The importance of breakfast

Meyken Houppermans
Founder and Head Coach
Breakfast is important for good health. But what if you're not hungry in the morning or always in a hurry?

The importance of breakfast

Breakfast seems to be the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast is related to weight gain and obesity and several physical and mental health risks.  

Not effective for weight loss

Reseach shows skipping breakfast for weightloss reasons is not very effective: Even if the total caloric intake is reduced, extended morning fasting may not result in expected weight loss. Both lean and obese adults expended less energy during the morning when remaining in the fasted state than when consuming a prescribed breakfast. [1]

Physical and mental health risks

Skipping breakfast seems associated with cardiometabolic risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. People who regularly skip breakfast are about 21% more likely to experience a cardiovascular incident or die from it, compared to people who regularly eat breakfast. The risk of all-cause death is 32% higher in people who regularly skip breakfast than in people who regularly eat breakfast.

Furthermore, skipping breakfast also seems associated with mental health issues such as depression, stress and psychological distress. [2]

The ideal breakfast

The ideal breakfast is the one that gets eaten and contains energy, building blocks, vitamins and minerals the body needs. Such as a breakfast that consists of whole grain products, dairy or another source of protein, some fruit and some nuts and seeds. Liquid is also important to refuel after a night of sleep and sweat loss, with at least 500ml water.

In case of a morning workout, it is advice to have breakfast 1,5 to 2 hours before the training sessiomn, depending on the intensity and type of workout and how well you handle breakfast during a workout.

Extra pointers

1.      Avoid ‘ healthy ‘ products such as breakfast cookies and granola. That is often full of sugar and unhealthy fat.

2.      Be alert for hidden calories, in sugarfree diet products but also in (freshly made) fruit juice for example

3.      Be alert on sugar in chocolate spread or jam, white bread or raisin bread.

4.      Avoid fatty products such as croissants or full fat cheese.

5.      Avoid eating the same thing every day. Variety helps you to a great diversity of nutrients

6.      Preparing breakfast a few days ahead, such as overnight oats or frozen sandwiches, can be convenient if you are always in a hurry in the morning.

7.      If you are not hungry in the morning, train your body to develop an appetite in the morning by starting with tiny bits of food. Consistency is key.


[1] Gibney MJ, Barr SI,Bellisle F, Drewnowski A, Fagt S, Livingstone B, Masset G, Varela Moreiras G,Moreno LA, Smith J, Vieux F, Thielecke F, Hopkins S. Breakfast in HumanNutrition: The International Breakfast Research Initiative. Nutrients. 2018 May1;10(5):559. doi: 10.3390/nu10050559. PMID: 29723985; PMCID: PMC5986439.;Betts JA, Chowdhury EA, Gonzalez JT, Richardson JD, Tsintzas K, Thompson D. Isbreakfast the most important meal of the day? Proc Nutr Soc. 2016Nov;75(4):464-474. doi: 10.1017/S0029665116000318. Epub 2016 Jun 13. PMID:27292940.

[2] Ma X, Chen Q, Pu Y, GuoM, Jiang Z, Huang W, Long Y, Xu Y. Skipping breakfast is associated withoverweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Res ClinPract. 2020 Jan-Feb;14(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2019.12.002. Epub 2020 Jan7. PMID: 31918985.; Zahedi H, DjalaliniaS, Sadeghi O, Zare Garizi F, Asayesh H, Payab M, Zarei M, Qorbani M. Breakfastconsumption and mental health: a systematic review and meta-analysis ofobservational studies. Nutr Neurosci. 2022 Jun;25(6):1250-1264. doi:10.1080/1028415X.2020.1853411. Epub 2020 Dec 14. PMID: 33314992.; Ofori-Asenso R, Owen AJ, Liew D. Skipping Breakfast and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Death: A Systematic Review of Prospective Cohort Studies in Primary Prevention Settings. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2019 Aug 22;6(3):30. doi: 10.3390/jcdd6030030. PMID: 31443394; PMCID: PMC6787634.