This Is The Best Time To Eat Breakfast

by Georgina Lawton
Alexander Spatari/Moment/Getty Images

There's probably a smarter, more alert, more tuned-in version of me in a parallel universe somewhere, if only I knew how to access her. But perhaps the answer lies in re-structuring my day — specifically my morning. If you've ever wondered when the best time to eat breakfast is, or, whether changing your morning routine can alter your moods or productivity, then thank your Lucky Charms that science has an answer for us.

Breakfast (which literally means breaking your "fast" after a night of sleep) has long been lauded as the most important meal of the day, with experts suggesting that a nutrient heavy breakfast such as eggs and toast or porridge can work wonders for improving our alertness and managing our energy levels. However, although we may carefully consider what we eat, we often give less thought to the time of day at which we eat it. Add that to the fact that busy routines and work commitments, and well... sometimes it may feel near impossible to switch things up in the morning.

But it turns out that in the great quest for a more improved version of ourselves, breakfast actually matters. A lot. Whether you're concerned about workouts or your productivity levels at work, here's what science has to say on the subject:

Early Reigns Supreme

Eating breakfast within an hour of waking up is widely recommended by experts as a way to keep your blood sugar levels even and maintain a healthy life. According to Live Strong, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) recommends eating breakfast within 60 minutes of waking, with dietitian Cynthia Sass affirming the same bed-to-bowl rule on Healthy Eating. Sass says eating during this period kick-starts your metabolism and ensures that your blood sugar and insulin levels stay regulated. She also believes that leaving it too long to tuck into food makes it more likely that you'll choose high-fat, high-calorie options later on, due to hunger pangs.

Carbs And Fats Can Give You A Boost In The Morning

Popsugar reports that carbs and fats should be enjoyed at breakfast, according to celebrity trainer Bob Harper. Not only do carbs and fats contain essential nutrients for fueling our bodies first thing, but moreover, eating them early on means you'll get ample time to use that fuel throughout the day.

Breakfast Before Exercise Can Jump Start Your Workout

Apparently a pre-breakfast workout will help you perform better. Dietician Katherine Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic, recommends eating breakfast between one to two hours before starting your morning workout to boost glycogen stores and blood sugar levels, which can drop after a night's sleep. Breakfast before exercise will also fuel your body and help you smash your workout targets, reports Healthy Eating. They also recommend that if you're unable to get up earlier to prepare a sufficient breakfast before the gym, snacking on something light like a piece of fruit will get the job done. And CNN cites a UK study which found that participants who regularly ate breakfast experienced a higher energy expenditure in their daily physical activity over a six-week period, compared to those who didn't eat until noon.

Breakfast After A Workout Has Its Benefits, Too, Depending On Your Fitness Goals

Although it's not for everyone and you should check with your health care provider before hitting the gym with no fuel, a study from the University of Northumbria in the UK found that those who exercised on an empty stomach burnt up to 20 percent more body fat than those who ate beforehand. And Robert Ferguson, M.S., C.N. and founder of Diet Free Life told the Huffington Post that exercising pre-breakfast can be highly beneficial, as well: “Your muscles don’t have much sugar to draw from so you are more likely to tap into your stored energy, which means releasing and burning what I refer to as surplus fat," he said.

Although a study published in 2016 suggests that it's possible breakfast isn't quite as important as previously thought, what the breakfast eaters among us can take away from the body of research is this: If you're going to eat, do it within your first hour awake for maximum benefits. Rise and shine, indeed.

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