For many students, breakfast can either be an afterthought or a must-do, but does it help in the classroom? For those trying to find out, research can be a little confusing.
If you check websites like Shake Up Your Wakeup, you would be convinced that breakfast is an essential part of a morning routine. According to the website, a healthy breakfast should provide between 25 and 30 percent of your daily caloric intake and should be eaten within the first two hours of waking up.
The website also states that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese and are more likely to have better memory and concentration. While this may be true in some cases, research suggests otherwise.
For instance, Canadian researchers who studied the habits of about 12,000 adults concluded that eating breakfast was not consistently associated with differences in body mass or weight.
Also, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, when it comes to weight loss, breakfast eaters do no better or worse than people who skip the morning meal.
The losing weight portion of the theory may not be exactly true, but what about improved memory and concentration?
Shelley Fillipp, assistant professor of practice in the nutritional sciences department, said breakfast is like eating after an overnight fast. She said this is important to build up energy in the morning.
“Obviously your body has been fasting for a few hours, hopefully you’ve slept,” Fillipp said. “So, getting some nutrition in your body is important to fuel your body and to get kind of a good balance of nutrition throughout the day.”
If you do not eat in the morning, Fillipp said your body will take alternative routes to gain energy, and that can be detrimental to your ability to think as clearly as you can. She said this could be part of the reason people perform better after eating breakfast.
“And that may be in essence why people who do eat breakfast perform better,” Fillipp said. “It helps their memory and they test better especially on subjects like math.”
Fillipp said it is hard to say if breakfast specifically helps college students. She said many studies have been done on children, but college students are a less observed group. Although, she said one study that looked directly at college students found some correlation between breakfast eaters performing better than non-breakfast eaters on tests.
As for students, putting breakfast into practice can be a multifaceted decision.
Elizabeth Hale, a senior journalism major at Texas Tech, said her daily breakfast routine could range from nothing at all to some coffee and water. She said it takes her an hour or two after waking up before she can even think about eating.
Hale said she changes very little in her breakfast routine if she has a big day ahead, but this could have more to do with her priorities.
“I would say nothing is different,” Hale said. “Especially if I have to wake up earlier for an exam. I would rather sleep later than get up to eat.”
In the classroom, Hale said she has not really seen her decision to skip out on the morning meal effect her ability to succeed in the classroom.
“I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a difference in my work or school schedule because I’ve eaten something,” Hale said.
For some students, breakfast is considered a necessity and has been a part of their daily routine for a long time.
Craig Grossman, senior finance major at Texas Tech, said breakfast is not a question for him. He almost always has something to eat in the morning, even if he does not have the time.
“I usually get a cup of coffee and drink a couple breakfast essentials,” Grossman said. “It wakes me up and ties me over until lunch. If I have time, I will make some eggs and toast, as long as I get some protein to get my body going.”
Since it is part of his daily routine, Grossman said not much changes on test days, but he may go the extra mile to make sure he eats eggs, cereal or toast. He said he also tries to keep what he eats consistent, so he does not throw his body off.
Grossman said he is a big believer in breakfast and that it helps him get going everyday.
“I absolutely believe breakfast is important,” Grossman said. “It keeps me focused and my stomach isn’t rumbling and distracting me from what I am doing.”
While it may not be a complete weight lose solution, eating breakfast could be beneficial in classroom performance. Although, Fillipp said, if she were a college student, she knows what she would be doing.
“And definitely, if I were looking at me and I were a college student,” Fillipp said. “I’d be eating breakfast.”