As a child, my mom would never let us leave the house without eating breakfast first, Lunch and dinner were musts as well. As an adult, I was told, that breakfast is essential for staying healthy and to help with weight lost, lunch should be something simple like a salad or a sandwich and dinner should be protein rich. I, and probably most of you, was told to eat every two to three hours because it will boost our metabolism. For decades, and to an extend to this day, most people were scared from carbohydrates and it was the devil that caused all the weight gain and obesity issues. Walk into the grocery store and you can find everything in the fat free version, and we were all advised to eat fat free dairy products and stay away from fats, especially animal fats as much as possible. So are these advises real or myth? Should you really be eating breakfast even if you are not hungry? What should we eat for lunch and dinner? Does it really matter when we eat? Are all fats created equally? What about carbohydrates?
It will be impossible to answer all these questions in one blog post, while presenting all the scientific researches and data to support the answer. Therefor I have decided to dedicate one blog post a week answering each one of these questions. If you have a question, that you would like to get an answer, I would be glad to give it a shot and include it as part of this series.
For this week, let’s focus on breakfast.
Do we really need to eat breakfast?
There is a big controversy about eating or skipping breakfast and weight loss. There are some studies that suggest eating breakfast will cause weight loss, here are a couple of examples:
A 2012 review published in the journal Obesity Reviews looked at 153 studies about eating habits and excess weight and found a correlation, though small, between skipping breakfast and excess weight.
Another study in the year 2010 found that adolescents who normally skipped breakfast, snacked less throughout the day when they started eating a morning meal.
On the other hand, there are newer studies that suggest no relationship between weight loss and eating breakfast. These studies claim that previous studies were association studies and the results are not accurate and reliable. Here are a couple of examples of new studies in this regard:
One study took obese adults (age 21-60) and assigned them to either a breakfast group or a no-breakfast group for 6 weeks. They found that the group basically made no difference in weight loss. The breakfast group ate more calories, but they were also voluntarily more active during the day. The no breakfast group ate less calories during the day, but they were also less active. Ultimately, there was no weight loss difference between the groups.
In another Study, which looked at more than 300 people, participants were split into two groups. One ate breakfast and the other did not. While there were some small differences, the bottom line was that there was no significant difference in weight loss between the breakfast eaters and the breakfast skippers. In fact, both groups lost weight, and this occurred without the researchers telling participants what to eat (or not eat) for breakfast.
So what should we do? Should we eat breakfast or should we skip it? One thing that studies mentioned here failed to include is the quality of breakfast. There is obviously a difference between when you eat a hardboiled egg or steel cut or rolled oatmeal (not instant oatmeal) and when you eat a sugary cereal or jelly on white toast. Here are a couple of studies that show breakfast quality matters:
One study found that obese Chinese teenagers ate less at lunch if they had an egg breakfast compared to a bread breakfast. The researchers found that the egg breakfast increased levels of satiety hormones like PYY, and proposed that the higher amount of protein in the eggs helped keep the teenagers feeling fuller than the bread.
Another study looked at 20 girls who usually skipped breakfast. The study compared an “egg- and beef-rich” breakfast with 35 grams of protein to a cereal breakfast with 13 grams of protein but the same number of calories. Compared to skipping breakfast, both the breakfasts improved the girls’ appetite regulation, but the high-protein breakfast was better than the cereal breakfast and only the high-protein breakfast reduced evening snacking.
So the quality matters. Also lets not forget that not everybody wants to lose weight, some of us might need better focus and memory. There have been multiple studies on effect of breakfast composition on cognitive processes, especially in children. One study, compared the effect of two popular us breakfasts, oatmeal and cereal, and no breakfast on children. Result, children who ate oatmeal for breakfast showed better memory. This study concludes that what children eat for breakfast before school is important.
You need to ask yourself, what is your health goal? Do you want to lose a few extra pounds? Have you been eating sugary energy bars and a venti mocha for breakfast, because you heard you must eat breakfast, to lose weight? Do you feel sluggish and supper hungry when you wake up? Then you probably want to eat a healthy breakfast such as whole grain bread, see my post on tips for choosing the healthiest bread, oatmeal, or a couple of hard boiled eggs. If you feel energized and full in the morning, then probably skipping the breakfast will not harm you and you would be able to lose those extra pounds.
The good news is, If you have been forcing yourself to eat breakfast because it is healthy to eat breakfast, stop you do not need to force yourself to eat breakfast anymore. On the other hand, if you wake up starving in the morning, but you have been reading the new articles about how skipping breakfast would help you lose weight, then stop starving yourself.
Listen to your body. We are all different. Some of us function better if we eat first thing in the morning and others are okay if they skip the breakfast and wait until lunch time. You are the boss, never forget.
Don’t forget to leave me your questions, if you would like my answer
Stay happy and healthy