The Most Important Meal of the Day?

The Most Important Meal of the Day?

It's Breakfast! Right? No- wait it's lunch now? But my biggest meal is dinner... somebody make it make sense!

Sound familiar? Would it be at all surprising to you if I told you all of this and none of this can be true all at once, hence why it's so confusing and why there seems to be so much conflicting information floating around out there?

Let's discuss, one meal at a time, in no particular order- but we'll start with breakfast. 

I know we have ALL heard "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" uttered many times before. Perhaps you've said it yourself! The first meal of the day is appropriately named for "breaking your fast" from the hopefully long and restful night of sleep you just enjoyed. While you were getting your snooze on, your body was carrying out a multitude of processes to help you be you - like regulating hormones, filtering out toxins, and recovering tissue/muscle damage. These processes require energy, and for some, an early morning meal helps to replenish from the night before and fuel the start of the day. If you do a little digging, you might be surprised (or maybe not at all surprised) to find that the roots of the age old adage can be traced back to America's favorite good ol' multimillion dollar cereal conglomerate, Kellogg's. A brilliant marketing ploy, and boy did it work - everyone knows and recognizes the cereal brands Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, just to name a few... when it comes to your health, however, I don't know that the Kellogg Company necessarily has your best interest in mind. Hello carb bomb, hello late morning crash. And while there is some science to support the claim that people who don't skip breakfast are less likely to be obese, it's tough to draw the conclusion that this is in fact a causal relationship. 

Alright, let's mosey onto lunch. A big contender, often overlooked - but some people may find that making lunch their biggest meal of the day works wonders, it raises their blood sugar when they are likely to be most active, and can help to reduce appetite/cravings around dinner time. Not surprisingly, next to breakfast, lunch tends to be the most commonly skipped meal in the states. Whether you're not able to take a break from work, maybe you're running around wrangling kids, maybe a big midday meal makes you feel sluggish- sometimes we reach for quick bites in less than ideal places - and don't take the time to even chew or notice we ate anything at all. This probably is not the best tactic for anyone, but especially if you're prone to blood sugar issues/insulin resistance, AND if you fall into the skipping breakfast category, this approach will only set you up to fail. Does this necessarily mean lunch is the MOST important meal of the day, though? We've already thrown out a lot of variables here, and there are more - so to make it short, it depends!

While we're rolling through this thought exercise, let's take a look at dinner. So maybe you've skipped breakfast, skimped on lunch, did a million things throughout the day, finally dinner is here. Of course this is the most important meal of the day - it's the ONLY meal. How easy it is now to grab a giant serving of everything, go back for seconds, maybe a few drinks to unwind, what's for dessert? Suddenly I'm craving sweet. Now the sun is setting and the body is winding down and preparing to get to work during sleep to help you recoup and recover - but it has the task of breaking down and digesting its biggest and possibly only meal first. Those other beautiful processes take a back seat, and digestion isn't exactly optimized either. There are a lot of studies that support the theory that late night heavy meals are not ideal, so no need to belabor the point here. I do think it is important to acknowledge that while understanding the science and biomechanics of how our bodies work is useful and necessary, we are social creatures, food and mealtimes have deep cultural and familial roots, and eating can and should be a joyful and connecting activity. 

We've touched on the big 3, raised a lot of good points, examined a bit of information in each, and yet we've barely scratched the surface to the amount of information available on the topic. We haven't even talked about snacks, or what KINDS of foods to eat, or intermittent fasting, etc. etc. etc. Therein lies the problem. As much as we'd love for it to be true, there is no one right way to eat, one perfect time of day to eat, one perfect meal plan to follow... What works for your best friend might not work for you! What worked for Chris Pratt might not work for you. What worked for you 10 years ago might not work for you now. What so many of these studies find that appear to be supporting a certain diet or time of day to eat this and not that are all proving - is that any shift in focus towards healthier, more intentional eating, and any decision to put in place a little bit of structure and routine, most likely will benefit the average person. A good place to start is with regular meals/snacks consisting of balanced macronutrients - instead of grabbing an apple, pair it with some almond butter, nuts or cheese. Get some healthy fat and protein going with that carb! Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Focus on nutrient dense foods, and don't forget to stay hydrated. The rest is largely dependent on YOU. You get to decide which meal is the most important to you and why and how. No one else knows how you feel better than you.


You've got this, but if you do need some help restructuring your relationship with food or you need some help in getting to your health goals reach out. We'd love to have you in for a free week of training sessions and to chat goals with you! 



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