We hear it all the time don't we: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, “Eat breakfast to boost metabolism”.
But is breakfast really that important? Is skipping meals really as bad as they say it is for your metabolism? Could skipping breakfast actually make you fat?
First of all, we understand the confusion. Eating a healthy, wholesome breakfast is advise that we’ve given to many clients in the past and advice that seemed to have lots of evidence to back it up as an important element of any fat burning programme.
“Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a Pauper” was once all the rage amongst even the most respectable health professionals and nutrition gurus we followed.
But is this still valid information? What does recent science say?
The argument for eating breakfast:
First of all, many studies do show that breakfast eaters are more likely to be healthier than those who don’t eat breakfast.
They are less likely to be obese and be at a lower risk of many chronic diseases. However, these observational studies do not go as far as to prove that the breakfast itself is responsible for this. There are likely to be other factors playing their part alongside the breakfast.
Breakfast eaters were found to have a better overall diet and are leaner than their non-breakfast eating counterparts, while those who skipped breakfasts were also found to drink more alcohol, smoke more and be less active throughout the day.
Any number of these factors could contribute to these results. It’s not all down to the fact they do or don’t eat breakfast.
Contrary to popular belief, eating breakfast does not boost metabolism.
Randomised control trials have found that the thermic effect of food (I.e. the increase in calories burned as a result of digestion) does not rise significantly enough to affect fat loss after eating breakfast. In fact, controlled studies have shown there is no difference in calories burned in 24 hours between people who eat or skip breakfast.
What matters from a metabolism standpoint, is the total calories consumed throughout the day.
Skipping breakfast itself does not cause weight gain.
Just like metabolism, what matters here is the total calories consumed throughout the day.
If skipping breakfast causes bad food choices throughout the rest of the day and an over consumption at lunch then perhaps you should stick to breakfast eating.
However, you’d need to go quite some way to make up for the 400-or-so calories you’re effectively cutting out by removing breakfast from your day. From this perspective, skipping breakfast could well be an effective way of lowering your total daily calorie intake – thus kick-starting the fat loss process.
The main thing to consider is how skipping or eating this meal affects the rest of your days eating patterns.
If you’re hungry in the mornings and enjoy eating breakfast, then go ahead and eat something high in protein and/or healthy fats.
View our healthy breakfast recipes here >> 7 Healthy breakfasts to support your fat loss efforts.
But if you’re not the breakfast type – and you don’t find yourself subsequently over-eating and snacking on bad foods throughout the rest of the day, then stick to skipping breakfast.
It all comes down to personal preference.
Find a strategy that allows you to maintain stable blood sugar levels and constant energy throughout the day, and one that enables you to effectively hit your daily/weekly fat loss targets.
This is key to whether or not you’ll be losing fat.