Do I HAVE to Eat Breakfast?

Eating breakfast always seems to be included in recommendations for losing weight and being healthy. But why? There are lots of thin and/or healthy people who don’t eat breakfast, so is eating breakfast really necessary?   Here are some of the differences.

Eating Breakfast:

  • Less associated with chronic disease and obesity, as a general observation
  • Increases metabolism
  • Increases hunger
  • Decreases ravenous hunger and overeating later in the day
  • Improved concentration
  • High protein breakfast associated with muscle maintenance and fat loss
  • May cause weigh gain

Skipping Breakfast:

  • Associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity; however, this has not been proven as a cause
  • May result in weight loss
  • Improved fat loss with fasting morning exercise
  • More likely to overeat later in the day

Clear as mud, right?  That’s because there is no one size fits all answer.  There are benefits of both eating and skipping breakfast.  You have to do what works for you.

The purpose of breakfast is to fuel your body for the day.  It is the first meal after your night of fasting.  So essentially, everyone eats breakfast everyday – the time of day is the variable.  I don’t ever promote eating if you are not hungry, so here is where listening to your body comes in.  If you are not hungry in the morning, then don’t eat.  But, I would recommend bringing your breakfast with you to work or wherever you may be for the day.  At some point you are going to get hungry, and delaying hunger only leads to overeating at your other meals.  This same theory can work for kids.  Research shows a strong correlation between breakfast and academic performance, since a growling stomach would be an obvious distraction to learning.  If your child doesn’t like to eat breakfast before school, try to send a healthy snack with them (if allowed) that can be eaten between classes.

My recommendations:

  • If you are a breakfast eater, then make sure it contains a protein source, like nuts, eggs, or dairy.  This will keep you fuller longer and promote improved body composition.
  • If you are not a breakfast eater, then make sure you have food available when you eventually do get hungry.

Remember, it is your overall diet and lifestyle that determines your health, not whether or not you eat breakfast.

Originally published July 25, 2015

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