Your Breakfast Should Include Fiber, Recent Study Shows

Cereal bowl

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • There is a strong link between breakfast consumption and the reduction of all-cause mortality.
  • The relationship between eating breakfast and longevity is even stronger when people eat more than 25 grams of fiber a day.
  • Experts indicate that eating fiber-rich foods for breakfast also can have a positive impact on performance at work or school.

Breakfast—is it truly the most important meal of the day or just another inconvenience that prevents you from getting out the door on time in the morning? Recent research published in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine suggests that not only would it be wise to make this meal a habit, but you also should include some fiber-rich foods to the mix while you are at it.

Here is what the science says about the connection between morning fiber intake and longevity, as well as some simple strategies for embracing the big dietary "F" word in the mornings.

About the Study

According to a recent cohort study, there is a strong association between breakfast consumption and the reduction of all-cause mortality. Moreover, this relationship was even stronger among participants whose overall intake of dietary fiber exceeded 25 grams per day.

While recognizing that association does not signify causality, data from a cohort of this size—nearly 6,000 participants—lend credence to the concept that eating breakfast can be beneficial. It also supports existing guidelines for fiber consumption.

Nicole Short, MS, RDN, LDN

Eating breakfast can also prevent overeating during meals consumed later in the day.

— Nicole Short, MS, RDN, LDN

Why Breakfast Is Important

While eating patterns such as intermittent fasting may have led you to believe that skipping breakfast is a sure-fire way to shed pounds, research indicates that this strategy may actually backfire.

In fact, it is likely that intermittent fasting works more because of caloric restriction rather than because of timing. Nicole Short, MS, RDN, LDN, based in Brooklyn, NY, explains why eating breakfast may be beneficial.

"Having a hearty breakfast that includes carbohydrates—which turn into glucose—provides our bodies the energy they need to start the day," says Short. "Eating breakfast can also prevent overeating during meals consumed later in the day."

Additionally, consuming a nutrient-dense breakfast can also set the tone for the rest of the day. Just as other strategies for wellbeing that you incorporate into your mornings—like walking, yoga, meditation, or journaling—add value to the rest of your day, breakfast can have the same impact. Symone Moodoo, RD, and Chantel Moodoo, RD, the balanced eating dietitians behind @Double Dose of Vitamin C on Instagram, agree.

"The brain’s primary source of energy is carbohydrates," they say. "Eating breakfast that includes fiber-rich foods can help to increase work performance in both school and in the workplace."

How Much Fiber Is Needed

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, people should aim to consume 25-38 grams of fiber per day. Because most of us fall short of that target, the addition of fiber at breakfast could be just the boost we need—and a sound strategy for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day. It could also lead to a more productive afternoon.

Yet, most people rarely get enough fiber in their diets. In fact, fiber was recently identified as a nutrient of concern in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As of 2020, only 10% of women and 3% of men are getting enough fiber.

Symone Moodoo, RD & Chantel Moodoo, RD

Ideally, fiber should be consumed consistently to promote satiety and to stabilize energy levels, which in turn will help reduce that mid-afternoon slump or crash some of us experience.

— Symone Moodoo, RD & Chantel Moodoo, RD

According to the Moodoo sisters, try not to get all your fiber in one sitting. Instead, spread your fiber intake throughout the day, starting at breakfast.

"Ideally, fiber should be consumed consistently to promote satiety and to stabilize energy levels, which in turn will help reduce that mid-afternoon slump or crash some of us experience," they say.

If your current fiber intake is suboptimal—say fewer than 12 grams per day—take things slow to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort. Additionally, adequate hydration is the key to unlocking fiber's full potential, so skipping out on water can actually result in some unintended consequences.

The Moodoos warn that extra fiber in the absence of added water can actually lead to constipation, and no one wants that. As for how to seamlessly add more fiber to your diet, they offer a number of suggestions.

"Think—what can I add to my meals to make them more filling and satisfying?" the Moodoos ask. "Adding more veggies, fruits—including dried fruit—nuts, beans, and legumes to meals regularly consumed such as salads and sandwiches are all simple, yet effective, ways of increasing fiber throughout the day."

Additionally, if you are already consuming items like eggs at breakfast, adding canned beans is an easy and flavorful addition to your breakfast plate. Milder canned beans like cannellini beans can even be added to your breakfast smoothie for a boost of satiating fiber and protein.

Plus, the addition of fiber also results in additional flavor and texture. Try topping hot cereals with dried fruit and nut toppings. And if you need even quicker options, Short recommends keeping it simple with these three grab and go options:

  • Greek yogurt with added fruits and peanut butter
  • A protein bar with a fruit of your choice
  • Instant oats with peanut butter, blueberries, and flaxseed

What This Means For You

Consuming a breakfast that helps you meet your fiber goals of 25 grams per day can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, increase satisfaction, and prevent overeating. It also could mean that you have a better day at the office, too. If you are new to fiber, go slow, add water, and be gentle with yourself. Also, consider speaking with a healthcare provider or a dietitian for more advice on how to increase your fiber intake and to determine what is right for you.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. King DE, Xiang J. A relationship between mortality and eating breakfast and fiberJ Am Board Fam Med. 2021;34(4):678-687. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2021.04.210044

  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Easy ways to boost fiber in your diet.

  3. Ofori-Asenso R, Owen AJ, Liew D. Skipping breakfast and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies in primary prevention settingsJCDD. 2019;6(3):30. doi:10.3390/jcdd6030030

  4. Rynders CA, Thomas EA, Zaman A, Pan Z, Catenacci VA, Melanson EL. Effectiveness of intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding compared to continuous energy restriction for weight loss. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2442. doi:10.3390/nu11102442

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

  6. Barber C, Mego M, Sabater C, et al. Differential effects of Western and Mediterranean-type diets on gut microbiota: a metagenomics and metabolomics approachNutrients. 2021;13(8):2638. doi:10.3390/nu13082638

By Nicole Rodriguez, RDN, NASM-CPT
Nicole Rodriguez, registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, resides in the metro New York area, where she offers nutrition counseling and fitness coaching to a diverse clientele. A consultant to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association and New York Beef Council, she’s on the eternal quest for the best burger. Nicole proudly serves on the Bayer L.E.A.D. (leaders engaged in advancing dialogue) network, and as a partner in kind with the Produce For Better Health Foundation. Eager to inspire the next generation of bold, active, and compassionate entrepreneurs, Nicole serves as leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. In her spare time, you’ll find her browsing the grocery store aisles and working on her deadlift technique.