Whenever you hear people talk about breakfast, they kind of make it sound like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. “Without breakfast, you don’t have energy, you’re hungry all day, and on and on and on ad nauseum…”
But are they actually correct? Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Should you be eating a huge breakfast?
Big Breakfasts Aren’t Necessarily Good
You’ve seen those massive breakfasts some people have at the beginning of their day. They pile their plate high with heaps of eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, and just a wee bowl of fruit on the side. Many countries have huge breakfasts, a lot of which are loaded with carbs and not much else. If this is the kind of breakfast you’re thinking of, you’ve got the wrong idea.
The purpose of having a big breakfast is to fuel your body for the rest of the day, giving it the nutrients it needs for the activities you’ll be enjoying. If you stock up on carbs, you’ll cause a rise in your blood sugar. A short time after you eat the carb-heavy breakfast, you’ll get a crash in your blood sugar, and you’ll feel sleepy.
The key to having a good breakfast isn’t necessarily to have a big one. You don’t have to eat 1000+ calories just to feel like you’re starting the day out right. With just a few hundred calories, you’ll get an excellent breakfast that is complete – all of the food groups – and you can still feel full all morning long.
Here’s an example of a balanced breakfast that is healthy without being too heavy:
- 1 egg and 1 egg white (here’s where you get your protein)
- 2 slices of whole wheat toast (Some carbs, some fiber)
- A small portion of oatmeal or cereal (think half or ¼ of a bowl, just for extra carbs that are quickly absorbed and used)
- A serving or two of fruit (carbs, fiber, and healthy sugars for instant energy)
- ½ cup of milk (with the cereal, great for protein)
- 1 coffee or tea (energy boosting morning libation)
This is a balanced meal that will help you to start out your day in style, but it will only be about 600 calories – provided you skip the butter, the jam, the heavy cream, and go easy on the sugar. With this breakfast, you’ll be ready to work hard all morning long. By the time lunch rolls around, you’ll have used all the energy and will definitely be ready for a hearty lunch.
When It’s Good to Have a Big Breakfast
There are a few times when it’s good to start out the day with a big breakfast:
- You’re doing an intense workout in a few hours — A big breakfast will take about 3 to 4 hours to digest, so you’ll need to ensure that you eat with enough time before your activity. Eating a big meal will give you all the energy you need for an intense bodybuilding session, a training session at your boxing gym or martial arts studio, Yoga lesson, or your long-distance run.
- You do manual labor. If you work hard on a construction site, most of the energy you use will be in the first few hours of the morning. After lunch, there are only a few hours of your work left, so you won’t need as much energy as you will in the morning – when you work the most hours. Starting out with a big breakfast will give you the energy you need to haul heavy things all morning long!