Breakfast & Weight Loss

Serena Gordon, a HealthDay Reporter, investigates the theory that breakfast is the key to weight loss, but now believes that isn’t true.  We’ve all believed that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, especially if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight. Her new research suggests this is not true.

When we partake of a hearty breakfast, it doesn’t help us eat less later in the day.  Actually, those who have breakfast end up eating more calories each day, according to the new research.  They recommend not changing our diets to include breakfast eating in order to lose weight, but we should do what works best for us individually.

The review senior author Flavia Cicuttini is head of the musculoskeletal unit at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia who says we should not change our diets to include breakfast every day in order to lose weight.  Evidence shows that eating breakfast does tend to add to the overall calorie intake and to the overall weight gain.  Everyone has a different preference and solution for breakfast eating.  Not everyone wants to have breakfast.  Their study was published in the BMJ publication.  Tim Spector is author of an accompanying journal editorial who agrees that whether you decide to eat breakfast or not it should be based on your own preferences.

Each person has a unique metabolism, a set of genes and very different gut microbes that will react to different foods.  We should not take the standard guidelines as gospel, so experiment as to what is best for your body.  Some studies suggest that eating breakfast would lead to a healthier weight, but Cicuttini and Spector believe most of the previous research was observational and some of the research was biased and flawed.

Investigators of the new study looked at 13 randomized controlled trials that took place over the past three decades, mainly from the U.S. or the United Kingdom.  Those in the trials were of various weights and some were regular breakfast eaters.  Others were not.  They were monitored for as little as a day or as long as 16 weeks.

Those eating breakfast ate about 260 calories more a day and those skipping breakfast were about one pound lighter than those eating breakfast.  They did not find any significant differences in metabolic rates between breakfast skippers and breakfast eaters.  There were some inconsistencies and varying quality in the studies.  Their key message is that if a person likes to eat breakfast, that’s fine, but there is no evidence that we should be encouraged to change our eating pattern to include breakfast to prevent weight gain or obesity.

Dana White, a registered dietician from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut said that for those who are anti-breakfast, the review gives reassurance that maybe skipping breakfast won’t sabotage weight loss.  If you’re hungry in the morning, then eat!  If you exercise in the morning it may be harder to skip breakfast but it should be limited to moderate portions of food.

Dr Fredda Branyon