Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

From a young age, we are told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The idea is so prevalent that it is, quite literally, shoved down our throats. However, ultimately the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is questioned by science.


In school, teachers and administrators are adamant that students must eat in the morning before starting their school day. Students told that if they don’t eat breakfast, they will not be able to focus throughout the day and their studies will suffer. There is some science backing this claim up, as multiple studies have found that children who eat breakfast in the morning experience better cognitive performance than their peers. While the difference declines as children get older, the evidence does prove that young students are better off when they start their day off with breakfast.

general health benefits

Studies have also found some general health benefits the come from regularly eating breakfast. One study found that people who eat breakfast regularly have a lower chance of developing type two diabetes. The research doesn’t stop there- researchers from a paper published in 2013 found that eating breakfast is also linked to an overall lower risk of other health problems, such as heart disease in men.

However, some myths surrounding breakfast are just that- myths. One of the prevalent myths that go hand in hand with breakfast is that it helps boost your metabolism and therefore helps with weight loss. As a study done by the University of Bath found, this is not true. In this study, researchers found no difference in the metabolic rate of those who did and did not eat breakfast in the morning.

personal choice and habit

In fact, many researchers have found that, at least as an adult, the decision whether or not to eat breakfast is entirely personal. For some people, it gives them an energy boost to get started with their day. However, for others, eating first thing in the morning makes them feel sick, making it unwise to force them into eating. While some people wake up feeling hunger pangs, others aren’t hungry at all. Scientists recommend listening to your body: if you feel hungry when you wake up, then you should eat.

grey area

There’s also another grey area in the debate about breakfast, namely a debate around what counts as breakfast. Some people believe that anything you eat first thing in the morning is breakfast, while others believe the term only covers certain foods, such as fruit, eggs, and bacon. It’s hard to declare breakfast as the most important meal of the day when we can’t even reach a general consensus as to what breakfast really is, much less how much food we should be eating.

The general conclusion

The overall conclusion is that the adage holds true for some people, but not all. The scientific evidence does not conclusively prove one way or the other whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It ultimately comes down to personal choices. If you have large meals later in the day, then breakfast may not be that important to you, but if you eat smaller meals and wake up hungry, then it’s likely that breakfast is an important meal. Just like with most things in life, everyone is different and it’s hard to make a blanket statement about whether or not breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.