5 Reasons Your First Meal of the Day Is the Most Important

JJ Virgin
6 min readJun 2, 2022

Want to lose weight, feel better, and be the best fat burner? Pay attention to what’s called the Second Meal Effect.

What’s your morning routine like?

Do you skip breakfast and run on fumes till lunchtime, only to eat everything in sight because your body is begging for energy? Or do you start with a carb-rich meal like a bowl of cereal or a bagel and have a tough time concentrating at work for the rest of the morning?

As you’ve probably noticed, what you do — and eat — in the morning is a good indicator of how the rest of your day is going to go.

Your first meal of the day can set you up for success — or it can really derail you from your best-laid plans. Here’s why.

Reason #1: The Second-Meal Phenomenon

When you’re choosing what to eat, it’s not just about what’s going to satisfy you at that moment. The food on your plate will impact your entire day.

What you eat sets you up for how you’ll respond to your next meal, or what we call the Second Meal Phenomenon.

Have you ever noticed that when you eat a sugary breakfast, you’re more likely to blow your diet the rest of the day? All those good habits you promised you’d stick to go out the window.

And it can even start the night before if you caved to a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or a bag of potato chips.

The Second-Meal Phenomenon refers to the impact that your last meal has on your blood-sugar levels as well as what you choose the next time you eat. It means that one poor dietary decision will impact the next one

But the opposite is true, too. When you make healthy food choices that feel good, the Second-Meal Phenomenon can set you up for success without a struggle all day long. You’ll naturally want to choose foods that continue to give you that good feeling.

Reason #2: It Normalizes Your Food Intake

When your first meal of the day is balanced well, you tend to eat less overall.

I don’t want you to restrict your food intake, especially if you’re truly hungry. But oftentimes when you start off on a blood-sugar roller coaster thanks to a poor breakfast, you tend to graze throughout the day or eat faster than your body can process. In other words, you wolf down food faster than your brain can register that you’re full.

When you do that, you eat more than what’s appropriate for your body. Hello, bloating and that highly uncomfortable “stuffed” feeling!

Remedy that by incorporating protein, fat, and fiber into every meal — especially your first one. You’ll feel full and energized for hours. This eliminates the all-day grazing and snacking between meals because you’re totally satisfied.

Reason #3: It Leads to Better Daily Habits

When you start your day on the right track, you tend to want to keep going, or what we call “habit stacking.”

Let’s say you’re getting into the habit of going to the gym each morning. What else do you do to add to that habit? You probably drink more water. You probably also pay more attention to the food you’re eating. Those decisions snowball into more good habits until suddenly, you’re really living the lifestyle that you’ve been hoping for!

Habit stacking can work against you, too. You have to be careful when allowing yourself permission to engage in a behavior that you don’t want to make a habit. Doing that can be a slippery slope.

Reason #4: It Keeps Your Mood and Energy Stable

Blood-sugar regulation underlies so many issues related to your mood and your energy. You might unconsciously reach for cookies to soothe your sadness or a big cup of coffee (or three) to lift you out of your brain fog,

Those fixes are only temporary, and likely working against you. They’re also not addressing why you’re feeling depressed and fatigued in the first place.

Too often, we’re choosing foods that spike and eventually crash blood sugar, taking your mood and your energy along with it.

Your first meal of the day should support your blood sugar through to the next meal and beyond.

Research supports this: one study found that blood-sugar levels rose a whopping 95% less after lunch when participants ate a healthy breakfast (1).

Reason #5: It Can Support Your Weight Loss Efforts

If your first meal of the day has enough protein, it can help you move the needle on your weight-loss efforts.

That’s because protein has a high thermic effect compared to carbs and fat, because protein is harder for your body to digest. It’s actually 33 percent more thermic than carbs and fat, so your body has to work more, and you burn more calories that way. And you didn’t even have to go to the gym!

When you prioritize protein and macro balance in your meals, you feel fuller longer and your blood sugar stays stable.

In other words, if you grab a nutrient-dense loaded smoothie — balanced with lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber — instead of a sugar and carb-heavy muffin, it will positively impact your metabolism for the rest of the day.

Don’t skimp on the healthy fat, either. Lots of people are afraid to add fat to their meals because it has more calories. But remember, healthy fats keep you full longer and reduce cravings.

One study showed that people who ate 700 calories for breakfast lost more weight and kept it off than the skimpy breakfast eaters who stuck to a measly 200 calories (2), highlighting the importance of eating a substantial, balanced breakfast.

How to Make the Best First Meal

Now that you know just how important it is to make the most of your first meal of the day, I want you to break your fast in the morning with a loaded smoothie.

I make mine with the following ingredients:

  • My All-In-One Shakes
  • Plant-based milk like unsweetened coconut milk or oat milk. Read ingredients closely!
  • Avocado: Blink and you’ll miss the small window when they’re perfectly ripe. I like to freeze them to avoid this and they’re ready to go for my smoothies!
  • Green banana: For resistant starch — the riper your banana, the less resistant starch it contains.
  • Berries and other low-sugar fruit: No more than a half cup.
  • Extra Fiber, chia seeds, or flax seeds.

This is my foolproof way to eat better and feel better throughout the rest of the day. With a loaded smoothie, you’re creating a solid foundation to balance your blood sugar and make smart decisions throughout your day.

The first meal can make or break your day… so make it count!

I’ve put together over 60 amazing loaded smoothie recipes in my Loaded Smoothie Cookbook. Each one will help you start your day with a fast, filling, fat-burning way to feel your best and tackle your day with confidence. Download it for FREE here.

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The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

References:

  1. Jovanovic A, Gerrard J, Taylor R. The second-meal phenomenon in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009 Jul;32(7):1199–201. doi: 10.2337/dc08–2196. Epub 2009 Apr 14. PMID: 19366973; PMCID: PMC2699724.
  2. Rabinovitz HR, Boaz M, Ganz T, et al. Big breakfast rich in protein and fat improves glycemic control in type 2 diabetics. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(5):E46-E54. doi:10.1002/oby.20654

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JJ Virgin

Celebrity Nutrition Expert and Fitness Hall of Famer. Podcaster, blogger, media personality & author of 4 New York Times Bestsellers. www.jjvirgin.com