accurate. As with many pieces of nutritional advice, our belief in the importance of nutrient timing is based on misinterpreted research and biased studies.

Eating Breakfast versus Not Eating Breakfast: What Actually Matters

There are three important things to consider when it comes to our health and the breakfast debate: nutrient balance, healthy digestion and circadian-rhythm function.

  1. Nutrient balance. Are you giving our body enough protein, healthy fats and carbs (veggies, fruits, some starchy tubers) throughout the day? When your body is low in nutrients, things become imbalanced. Our metabolism slows, we lose muscle mass and our digestion becomes sluggish. Your first meal of the day is more about fueling your system than eating at a particular time. The bottom line is eat balanced meals throughout the day and you will have sustained energy.
  2. Healthy digestion. Are you digesting your food well? Do you experience bloating after meals, irritable bowel syndrome, energy dips or difficulty concentrating? More than likely, you have an unhealthy gut and are unable to absorb nutrients properly. Digestion is key to good health and is essential for sustained energy. Plus, poor gut health can lead to sugar and caffeine cravings. To heal your gut, start taking a daily probiotic, drink more water and incorporate fermented foods.
  3. Circadian rhythms. Are you eating at optimal times for your body’s metabolism and natural internal clock? That answer is totally dependent on your body. Your circadian rhythms (when you wake, when you sleep, when you eat and when you have the most energy) help keep your body in balance. Even though your wake-sleep patterns are hard-wired, your metabolic patterns are not and can adjust. Unfortunately, our constant state of stress, more than what we eat, affects our circadian rhythms and metabolism.
The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the total amount of fuel you consume during the course of the day is more important for health, body composition and fitness performance than nutrient timing. Your body doesn’t see breakfast, lunch or dinner like you do. It simply sees each thing you put in your body as fuel.

What Exactly is a Balanced Breakfast?

Are you struggling to create balanced and gut-friendly morning meals? Here are some of my favorites:

  • smoothie: Coconut milk, banana, protein powder, spinach, avocado or nut butter
  • organic plain Greek yogurt, coconut butter and berries
  • bone broth with grass-fed butter and collagen
  • chicken sausage with avocado, zucchini and yellow squash
  • homemade paleo blueberry muffin with turkey sausage
  • scrambled eggs with nitrate-free bacon, spinach and mushrooms in ghee
  • homemade egg and veggie muffin cups
  • omelet with goat cheese and greens
  • coconut flour tortilla with scrambled eggs, sauerkraut and turkey bacon  
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