For some, breakfast is the cornerstone of every day and nothing is possible without it. For others, lunch is the day’s first meal. In the US, for example, the latter is true of nearly one quarter of the population. What is the most common reason for this? They don’t have time! But what are the health risks of skipping breakfast? What happens in your body when you do? How does this influence your mental and physical performance? What is the ideal breakfast? Keep reading and you might be surprised!
In the morning, every minute counts. We spend our time waking the kids up for school, packing lunches, or getting ready for work, and there’s not much time left for a solid breakfast. What we often end up doing is drinking coffee and maybe eating something small while we’re on our way. Put simply, morning is more commonly about “making it in time” rather than establishing healthy eating habits.
But wouldn’t it make your whole day better if you took a little extra effort to start out on the right foot? Maybe some cold facts about the connection between breakfast and the biological processes your body undergoes during sleep will give you the kick you need...
Why should you “charge” your body in the morning?
The moment you go to bed, the activities of your nervous system are suppressed and most of your bodily processes slow down. But this doesn’t mean that your body is not working.
On the contrary, it slowly initiates the process of autophagy, which is an evolutionary self-preservation mechanism that allows the body to remove excess or non-functional cells and recycle their components.
This means that if we don’t burden the body with external stress at night (i.e. by eating), we go into “fasting mode” after falling asleep, which is what our bodies need to regenerate themselves. This is why we call breakfast “breakfast”—it breaks the fast.
But why is this so important? Even though you don’t consume any calories during sleep, your body still consumes energy. It breaks down glycogen into glucose in the liver, then stably releases it into the blood. This is extremely important, especially for the brain. The brain takes energy exclusively from glucose, which comes from carbohydrates we consume during the day.
In the morning, when a person hasn’t eaten for, let’s say, 12 hours, glycogen reserves are low. So, if you need to be productive in the morning, it’s best to break the fast with a new source of outside energy.
If the energy from our glycogen stores is depleted and we do not sufficiently replenish it, our bodies start “starving” and producing glycogen themselves, as well as metabolizing fat to produce ketone bodies, which serve as substitute sources of energy. Everyone responds differently to this state, but for many, such compensation is not sufficient, which is why we often feel more tired when we don’t eat breakfast.
When blood glucose levels drop, it is also much harder for us to focus and control our emotions, which can be a major problem, especially at work or school.
Breakfast helps set a proper biorhythm
The processes in our bodies do not take place randomly, but according to a biological clock located in the hypothalamus in the brain. This clock sets a 24-hour circadian biorhythm that regulates all bodily activity, including metabolism. So, it’s not just what you eat that’s important, but when you eat.
It has been scientifically proven that disruption of the circadian biorhythm negatively affects our feelings of hunger and satiety (via the hormones ghrelin and leptin). A study published by Cambridge University in 2010 demonstrated that people who do not eat according to their circadian rhythm or at unusual times (e.g. due to work or long travels), or who have night eating syndrome, have a higher incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Each organ has its own biological clock, according to which its functions switch on and off, and breakfast is one of those things (along with exposure to light) which tells your metabolism to start working.
Our circadian rhythm (CR) regulates our sleep-wake cycle, so it's important to keep it balanced. The hormones melatonin (a sleep hormone) and cortisol (a stress hormone responsible for wakefulness) help us do this. Our CR is extremely sensitive to light, so, for example, if you are exposed to blue fluorescent light before bed, your body still thinks it's day and blocks melatonin production. When your CR is disrupted, our bodies don't release cortisol after we wake up, so we get tired. Then, instead of a good breakfast, we turn to coffee to wake us up, and the cycle of bad habits, including eating, continues...
If you often ignore feelings of hunger in the morning, your body will start telling your brain to save fat and energy, and your metabolism will slow down. You will then start to digest food more slowly, and it will be harder for your body to get nutrients from the food you do eat, which can negatively affect your body weight. Insufficient supply of nutrients to the body in itself carries many health risks, but these will not be discussed here.
In short, here are the benefits of regularly eating a healthy breakfast:
- Better metabolism//weight control
- Stable blood glucose (blood sugar)
- Healthy heart
- More energy
- Better memory and concentration
- Less craving for junk food during the day
It’s important to note that these benefits only apply in case you eat a healthy breakfast that gives your body the nutrients it needs. Donuts, sugar cereals, and pancakes won’t do the trick.
The optimal breakfast should contain the right combination of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals. Since this is such an important topic, we’ll be addressing it in a separate section below, where you’ll learn not only about the effects of these nutrients on your body, but which foods contain them.
What should the ideal breakfast be?
Protein, fat, carbohydrates—these are the three macronutrients that must be part of every healthy diet. Protein-rich foods contain important amino acids, which serve as foundations for enzyme production and muscle building. They also act as precursors to some neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
Mana contains a balanced ratio of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and vitamins and minerals. This ratio is based on EFSA recommendations and the latest clinical studies in nutrition.
While optimal daily protein intake varies from person to person, the average recommended daily intake is 0.66 g of protein per kg of body weight, where excessive intake is more than 2 g per kg.
The truth about fat
For years, we have been taught that fat and healthy eating don’t go together. But today, we know that fat plays a crucial role in our health, and not just as a rich source of energy.
Fat is necessary for brain development, healthy skin and hair, and regulation of immunity. (Fats in the form of phospholipids are part of cell membranes, whereas those in the form of glycolipids participate in the construction of nerve tissue.) Fats also help us absorb important micronutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and are carriers of essential fatty acids and a number of protective substances (e.g. antioxidants and sterols). In fact, without the thermal and insulating properties of fat, most of our internal organs would not function properly, as the fat protects them from pressure and shock.
Among the healthiest fats are monounsaturated fatty acids, which are a good source of energy. Another healthy source of fat is polyunsaturated acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which play a vital role in the regulation of body fat. Omega-3s increase blood flow so that fats can better get to the places where metabolism is stimulated.
You can increase your intake of healthy fat and protein by, for example, consuming extra virgin olive oil, avocados, or nuts and seeds that contain unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, magnesium, and potassium, such as walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds (soaking these overnight releases their nutrient potential).
Both soluble and insoluble fibre are important
Carbohydrates are an equally important part of the human diet. The healthiest carbohydrates are found in non-starchy leafy vegetables, fruits, and grains. These foods reduce appetite, break down slowly and have a low glycemic index. In other words, they release energy gradually and help keep hunger at bay.
When it comes to fruit, berries are an excellent choice. These are rich in antioxidants and protect cells from oxidative stress. They also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Simple and processed carbohydrates, such as white bread, cookies, and pastries, should be consumed in limited amounts. Foods high in soluble and insoluble fibre, on the other hand, are very important.
Soluble fibre (e.g. in legumes, soybeans, and berries) is good for the microbial flora in the digestive tract, where it acts as a prebiotic. Insoluble fibre (e.g. in whole grains and leafy vegetables) mechanically cleanses the intestines as it passes through the digestive tract, as it cannot be digested.
Mana: the healthiest and fastest way to do breakfast
We know that making a complete, healthy, and tasty breakfast is darn near impossible most of the time. That’s why we’ve done it for you. Mana gives your body all the nutrients it needs, in the proper proportions, in almost no time! ManaPowder can be mixed with water in a minute or less, while our delicious ManaDrink requires no prep at all—just open and drink on the way to work, school, or anywhere else!
Each serving of Mana gives you all the important macronutrients, including protein with a complete spectrum of amino acids, healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, and loads of soluble and insoluble fibre. It’s also GMO-free, lactose-free, and it has a low glycemic index (GI) of 29, so it’ll keep you full until lunch. And last but not least, Mana contains all 14 essential vitamins and all 17 essential minerals.
If you are looking for food that’s not only nutritious and convenient, but full of colors and flavors, check out our recipe page! There you’ll find plenty of inspiration for smoothies and cakes. Pssst….in the morning, Mana goes great with coffee. But the only limit is your imagination.
In conclusion, although the importance of a regular breakfast has been confirmed by a number of reputable studies, there are no universal instructions. But there is a general consensus that we should first listen to our own bodies and eat when we are hungry. Whether hunger strikes first thing in the morning or during the day, Mana is a healthy, quick, and delicious solution.
 S.Taheri, Ling Lin, D. Austin, T. Young, E. Mignot (2004) Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/
 Frank A.J.L. Scheer, Ch. J. Morris, Steven A. Shea (2013) The Internal Circadian Clock Increases Hunger and Appetite in the Evening Independent of Food Intake and Other Behaviors.
 L. C. Antunes, R. Levandovski, G. Dantas, W. Caumo, M. P. Hidalgo (2010) Obesity and shift work: chronobiological aspects.
 Jessica Brown (2018) Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
 Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. Breakfast. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/breakfast
 Cleveland Clinic (2020) Do You Really Need to Eat Breakfast?
 PANDA, S. Cirkadiánní kód. 1. vydání. melvil.cz. Jan Melvil Publishing, 2020. ISBN 978-80-7555-117-7.
 Samuel L Buckner, Paul D Loprinzi, Jeremy P Loenneke (2016) Why don't more people eat breakfast? A biological perspective