How important is breakfast?
Breakfast provides many benefits to our health and wellbeing. It provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast - that's where its name originates, breaking the fast! Without breakfast you are effectively running on empty, like trying to start the car with no petrol!
- breakfast should be eaten within two hours of waking
- a healthy breakfast should provide calories in the range of 20-35% of your guideline daily allowance (GDA).
Apart from providing us with energy, breakfast foods are good sources of important nutrients such as calcium, iron and B vitamins as well as protein and fibre. The body needs these essential nutrients and research shows that if these are missed at breakfast, they are less likely to be compensated for later in the day.
Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals so try to include a portion of your daily five at breakfast, whether that be a banana or glass of fruit juice.
Breakfast can be good for waistline too, research shows those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight and more likely to be within their ideal weight range compared with breakfast skippers. If you skip breakfast, you're more likely to reach for high sugar and fatty snacks mid-morning.
Breakfast also restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate that is needed for the brain to function. Many studies have shown how eating breakfast can improve memory and concentration levels and it can also make us happier as it can improve mood and lower stress levels.
In studies amongst children, breakfast can improve attainment, behaviour and has been linked to improved grades. Just like any other organ in the body, the brain needs energy to work at it's best!
People's energy needs vary depending on activity levels and life stage but typically men require more energy than women. Growing children require a lot of energy, as an example boys aged 7-10 years should consume approx. 1970 kcals per day, and girls aged 7-10 years should consume approx. 1740 kcals. For adults, men require approx. 2500 kcals and women approx. 2000 kcals per day.