Everybody says it's the most important meal of the day—but what are the real benefits of breakfast? When you're faced with an early-morning choice between a decadent pastry or a produce-packed drink, how much does it matter which one you choose? And what if you skip breakfast—does that affect your health, too? To help answer these questions, here's a look at four of the main benefits of breakfast, including science-backed reasons as to why choosing a healthy first meal may matter more than you think.

  1. More Energy

  2. Want more energy? Eat breakfast. Research shows that skipping the first meal of the day may mean skipping an important energy boost. According to the Cleveland Clinic, one study of 33 subjects found that those who ditched breakfast were more lethargic and less active throughout the rest of the day.

  3. More Nutrients

  4. The first meal of the day is the first opportunity you have to feed your body healthy nutrients. When you want to up your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, eat more vitamins, get more antioxidants into your body, or empower your immune system, what you eat for breakfast counts. To start your day with plenty of nutrients, try making a refreshing green smoothie or nuts and grains smoothie, which has more protein.

  5. A Better Mood

  6. Eating a healthy breakfast is a big part of starting your day right. According to The New York Times, it's been shown to improve students' moods, reduce class absenteeism, and improve mental clarity. The article says that this same logic holds true for adults, too. So if you want to have a better day, start it with a healthy meal.

  7. Reduced Sugar Cravings

  8. Because it hits your body after a prolonged period of not eating as you sleep, breakfast impacts you—especially your response to sugar—differently than any other meal. What you eat in the first two hours after you wake up impacts "the way you metabolize glucose, or blood sugar, all day," says Consumer Reports. When you eat a healthy breakfast, your blood sugar rises slightly and gets absorbed over the next few hours. When you skip breakfast, you could get a boost in hunger hormones that affects your glucose levels and leads to overeating.

When it comes to breakfast, here's the bottom line: If you want a way to start your day with more energy, a better outlook, and reduced sugar cravings, the answer could be in what you eat. So begin your day with a healthy, nutrient-packed meal to start it off right!