Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

There are two types of gourmets: those who treat themselves to a competitive breakfast to start the day on the right foot and those who can’t swallow anything in the morning and prefer to wait a few hours before waking up their stomach. If you fall into this second category, you have probably had to deal with the pleas of your parents who insisted that you not miss out. “the most important meal of the day”. But is skipping breakfast really as bad as you think? The famous saying “in the morning eats like a king, at noon eats like a prince and in the evening like a beggar” is it really an essential pillar for a healthy and energetic life? We posed our questions to two registered dietician nutritionists – Clara Routiaux and Céline Simon – as well as Chloë Shaw Jackson, a nutrition expert who has a doctorate and is trained in health nutrition and micro nutrition.

In video, how to reduce your sugar consumption:

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Can we skip it?

Celine Simon: “I don’t really like this wording because, for me, all meals are important. It depends on the patient: some find breakfast very important, others can do without it. Of course, we will not necessarily impose breakfast on our patients if it does not suit their lifestyle, habits, culture or work schedules. The most important thing is to find a food structure that suits them according to their prerogatives related to their daily lives. »

Clara Routiaux: ” Yes and no. For me, all meals are important because we need energy throughout the day. However, breakfast provides us with a source of energy and gets our bodies going. It also limits snacking and concentration problems. You should eat when you start to feel hungry and when you have time. Do not eat on the go, in your car. »

Chloe Shaw Jackson: “If we eat breakfast – and I insist on if – then yes, breakfast seems to me the most important, because it is the meal that is going to have the greatest impact on our metabolic and mental health. A breakfast must, if you take one, be rich in protein and low in carbohydrates (sugar, editor’s note). A very sugary breakfast will cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which will result in faintness and food cravings. This affects your day and you can, in the long run, develop insulin resistance. Breakfast is the starter of your day. Some people need breakfast, some don’t and that can also change over the years. »

It is often said that when you miss breakfast, you take in more calories at the next meal. Is it a myth or a reality?

Celine Simon: “We tend to eat more when we are hungry. If we skip breakfast and it’s not in our habits, we will tend to eat more at the next meal, it’s quite logical. So it depends on people’s habits. If you skip breakfast all the time, there’s no reason you should eat more at the next meal. Conversely, if you usually eat breakfast, skip it, and have to wait until noon to eat, chances are you’ll be very hungry and consume more. of snack-type foods. When we are hungry, our body pushes us towards energy-dense foods. But, right now, the most energy-dense foods are ultra-processed and nutrient-poor. As a result, when we are very hungry, we will tend to spontaneously go for crisps, cookies or chocolate, foods that will have a much lower nutritional quality than those we would have eaten if we had taken the time to eat breakfast. lunch, as usual. »

Clara Routiaux: “It’s a myth. Calories don’t increase if you haven’t had a meal before. Obviously, if you skip breakfast, you will tend to eat more at midday and consume more calories. You have to listen to your body and eat when you feel like it, however I advise against skipping breakfast completely, especially if you work in the morning. »

Chloe Shaw Jackson: “It’s completely a myth!” »

Should we follow the intermittent fasting trend and postpone breakfast?

Celine Simon: “If it’s for the purpose of losing weight, I don’t recommend this type of drastic diet. These diets always work by cognitive restriction: we deprive ourselves of a meal without listening to our food sensations. Once you stop listening to your body, you’re more likely to break down – and that’s normal as you drastically change your diet. You will then have the impression of having failed and you will feel guilty. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If, on the other hand, you do not feel the need to eat breakfast and you practice, a little “unconsciously”, intermittent fasting, without having a weight loss goal, this is not a bad thing. »

Clara Routiaux: “I’m not a big fan of intermittent fasting. I find that it is very difficult to set up on a daily basis, that it generates a lot of frustration and that it cuts the social side of the diet. I do not recommend it at first glance, especially for the purpose of weight loss. Once you get back to your usual routine, you will regain the lost weight. I could possibly recommend it to more athletic profiles, but on condition that they are supervised by a food professional. If it’s your habit, so much the better, but I wouldn’t recommend it. »

Chloe Shaw Jackson: “Doing intermittent fasting is very natural, our ancestors did it. Today, we no longer lack food, but I recommend a 12-hour fast between the last meal of the day before and the first meal of the day. A fast that you can slightly extend, if you wish. This puts the intestines at rest, reduces inflammation and, among other things, reduces oxidative stress. »

What is the ideal breakfast?

Celine Simon: “For me, there isn’t really an ideal breakfast, it’s very cultural in the end. What is certain is that each meal should include a source of starch. It does not have to be sweet or salty, the most important thing is that the food structure of your day is balanced and that you eat a sufficient source of starch per meal to last until the next one. »

Clara Routiaux: “For me, the ideal breakfast should include a portion of fruit, should be high in fiber and should contain lots of vitamin C. It is better to eat a whole fruit than a smoothie, because the latter increases the rate of blood sugar. I also recommend a dairy product as well as a serving of cereal – preferably wholegrain. You can possibly provide a small sweet filling in reasonable quantity and, which is preferably little processed (such as honey, maple syrup or a homemade compote reduced in sugar). »

Chloe Shaw Jackson: “It has to be fatty and rich in protein in order to provide a feeling of satiety. This helps to stave off food cravings and maintain a steady energy level throughout the day. You can also eat vegetables or fruits with a low glycemic index. Avoid a very sweet breakfast, such as a slice of white bread spread with chocolate and accompanied by a banana. Prefer eggs, yogurts, wholemeal bread, legumes or oilseeds. »

• Céline Simon,
• Clara Routiaux,
• Chloë Shaw Jackson,

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