The age-old adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” may sound somewhat familiar. It’s something that has been drilled into us throughout our childhood, that skipping breakfast can cause you damage. Benefits of this morning meal apparently include boosting your metabolism, reducing hunger throughout the day, providing you with important nutrients that you may not get otherwise and helping with concentration.
Interestingly, before this notion came about, breakfast wasn’t a particularly important meal. People didn’t have specific “breakfast” foods, and ate whatever was lying around or leftovers from dinner the night before. Our ancestors ate a small meal and ate the larger meal when it was more convenient during their farm work. The line “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” was invented in the 19th century by Seventh Day Adventists James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg to sell their newly invented breakfast cereal. After that, the bacon food industry jumped on the bandwagon and convinced people about the importance of eating protein in the morning.
So, how important is breakfast really?
As we often like to answer, and not only on the topic of nutrition: it really depends on you. Part of the problem of studies that have been done regarding breakfast consumption and obesity, is that they are association studies. This means that while they may show an association between breakfast and weight maintenance or other health parameters, they do not imply causation. There are also biases that may have occurred like, people that eat breakfast might be more health-conscious because they are following the “eat breakfast is healthy” dogma.
In the last few years, a number of researchers have attempted to answer the question, “does breakfast cause weight loss?” through randomized controlled trials.
What did they find out?
In a long-term study, done in 2014, 309 obese adult participants were randomized to a no-breakfast group and breakfast group for 16 weeks. They found that “this had no discernable effect on weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight.”
This was done after smaller studies, that found skipping breakfast did not result in consuming more energy-dense meals later on in the day, and may have even reduced energy consumption.
So, I should skip breakfast?
The answer to this, is really two things:
- The quality of your breakfast is a lot more important than the act of eating it all together. Using your personalized nutrition recommendations can really help you figure out what kind of breakfast foods are good for you.
- Listen to your body. If you feel good when you skip breakfast, and find you snack less during the day and feel energetic, there is no need to force yourself to eat breakfast. On the other hand, if you look forward to breakfast and find it helps you to control your weight and appetite – then stick with it.
In this series, we will try to break down nutrition myths (or facts) and find out the truth behind them.
Do you eat or skip breakfast?
Is this a habit, or something you think to be healthy?
What sort of breakfasts do you like to eat?
Watch this space for a fun breakfast recipe (if you do choose to eat breakfast) coming your way!