Have you heard the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. On average, 25% of Americans skip breakfast altogether, and they do so for various reasons.
But is skipping breakfast good for fat loss?
In straightforward terms, foregoing a meal like breakfast should, in theory, mean you consume fewer calories each day, and therefore can lose weight.
Yet if you skip breakfast, only to consume a calorie-laden lunch and a whole surfeit of snacks throughout the day, the process of skipping breakfast is redundant and won’t help you lose weight.
In this post, we dig into some of the science and research behind skipping breakfast and look at whether doing so can truly lead to fat loss.
Let’s begin by looking at some of the potential benefits of skipping breakfast to help fat loss.
We need to begin this section with a caveat. Skipping breakfast will have a varying degree of impact on different people. While it might help one person, it might not help another.
Therefore, you must consider the following as potential benefits rather than guaranteed ones. Skipping breakfast can potentially:
Providing that you don’t replace the calories you forfeit by skipping breakfast with snacks and more substantial meals at later times of the day, you can reduce your calorie intake by skipping the first meal of the day. For example, a 2019 study found that from thirteen breakfast-oriented research programs, those who skipped breakfast consumed fewer calories each day than those who ate it.
Some people skip breakfast because they feel indigested after they eat early in the morning. This is particularly the case for people who work out early in the morning, mostly those attempting high levels of cardiovascular activity. Of course, you need to ensure your body has sufficient fuel when you work out, but taking on breakfast can cause some people to experience stomach upsets, so they decide not to eat at all.
Intermittent fasting programs like the 5:2 diet have become increasingly popular in recent times, as they’re known to help people reduce weight and experience a whole host of other health benefits at the same time. Skipping breakfast is technically a method of intermittent fasting, as it dictates that you only enjoy calories later in the day. Therefore, providing you manage your other calories appropriately, skipping breakfast can serve as a form of intermittent fasting.
As you might imagine, opinion is well and truly divided on whether skipping breakfast is good for weight loss. A 2014 study found that eating a well-proportioned breakfast high in protein and other nutrients can stave off cravings and ensure you feel fuller for longer.
This means you don’t feel the need to binge on snacks and other foods throughout the day. Skipping breakfast could also potentially:
If you skip breakfast, it stands to reason that your body will feel hungry. Unless you can control your hunger cravings, you might find yourself overindulging in snacks and increasing the portion sizes of your other meals to compensate for missing breakfast. Portion control is a hugely important aspect of any weight loss program, and skipping breakfast can potentially jeopardize it if you’re unable to control your cravings.
A revealing 2019 study from Japan found that the research participants who skipped a healthy breakfast had an increased ‘glycaemic response.’ This, in turn, led to weight gain, as opposed to weight loss. Although a relatively small study, it shows that skipping breakfast doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss, as many people uniformly believe.
As you can see, there’s no definitive way to answer this question. It really depends upon your weight loss plans and how you model the rest of your diet and exercise regime. However, if you decide to skip breakfast to try and assist with your fat loss goals, we recommend you do the following:
• Develop a concise meal plan that accounts for sufficient calories: Skipping breakfast, only to overindulge in high-calorie foods later in the day, is pointless.
• Ensure you take on sufficient nutrients during your other meals: A balanced diet is critical to maintaining good health, so be sure to take appropriate levels of all the necessary food groups.
• Follow a daily schedule that won’t cause you fatigue: If you skip breakfast, you mustn’t overexert yourself in the morning. Without sufficient fuel, your body will tire quickly, and you will find it more difficult to focus.
Providing you’re careful and skipping breakfast is part of a broader program that you’ve designed to monitor your diet and exercise; doing so can potentially contribute to fat loss and help you achieve your fitness goals.
However, if you just skip breakfast because you think it’s an easy way to reduce calories, you might want to reconsider, as your body is likely to crave food throughout the day, which may result in you binging on certain foods as you succumb to your hunger.
While some health experts swear that skipping breakfast helps to increase your metabolism, a 2019 study found no difference between the metabolic rates of people who skipped breakfast and those who ate it. Therefore, while you might see an increase in your metabolism by skipping breakfast, it’s certainly not guaranteed.
If you’re not keen on the idea of skipping breakfast altogether, you might consider changing what you eat at breakfast to try and stimulate fat loss. Begin by switching out foods that are high in carbs and sugar, and replace them with proteins and slow-releasing carbs. Of course, you should form your breakfast with foods that you enjoy eating, but consider some of the following as the basis for your daily morning meal:
• Yogurts and fruits that release energy slowly [such as bananas].
• Fruit and vegetable smoothies with high fibre content.
• Mixed berries and grapefruit.
• Seeds, nuts, and oatmeal.
• A low-fat, high-protein source like white fish.
You might find that adjusting your breakfast will be more beneficial to your weight loss program as opposed to skipping it altogether.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter which meal you skip; the results are likely to be the same. Missing out on lunch or dinner will still cause you to feel hungry at different stages of the day and may result in binge eating snacks and increasing your calorie intake at different times. When it comes to your diet, adjusting what you eat and controlling your calories tends to be much better for your health than foregoing meals altogether, as it’s much more sustainable.
While you might think that skipping breakfast is an easy way of reducing your daily calories, it’s not quite as simple as thatt.
Foregoing your morning meal can lead to cravings throughout the day, which might cause you to binge on snacks and increase the calories that you consume at other times of the day.
Also, skipping breakfast can leave you feeling fatigued and struggling to maintain focus and concentration. So naturally, this isn’t good for your productivity and can affect the way you perform at work or if you’re working out.
As such, the best thing to do is to adapt your breakfast and make sure you eat healthy, nutritious food in the morning. Doing so will prepare you for your day ahead and ensure your body has the fuel it needs to perform at an optimum level.