Findings from epidemiologic studies indicate that there are associations between breakfast consumption and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and metabolic syndrome, prompting interest in the influence of breakfast on carbohydrate metabolism and indicators of T2DM risk. The objective of this review was to summarize the available evidence from randomized controlled trials assessing the impact of breakfast on variables related to carbohydrate metabolism and metabolic wellness. Consuming compared with skipping breakfast appeared to improve glucose and insulin responses throughout the day. Breakfast composition may also be important. Dietary patterns high in rapidly available carbohydrate were associated with elevated T2DM risk. Therefore, partial replacement of rapidly available carbohydrate with other dietary components, such as whole grains and cereal fibers, proteins, and unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs), at breakfast may be a useful strategy for producing favorable metabolic outcomes. Consumption of fermentable and viscous dietary fibers at breakfast lowers glycemia and insulinemia. Fermentable fibers likely act through enhancing insulin sensitivity later in the day, and viscous fibers have an acute effect to slow the rate of carbohydrate absorption. Partially substituting protein for rapidly available carbohydrate enhances satiety and diet-induced thermogenesis, and also favorably affects lipoprotein lipids and blood pressure. Partially substituting UFA for carbohydrate has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity, lipoprotein lipids, and blood pressure. Overall, the available evidence suggests that consuming breakfast foods high in whole grains and cereal fiber, while limiting rapidly available carbohydrate, is a promising strategy for metabolic health promotion.
Keywords: breakfast; carbohydrate metabolism; diabetes; dietary patterns; energy metabolism; metabolic syndrome.
© 2016 American Society for Nutrition.