We Had it Wrong: Skip breakfast to lose weight

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

Could we have been wrong all along?
That’s what recent studies are saying.

Eat breakfast to lose weight: it’s what we’ve always heard.  The theory went that breakfast would jump start the metabolism for a steady burn of calories throughout the day. Skip it, and your body adapts to the longer between-meals gap by burning nutrients more slowly to make them last longer. We were also taught that we would be hungrier during the day if we skipped the morning meal, that the big blood sugar swings from empty to full would have us gorging when we did finally eat.

Now we are hearing a different message. There is a new weight-loss theory that involves ‘intermittent fasting,’ which basically means skipping meals. Intermittent fasting puts the old ‘breakfast like a king’ adage on its head telling us to eat like a king at night after a pauperish day. It claims that the episodic deprivation of missed meals takes your body off its usual track, allowing it to reinvigorate and recalibrate, and in doing so, you end up burning more fat. [Intermittent Fasting 101 – How to Start Burning Fat]

While I’m not sure I buy into something that IF proponents call ‘up-regulating your gene expression,’ there is plenty of evidence that exercise and other activity performed on an empty stomach coaxes the body to burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel instead of relying on carbohydrates from food. Athletes and bodybuilders have known this for years. [The Journal of Physiology – Training in the Fasted State]

And the notion that skipping breakfast leads to less controlled eating throughout the day—you can scratch that one off your list of diet do’s as well. A new study published in the Nutrition Journal suggests that all a big breakfast leads to is a bigger calorie count for the day. In itself, breakfast doesn’t curb appetite later in the day.

What researchers now believe is that regular breakfasts occur along with a constellation of other healthy habits. Individuals with a breakfast routine are more likely to exercise, abstain from smoking, and generally maintain a healthy diet. The reverse holds true as well: individuals who don’t have regular breakfasts are more likely to have a cluster of unhealthy behaviors; in fact fewer than 5 percent of smokers eat a daily breakfast.

The message is this: if breakfast is already in your routine good for you; if not, you’re probably better off not adding it.


2 Responses to We Had it Wrong: Skip breakfast to lose weight

  1. sarah says:

    I always noticed that I ate less overall on the days I didn’t eat breakfast, because breakfast seemed to not only jump start my metabolism but my appetite as well! Without forcing myself to eat breakfast when not hungry (though some mornings I am), it would be much later in the day when I’d finally get hungry enough that I’d need to eat, whereas the days I start off first thing with breakfast, I find myself hungry again much earlier in the day than I would be without breakfast. Interesting.

  2. Esther says:

    Ahh! Science is so tricky sometimes! Thanks for this.

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