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"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," at least that is what we have been conditioned to think. This is a phrase that was invented by two gentlemen in the 19th century to promote breakfast cereals. Today, there is a lot of controversy and study between breakfast-eaters and non-eaters and the correlation to obesity and health. While many studies have failed to show that skipping breakfast leads to overeating the rest of the day or eating breakfast increases or decreases rates of obesity, there are many who forgo breakfast because they are following a particular weight-loss strategy or program, or just don't like to eat in the morning.
Research as recent as 2015 regarding the effect of breakfast on appetite regulation, energy balance and exercise found that people who regularly skipped breakfast tended to have higher body mass index and that the prevalence of chronic diseases increased among people who skipped breakfast. Additionally, the research showed that people who ate breakfast not only had healthier lifestyles but ate fewer snacks throughout the day.
However, in just a few short years there are questions as to why breakfast is being singled out for its link to obesity. Most experts would agree that there is limited evidence that supports or denies the theory that breakfast influences weight or daily food intake. Scientists argue both ends of the spectrum from saying that eating breakfast raises cortisol levels causing the body to become insulin resistant to saying that higher cortisol levels after waking is normal, and breakfast is critical to initiating the body's natural physiological functions within the tissues.
During the night while you sleep, liver glycogen drops by about 40%. For those who exercise first thing in the morning, experts recommend consuming breakfast at least one hour prior to activity to prevent any negative side effects. In fact, researchers do tend to agree that consuming breakfast before a morning workout is necessary for an effective workout.
Studies have shown that breakfast increases the output of a workout improving chances of greater muscular endurance and strength. The body uses stored glycogen for bursts of energy that are needed and that high levels of glycogen result in greater training outcomes.
While research is still inconclusive about the importance of breakfast, choosing to eat breakfast or skip it is a personal choice. While there is no right or wrong choice, the best thing you can do is pay attention to your body and how it responds with or without breakfast. From day to day, your body's needs may change, so stay mindful and be flexible enough to adjust accordingly.
Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 773-1404.
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