No other meal has ever been under as much pressure to deliver as breakfast. Some of the following may sound familiar: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day … it stops you over-eating later. You may have heard this too: Skipping it reduces your resting metabolic rate and leads to weight gain. In the past few years many studies have shattered these myths. In fact, among the most compelling was a review published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal) suggesting all meals are, in fact, equal. Confirming what commonsense may have already told you: a croissant first thing is the same as one at 3pm. “There’s no running away from the importance of nutritious foods,” says Dr Jane Bowen. And while “one-size-fits-all” diet guidelines are a thing of the past, breakfast lovers need not dismay. “If eating breakfast suits you, keep doing that – we just don’t want people to eat when they’re not hungry because they think they should,” says Dr Bowen, noting that breakfast is one of the easiest meals to address when you want to create healthier habits, “because most people are more motivated in the morning”. To follow, Dr Bowen answers more pertinent breakfast questions.
Dr Jane Bowen
Q: How did breakfast become the most important meal?
A: People have always eaten food at the beginning of the day, but breakfast gained in status as the meal to never miss in the 1900s when there was a lot of social and industrial change. It was a time when people migrated from rural life into urban settings, and we also saw women entering the paid workforce and industrialised changes to food production. All of which led to intense marketing around new types of foods, like processed cereals.
Q: Does breakfast jump-start our metabolism?
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