Is Skipping Breakfast Really That Bad For Weight Loss?

Jodi Helmer
by Jodi Helmer
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Is Skipping Breakfast Really That Bad For Weight Loss?

“There has been a very strong belief that those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight [and] it’s also been suggested that people who eat breakfast tend to eat less later in the day,” explains Flavia Cicuttini, PhD, professor at Monash University and head of rheumatology at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. “It’s resulted in the idea that eating breakfast will help prevent weight gain and is important for those trying to lose weight.” However, a recent study has found the opposite might be true.

Here’s what you need to know about whether breakfast helps or harms weight loss.

EATING BREAKFAST DOESN’T MEAN YOU’LL LOSE WEIGHT …

Cicuttini was part of a team that analyzed data from 1990–2018 and found participants who skipped breakfast consumed fewer calories and weighed less than those who ate a meal first thing in the morning. In fact, breakfast eaters consumed an extra 260 calories per day, gaining just under a pound, on average, over a seven-week period.

Additional research examined the connection and found no association between eating breakfast and weight maintenance for women; men who ate breakfast were slightly better able to keep their weight down.

… BUT IT COULD HAVE OTHER BENEFITS

Some research has found eating breakfast may be important for helping to decrease risk of Type 2 diabetes. Eating breakfast may also help enhance performance for tasks requiring attention, memory and executive function, according to another study.

It’s also worth noting a few studies have found those who consume the highest percentage of their daily calories at breakfast had lower BMIs than those who filled up at lunch or dinner, says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area.

THE BOTTOM LINE

“Breakfast is just another time we take in calories,” Cicuttini says. “In order to prevent weight gain we have to watch our overall calorie intake and match it to our calorie needs.” What’s more, Cicuttini notes the decision to eat (or skip) breakfast is an individual one: If you’re hungry first thing in the morning, eat; if your stomach doesn’t start rumbling until a few hours after you wake up, skipping breakfast is OK.

If you eat breakfast, make smart choices. Skip sugary processed foods and pick protein-rich options that fill you up and provide important nutrients. Gorin recommends Greek yogurt topped with nuts and berries or a breakfast sandwich made with eggs and vegetables — both meals offer a combination of protein, mono- and polyunsaturated fats and fiber.

About the Author

Jodi Helmer
Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer writes about health and wellness for publications like WebMD, AARP, Shape, Woman’s Day, Arthritis Today and Costco Connection among others. She often comes up with the best story ideas while hiking with her rescue dogs. You can read Jodi’s work or follow her on Twitter @helmerjodi.

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5 responses to “Is Skipping Breakfast Really That Bad For Weight Loss?”

  1. Avatar john digiovanni says:

    dropped 30 lbs in 5 months, on 30 days of keto i lost 16, next 5 weeks gained 7 back. I did an abbreviated keto for 2 weeks and lost the 7 lbs i had gained back. I started p90x and got to within 5lbs of my goal weight of 180lbs and stayed there for 4 weeks. During this time my breakfast routine would always be, breakfast after morning workout. I decided to begin eating a my breakfast in the morning and working out 2 hrs later. I have not lost 5 lbs in four days eating large breakfast, medium size lunch and large dinner. I have given up processed foods for the most part but hey, I have a good beer now and then and have my cake and eat it too with ice cream on occasion. Do not deprive yourself of sweat sugary stuff now and then without regret.

  2. Avatar Wilf Gobert says:

    The author makes little mention of breakfast and early morning workouts. This is a major omission from her article.

    • Avatar Adam says:

      Depends on the nature of your work out. A rule of thumb I go by is (because there is some science behind it), if its high intensity, like cardio (running, mountain-biking), I have breakfast because your body needs carbs as it cant draw on the energy from fats fast enough. For everything else, that is, low intensity (weights in the gym, hiking, commuting on the bike to work etc.), I go without breakfast. However, I always have a ready supply of black, sugarless coffee and water on hand… It did take a while for my body to get use to this (6-8 weeks) but this is what works for me. Ultimately, there’s many differing opinions out there, which is why you need to read up, try it and see if it works for you.

  3. Avatar Colleen Phillips says:

    After years of trying to force myself to eat breakfast because that was supposed to be the right thing to do, and gaining weight every time, as well as feeling sluggish and hungry all day when I ate breakfast, I finally decided to listen to my body. I no longer have guilt about skipping breakfast, and my choice has been vindicated lately with the popularity of intermittent fasting. I eat my calories between the hours of noon and 7 p.m., and am much happier as a result.

  4. Avatar Lesa Thomas says:

    This information really opens my eye to the importance of breakfast and how the efficiently eat right to stay healthy and not be obese.

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