Why You Should Skip Breakfast

We’ve all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you are willing to divorce yourself from the idea that breakfast is a necessity, you can adjust your diet to better suit your body’s needs and lose weight at the same time.

Cutting out an entire meal can seem pretty daunting, especially considering that breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day. Past studies have claimed that eating breakfast provides many benefits for health and weight loss: it boosts your metabolism, prevents you from overeating, positively affects your mood and more (depending upon who you speak to).

However, these claims are typically based upon dated, small-scale studies that follow spurious lines of reasoning. More recent studies have concluded that breakfast is no more important than any other meal when it comes to weight loss, and that skipping it can in fact lead to weight loss.

That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, given that breakfast, lunch and dinner are all relatively modern concepts. According to food historian Caroline Yeldham, the Romans only ate once per day and the British “social classes” didn’t start eating breakfast in the until the 17th Century. And we can of course go back to early man, who ate whenever it was possible to do so – not at set times.

Several studies have concluded that by skipping breakfast, you are likely to consume far less over the course of the day. One such study measured a net calorific deficit of 400 calories per day amongst subjects that skipped breakfast. That’s 2,800 calories per week, which is approximately equivalent to 0.8lbs of fat.

The old argument that you make up for lost calories from skipping breakfast later in the day has been discounted. Although you are likely to consume more calories later in the day than you would have otherwise, the net result will be a calorific deficit.

I haven’t even mentioned the benefits of “fasting” for 12-18 hours that are also connected with skipping breakfast, but that’s a topic for another day.

However, what about the negative side effects commonly attributed to skipping breakfast, such as hunger pangs and decreased alertness? While it is true that you are initially likely to experience what you consider to be hunger pangs, your brain is fooling you. After all, you can survive for weeks without any food; I think you can manage a morning. The “hunger pangs” you feel are nothing more than your body expecting food out of sheer habit. Go without breakfast and after a period of time (possibly just days), the hunger pangs will reduce to a more than tolerable level. I say this from personal experience.

As for decreased alertness, some studies on children have argued that skipping breakfast can lead to decreased cognition and academic performance, but findings are sketchy at best. A systematic review of 45 studies conducted between 1950 and 2008 concluded as follow:

The evidence indicates that breakfast consumption is more beneficial than skipping breakfast, but this effect is more apparent in children whose nutritional status is compromised … Few studies examined adolescents. Studies of school breakfast programmes suggest that such interventions can have positive effects on academic performance, but this may be in part explained by the increased school attendance that programmes encourage.

So if you’re a malnourished child who is likely to skip school if you don’t have breakfast, you should probably eat breakfast. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it.

I’ll conclude with a simple suggestion: try skipping breakfast for a few days and see how it goes. Give your body a chance to adjust. Drink plenty of fluids to combat your hunger pangs and look forward to an even more satisfying lunch. It could be all you need to do to lose weight.

If that seems too daunting, check this instead: How to Lose Weight Without Dieting [Breakfast Edition].

How to Lose Weight Without Dieting [Breakfast Edition]

According to Science Daily, the number one reason why diets fail is because dieters underestimate the amount of calories they consume. In my opinion, the number one reason why diets fail is because dieters want to eat things that most diets don’t permit. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to lose weight that don’t involve giving up your favorite foods. In this post we’re going to take a look at breakfast.

First, let’s focus on when you eat breakfast. Out of habit (or what might be perceived as necessity), many of us eat breakfast soon after waking.

I propose an alternative approach based upon intuition: eat breakfast when your hunger demands it. Not many of us jump out of bed with our stomach rumbling, and if you do experience hunger, it can often be sated by a glass of water or your morning brew of choice.

Logic dictates that the later you eat breakfast, the more sated you will be later into the day, which means that you are likelier to eat fewer calories throughout the course of the day.

In fact, you could you do yourself a lot of good by skipping breakfast altogether, but that’s a topic for another day.

Now let’s consider what you eat for breakfast. The clear winner is protein. In an article on WebMD about hunger-curbing foodsPurdue University nutrition professor Wayne Campbell, PhD had the following to say about the satiety benefits of protein:

You are most likely to feel fuller after eating protein than other nutrients, including fiber, and one of the theories behind why higher-protein diets work well with weight loss is because it helps you not [to] feel hungry.

That statement was on the back of two studies from Purdue in which it was argued that you are likely to feel less hungry after eating a protein-rich breakfast when compared to an equivalent meal made up of carbohydrates.

I’m sure we can all think of a protein-rich breakfast meal that we would love to eat. Now you can do so without guilt, safe in the knowledge that it can help you to lose weight. When I do eat breakfast (which is pretty rare these days), my meal of choice is grilled bacon and poached eggs.

Speaking of eggs, in a study presented at the 2007 Experimental Biology meeting, researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center compared weight loss between two groups of dieters. The first group ate bagels for breakfast, the second group ate eggs. Researcher Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD concluded the following:

Compared to the bagel eaters, overweight women who ate two eggs for breakfast five times a week for eight weeks, as part of a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet, lost 65% more weight, reduced waist circumference by 83% [and] reported higher energy levels.

When people eat [sic] eggs, rich in protein, at breakfast, they felt more satisfied and consumed fewer calories throughout the day, compared to those who ate a primarily carbohydrate meal like a bagel.

The moral of the story is this: a high protein breakfast helps to keep you full and, by extension, can help you to lose weight. Couple that with delaying your first meal of the day and your chances of weight loss will be given a nice boost.

The Happy Truth About Yo-Yo Dieting

Yo-yo dieting gets a bad rap from most people. It has been linked to everything from lower life satisfaction to increased risk of mortality. As someone whose weight has fluctuated by around 30lbs during adulthood, I was keen to discover whether yo-yo dieting is as deadly as many claim it is. The truth I discovered was both enlightening and relieving.

Here’s the “bad” news: there are plenty of studies that link yo-yo dieting with various unpleasant conditions. I’ve already mentioned lower life satisfaction and increased risk of mortality, but you don’t have to look too far to find arguments for yo-yo dieting’s contribution towards increased abdominal fat, high blood pressureheart disease and cancer. I could go on.

The good news is that all of the above mentioned studies and opinions are lacking in conclusiveness or are simply not worth the paper they’re written on.

Take a 1996 article by Robert W Jeffery in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition as an example. While the article concludes that “all patterns of weight change other than stable weight appear to be associated with increased mortality risk,” that rather bold statement is qualified by the following:

A key requirement for inferring causality from observational data is … lacking in the current research literature, namely biologic plausibility. To date, no mechanisms have been identified … that might mediate an association between weight variability and ill health.

Although epidemiologic data on weight variability and health are intriguing, they are at present insufficient to alter public health recommendations regarding weight control.

In other words, Jeffery admits that while his findings are statistically intriguing, they prove nothing. He recognizes that correlation does not necessarily lead to causation.

Jeffery’s passion for due scientific and statistical process puts a new light on any yo-yo dieting study you care to mention. All of the arguments I have found the effects of yo-yo dieting are laden with qualifying statements – words like “appears” and “may be.” Just about anything can be argued as potentially true if you qualify your statement appropriately, but doing so does not make it true.

In short, having researched this topic at length I can find no conclusive evidence to support any arguments for the negative health implications of yo-yo dieting. And although conventional wisdom rails against the concept of yo-yo dieting, there are a number of studies in circulation that confidently state it is not proven to be unhealthy nor make future weight loss any more difficult. Here’s a particularly compelling statement courtesy of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

…weight cycling [is not] associated with an impaired ability to lose weight. Moreover, we did not find that weight cycling was associated with increases in depression, disordered eating … the percentage of weight as fat, or abdominal obesity.

I’ll conclude with the final statement in Jeffery’s article:

Maintaining a lean body weight throughout life is recommended. Weight loss in those who are obese and in those with obesity-related health conditions is also warranted.

Those are the obvious ideals that we know we should work towards. However, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if our weight fluctuates within reasonable bounds.