Since ancient times, breakfast has been part of man’s eating habits, and has long been recognized as an important and essential meal.

Consume a proper breakfast:

  • reduces the consumption of unnecessary “snacks”, and therefore allows you to better regulate the sense of hunger / satiety and energy intake. In other words, it promotes the maintenance of a correct body weight;
  • improves the overall quality of the diet;
  • improves both physical and mental performance.

Breakfast in Italy
Country you go to, customs you find … this also applies to food choices, including the way of composing breakfast. In Italy, today the typical breakfast consists of milk / yogurt, bread, rusks, biscuits or brioches, and is mainly sweet. But the correct breakfast can also be made using different foods.

The correct and balanced breakfast
According to the definition of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU), breakfast is “the first meal of the day that breaks the night, to be consumed shortly after waking up and before starting daily activities, with a caloric content between 15 and 25% of the daily energy requirement (30% in the absence of the morning snack) and a variable composition but such as to include at least two (preferably three) food groups “.

  • the energy content of breakfast varies according to the energy needs of the individual;
  • if you do not have a mid-morning snack, breakfast must be a little richer;
  • breakfast does not always have to consist of the same foods. A diet must never be monotonous because the variety guarantees a greater correctness of nutrient intake, as long as you choose and consume foods correctly, in terms of quantity and quality.

How to choose foods for a correct breakfast
The choice of foods that can make up a good breakfast is based on their composition, compared to the correct distribution of nutrients and energy. The energy content of breakfast must be 15-25% of the day’s energy intake, so if the energy content of our diet is 2000 kcal we should take 300 – 500 with breakfast. But how should we divide this energy between the different nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins)?
A breakfast rich in carbohydrates is an optimal choice, as long as they are mainly complex carbohydrates (starch) while sugars should be limited. Also important is a good content of dietary fiber. So bread or baked goods prepared with whole-wheat flours or whole grains for breakfast are an excellent choice.

The fat content must be evaluated not only in quantitative but also qualitative terms, in order to guarantee a good presence of unsaturated fats and to limit saturated fats.

Finally, although it is not clear what is the ideal amount of recommended protein, it has been shown that a breakfast with a higher protein content leads to a greater feeling of satiety throughout the day. The choice of protein foods should limit those that also provide salt and saturated fats and favor those that provide micronutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.

Therefore, there are no absolute choices but various possibilities to combine the foods that make up breakfast, also based on personal tastes, practicality, time available and the activities and dietary rhythm of the day. Because it is important to remember that, although important, breakfast is only one of the meals of the day while our diet must be correct in its entirety.

Alessandra Bordoni
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Agro-Alimentari
Università di Bologna