Written by: Dwi Astuti Pasca Aprilia
Edited by: Wulan Faraditha
Illustration by: Pricharia Via
Breakfast is usually represented as the most important meal of the day as it provides nutrients and energy for whatever activities lay ahead. The word “breakfast” itself means breaking the fast because when you sleep at night, it’s the same as not taking any food or drink for 7 until 8 hours. During this period, your body will lower its metabolism activity and the efficient usage of energy and nutrients. Furthermore, the low level of blood sugar essential for your muscles and brain to work when you wake up creates a feeling of confusion in the morning. Hence to acquire the energy that is needed for your body to perform well, having breakfast before starting your daily activities is necessary.
Unfortunately, many people grow up with the misconception that skipping breakfast is an effective diet method. On the contrary, a dietician, Sarah Elder, once explained that the body uses a lot of energy for cell growth and reparation throughout the night, thus eating a balanced breakfast helps uplift our energy levels and recover the protein and calcium used throughout the night. Besides that, studies from BMC Public Health in China demonstrates that skipping breakfast has profound effects on mental performance, notably the ability to concentrate and memorize. This explains why a filled stomach in the morning can make you more focused in tackling your daily activities. For example, during presentations, someone without breakfast might feel nervous and forget important things to deliver. So it is safe to say that breakfast is a reliable antidote to feeling a bit sluggish and struggling to concentrate on your daily activities. In short, believing that skipping breakfast can be a reliable diet method and grant loads of benefits is unfounded.
Beside all the good functions, breakfast may as well be a dangerous meal. When we wake up in the morning, our cortisol hormone also peaks. The cortisol hormone is mainly responsible for waking us up, but for some obscure reason it also causes our body to be resistant against insulin. As a consequence, our blood insulin levels are higher after breakfast than after lunch or dinner. For some of you, this may mean that there’s no point in eating breakfast considering that it won’t be nutritionally substantial. In fact, several studies have shown that the kind and quality of your breakfast could be a determinant of your eating habits later in the day. Dietician Cynthia Sass said that the quality of the breakfast you eat makes a big difference. For example, pancakes with syrup and butter can prompt you to see little difference in weight management.
In addition to that, nutritionist Ruth Frechman said that in general, a healthy breakfast will consist of protein, fruits, vegetables, or whole grains where you’re recommended to include at least three of those in your breakfast meal. Portion-wise, the size of a healthy breakfast depends on your age, activity, and diet goals—but generally it should be comprised of 25% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 50% fruits and/or vegetables. In regards to this, it is important to start switching your breakfast menu from junk foods into healthier foods. A 500-calorie chocolate muffin will surely differ with a 500-calorie muffin made of oats, fresh blueberries, and cinnamon. That being said, the nutritional value of your breakfast meal is equally important as its calories. Other than portion and composition, the time you take your breakfast also determines whether your breakfast is a healthy one. Frechman recommends waiting until you are actually hungry before eating your breakfast, because weight gain is more likely to occur if you eat your breakfast meal when you are not hungry.
In conclusion, breakfast is an important source of nutrients for our body and is essential to uplift our brain power and concentration that we use to get through the day. However, equally important as eating breakfast is to look up the nutritional value of our breakfast to prevent breakfast from becoming a harmful meal.