Expert Q&A: Does it really matter if you eat breakfast?

Food
Man with empty plate

Man with empty plate

Skipping breakfast is more common than you might expect.
Out of 10,000 people surveyed, more than 53 percent skipped breakfast at least once a week and 12 percent never ate breakfast, according to research conducted by Survey Sampling International.
Those polled generally said they didn’t have an appetite in the morning or didn’t have time to eat.
What are the implications of skipping the morning meal? We sat down with Alyssa Schroeder, a registered dietitian at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet, to get the skinny on breakfast.

Q: Should you force yourself to eat breakfast?

A: In general, skipping breakfast is not ideal. Your metabolism slows down while you’re sleeping, so a great way to jump-start the day is with a well-balanced, nourishing meal.

Q: What happens if you skip breakfast?

A: In my experience, people who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories in a day than those who eat breakfast. By skipping breakfast, you may be missing out on important vitamins and minerals for energy, as well as fiber. In general, I find those who consume breakfast tend to have a lower body weight and are able to maintain weight loss better than individuals who skip breakfast.

Q: What do you suggest people eat for their morning meal?

A: I encourage people to eat a balanced breakfast that contains adequate protein and a high-quality carbohydrate. An example of a balanced breakfast could be a vegetable omelet with one slice of whole grain toast topped with half of an avocado or Greek yogurt topped with nuts and fresh fruit. Refined cereals and bagels may provide empty calories, so I generally encourage people to shy away from them.

Q. What proportion of your daily calories should breakfast represent?

A: If a smaller meal is desired and you would rather have something like a protein bar, make sure to check the nutrition fact labels for the added sugars. Items like protein bars or meal replacement bars tend to be high in added sugar, which should be limited (10 percent of total daily caloric intake). For most people, 25-30 percent of daily calories allotted for breakfast is sufficient.
For a 2,000-calorie diet, this would represent a 500-600 calorie breakfast. While calorie needs vary from person to person, it is important to aim for around 30 grams of protein in the morning in order to help with weight management and satiety.

Q: How many meals should you eat per day?

A: There is no magic or set number for the number of meals one should eat per day, but I would recommend at least three. However, having 4-6 smaller meals may work better for some people.

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