Is Skipping Breakfast Bad?
On this episode of The WERD, I’m answering the common nutrition question: is skipping breakfast bad? The answer isn’t as simple as you would think!
Many people – myself included – believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
1. It’s delicious (have you had my vegan banana oat waffles?)
2. It provides fuel for your body and your brain to power through whatever you’re doing in the morning from work to working out.
But does breakfast in and of itself provide health benefits? Let’s dig in.
SKIPPING BREAKFAST AND WEIGHT LOSS
If we’re talking about weight loss. The research is mixed with some studies showing it’s better to eat breakfast and some showing that breakfast eaters actually weigh more on average.
One recent meta-analysis found that people who skipped breakfast weighed about a pound less and consumed about 250 calories fewer per day than those who ate breakfast.
However, researchers cautioned that the studies were of low quality and prone to bias.
Similarly, studies of intermittent fasting – where many people skip breakfast – also show weight loss.
However, research shows this is likely due to people having less time to eat or a decreased appetite and not to any unique energy expenditure benefits.
When participants do not decrease calories during their fasting window, they don’t lose weight.
SKIPPING BREAKFAST AND HEALTH
If we’re talking about overall health, the issue is a little complicated as well.
Research shows that intermittent fasting may be better for health than eating for longer periods of time.
Therefore, if you skipped breakfast, and ate all of your food within an 8-hour window vs a 13-hour window, it may improve metabolic health or reduce your risk of chronic diseases – like breast cancer.
One study found that women with breast cancer who consume all of their daily calories in fewer than 13 hours had a lower risk of cancer recurrence compared to those who consumed food in a longer window of time.
However, research also shows that eating all of your calories earlier in the day vs late at night may be even more advantageous.
SKIPPING BREAKFAST AND INTERMITTENT FASTING
One study found that men with prediabetes had improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and reduced oxidative stress when they consumed all of their calories early in the day during intermittent fasting compared to those who ate for a longer period later in the day.
While another study in healthy normal-weight adults showed impaired glucose tolerance and increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin when participants consumed all of their daily calories at one meal in the evening versus at three meals throughout the day.
So it appears that in order to reap maximal health benefits, skipping dinner would actually be more beneficial than skipping breakfast.
To learn more, watch my video on time-restricted eating and our circadian clocks.
BOTTOM LINE ON SKIPPING BREAKFAST
So as you can see, the answer to “is skipping breakfast bad” is really individual.
If skipping breakfast means you’re going to binge on other food and eat late into the evening, then yeah, you probably shouldn’t skip breakfast.
And if you need to eat first thing in the morning to have energy to work out later, you should eat breakfast.
However, if you skip breakfast and are still able to eat normal, balanced meals, shorten your eating window, and stop eating at a reasonable hour, then it may be beneficial.
Personally, I go by how I’m feeling on any given day.
If I’m hungry first thing in the morning and I’m not planning on working out right away, I eat.
If I’m not hungry or I’ve got an early morning workout, I eat later.
And that’s The WERD.
Got nutrition questions you’d like answered, drop them in the comments below!
Looking for healthy breakfast recipes? Try these!
Weigh-in: Do you typically eat or skip breakfast?