No Wellness Wankery

29: Breakfast. Is it REALLY the most important meal of the day?

September 20, 2022
No Wellness Wankery
29: Breakfast. Is it REALLY the most important meal of the day?
Show Notes Transcript

Breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day. Or is it?

For many of us, the idea that we need to eat breakfast each morning is deeply ingrained. But do you actually need to eat in the morning to be healthy?

Maybe when you were a kid, breakfast was a non-negotiable. Then, as you grew up, you were likely bombarded with diet articles, telling you to eat’ breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’.

And it can feel like no expert can ever agree on whether or not breakfast is important for your wellbeing. 

So then – do you actually need to eat breakfast to be healthy? Well, it depends who’s asking… Let’s get into it.

Ps. Looking for brekkie inspo? You'll be stoked to find hundreds of FREE, deliciously simple recipes on my website!

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at

 This is the No Wellness Wankery podcast and it is listener question time. So many questions come through Lyndi’s inbox and as always, if you have a question on your mind, send it through. Send a voice note and we can even feature yours on the podcast, nude underscore nutritionist. By the way, my name is Jenna and I am joined by Lyndi, who I just talked about. Hello. And welcome to the podcast. This week's question is from Carly and it's a question that I've always been thinking about as well because we've always been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We should be having breakfast. We need to start our day properly. So Carly is just wondering, is breakfast as important as they say it is?

 Is it the be all and end all of our day? Oh, I so love this question. So basically, it goes against everything that we've ever been taught about eating breakfast. Often we're being told that having breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we should do it if we want to be healthier. And this is just like a perfect example of what happens in the nutrition world. So I don't know if you understand the way that study design works. So each researcher is going to design their own study. There's varying levels of research evidence, like where some are better than others and there's bias as well. So sometimes you can find certain insights by looking into one study and then you can do the exact test for the exact opposite thing and find something that's going to support what you're trying to find out as well.

 And this is how we get some research that says that you shouldn't have breakfast and it's also how we get research that says breakfast is an important meal of the day. So let's dive into it. What about breakfast? I always think you need to have breakfast because I like to have a coffee in the morning and then so many things I've read is like, well, you need to have food with coffee, like you can't just start your day with coffee and that kind of goes into it with my head. Okay, well, you can start your day with just coffee and not having food. If it makes you feel jittery, then you might want to eat something but if you have the coffee and you're like, oh, I'm fine, especially if you're having milk with it, that's probably going to help your body stabilize it with the caffeine response, then I think that's totally fine.

 When it comes to having breakfast, one school of thought is you must have breakfast. Just to take this back to where did this idea come from, the guy who invented Kellogg, he was really intelligent the way that he kind of turned breakfast into something that became coined as the most important meal of the day. It wasn't based on any research or evidence to say that it is the most important meal of the day. It was simply a marketing campaign done by Kellogg's company to make us think that breakfast is an important thing because cereal was at the time a novel food. No one's like, well what is cereal? Why would I eat cereal? So they created a whole time of the day when they told people this is when you should be eating. Really? Yeah, so it's totally, it is made up and now there is evidence to say that people who do have breakfast tend to have more whole grains and it's also a good chance to have certain nutrients and if you don't have it then maybe you're not getting as many nutrients throughout the day but that's not the case necessarily.

 So it's a lot of marketing, this idea that we need to have breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Nowadays, with the new intermittent fasting craze, people are telling us we shouldn't be having breakfast and there is evidence to back up this idea of how it can stabilize your blood sugar levels and have these positive benefits in your health. I'm going to come down to this one very simple solution for everyone who's listening about whether or not you should have breakfast. If you wake up and you are hungry for breakfast, that means your body needs energy and that's a good time to have breakfast. If you wake up and you're not that hungry, you don't need to have breakfast.

 You don't need to eat it as soon as you wake up. The idea is to actually wait until your body starts asking for energy and it does that by talking through your appetite and that's the perfect time to eat. So do you think people are either people that always need to have breakfast or people that never have to have breakfast or you can float in between? Definitely floating in between. So like some days if you wake up and you're hungry, eat breakfast. Depends on what you had the night before. If you had like a particularly large meal, you might find you're more hungry, you might find you're less hungry.

 So there's just that adjusting that. You might find there's a slight difference between having breakfast during the week or on the weekends. I will say that it does sometimes go beyond hunger levels because we do need to think about energy here as well. And sometimes when we have a first gap in the day. Just to go back a little bit, kids who are under 18, the research does say that they need to have breakfast, that that's really important for brain development.

 So what I'm really talking about here is adults. And if you find that your brain functions a lot better when you do eat a breakfast, then certainly I think that you should be having breakfast, even if you're not that hungry. And I think what we can do is we can play around with breakfast ideas. So throw out the typical idea of what someone should have for breakfast. And if you're not that hungry but you want a bit of energy, just think of it like a snack. You just want something in the tank.

 It could be a banana, like a banana fruit. That's your breakfast. That way you know you're getting energy to fill your brain, but it's not a huge breakfast that's going to overthrow you. Or it could be an apple. It could be a handful of nuts. It could be a glass of milk. It's just something to put something in the tank so you feel like you're not depleted. The other challenge for someone who wakes up and they're not hungry is someone who's like a shift worker.

 So let's say you're a teacher or a nurse and you're like, well, I'm not hungry now. I'm only going to get a first chance to eat at like 11 or 12 and by that point, I'm ravenous. So the same logic will apply to you. So maybe just having that lighter style of breakfast and then maybe your mid-morning is kind of like your lunch and so you're adjusting it around a little bit. The other thing you can do is also just try and play around, like notice, if I eat something more at night time, does that change my hunger the next day? It might do that, have that kind of impact.

 What about people that exercise in the morning? And then if they think they've used all this energy and then they need like a really high-protein breakfast, or those type of things. It's like, can you still do your movement or whatever you want to do in the morning and then maybe have not much breakfast if you're still not hungry? Okay, good question. Okay, so firstly, there's a group of people who don't eat breakfast in the morning because they think it's like to exercise while you're fasting. They think that's a whole thing.

 Oh, yes. I'm not about that life. I think if you're about to exercise and you need to have some energy so you actually power through and it doesn't have to be much. It can be something quite light and small. But if it's an intense exercise, then I think you should be eating. If you're just going for a walk and you feel like you're fine and you don't feel like depleted afterwards, that's a different situation. But I think if you're doing a high-intensity exercise, do get something in your tank so you have the right fuel.

 Now if you finish an exercise and you're still not hungry, I'd be quite surprised. But also, do you have to eat then? I wouldn't say you have to eat. It also depends on the type of exercise that you did. If you just did like an intense weight session with a lot of cardio and it was intense, you probably used a good amount of fuel. And so I would probably encourage you to replenish your carbohydrates and your protein reserves. However, if you're like, oh, you know what, I'm not hungry. I did like a nice long walk, but I'm still not like that's it just keep listening to your hunger levels and see what it actually comes up for you as you can see there is research that's going to say creating a bit of a fasting period is good for you and if that's what naturally happens in your life then do it or there's research to say that having breakfast is really good and eating more frequently is good so the key here is always to define what's going to work for you let's talk about what to have for breakfast because I think that's a another kind of controversial kind of topic.

 Yes. I was always told like, I know something that's been controversial with me is like oats are a superfood, but then oats is too high carbohydrate. That's so nutrition wellness wankery, isn't it? Yeah. This is great for you, but it's also terrible for you. Yeah. It's great for you, but you need to measure out a tiny quarter of a cup. It's a third of a... A quarter of a cup, third of a cup, it's a small amount and I'm like, I need more than that.

 Yes. And who decided that was a portion size? I would like to speak to you. That is not okay. Yeah, and then there's also the whole idea of like the whole high protein kind of breakfast. I think the best breakfast to have is the one that makes you feel good. Sometimes we get into a rut of eating the exact same thing, I definitely do this for breakfast. I have my old reliable muesli that I like to go to with my milk. But I do think that in an ideal world, you'd kind of have something with a bit of protein or a little bit of carbohydrates and a bit of fat.

 But I also just think, provided it's like getting those nutrients in there, you're not having cake for breakfast every morning, right? Not a muffin for breakfast, but rather you could go muesli, you can do your oats. And oats are certainly an awesome healthy breakfast. And I think instead of counting out how much of anything you need to eat, just eat until you feel full and satisfied. Oats should keep you feeling full for a good amount of time. I like eggs, but also making sure you're adding in some vegetables, adding in some carbohydrates if you need. Don't get into the trap of thinking I'm only allowed to have protein in the morning or that kind of stuff.

 What are some nice other breakfasts that we can have? Breakfast, a lot of the time, not many people have ample amounts of time in the morning. So I like breakfast choices that sometimes you can prep the night before and have some things in the fridge ready to go, like overnight oats I really like because you can just do it all. The night time, you have so much time when you're relaxing, like make yourself some overnight oats while you're watching TV, put them in the fridge and then you can just grab and go. You can, a lot of parts of smoothies, you can basically do most of it the night before and then just like add the frozen stuff and the milk and bliss. Totally.

 And if you want any recipe inspo for this kind of thing, there's plenty on my app called Back to Basics, loads of overnight oats, chia puddings, that kind of stuff that you can prep in advance. You can make it a week in advance so that you can rush out the door and you've got like a yummy exciting option that you can eat when you get to the office when you finally do get hungry for breakfast. Anyway I know that's like a big breakfast chat. I hope that answers your question. Thank you for submitting your question. If you've got a question you'd like to ask about anything related to nutrition, wellness or wankery, please send me a DM at nude underscore nutritionist on Instagram. Send me a voice note or even just send me some text and I'd love to respond to you and hopefully Jenna and I can give you our two cents worth.

 And I think if you're struggling with this concept of should I have breakfast, should I not have breakfast, Lindy has a really great hunger diary that you can download for free on her website. So you can actually start to get in touch with, are you hungry? Should you be having breakfast? Should you not? What do you feel like? It's a good starter in the... because the saying, are you hungry, is a lot easier said than done. So her free hunger diary is really helpful.

 Especially if you've been dieting for many years, you're like, what does hunger even feel like? Like, I feel like I'm about to faint, but I don't feel hungry. Then I'll be able to help you with that kind of stuff as well. So, please feel free to access this resource to check out. And thank you so much for listening. As always, like, subscribe, review. We'd love to hear from you, and we'll chat to you next time. Do you feel like you know what you should be eating but you feel completely out of control with food?

 You're either eating perfectly or you're face planting into the fridge. Well, if you've got binge eating or you're struggling with emotional eating, I can help. Check out my program, Keep It Real. I've got lots I can teach you and hey, you don't have to be a binge eater for the rest of your life. You can get 20% off Keep It Real when you use the code PODCAST when you check out via the website. And because I don't want this to be just another failed attempt for you, I'm offering a 30-day money-back guarantee because you know what, you've just got to give these things a go, no risk, give it a try, check out Keeper Real.