New research claims skipping breakfast could help you lose weight

Grant Boone
February 1, 2019

People trying to lose weight should skip breakfast, according to new research.

The studies included people who regularly eat breakfast and non-breakfast eaters.

"We found that breakfast is not the most important time of the day to eat, even though that belief is really entrenched in our society and around the world", says study co-author, Monash University professor and head of rheumatology at Alfred Hospital, Flavia Cicuttini.

A new study led by Australian researchers, found that those who skipped breakfast consumed an average of 260 fewer calories per day.

Obese diabetes patients following such a diet lose 11lbs (5kg) over three months compared to a 3lb (1.4kg) weight gain for those eating the traditionally recommended weight-loss plan of six small meals a day, a study found.

Or, to be more precise, eating a big breakfast may not help people control their weight in the way many previously assumed.

The findings of the Monash University research team suggest that skipping breakfast might in fact be a good way to reduce total daily calorie intake.

They said eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects such as improved concentration and attentiveness levels in children. "We are told that breakfast helps our metabolism and that skipping it will make us much hungrier so we'll overeat".

Still, at the very least, the results suggest that caution is needed when recommending breakfast for people trying to lose weight, "as it could have the opposite effect", the researchers said.

The researchers also found no significant difference in metabolic rates between breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers - suggesting there is no evidence that eating it may help with weight loss due to "efficient" burning of calories earlier in the day.

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Breakfast gives you energy, stops you snacking later in the day and supplies essential nutrients - so we are told.

Coe said in an email that the "findings of this review may not fit with existing recommendations, but they reflect the current uncertainty about the relationship between eating breakfast and weight within the scientific literature".

Indeed, the researchers cautioned that numerous studies included in the review had notable limitations.

"This study does not say breakfast is bad for the health", he said.

As tempting as this might be if you have a weight-loss goal, the reality is that regularly skipping breakfast, or any meal, can be risky.

Study authors argue that "currently, the available evidence does not support modifying diets in adults to include the consumption of breakfast as a good strategy to lose weight".

"We are not talking about breakfast being the cause of obesity", he said.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, said the mantra of breakfast being the most important meal of the day had been ingrained in most people from childhood and reinforced by campaigns such as "go to work on an egg".

Eating breakfast won't make you slim if you're knocking back a bowl of sugar disguised as cereal, or a full English (which can tally at 800-1000 calories, far above the 200-400 in a serving of cereal).

"So if you eat breakfast and it suits you, then you shouldn't change".

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