Researchers have found that on average, people who eat breakfast are thinner than those who don't. That could be because eating foods with protein and fiber in the morning keeps your appetite in check the rest of the day. But it doesn't guarantee you'll fit into those skinny jeans.
Our ancestors ate a small meal and ate the larger meal when it was more convenient during their farm work. The line “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” was invented in the 19th century by Seventh Day Adventists James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg to sell their newly invented breakfast cereal.
Using moralizing rhetoric to sell the idea of a healthy breakfast in the 19th century changed how people thought about the meal, says Carroll. That moralization wasn’t just around religion and health: it also incorporated our reverence for hard work. In the early 20th century, the idea that if you ate a lighter, healthier breakfast you were going to be more efficient and productive at work added “another moralizing layer”
The cliche that breakfast is the most important meal – and one with very specific food groups – developed from those early days of cereal.
After vitamins were discovered, it did not take long before, in the 1940s, breakfast cereals were fortified and heralded as a source of every vitamin under the sun, making breakfast that much more important, according to advertisements at the time.
We’ve tied all sorts of ills to a failure to sit down to a hearty breakfast. But research and history show that skipping our granola bowl does not, in fact, harm our health.
The clue for why breakfast is supposed to be important is in its name: we’re advised to eat it to break our overnight fast.
“The body uses a lot of energy stores for growth and repair through the night,” explains dietician Sarah Elder. “Eating a balanced breakfast helps to up our energy, as well as protein and calcium used throughout the night.”
Breakfast is also associated with improved brain function, including concentration and language. A review of 54 studies found that eating breakfast can improve memory, though the effects on other brain functions were inconclusive. However, one of the review’s researchers, Mary Beth Spitznagel, says there is “reasonable” evidence breakfast does improve concentration – there just needs to be more research.
So the question really is, Is Breakfast the most important meal of the day or is it something that the advertisers have created? All we know is you cant beat a big fry up after a night out but I suppose that opens up another question why are fry ups so good after a night out?
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