Is Breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
Time and time again we are told "You must eat breakfast!!" "Something is better than nothing!"
And, for most of my time as a PT I have been relaying this message to clients without stopping to look at the evidence behind these sayings.
Common myths about breakfast:
1. It helps you lose/maintain your body weight
2. It kick-starts your metabolism and stops you from going into 'starvation mode'
3. Without breakfast you won't be able to concentrate
4. It will stop you snacking later on in the day
Lets look at the science behind these:
1. Dhurandhar et al. (2014) showed that:
"A recommendation to eat or skip breakfast contrary to widely espoused views, had no discernable effect on weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight”
.... and a controlled trail by LeCheminant et al. (2017) showed that when habitual breakfast skippers were told to eat breakfast they gained both weight and body fat as well as eating more calories.
2. A 2014 breakfast study by Betts et al. found that:
Contrary to popular belief, there was no metabolic adaptation to breakfast, with limited subsequent suppression of appetite. Energy intake remained 539 kcal/d greater when eating breakfast as opposed to skipping.
In layman's terms.... there was no change to their metabolism when they ate breakfast!
3. Aldophus et al. (2015) looked at academic performance in adults and found that:
Habitual breakfast consumption did not significantly predict cognitive performance.
This study does not apply to children!
4. The Betts et al. (2014) study mentioned previously in point 3, showed that:
Energy intake remained higher when having breakfast, therefore proving that there was no compensation or extra calories from snacking when skipping breakfast.
Keim et al. (1997) found that Incorporation of larger PM meals in a weight loss regimen may be important in minimizing the loss of fat-free mass. The PM pattern resulted in greater loss of fat mass and body fat percentage.
(This was 70% of calories in two meals in after 12.00am)
Still with me???
Now, I know that was a lot of information so don't worry if some of that went over your head!
The take-home point is NO! Breakfast is nor the most important meal of the day and is not essential to a healthy lifestyle especially if you're looking to lose weight.
At the same time... Everybody is different! If you enjoy eating breakfast and feel that you benefit from it, then keep eating it!