Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

O breakfast! O breakfast! The meal of my heart! Bring porridge, bring sausage, bring fish for a start, Bring kidneys and mushrooms and partridges' legs, But let the foundation be bacon and eggs. A. P HERBERT

Part 1: The foundation course
The time to start any new diet or way of eating is tomorrow! So, with that in mind, the obvious starting meal is breakfast. French cuisine is admired the world over; the Chinese, in the West, are renowned for takeaways; the Italians for their pastas and pizzas; the Japanese for raw fish. Although, in gastronomic terms, England tends, it seems, to be thought of only in terms of fish and chips, the fact is that the English have given the world what is without doubt the finest and most important meal of all: breakfast. In the face of a traditional cooked English breakfast, French croissants and Swiss muesli pale into nutritional insignificance; only the German cold meats, cheese and hard-boiled eggs, come close. For breakfast a good breakfast, that is makes all the difference: not only does it determine how well you will perform and how well you will feel throughout the day; it also plays a crucial role in determining whether or not you will be healthy. Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, it is better to take meals spread out over the day, rather than have one large one. The pattern that has been suggested for centuries is: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord and dine like a pauper. In other words, the biggest meal should be at the start of the day, when energy for work is required, instead of the more usual practice of having it in the evening when all you are going to do is sit and watch television and then go to bed. It makes a great deal of sense. Several lines of research have suggested that both children and adults get fatter and perform less well if they do not have breakfast. The average working woman and man needs some 2,100 and 2,800 calories a day respectively. If you are engaged in heavy physical work, you require more. If you are to spread out your calorie intake over three meals a day sensibly, therefore, you really should be thinking in terms of eating a breakfast comprising around 800 or 1,000 calories. And you can t do that on muesli and skim med milk.

Blood sugar deficiency
Although I have a fried breakfast every day now, I didn t always. I like cornflakes. So even after I had started to eat this way, I had cornflakes with Jersey milk for breakfast every Sunday as a treat. At about 10 o clock on a Sunday I would get the car out to wash it and start work. I noticed, however, that after I was about halfway through, I started to get what I called weak and wobbly .

you become depressed and uncooperative. refined sugar. In contrast. At the level of 5 or above. It depends on what and how much food was eaten at the last meal. if your food intake ensures that your blood glucose is maintained at a level above fasting. protein or fat. glucose levels were measured for six hours after breakfasts that were high in carbohydrate.8 mmol/L and 6. you become progressively exhausted. Normally we eat such a wide variety of foods that deficiency of one essential nutrient seems impossible but there is one deficiency that can happen and when it does. a packaged cereal with milk and sugar. glucose. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it determines what your energy levels will be. the high-carbohydrate breakfast. irritable and aggressive. Our bodies need over forty different nutrients to function properly. programmed into all of us by our evolution: it is our body s signal to us to go out and kill something to eat. not just for the immediate period after it is eaten. That. bacon.So I would come in. which consisted of orange juice. quality is much more important than quantity. have something to eat and sit until the feeling passed. can ruin your whole day: that is a deficiency of the blood sugar. and coffee . Results of early breakfast studies Many studies have been conducted into the effects of various foods and mealtimes on blood glucose levels. It requires only a small reduction in b lood sugar levels for your brain s energy supply to fall to a level where thinking is confused and slowed. weakness and tremors in your limbs. If you have not eaten for twelve hours. energy is readily available but as energy is used and your blood sugar level falls energy becomes scarcer and you start to become tired. and how efficiently you will operate. and have no feelings of depression or hunger. Eating too much of the wrong foods is as bad as. be quick and alert.1 mmol/L. not eating enough of the right ones. Only when blood glucose levels are adequate can the cells that need it obtain the amount of energy they need. In one study conducted at Harvard University in 1943. your blood sugar level will be between 3. This is a natural reaction to starvation. you will feel on top of the world with plenty of go . But just eating something is simply not good enough: for breakfast. determines how you will feel and act. All body cells and the brain need energy to function. and in some cases worse than. I never had these weak and wobbly episodes after a fried breakfast. with an average at about 4. As this process continues. but throughout the day.[1] y In the light of breakfasts today. develop headaches. palpitations of the heart. Below about 4 you will feel hungry and your tiredness will become fatigue. Fresh fat meat supplies them all. toast and jam. I must be dense because it was years before I realised that this only happened when I had breakfast cereal. If your blood sugar level continues to fall. even for a few hou it rs. in turn. This energy comes from the oxidation of glucose or glucose and fat. on the other hand supplies only one.5 mmol/L. They have all demonstrated the importance of the breakfast meal. and nausea. This figure is known as the fasting blood sugar level.

The effects on the subjects of these various breakfasts were then studied after they had eaten lunch. 2. Where blood sugar levels had been low in the morning. This time blood glucose levels rose to 6. the typical American breakfast. Unfortunately. but it fell again within one hour to a low level. 4. neither of the others was representative of breakfasts in the real world. The high-protein breakfast contained skimmed milk. To assess their relative influence. blood sugar rose rapidly but fell to a level below the pre-breakfast level within an hour. lean minced beef and cottage cheese. Several similar studies have since been conducted.y y with milk and sugar. and feelings of hunger.6 and stayed at that level throughout the whole six hours. the results were remarkably consistent: efficiency and feeling of wellbeing experienced after meals was directly . which resembled what many today would consider a normal breakfast. 3. looked at today. might seem quite good. The findings. levels after lunch rose only for a matter of minutes. remaining low until lunchtime. A glass of orange juice. are quite remarkable as breakfasts that gave the worst results are those that are now the most popular: 1. this time. Both these studies showed that the amount of protein eaten at breakfast time was highly relevant. This time. but fell just as quickly to a very low level. blood sugar levels rose and stayed up all morning. was more rapid and to an even lower level. It wasn¶t. toast. 6. The high-fat breakfast consisted only of a packaged cereal with whipping cream. was the worst. was the next meal tested. nervousness. in this series of tests. irritability. fatigue. A similar breakfast replacing the eggs by fortified full-cream milk was also beneficial. causing inefficiency and feelings of hunger and fatigue. with breakfast cereal added. As C. two strips of bacon. Those who had eaten the most protein at breakfast retained a high blood sugar level all afternoon. As C. Six years later another American test addressed this flaw. Again there was a rapid rise in blood sugar followed by a fall which. This time blood glucose levels rose only slightly and then returned to the fasting level throughout the period. Two doughnuts and coffee with milk and sugar caused a rapid rise in blood sugar. The result was the same: a rapid rise followed quickly by a fall to abnormally low levels. jam and coffee with cream and sugar. After this meal the subjects¶ glucose levels rose rapidly. although it did show that a high-carbohydrate meal. exhaustion and headaches that became progressively worse. blood sugar levels were measured before breakfast and then at hourly intervals for three hours afterwards. 5. however. Black coffee alone was the first breakfast to be tested. lassitude. falling to a low level that lasted all afternoon. after the largely carbohydrate breakfasts. except that the cereal was replaced by oatmeal served with milk and sugar. This caused a drop in blood sugar levels. as did efficiency and a feeling of wellbeing. giving similar symptoms to the coffee-only breakfast.[2] This time the subjects ate a variety of commonly eaten American breakfasts. Where the foods eaten were realistic. Again. The same again but with two eggs added.

this study looked only at cereals to reach its conclusion that cereals were better. margarine. an average rasher of bacon is about the same. problem solving and obesity also increasingly used only carbohydrate-based foods. But this is not surprising when you discover that all the breakfasts were made up of varying amounts of white bread.related to the amount of protein eaten. The best breakfasts of all were those that also included fat and a little carbohydrate. 'Better' is a comparative word. an egg contains between 6 and 7 grams of protein. full-cream milk on those cereals was replaced with semi-skimmed or skimmed milks. therefore. It also reported that elderly cereal eaters were found to have higher IQs. trials aimed at testing the effects of breakfast on mood. medium-fat/mediumcarbohydrate. the practice of having any breakfast was declining. For example. Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day Part 3: Exceptions By the 1970s. Fifty-five grams of protein was required to keep the levels high for six hours. These meals are all seriously protein deficient. In other words. How can cereals be 'better' if they were not compared to other foods? Three other good reasons for having breakfast . without knowledge of the previous studies' results. therefore. the study also provided no information about cooked breakfasts because the diets of non-cereal eaters were not recorded. This was true of all meals. To put these figures in perspective. Twenty-two grams of protein seemed to be the minimum for a breakfast to be effective. and that seems to refute the findings of the previous studies. Had breakfasts contained protein. conducted by Professor Andy Smith of the University of Bristol. speaking to the British Psychological Society. Another study. jam. Results from these have tended to question the previous findings by purporting to show that high-carbohydrate breakfasts are best. this seems to be the case.[12] This study found that not having breakfast did not have any marked detrimental effects. extra-thick double cream. This suggests that breakfast is not so important after all. If these studies are taken alone. After the end of the 1970s. the results would undoubtedly have been very different. workers at the Institute of Food Research and the University of Reading conducted a study of sixteen people given low-fat/high-carbohydrate. But Professor Smith. high-fat/low-carbohydrate breakfasts or no breakfast at all. admitted that not only did his study not look at the type of cereal eate to n see if one was any better than others. As fat became 'unhealthy'. This reported a study of 600 people's breakfast habits and concluded that those who regularly ate cereal first thing in the morning had a more positive mood than those who ate other foods or had no breakfast. and cooked meals were being replaced by more cereal-based meals. maltodextrin (a commercially-produced sweetener made from cereals) and water. This kept blood glucose levels up for the three hours. a sweetened milk drink. give you more than your 22 -gram requirement. sent completely the wrong message to readers of The Times on 5 April 1997. Two eggs and two rashers of bacon. cognitive response.

And the last reason is because. Japan. If you are used to feeling weak and hungry by mid -morning. according to a study at the Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute. which works best in the morning. Nagoya. for most people. A study of French women with gallstones found that they had fasted on average for two hours longer overnight than women without the disease. . you will be astonished by the difference a good breakfast makes. Never 'make do' with a slice of toast and a cup of coffee. Anyone who is constipated would do well to cultivate the fried breakfast habit. cheese or fish will give you an amazing amount of energy throughout the whole day. Although a cup of coffee can set off this reflex action. This is caused by the 'gastrocolic reflex'. Even if it takes some time to get used to it. The second reason is that breakfast. a piece of fruit or salad and a drink. do persevere. I urge you to make time for breakfast the time it takes will soon be made up later as you will work more efficiently. If you truly haven't time to cook in the morning or cannot face a cooked breakfast. meat. Cancer. the strongest stimulus is dietary fat. why not try a real Continental breakfast? Keep some hard-boiled eggs in the fridge and have one or two for breakfast with cold meat and/or cheese. The avoidance of gallstones is the first good reason not to miss breakfast. A good meal of eggs. You must change this regime.[13] Constipation.Gallstones. is followed by a trip to the lavatory.[14] Conclusion There is no doubt that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many people have their major meal at the end of the day. sleep badly as a result and then have no appetite for breakfast. a Western-style breakfast and salty food reduces the risk of oral cancer.

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