Should You Skip Breakfast?: Three Breakfast Myths Debunked
MOST OF US HAVE LEARNT from a young age that you should never skip breakfast. And while our mothers are right about almost everything, recent scientific research seems to suggest otherwise. So, should you wake early to make sure you get your fill of oats or eggs? Here are three common breakfast myths debunked.
Three Common Breakfast Myths:
1. You should never skip breakfast
Mothers aren't the only ones who advocate this.
“People tend to overlook how important breakfast is. [When] we go all night without food, our body can approach a fasting state, an episode where our body can withhold calories, if we wait too long to eat after waking up.” – Taylor Newhouse, registered dietitian with the Texas A&M School of Public Health.
Nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin cites two studies which compared people who consistently ate breakfast with those who skipped their morning meal. The studies showed that skippers had "significantly increased" appetites at lunch and that they "made up for lost calories" at subsequent meals.
However, a recent article in The New York Times tells a different story. Titled 'Sorry, There's Nothing Magical About Breakfast', the article highlights the flaws of many existing scientific studies which show the association (not the causation) between skipping breakfast and poor health. The article sheds light on the inherent publication bias ("nutrition researchers love to publish results showing a correlation between skipping breakfast and obesity"). It even calls out the fact that some studies were funded by the food industry.
As a form of intermittent fasting
To "complicate things", skipping breakfast is considered a common form of intermittent fasting. Health and lifestyle blogger, Nathan Wiebe is a proponent of intermittent fasting. He shares that skipping breakfast every day helps him stabilize his energy levels throughout the day, experience better appetite control and keeps him lean.
2. Eating breakfast will help you lose weight
On the flip side, the more common belief is that regularly eating breakfast can help keep your weight down. Proponents of such a view claim that breakfast can stabilize your blood sugar levels, jump start your metabolism and curb cravings for the rest of the day.
While older research seems to support this view, the recent studies prove otherwise. A small study at Vanderbilt University found that breakfast-eating habits didn't play a major role in weight loss or gain. Another study looked concluded that breakfast-skippers were hungrier at lunch, but didn't actually consumer more calories in total throughout the day compared to breakfast eaters.
Focusing on the type of breakfast
If you're focused on weight loss, choosing the right food for breakfast becomes of utmost importance. Nutritionists recommend a combination of lean protein and complex carbohydrates. For example, boiled eggs on whole grain toast, or whole-grain cereal with fruit. A low fat, low GI (glycemic index) meal will keep you satiated and release energy slowly during your mornings.
3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Underlying the myths above is this bold claim that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What do you think? Breakfast advocates (and many mothers!) refer to evidence that suggests how consuming a nourishing breakfast is one of the best habits you can adopt to improve your health and wellness.
Yet while studies show that eating breakfast will help improve your mental function, moods and weight management, we have to admit that data does not always tell the full story.
Moreover, it might be quite a stretch to claim breakfast is the most important meal. For some, including those who practice intermittent fasting (as mentioned above), breakfast is simply not essential. They skip breakfast as it helps them lose weight and increase anti-aging growth hormones.
But let's be honest. The way many of us blow off breakfast is far from intermittent fasting. The latter demands structure and discipline. We often skip breakfast on impulse or because we're in a rush.
Alas, the information surrounding these breakfast myths seem rather mixed. So here's what we think:
Even though breakfast isn't the "be all and end all" we once thought, if you're hungry in the morning, you definitely shouldn't skip it. Just remember to ditch the sugary cereals and choose the right foods to fuel your morning. Stay tuned to the blog for more information about breakfast!