This Is the Healthiest Time to Eat Breakfast, According to a Nutritionist

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Written By Paklay Zablay

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It’s touted as “the most important meal of the day,” but the healthiest time to eat breakfast is still shrouded in mystery. A cursory glance on Google certainly doesn’t help; one site reveals a definitive time slot (between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.), while another pins it down to within one hour of waking up.

There’s overwhelming evidence that eating a well-balanced breakfast gives you a dose of big morning energy, as well as improving your metabolism, blood sugar levels, mood, and concentration. It even helps to stave off cravings later in the day. Food is fuel, after all, so think of it as putting gas in the tank.

Given the laundry list of good-for-you reasons, it’s no wonder we’re curious about how to reap the most from our breakfast routine. According to ex-athlete Rhian Stephenson, who is a nutritionist, naturopath, and founder of Artah health supplements, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all time of day to eat breakfast.

“But a good rule of thumb is to leave a minimum of 12 hours between your dinner and breakfast,” she says. “So if you finished eating dinner at 7:30 p.m., you want to wait until 7:30 a.m. before eating breakfast.”

The science bit

There’s a sound scientific argument for timing your breakfast in this way. We all have a built-in clock—known as a circadian rhythm—that maintains a 24-hour rhythm. We also have trillions of bacteria in our digestive tract (collectively called the gut microbiome), which also follow a circadian rhythm. So, in the same way that your skin cells and body goes into repair mode when you sleep, it’s important “to leave enough time for the microbiome to rest and repair,” says Rhian.

The reason? Our gut has an almost magical self-cleaning mechanism, “but we need to be fasted in order for this to take place,” she says.

If that sounds complicated, it’s because it is. But all you really need to know is that having a longer window between meals can produce better results when it comes to gut health and boosting your metabolism.

Healthy breakfast hacks

But that’s not all. What you eat is just as important as when you eat breakfast. “Having a good quality breakfast that is high in protein, fiber, and phytonutrients is key,” Rhian says. “This will help regulate blood sugar, energy, and eating patterns throughout the entire day.”

In fact, eating an adequate amount of protein early in the day has been shown to reduce nighttime hunger, she notes. Not to mention, protein is made up of amino acids, which the body needs to build and repair muscles, bones, and skin cells. “Aim to eat 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the day, and then weight that towards your morning meal,” says Rhian.

And avoid a sugary breakfast. Doughnuts, pastries, and some cereals will send blood sugar levels soaring, and then a couple of hours later they will crash again, which leaves you feeling sluggish and battling brain fog.

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