We’ve all heard the famous saying by Adelle Davis, “Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper”
So, is it really true? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
Well, conventional perception points towards believing that breakfast is a compulsion, that it helps you lose weight. Eating breakfast is professed to have a direct correlation to staying healthy. Even today’s certified nutritionists recommend that we eat breakfast.
It is claimed that skipping breakfast can raise our risk of obesity and that having a proper breakfast everyday could actually help us lose weight. On the other hand, new expert studies have started questioning the universal advice that one must not skip breakfast.
This article takes an in depth look at ‘breakfast’, and whether skipping it is really going to make you fat/obese and harm your health.
Do people who eat breakfast tend to have healthier habits?
It is true!! A number of studies carried out, show that breakfast eaters tend to be healthier. To illustrate an example, breakfast eaters are more likely to not be obese/overweight, and have a lesser risk of more than a few chronic diseases. This is the reason why many experts have claimed that breakfast must be good for you.
Observational studies time and again show that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese than breakfast skippers. But correlation is not the same as causation. The data in these studies do not prove that breakfast helps you reduce weight, just that not skipping breakfast is associated with a lower risk of being obese.
Chances are that breakfast eaters have other healthy lifestyle habits that can explain this.
For example, people who eat breakfast also tend to have a healthier diet, with more fibre and micronutrients.
However, people who skip breakfast tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol and exercise less.
Possibly these are the reasons that breakfast eaters are healthier, on an average. It may not have anything to do with the breakfast itself.
Also, breakfast skippers tend to be less health conscious overall, which also means that they could be indulging in junk/fatty foods at work or might even tend to have a high calorie lunch as they’ve skipped breakfast.
The reality is that there is absolutely no physiological need for breakfast. There is nothing special about breakfast compared to other meals. All you need to remember is that eating your breakfast daily is a healthy habit.
In short: If you’re hungry in the morning, eat your breakfast. If not, skip it! Just make sure to eat healthy for the rest of the day and not try to over eat due to skipping breakfast.
Skipping breakfast does not lead to weight gain
Although this is not evidence based, studies show that skipping breakfast causes you to become very hungry which leads you to gorge later in the day. Breakfast skippers do tend to eat much more during lunch, but this is not enough to overcompensate for the breakfast that was skipped.
In actual fact, a few studies have also shown that skipping breakfast may decrease overall calorie intake by up to 400 calories per day. This seems logical, as you are successfully removing an entire meal from your diet each day.
Fascinatingly, the eat/skip breakfast dilemma was recently tested in a high-quality randomized controlled trial. A 4-month long study was conducted, that compared recommendations to eat or skip breakfast in 309 obese/ overweight men and women. There was no difference in weight between the groups, even after 4 months. It just didn’t matter whether people skipped or ate breakfast. Skipping breakfast had no noticeable effects.
In short: Skipping breakfast makes you eat more at lunch, but not enough to compensate for the breakfast you skipped. Superior-quality studies show that it makes absolutely no difference whether people eat or skip breakfast.
Eating breakfast does not increase your metabolism
It is a myth when some people claim that eating breakfast “jumpstarts” the metabolism. In reality, people are referring to the thermic effect of food, which is the boost in calories burned that happens after you eat.
Actually, it makes no difference at which times, or how often, you eat. Metabolism relates to calorie intake only.
Valid studies tell us that there is no difference in calories burned over 24 hours between people who skip or eat breakfast.
In short: Eating or skipping breakfast has nil effect on the amount of calories you burn throughout the day. This is just a myth.
Eating your breakfast is not obligatory & skipping breakfast may even have some health benefits
The evidence is obvious; there is nothing “exceptional” about breakfast. It probably does not matter whether you eat or skip breakfast, as long as you eat healthy for the rest of the day.
This is a myth, based on observational studies that have since been proven wrong in randomized controlled trials.
In fact, skipping breakfast is a common part of many intermittent fasting methods notably the 16/8 method which consists of a 16-hour overnight fast followed by an 8-hour eating window which usually ranges from lunch until dinner, which means that you skip breakfast every day. Although intermittent fasting and/or skipping breakfast does not suit everyone as some may develop lack of concentration, headaches, drops in blood sugar and faintness, it has been shown to effectively reduce calorie intake, improve metabolic health & aid weight loss for most people.
At the end of the day, breakfast is optional, and it all boils down to personal preference.
If you feel hungry in the morning and you like breakfast, go ahead and eat a healthy breakfast. A protein-rich breakfast is best. Nevertheless, if you don’t feel hungry in the morning and don’t feel that you need breakfast, then don’t eat it.