August Blog Posts

The Science Behind Breakfast

"Breakfast is the best meal of the day. If you eat breakfast, you’ll eat less during the day." We’ve heard these phrases for years, but is there science behind it? In fact, breakfast is a highly researched area—and scientists have found that it has benefits for adults and children alike.

In children, daily breakfast intake has been shown to improve cognitive function, grades, school performance and weight control. In adults, breakfast consumption is correlated with improved diet quality. It can also decrease risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Eating breakfast regularly makes you more likely to have higher intakes of essential nutrients like fiber, calcium, potassium, and iron. To promote health, the Department of Health and Human Services’ 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines advise a nutrient-dense breakfast every day.

The big question is—what’s a good morning meal?

What should you eat for breakfast?

Nutrition experts suggest that breakfast should be 15% to 35% of a person’s caloric needs depending on snacking habits. For a 2000 calorie diet, that’s a 300- to 700-calorie breakfast. The meal should include at least three food groups—whole grains, nonfat or low-fat dairy, fruits or vegetables, and lean proteins. Eating a variety of foods will provide nutrients to start the day.

Studies have associated breakfasts rich in protein with lower daily caloric intake—it may decrease hunger and cravings throughout the day. Studies also suggest that increased protein consumption in the morning may have a positive impact on body composition and blood sugar control.

Great protein options for breakfast include eggs and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Whole grain cereals, oatmeal, toast, and English muffins are wonderful vegetarian options that pack healthy carbs, protein, and fiber. Other great additions to your morning entrees include beans, hummus, nuts, and seeds—all things that will fill you up and keep you feeling full.

Not a fan of breakfast foods? No problem! You can enjoy your favorite lunch or dinnertime foods in the morning instead. It’s about the time of day as much as what’s on your plate.

Nutrient-Packed Breakfast Ideas

  • You can’t go wrong with oatmeal—steel-cut, old fashioned, or quick cooking. Make with your favorite choice of milk and top with fruit and nuts. If there’s only a little time to make breakfast, try overnight blueberry-cinnamon oats.

  • Kodiak Cakes® Power Cakes waffles topped with Greek yogurt and a fruit of your choice.

  • Try a fresh fruit and yogurt parfait. Layer fat-free or low-fat yogurt and top it with your favorite granola or cereal and fruit.

  • Cottage cheese topped with ground flax seed, chopped nuts, and berries.

  • Try a veggie frittata, vegetarian breakfast burrito, or an egg sandwich with low-fat sliced cheese on a whole grain Thomas® English muffin or Flatout® wrap. Eggs are packed with protein, potassium, and vitamins A and B12—a great breakfast option with endless possibilities.

  • Make 100% whole wheat toast with avocado and hummus with a glass of low-fat milk.

Melanie is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is all about evidence-based science. She loves to delve into the latest nutrition craze (or rumor) and get the facts. In her series “Putting the Science in Nutritional Sciences,” she sorts through the hype and gives you the information you need to make an informed decision about what you see on the news and all over your social media.