We have long believed that eating breakfast is essential for a healthy body but, as it turns out, there isn’t a great deal of scientific investigation as to exactly why this might be. A team of researchers from Bath, England – including one who is an admitted breakfast skipper – wanted to look at the metabolic effects of either breaking the overnight fast in the morning or waiting until lunchtime to eat. Researchers took a group of 33 healthy, lean adults and randomized them to fast until noon or eat a breakfast of at least 700 calories before 11AM for six weeks. Researchers took measurements of metabolic rate, activity levels and blood sugars. What they found was that resting metabolic rate and cardiovascular risk measures did not differ significantly between breakfast eaters and fasters – in fact, the overall differences between the two groups were rather subtle. What they did note is that breakfast eaters consumed more calories than the morning fasters – raising the question of whether breakfast will lead to weight gain, which is contrary to population studies that find breakfast eaters are slimmer than fasters.
However, there were significant differences in blood sugar control, with the breakfast eaters maintaining more stable blood sugars throughout the day and exhibiting better insulin sensitivity. Breakfast eaters also had a higher energy burn from physical activity than fasters. These kind of beneficial effects could add up over the long term. In this brief study, it would be impossible to say for sure that skipping breakfast won’t cause harm and what the outcome would have been from a smaller, more typical breakfast of 300-400 calories. From a practical perspective, it is very difficult to obtain the nutrition your body requires to function optimally if you cut out an entire meal. The most typical reason given for avoiding breakfast is that someone doesn’t feel hungry – but an eating pattern that favours PM eating will reinforce that cycle. When you eat the majority of your calories late in the day, you may not have much of an appetite for breakfast as your body is still burning off the food you ate last night.
Here at myWholeLife, we view breakfast as an important opportunity to increase your intake of fresh, whole plant foods. Start your day with something nourishing – even if you don’t have the appetite for a full meal – whether it is simply an apple, a green smoothie or a dollop of Greek yogurt with berries. Maintain stable blood sugars through whole, lower glycemic choices such as vegetables and whole grains, balanced with a healthy protein to keep inflammation low and lower your risk for chronic disease. Run your engines on a full tank and make the most of your day!