What’s for Breakfast?
Jae and I never ate breakfast during and after and after our combined 170-pound weight loss. We wrote about this in our breakfast post a year and a half ago. I explained that we had both independently realized that eating breakfast seemed to make us hungrier for the rest of the day. I cited studies that supported the idea that for some adults (but not children), skipping breakfast was just fine. But then I wrote about more recent studies showing that made me rethink my views.
One study showed that insulin seems to function more efficiently earlier in the day (1), which means that eating a meal in the morning might result in less fat deposit than an identical meal eaten in the evening. Another study (2) supported that finding by showing that in two groups of women who were given identical foods and calories, those who ate most of their calories at breakfast lost two and a half times as much as those who ate most of the calories at their dinner meal. They also had lower triglyceride and glucose levels and less abdominal fat. To top it all off, the breakfast people experienced less hunger throughout the day. The study author commented, “We observed that the time of the meal is more important than what you eat and how much you eat — it’s more important than anything else in regulating metabolism.” Yet another recent study (3) showed that skipping breakfast is associated with more low-grade inflammation and impaired glucose metabolism. Again, all the studies done with children recommend breakfast for this age group (4-6).
At that point, despite my successful weight loss and maintenance without breakfast, I decided to eat a couple of tablespoons of yogurt with nuts and berries every morning. That has worked well for me — although I can’t say that I feel different or am less hungry during the day. Now, though, there’s a brand new study (7) where people who ate breakfast were less likely to lose weight. Oh come on now.
So where does this leave us? Well, here’s where it leaves me: losing weight should not be the ultimate goal. Good health, abundant energy, and fitness are so much more important. So I’m sticking with my small breakfast of protein, fiber, and vitamins. — at least, that is, until there’s a study that recommends hot fudge sundaes for breakfast. But I may have to wait a while for that one.
(1) Sofer S et al. Greater Weight Loss and Hormonal Changes After 6 Months Diet With Carbohydrates Eaten Mostly at Dinner. Obesity 2011; 19(10):2006-14.
(2) Jakubowicz D et al. High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity 2013; 21(12)2504-12.
(3) Nas, A et al. Impact of breakfast skipping compared with dinner skipping on regulation of energy balance and metabolic risk. Am J Clin Nutr 2017; 105(6):1351-61.
(4) Karatzi K et al. Late-night-overeating is associated with smaller breakfast, breakfast skipping, and obesity in children: The Healthy Growth Study. Nutrition 2017; 33:141-144.
(5) Kranz S et al. High-protein and high-dietary fiber breakfasts result in equal feelings of fullness and better diet quality in low-income preschoolers compared with their usual breakfast. J Nutr 2017; 147(3):445-452.
(6)Rampersaud GC et al. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc 2005; 105:743-60.
(7)Sievert K et al.Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2019; 364:l42.