Can skipping breakfast be bad for my health?

537 points
Can skipping breakfast be bad for my health

In childhood, many were told that breakfast is the most important meal that should not be skipped. But is this statement true? Is breakfast really that important for health? Let’s try to understand this problem.

Does breakfast influence weight loss?

An interesting fact is that people who skip breakfast tend to have a higher body mass index (BMI). But does this mean that due to such a habit, you can gain weight? It’s not so obvious.

Such statistics are based on observational studies and therefore cannot establish a causal relationship. We can’t say for sure if people have a high BMI because they skip breakfast or if people with a high BMI skip breakfast to lose weight.

There is also evidence that skipping breakfast leads to a reduction in calorie intake, which in turn leads to weight loss. There are other studies that report that the presence or absence of breakfast does not affect the number of calories.

But why are there so many different opinions on the same topic? This happens, among other things, due to the fact that some subconsciously make up for all the “lost” morning calories later, when others don’t experience such food cravings.

For example, in a four-week study, 49 women who did not eat breakfast regularly were divided into two groups: “beginners” and “continued” breakfast eaters. Those who started eating in the morning ate an average of 266 kcal more per day and gained some weight (0.8 kg). The group without breakfast did not consume more calories during the day and did not gain weight.

Skipping breakfast won’t cause you to overeat during the day, but it doesn’t mean you’ll eat less either. It is important to understand and respect the peculiarities of your body. Don’t force yourself to switch to a diet that you don’t like or that doesn’t fit with your lifestyle.

There’s also a common misconception that breakfast supposedly “jumpstarts the metabolism.” And if you skip it, your metabolism slows down. However, evidence suggests that prolonging the morning fast does not in itself slow metabolism. It’s influenced by total calorie intake, not meal frequency: regularly undereating can slow down metabolism.

Another fairly common opinion refers to training in the morning on an empty stomach. By itself, fasting exercises are considered more effective than training after breakfast.

So should you eat breakfast or not?

This is an individual question, and there is no single answer. If you eat properly throughout the day, skipping breakfast won’t make much of a difference. You can do without it if you are not hungry in the morning or just do not like breakfast. There are people who do not want to eat anything after waking up.

If you had a heavy dinner the night before, you may not want to eat breakfast. If you usually eat light meals at night or have an early dinner, you may be hungrier when you wake up.

But if you skip breakfast despite hunger cues, there’s a risk of overeating during lunch or at night. Malnutrition often leads to this result.

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537 points