Remember the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” It’s true.


In an age when two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese and obesity rates in children continue to rise, would an intervention such as consuming breakfast daily help combat this problem? Skipping breakfast has become increasingly common in adults and adolescents in the United States, with the proportion of adults and children skipping breakfast increasing from fourteen to twenty-five percent between 1965 and 1991 (1,2). Additionally, skipping breakfast may be detrimental to other functions.

According to Dr. Charles Parker: Breakfast for many is rationalized into insignificance. Upon first review, it seems like almost everyone who comes in for a second opinion has somehow missed the necessary protein breakfast lecture. You can’t recover easily from ADD problems without a careful review of breakfast patterns. Proteins are neurotransmitter precursors. Said another way: no wood, no fire. [3]

Experts agree, yet few practitioners have the clinical experience of Dr Sidney Baker regarding food, breakfast and brain health. He has written many books on the subject of brain health, and has extensive experience with that ominous canary in the coal mine: childhood autism. In his book on autism he specifically reviews the necessity for a nutritional protein breakfast.

So how does breakfast fit with that complex subject – autism spectrum, and just what does it have to do with ADHD?

Well Dr Baker has also written another very interesting book called The Circadian Prescription that brings together the protein and breakfast question into an easy, practical perspective. Said in a snapshot: a Protein Breakfast will make the metabolic day work right. Breakfast directly helps with brain health. Others have demonstrated that test scores in the PM [2PM] are directly improved by a protein breakfast in college students.

Psych Meds Need Fuel
From a psychiatric medication perspective protein breakfast works like this:

The psych meds are often helpful, but quite often create a problem if taken on an empty stomach. Most [not Vyvanse] hop directly into the bloodstream, and can create odd mental/physical feelings. On an empty stomach psych meds often kill the appetite all day. Stimulant meds for ADHD are notorious for killing the appetite, leaving brain function to hang out the window.

Further, psych meds only rearrange and collect neurotransmitters ["reuptake inhibitors"], they don’t build or create new neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, in a word, come from protein. So if you only have a pop-tart for breakfast you are only poking the coals of a dying fire. Sure the carbs will carry you for the moment with energy, but we’re using psych meds to actually have a positive effect on neurotransmitter/brain activities, not carry you on fumes.

As they walk out the door you want your child’s steam engine to carry them up that daily hill. But the steam engine won’t go anywhere without wood on the fire. ADHD is especially vulnerable to changes in protein as protein effects that neurotransmitter balance.

Protein adds the wood, the meds poke the coals, now you have a fire. The foundation for neurotransmitter activity and the constructive rearrangement will improve brain function. [4]

Kids Need Their Morning Meal
While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, kids need it even more. Their growing bodies and developing brains rely heavily on the regular intake of food. When kids skip breakfast, they can end up going for as long as eighteen hours without food, and this period of semistarvation can create a lot of physical, intellectual, and behavioral problems for them.

A Good Investment
If you and your kids regularly skip breakfast in the interest of saving time or getting a few more minutes of sleep, remember that eating a wholesome, nutritious morning meal will probably save you time in the long run. By recharging your brain and your body, you’ll be more efficient in just about everything you do. Interestingly, studies show that kids who skip breakfast are tardy and absent from school more often than children who eat breakfast on a regular basis. Preparing a good breakfast can be as quick and easy as splashing some milk over cereal. Time invested in breakfast is much more valuable than the few extra minutes of sleep you might get by bypassing the morning meal. If you and your kids seem unable to make time for breakfast, consider enrolling your children in a school breakfast program, if possible, or pack a breakfast brown-bag the night before so that you and your kids can eat on the way to school and work. [5]

A six-year study compared the mental and physical efficiency of a group of adults throughout the day, some of whom ate healthy nutritious breakfasts while others did not. When compared to those who ate breakfast, the people who did not became less efficient as the day went on. Their productivity improved after eating lunch, but by the end of the day their work completion was slower than those who had eaten breakfast.

For children, a good breakfast is even more important. Children who do not eat a good breakfast become tired in school and have shorter attention spans, especially late in the morning. In one study, test scores of children who did not eat breakfast were generally lower than those who had eaten a well-balanced morning meal. Another good reason to make sure that children have a balanced breakfast is that four out of five children do not get enough vitamins and minerals from lunch and dinner alone. By adding breakfast, children are more likely to get the vitamins and minerals they need. Also, children who don’t eat a good breakfast tend to eat more junk food during the day — snacks that are high in fat and sugar and low in nutritional value.

Breakfast improves academic performance and diet

Breakfast helps improve mental performance and concentration during morning activities. Children who skip breakfast will be more sluggish, less attentive, and have less energy to carry out their morning tasks. Teachers observe that children who come to school hungry experience more learning difficulties compared to well-nourished children. Studies show that breakfast eaters perform much better in their school work and show extra energy in sports and other physical activities. Besides assuring optimal development and growth, positive effects on alertness, attention, performance on standardized achievement tests, and other skills important for academic success are enhanced for those who eat breakfast on a daily basis.

Breakfast and weight loss – what is the connection?

Some teenagers choose to skip breakfast as a means to lose weight. However, skipping breakfast actually makes people more likely to snack throughout the day and eat a larger meal at lunch and dinner. As a result, skipping breakfast may cause weight gain by making them eat excessively later in the day.   High-fibre, carbohydrate-rich breakfasts help kids feel full longer thus they may snack less. [6]

Continue reading these stories:

[1] Cho, S., Dietrich, M., Brown, C, et al. The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2003; 22(4): 296-302.

[2] Nicklas, TA., Baranowski, T., Cullen, KW., et al. Eating Patterns, Dietary Quality and Obesity. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2001; 20(6), 599-608.
[3]The 10 BIGGEST Problems With ADD/ADHD Medications
[4] Power Breakfast Recipe 1: Eat Protein
[5] Why Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day
[6] The importance of a healthy breakfast

Cover photo:

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Leave a Reply

Connect with:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>