With the rise of Intermittent Fasting the age-old adage that “Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day” seems to have been forgotten. But what does the science actually say?
Let’s dive in.
People have been saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for decades, but where does this idea come from?
Multiple rigorous scientific studies show an extremely strong correlation between individuals who consume breakfast and being leaner. And this holds true for many diverse populations throughout the world.
But correlation does not equal causation.
Yes, those people who eat breakfast are, on average, leaner than those that skip breakfast, but does following some sort of intermittent fasting schedule mean that you are more likely to become obese?
One group decided that it was time to take a more rigorous approach to this question of;
“Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?”
They posted their results in a very well written article in “Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.”
They looked at about 70 individuals that were either lean or obese. They then divided them into 2 groups. 1 group ate breakfast, meaning they consumed 700kcal before 11am, and a 2nd group skipped breakfast and was not allowed to consume any calories until midday, and this study lasted for 6 weeks.
The results were extremely interesting. They showed that “lean individuals in the fasting group did not compensate for the energy ‘missed’ at breakfast, hence there is a significant reduction in body mass (mostly from fat loss); whereas lean individuals in the breakfast group certainly do not gain weight despite the relatively large prescription of at least 2928.8 kJ (700 kcal) by 11.00 hours daily for 6 weeks. In contrast, it was the fasting group in the obese population who exhibited the greatest compensation, with avoidance of weight-loss despite consuming not a single calorie until midday every day for 6 weeks; whereas the obese individuals in the breakfast group clearly did not compensate by expending the prescribed energy intake (or reducing subsequent energy intake sufficiently) and so increased energy storage in the form of adipose tissue.” (J. A. Betts et al., 2016)
They summarize their findings stating that, “whether fed or fasted in the mornings, lean individuals may favour a more negative energy balance and obese individuals a more positive energy balance.” (J. A. Betts et al., 2016)
So is breakfast really that important?
No not necessarily. What matters is what does your entire day look like?
If you skip breakfast by following an intermittent fasting protocol, but then you “make up” for those missed calories throughout the rest of the day. Then you are not going to lose weight and you may even gain weight. The same thing goes for those individuals who do eat breakfast. Eating breakfast doesn’t make you leaner unless your total daily caloric intake is low enough to keep you lean.
Skipping breakfast and or intermittent fasting is merely a tool. It can help you to decrease your total daily calories which is something that has been backed up by the scientific literature.
“Omission of breakfast results in an energy intake deficit at the beginning of the day relative to breakfast consumption. Whether this deficit is maintained will depend on the existence/ magnitude of compensatory feeding throughout the remainder of the day.” (J. A. Betts et al., 2016)
I hope that has been helpful. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below I would be more than happy to help out.
Again this is Floyd Meyer reminding you to Eat Better so you can Do More!
Betts, J. A., Chowdhury, E. A., Gonzalez, J. T., Richardson, J. D., Tsintzas, K., & Thompson, D. (2016). Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 75(04), 464–474. doi:10.1017/s0029665116000318
Ferrer-Cascales, R., Sánchez-SanSegundo, M., Ruiz-Robledillo, N., Albaladejo-Blázquez, N., Laguna-Pérez, A., & Zaragoza-Martí, A. (2018). Eat or Skip Breakfast? The Important Role of Breakfast Quality for Health-Related Quality of Life, Stress and Depression in Spanish Adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(8), 1781. doi:10.3390/ijerph15081781
Giovannini, M., Verduci, E., Scaglioni, S., Salvatici, E., Bonza, M., Riva, E., & Agostoni, C. (2008). Breakfast: A Good Habit, not a Repetitive Custom. Journal of International Medical Research, 36(4), 613–624. doi:10.1177/147323000803600401
Ogata, H., Hatamoto, Y., Goto, Y., Tajiri, E., Yoshimura, E., Kiyono, K., … Tanaka, H. (2019). Association between breakfast skipping and postprandial hyperglycaemia after lunch in healthy young individuals. British Journal of Nutrition, 122(04), 431–440. doi:10.1017/s0007114519001235