Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Priyanka Prasad
4 min readMar 30, 2021

“Eat like a king in the morning, a prince at noon, and a peasant at dinner”

(Moses ben Maimon or Maimonides. 1135–1404)

Have you been coaxed by your parents into eating your breakfast on time? I am guessing quite often.

Breakfast has often been referred to as the most important meal of the day. But, what is the truth to the that? Is it really the most important meal as claimed so? Let’s see.

What is the history of Breakfast?

Breakfast during the greek and roman times was considered only as a meal of convenienc e since it didn’t require much cooking and consisted simple items like bread, cheese, honey and oil. In fact if we go even further beyond in time, the Ancient Romanshads had only one substantial meal which they usually consumed at around 16:00 h, and they believed that eating more than once per day was unhealthy.

While there is not much evidence to show the importance of breakfast in the early medieval times, research shows that breakfast in the early days was mostly a meal for the infants or early risers or the infirm.It was during the industrial revolution that breakfast became an important meal to be consumed before going to work.

Understanding Breakfast

The definition of breakfast continues to vary between studies. This is because, breakfast as a term was invented and did not really exist. In the early days, Monks defined Breakfast as “breaking the night’s fast”, pointing out as the first meal after the evening/night devoted to prayer.

Currently, the definition by Timlin and Pereira ( 4): “ first meal of the day, eaten before or at the start of daily activities (e.g., errands, travel, work), within 2 h of waking, typically no later than 10:00 in the morning, and of an energy level between 20 and 35% of total daily energy needs “ is accepted as an academic standard.

Does breakfast kickstart or boost your metabolism?

A lot of studies claim that having breakfast early during the day, jumpstarts your metabolism. However, these studies have not been able to prove any causality. Studies have shown that skipping breakfast itself will not lower your resting metabolic rate(RMR) as long as you are eating your maintenance calories. What really matters for your metabolism is the total amount of food consumed throughout the day. It makes no difference at which times, or how often, you eat.If you eat lower than your maintenance calories throughout the day, then yes, your RMR might decrease.

Does skipping breakfast lead to overeating during the day?

It is quite logical that skipping breakfast may cause you to be more hungry and can lead you to eat more in your next meal but do you think one can really have two meals at once? I don’t think so. Skipping breakfast makes you eat more at lunch, but not enough to compensate for the breakfast you skipped. In fact, some studies have even shown that skipping breakfast may reduce overall calorie intake by up to 400 calories per day.

In a 4-month long study which compared the weights of 309 overweight/obese men and women on eating or skipping breakfast, it was found that there was no substantial difference in weights between groups. Whether people ate or skipped breakfast, it just didn’t matter as long as one took care of their calorie intake.

Does timing matter?

A lot of studies suggest that breakfast should be consumed within 2–3 hours of waking up as it regulates energy intake during the other meals of the day (by reducing total daily calorie and lipid intake), and increases the intake of fibres, vitamins and minerals. However these studies again lack any causality. Correct nutritional intake and regulation of energy intake in other meals can be done even with skipping breakfast. As long as your daily daily nutrition profile are complete and calorie intake are regulated, it does not matter if you eat your first meal within 2 hours of waking up or after 5 hours.

Health effects of Breakfast

Studies have suggested that skipping breakfast may lead to hunger pangs and resultantly binge on high carb and fatty foods. If prolonged, such a behaviour may lead to causing lifestyle disorders like overweight, obesity, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes. However, skipping breakfast has also been seen as a common technique in weight loss strategy also known as Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent fasting has been shown to effectively reduce calorie intake, increase weight loss and improve metabolic health.

Concluding Thoughts

Breakfast is optional. It’s not as important as much as it seems so. It is about the choices we make in terms of calories and food that determines the surrounding factors like our metabolism, health and weight. As long as you have the right food in the right quantity throughout the day is what matters. The body does not understand and cannot distinguish between breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a personal choice and if your body desires food within 2–3 hours of waking up, feel free to feed it with good nutritious food. If not, just make sure you eat the required macros and micros throughout the day.

Originally published at on March 30, 2021.



Priyanka Prasad

A Jill of many Trades| Writes about tech, law, business & lifestyle