Why Breakfast IS NOT The Most Important Meal Of The Day!

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Most fitness enthusiasts advocate breakfast like there’s no greater meal in existence. Eat breakfast to fuel your whole day, kick-start your metabolism and stave off hunger – or so people say. Conventional wisdom places a lot of importance on breakfast and, for some of us, rightly so.

For people trying to lose weight, however, a new study revealed that the timing of your first meal has no real impact. However, this break in accepted knowledge doesn’t mean you should throw out your dietary routines. Breakfast is still important, but it doesn’t really aid weight loss in any significant way.

Why You Don`t Have To Eat Breakfast To Lose Weight

There should never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to nutrition as each person functions differently. Some may appreciate a breakfast and it will help them tackle their day due to the mental lift they get from eating a meal. It’s routine, and sometimes routine is a good thing.

However – if you’re not hungry and forcing down some food in the morning seems unnatural, there’s no special reason to eat breakfast. Calories don’t function differently in the body depending on time of day. Morning calories aren’t any different from evening calories. Instead, weight loss is influenced by the total number of calories you eat in a day. Not by how many meals you eat or when you eat.

A study from the University of Bath found that there was no change between a group who ate breakfast and those who didn’t. The group who ate breakfast experienced a slight rise in body heat but there was no shift in metabolism. They didn’t experience any health effects from eating breakfast either. The jig is up Breakfast – you’re not as important as you thought you were.

Losing Weight With A Shorter Eating Window?

There’s also some evidence to suggest that a shorter eating ‘window’ can help prevent fat gain.

A study on mice by the University of Salk tested an eight hour eating window versus a whole day of eating. They found the mice that had the narrower window were healthier and slimmer. With that in mind, your breakfast could be opening a large eating ‘window’, one that you don’t close until you eat your last meal of the day. For those eating breakfast at 8.00 AM, whose last meal of the day might be dinner at 19.00PM, that’s an 11 hour window.

This research may suggest that people trying to lose weight could benefit from reducing their eating window. This can easily be done by removing breakfast from their diets – although this is yet to be proven in humans.

[Related: Debunking The 5 Most Common Myths About Meal Timing]

The Benefits Of Breakfast

The influx of calories from breakfast at an earlier point in the day is still important for a lot of people

For everyday life, breakfast is a way to feel full, top-up on essential vitamins and minerals, minimise mid-morning hunger and perhaps give you a mental boost.

Having a meal earlier in the day also tops up fuel reserves which you can expend throughout the morning. Breakfast can be especially beneficial for people working out midday. It’s also key for folks performing a manual labour job. What’s more, if you’re trying to build muscle, it’s also another opportunity and a convenient way to get more calories in!

What To Have For Breakfast

It’s important to think about the macronutrients and micronutrients in your meal if you’re going to go to the effort of crafting a proper breakfast.

Scrambled eggs and spinach is not the same as a croissant.

Research has shown that people who include protein at breakfast have better appetite control. They also have reduced hunger throughout the day, a win for protein. Some high protein breakfast ideas include yoghurt, protein pancakes, eggs, meats, milk or a quick protein shake. We also love overnight oats.

Highly refined, low-fibre, sugar laden carbohydrates should be kept at bay. Sorry Frosites and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. They don’t really fill you up, they’re not good for your teeth and can cause a slump mid-morning. Instead, opt for high fibre carbohydrates like wholegrain oats, muesli, fruit or multigrain bread.

Some fats at breakfast are a good idea too – eggs, smoked salmon, dairy products, avocado (put this on toast, it’s amazing), some butter etc.

However, and it’s a big HOWEVER! This doesn’t mean you can chow down on a full Scottish breakfast, no matter how protein rich it may be!

The Round Up

Ultimately, breakfast is a choice: you should eat breakfast if you want to. Don’t force it if you don’t want to as there is no mystic metabolism-boosting benefit to eating it.

The studies we’ve mentioned should not kill off the value of a nutritious meal early in the day. If you get benefit from breakfast, then have it. But don’t force yourself to eat in the morning for some kind of magical effect. It doesn’t work.

Discover why breakfast may not be as important as you may think.
Scott Baptie

Scott is the owner and founder of Food For Fitness. He is a fat loss coach, speaker and fitness writer with a masters (MSc) degree in Applied Sports Nutrition.