Should Breakfast Be The Biggest Meal Of The Day? Experts Say It's About Quality, Not Quantity
I love breakfast so much that I not only eat breakfast foods for dinner sometimes, but for lunch as well. So many of the best foods, IMO at least, are considered breakfast dishes: pancakes, oatmeal, the incredible delicacy that is the breakfast burrito. But even on those days when I do indulge my love of breakfast for every meal, I often wonder whether breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, or if I'm just treating myself to something I'm especially obsessed with. After all, my mom used to quote a saying that suggested, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." But really, is there any truth to that? Well, according to experts, my mom might have been on to something.
"After a night's rest, you haven’t ingested anything for about eight to 12 hours, so the body is essentially coming off of a mini fast," Alastair Greer, a trained chef and CEO/founder of Root Blends, tells Elite Daily in an email. "This is why the morning is an ideal time to consume a sizable meal."
Of course, all meals are important for providing your body with energy and nutrients, but in a way, breakfast has to be especially nourishing since it sets the tone for your day. "Eating a good breakfast not only jumpstarts your metabolism, but also keeps you from engaging in starvation eating later on in the day," Dr. Pamela Peeke, MPH, FACP, FACSM, a nationally renowned physician and scientist in integrative and preventive medicine, tells Elite Daily.
But it's not just eating a big breakfast that matters; rather, it's all about eating a nutrient-dense breakfast. "The quality of the food is the most important; it must be balanced to set up your energy levels for the day," says Greer.
"I would suggest eating quality, whole food sources, with a balance of protein, fats, and carbs," Evan Renfroe, a certified personal trainer and sports nutrition specialist, tells Elite Daily in an email. What this looks like exactly is totally up to you, he adds, but some examples of a balanced start to the day might look like a few eggs and some fruit, or fresh produce mixed in the blender with other nutritious ingredients — like milk, Greek yogurt, ground flaxseed, berries, etc. — for a convenient smoothie.
While a balance of macronutrients like fats and carbs is important when putting together the ideal breakfast, it's especially important to make sure that the first meal of the day has plenty of protein, too, says JeJe Noval, Ph.D., RDN, assistant professor for the School of Allied Health Professions at Loma Linda University Health. "All meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) should contain the same amount of protein in order to stimulate muscle synthesis and to prevent muscle depletion," she tells Elite Daily in an email. So if your favorite breakfast is a toasted bagel, try turning it into a breakfast sandwich by adding scrambled eggs, or completing the meal with a side of Greek yogurt.
Overall, eating soon after you wake up should be a priority if you want to stay as energized as possible throughout the day, according to Rachel Fine, a registered dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, a nutrition counseling firm in NYC. "Generally speaking," Fine tells Elite Daily, "within the hour of waking is best to replete the body’s energy stores."
Of course, some people just aren't as thrilled about eating breakfast as I am. If you aren't used to eating a substantial meal first thing in the morning because you just don't feel hungry that early in the day, there's no need to make yourself eat a lot of food as soon as you wake up, says Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and epidemiologist. "If you aren't a natural breakfast eater, don't force yourself," she tells Elite Daily. "You'll just be the type of person who easily has a longer overnight fast."
And hey — that also means you'll have an even more indulgent lunch waiting for you.