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The Importance of Eating Breakfast

In a world driven by a tight schedule, the lack for individual health can sometimes suffer.  Skipping breakfast has become a common practice in many house holds and unfortunately can have short and long term affects on the body.

Breakfast fuels the preferential oxidation of glucose (3), meaning breakfast is typically high in carbohydrates, or glucose, which is oxidized and broken down into fuel for the body.  This is especially important for children aged 3 to 11.  That age group has a higher ratio of brain weight to liver weight, which means that they have a 50% greater metabolic rate per unit brain weight (3).  The brain accounts for up to 50% of body oxygen consumption (5).  Children of this age exert greater demand on glycogen stores (glucose stored in the muscle fiber for extra energy) during overnight fasts.

Adolescents, along with children, have higher sleep demands which means they have longer overnight fasting periods.  This depletes glycogen stores overnight (5). Breakfast may supply energy to control short term metabolic response to fasting conditions (4).  People forget that when kids sleep for 10 hours, that also means they have not eaten in that amount of time.  Breakfast may also provide long term improvements of nutrient balance and distribution which directly affects cognitive processes (1). All this science means that kids and teenagers brains consume a lot more glucose, or carbohydrates.  This underlines the importance of breakfast for cognitive function and academic achievement for a healthy brain.

The most evident benefits of breakfast consumption were on measures of memory, specially attention task later in the morning (2). Verbal recall, task specific recall, and quality episodic memory were greatly altered compared to people that consumed breakfast (1).  This means that people who do not consume breakfast will have a hard time focusing and recalling information.  Athletic performance, especially in a game, is based on recalling information from practice.  Yes, not eating breakfast can cause your game play to suffer which means loses or sitting on the bench. 

To sum up all this confusing science stuff, breakfast is important for short term and long term health.  Cognitive function, specifically memory recall and attention task, greatly suffer when breakfast is not consumed.  No matter what the age, the brain needs glucose.  The brain, being the most important organ, gets glucose no matter where it’s from.  If you do not feed the brain glucose, it can take it from glycogen stores in the muscle fiber, which now the muscle does not have glucose to preform movements.  Everyone needs to eat breakfast!

AJ Rafter is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab. He is currently working on his Masters in Food Science at Chapman University.




1.Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Champ CL, Dye L. 2016. The Effects of Breakfast and Breakfast Composition on Cognition in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Advances in Nutrition 7(3):590S-612S.

2.Edefonti V, Rosato V, Parpinel M, Nebbia G, Fiorica L, Fossali E, Ferraroni M, Decarli A, Agostoni C. 2014. The effect of breakfast composition and energy contribution on cognitive and academic performance: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 100(2):626-56.

3.Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. 2009. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 22(2):220-43.

4.Pollitt E, Mathews R. 1998. Breakfast and cognition: an integrative summary. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 67(4):804S-13S.

5.Sokoloff. L 1976. Circulation and energy metabolism. In Basic Neurochemistry, pp. 388-413 [GJ Siegel, RW Albers and BW Agranoff, editors]. Boston: Little Brown.