Beware The Dangers Of Skipping Breakfast

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times:

“To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.”

While there’s some truth to this oversimplified formula, it doesn’t paint the complete picture. In fact, new evidence suggests that when you eat could be just as crucial as what you eat.

The Mystery of Meal Timing

It’s all about the circadian rhythm, our body’s internal clock that governs physical, mental, and behavioral changes within a roughly 24-hour cycle. This rhythm influences sleep patterns, hormone release, and even digestion. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when we choose to fuel our bodies can have a significant impact on how our bodies process and use that fuel.

In a 2017 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that meal frequency and timing were associated with changes in body mass index (BMI), a standard measure of body weight.

Breakfast: The Key to Weight Management

The study involved over 50,000 adult participants and found that those who ate only one or two meals a day experienced a decrease in their BMI annually, compared to those who ate three meals daily. Having more than three meals a day (snacking, for example) was linked with a relative increase in BMI.

The research took an interesting turn when it came to breakfast. It revealed that breakfast eaters had a decreased BMI compared to those who skipped this vital meal. Participants who consumed their largest meal at breakfast experienced a significant decrease in BMI, underscoring the potential dangers of skipping breakfast.

The Dangers of Skipping Breakfast

Beyond the scope of weight management, skipping breakfast can have other potentially harmful effects. When we wake up, our body needs energy to kickstart the day. Skipping breakfast can leave you feeling lethargic, affect your mood and cognitive function, and even lead to increased cravings later in the day, which can ultimately contribute to weight gain.

Skipping breakfast may also disrupt your body’s insulin response, leading to increased insulin resistance over time, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It can also lead to poor cardiovascular health.

A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who skipped breakfast had an 87% higher risk of heart-related death compared to those who consumed breakfast regularly.

The Influence of Long Overnight Fasts

Along with eating breakfast and having fewer meals, the study found that subjects who practiced a long overnight fast (18 hours or more) also experienced a decrease in BMI. This finding supports the growing interest in intermittent fasting as a potential strategy for weight management.

Bringing It All Together

The research implies that managing your weight isn’t just about calorie control and hitting the gym, but also about when and how frequently you eat. In light of these findings, the study suggests that eating less frequently, avoiding snacks, consuming breakfast, and having the largest meal in the morning could be effective ways to prevent long-term weight gain.

In practice, this might look like eating breakfast and lunch 5-6 hours apart and allowing for an 18-19 hour overnight fast. While more research is needed to confirm and further understand these findings, this study casts new light on the importance of a regular, nourishing breakfast.