From the time we are old enough to feed ourselves, we have been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether you believe that or not, you have probably skipped the meal at some point due to a busy morning. Maybe you have considered cutting out the meal altogether in order to save shave some calories off your diet. But does that really help?
Researchers combined data from past studies to evaluate whether or not the “most important meal of the day” can actually be cut in order to shed a few pounds.
How skipping breakfast impacts your body
A new large meta-analysis, published in the BMJ, combined data from seven past controlled studies in order to evaluate the effects of skipping breakfast on a person’s body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors.
The analysis only included trials that lasted at least four weeks, and in total looked at data from 435 adult participants. Five of the seven trials were conducted with participants who were obese or overweight, while participants in the other two studies were of normal, healthy weight.
The results showed that those who skipped breakfast had a slightly greater reduction in body weight, an average of 1.19 pounds, compared to those who ate breakfast. There was no significant difference between the groups when it came to Body Mass Index (BMI) or fat mass.
Those who skipped breakfast saw a slight increase in LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol that collects in the walls of your blood vessels and raises your chances of health problems like heart attack or stroke. There were no differences between the groups when it came to blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, insulin, fasting glucose, or other cardiometabolic measures.
So does skipping breakfast help you lose weight?
The researchers ultimately concluded that skipping breakfast won’t have a significant effect on weight loss. Instead, it is the quality of breakfast that matters most. When it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not you skip or eat breakfast.
According to registered dietitians at Mayo Clinic, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between people’s breakfast eating habits and their ability to control their weight.
While everyone is different, many people see the following benefits from eating a healthy breakfast:
- Reduced hunger. If you eat breakfast every morning, your appetite later in the day may be reduced compared to if you skip it. A lower appetite makes it easier to avoid overeating. If you skip breakfast, you may feel ravenous later in the day and settle for eating the first thing you can get your hands on. Eating breakfast may also reduce cravings for unhealthy foods like sweets or fats.
- Healthy choices. People who eat breakfast tend to be more mindful of their diets, which helps them make healthier choices throughout the day.
- More energy. Past research has shown that skipping breakfast is linked to decreased physical activity. On the other hand, a healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply your muscles with the immediate energy it needs to move.
What should you eat for breakfast?
While it’s truly up to you whether or not you eat breakfast, experts recommend you try clean eating and make your meal a healthy one if you choose to have it. According to Mayo Clinic, those who regularly eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to eat more vitamins and minerals, control their weight and blood sugar levels, and perform better at work.
If you choose to eat breakfast, here is what the Mayo Clinic recommends that you include in this meal:
- Whole grains. For example, you can eat a whole-grain roll or bagel, hot or cold whole-grain cereal, a whole grain English muffin, or whole-grain waffles.
- Lean protein. For example, try making some eggs, lean meat, or include legumes or nuts in your meal.
- Low-fat dairy. For example, using milk in your cereal, or eating plain and lower sugar yogurt, or cottage cheese.
- Fruits. You can try fresh or frozen fruits, 100% juice drinks that don’t have added sugar, or a fruit smoothie.
- Vegetables. Vegetables can be added to breakfast in an omelet or a fruit and vegetable smoothie.
- Cereal. A cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber, minimal sugar, and is 160 calories or less per serving is recommended.
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.