Breakfast is the first meal taken after rising from a night’s sleep amd must be eaten between the hours of 5 and 10. Among English speakers, “breakfast” can be used to refer to this meal or to refer to a meal composed of traditional breakfast foods (such as eggs, porridge and sausage) served at any time of day.
The word literally refers to breaking the fasting period of the prior night. It has its origin in the Christian custom of fasting from food between the supper meal of one day and receiving Holy Communion the following morning (such a Eucharistic fast is still observed by Orthodox Christians, but is shortened to one hour before Mass for Roman Catholics). Foregoing the natural craving to eat was seen as an act of self-denial that honors God, while strengthening the religious resolve and faith of the believer.
Breakfast foods vary widely from place to place, but often include a carbohydrate such as grains or cereals, fruit, vegetables, a protein food such as eggs, meat or fish, and a beverage such as tea, coffee, milk, or fruit juice. Coffee, milk, tea, juice, breakfast cereals, pancakes, waffles, sausages, French toast, bacon, sweetened breads, fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, baked beans, muffins, crumpets and toast with butter, margarine, jam or marmalade are common examples of Western breakfast foods, though a large range of preparations and ingredients are associated with breakfast globally.
Breakfast is commonly referred to as “the most important meal of the day.” Indeed, current research has shown that people who skip breakfast are disproportionately likely to have problems with concentration, metabolism, weight, and cardiac health.
While current professional opinions are largely in favor of eating breakfast, some contest its “most important” status. Nutritionist Monica Reinagel argues that the metabolic benefits have been exaggerated, noting that while improvement in cognition has been found among children, it is much less significant among adults. Reinagel also suggests that link between skipping breakfast and increased weight may be mostly behavioral — compensating with snacks and eating more later—and therefore not inevitable. A study in 2013 suggests that “skipping breakfast may be an effective means to reduce daily energy intake”.