You have probably heard, many times: “don’t skip breakfast” or “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Most people accept these as true. But are they? Today let’s look into the relationship of a morning meal and your health.
Why is breakfast so popular?
Many people believe that if you skip breakfast, you won’t have as much energy during the day, that you need the morning fuel to start your day. Moreover, many believe that if you skip a morning meal, you will eat more during the rest of the day to make up for the missed breakfast. So the thinking has been that you might actually gain weight if you skip it.
The old research
Most of the older research studies (more than 10 years ago) supported this idea that you need breakfast to properly fuel your day, and you will eat more later in the day and gain weight. Many of these studies did show that people who eat breakfast are overall healthier than those who don’t. But later analysis showed that these people are healthier for reasons other than their morning meal.
Researchers found that those who eat a morning meal tend to eat healthier during the rest of thier day, consuming more nutrients and fiber. Breakfast eaters also tend to smoke less and drink less alcohol. So the more recent analyses concluded that the reason breakfast eaters are healthier isn’t really because they eat the morning meal, but because of their other, healthier, lifestyle factors.
The new research
The newer research studies were more advanced, higher quality studies. This research was “randomized, controlled”. This means that the new studies started out with a large group of people, then randomly divided them into two groups. Over many months, one group was assigned to eat breakfast and the other group did not. Then at the end of the study, their weight and other health markers were measured.
The results of new research
The new studies found that it didn’t matter whether or not a person ate breakfast. There was essentially no difference in weight gain or loss between the two groups. Further, both groups burned about the same number of calories during their 24-hour day.
Yes, the research showed that those who skipped a morning meal ate more at lunch, but this amount was not as much as their breakfast would have been. Some studies have even shown that skipping the morning meal may reduce one’s daily caloric intake by 400 calories. This may make sense when you consider that they are cutting out an entire meal.
Why skipping breakfast might even be healthier
Skipping a morning meal is probably the easiest way to adopt a diet of “intermittent fasting”. This diet has many variations, but one common type is where a person compacts all their eating during an 8-hour period every day. During the other 16 hours, the person consumes no or few calories. If you skip breakfast, you may be in fact following this diet. Intermittent fasting has shown many health benefits, and while more research is needed, the diet has been supported by many health experts, as we discussed in a previous post.
May not be for you
However, how a person feels after skipping a morning meal is very individual. Some people feel better, and others feel weak, faint, have headaches or can’t concentrate well. These people are better off eating breakfast, than suffering the morning fast.
What should you do?
This is one of those health questions (note this is not always the best approach) where the answer is: do what your body tells you to do! if you feel better eating breakfast, continue doing so. But if you don’t like breakfast, or want to try a diet of intermittent fasting, skip the morning meal. Your health won’t suffer.
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)