In most communities, breakfast is considered the most important and heavy meal of the day. A breakfast routine is associated with many benefits, including more adequate intakes of macro and micronutrients, lower body mass index (BMI), higher cognitive performance, and better well-being and overall quality of life. Nutritionists suggest that it should incorporate at least 20- 25% of the body’s energy needs of the day. However, some groups are constantly questioning these findings. Breakfast is considered just another meal by other experts.
Even with strong evidence suggesting the drawbacks of skipping breakfast, it remains prevalent in most developed countries worldwide. While there isn’t any scientific evidence that shows that having breakfast improves individuals’ mental and physical capabilities, there is significant evidence of the disadvantages of skipping it. Let us try to understand both sides of the argument and ultimately see the significance of having breakfast and the consequences of choosing against it.
The Drawbacks of Skipping Breakfast
1. Weight Gain and Obesity
Skipping breakfast has become more prevalent among school-age children, adolescents, and working adults. Many people believe that skipping breakfast can help with weight control. However, this behaviour may increase the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related complications. Experts also believe that skipping breakfast is overcompensated with increased energy consumption later during the day.
Health research surveys of adults in the United States have reported that people who skipped breakfast became obese five times higher than people who didn’t. Another meta-analysis has confirmed that skipping breakfast is associated with being overweight/obese. The results are consistent, and there is no significant difference in these results among different ages, gender, regions, and economic conditions.
2. Increases the Risk of Illness
According to data, skipping breakfast is associated with a worsening lipid profile. Individuals who skipped breakfast frequently had higher bad cholesterol or low-density cholesterol and lowered good cholesterol or high-density cholesterol. This association is more prevalent in people who are obese and less active.
3. It Slows Down Your Metabolism
Most people tend to avoid having breakfast as they believe it leads to bloating. It, however, leads to detrimental effects on the body’s metabolic rate. Breakfast acts as an essential signal to jumpstart daily metabolism. Circadian rhythms regulate the human body. These rhythms are influenced by the light-dark cycle, as well as by food uptake. A study showed that skipping breakfast is associated with abnormal metabolic outcomes in several individuals, especially the younger generation.
Other studies show that skipping breakfast is associated with other adverse outcomes, including the increased risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. According to data, there exists a relationship between breakfast skipping and increased type metabolic syndrome. The risk may relate to a prolonged elevation in Free Fatty Acids in breakfast skippers’ morning hours, resulting in reduced insulin sensitivity later in the day.
Another study indicates that there may be differences in the ability to handle carbohydrate loads in the morning compared with sometime later during the day because of differences in sympathetic nervous system activity and the daily patterns in the release of hormones responsible for digestion. In addition, the prolonged fasting period that results from skipping breakfast further contributes to oxidative stress and insulin resistance.
4. Impact on Diabetic Patients
The same foods, distributed differently throughout the day, appear to have differential effects on glycemic control in subjects with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In a randomised study, a meal pattern that included a high-energy breakfast plus a low-energy dinner significantly reduced postprandial hyperglycemia over the day compared with a meal pattern with a low-energy breakfast plus a high-energy dinner for subjects with diabetes. Also considering that diabetics are prone to hypoglycemia, its better not to skip a meal which is already happening after several hours of fasting.
5. A Decline in Cognitive Functioning
In the morning, glycogen stores get significantly depleted after digestion throughout the night. Glucose is the primary fuel for brain function, and optimal cognitive function requires maintaining a stable blood glucose level. With the gradual depletion of blood glucose and, consequently, energy consumption, people begin to feel hunger and fatigue and experience a decline in cognitive function.
Several studies have reported that skipping breakfast lowers cognitive function and work efficiency. Therefore, breakfast is considered the most important meal for its nutritional value and effect on productivity.
Making the Right Choice
Skipping breakfast has many negative health consequences like increased weight, lack of concentration, and inadequate intake of nutrients. However, other researchers have constantly questioned the association, and the data is highly controversial. The difference in the data may be because of different requirements for each individual’s body. Some people can skip breakfast safely without negative consequences, while others cannot. There are no one-size-fits when it comes to diet and meal timing. It would be best to consult a nutritionist or dietician to understand what works the best for you.
The Relationship Between Skipping Breakfast and Ingestive Behaviour
There is more to skipping breakfast than meets the eye. Research proves that skipping breakfast leads to poor sleep quality and is a slow progression towards obesity. In the long run, it leads to the individuals being overweight due to their untimely hunger cravings for junk. As a result, the body lacks the necessary nutrition, resulting in diseases that you could have otherwise avoided. Even the timing of food intake impacts the sleep patterns of individuals, and we may blame nutritional interventions for this.
There is a direct and positive correlation between ingestive behaviour and dietary patterns. The sleep duration is much shorter, yet there is a significant increase in sleep quality amongst the individuals who had a balanced morning meal on time. However, these are all results of observational studies, and complex interventions are still lacking.
Healthy and Delicious Breakfast Foods
Skipping meals is not ideal, and hence it is essential to choose nutritious foods for breakfast. You should plate every meal in a well-balanced manner to start the day. It helps provide long-lasting energy and keeps you full for hours. The foods should be typically high in fibre, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, micronutrients, and minerals. It is best to avoid unhealthy options high in sugar, refined carbs, and additives.
Here are a few of the healthier breakfast foods.
Eggs make a simple, versatile, and nutritious choice for breakfast. They are an excellent source of protein which helps you feel full till your next meal. Furthermore, research indicates that people who consume eggs tend to consume fewer calories at lunch, which might be helpful in weight management. They are highly versatile and need less time to cook. You can pair them with foods like whole grain, toast, and sautéed vegetables. Try to avoid pairing eggs with refined carbs as they cause a surge in blood glucose levels and, in turn, weight gain.
Here’s how you can make healthy scrambled eggs for a filling breakfast.
- Eggs: 4
- Low-fat milk: 2-3 tbsp
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Multigrain bread, toasted: 2 slices
- Place a medium-sized frying pan over low heat.
- Crack eggs into a medium-sized bowl and add milk, pepper, and a small pinch of salt. Whisk together with a fork or a blender.
- Pour eggs into a pan and stir slowly while cooking.
- Remove from heat once cooked to your liking and serve on prepared toast.
Greek yoghurt is an excellent option for a quick fix for breakfast. This is not just high in protein and low in calories but is also high in probiotics, which support gut health. According to USDA, Greek yoghurt is full of beneficial nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. In addition, you can add berries and chopped fruits to your yoghurt for some flavour and added dietary fibre.
Oatmeal is a classic breakfast option, and it’s highly nutritious too. It contains a unique fibre called beta-glucan. According to research, this soluble fibre helps reduce cholesterol levels and promotes feelings of fullness by delaying stomach emptying and preventing overeating.
According to USDA, oats are a good source of iron, vitamin B, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. You can pair oats with roasted squash, sweet potatoes, puréed pumpkin, or homemade applesauce. Alternatively, serve it with fresh fruit to add additional antioxidants and phytochemicals, which help promote weight loss.
Chia seeds are highly nutritious and a great source of fibre. According to USDA, 100 grams of Chia seeds provide 34 grams of fibre. According to a study, they make you feel significantly complete and reduce your subsequent meal intake. They are high in protein, magnesium, and calcium. You can consume chia seeds in a lot of fun ways. Toss them in a salad or make a pudding; experiment to find a way that suits your palate.
Moving Towards a Healthy Lifestyle
Breakfast can be easy to prepare. A simple bowl of fruits with a helping of nuts or yoghurt should suffice to start the day. However, various other foods can help you give all the essential nutrients. A healthy breakfast helps you stay active and focused throughout the day. It boosts your memory and makes you feel more focused.
You may not notice the difference right away, but it is beneficial to your health in the long run. Regularly having breakfast can reduce the risk of obesity effectively. These are some reasons why one might not want to skip breakfast.
According to a study, breakfast is a crucial aspect of a weight-loss journey since it helps in reducing dietary fat. However, eating breakfast reduces impulsive snacking, one of the most prominent reasons for weight gain.
The Bottom Line
There is enough research to prove that breakfast is an integral part of our meal. However, this notion has been constantly challenged time and again. Nevertheless, the accumulated study favours breakfast consumption and highlights the various health benefits ranging from increased metabolic rate and weight management to increased concentration levels.
To put it simply, the pros and cons of skipping breakfast are controversial. While some researchers swear by the positive effects of having breakfast, others consider it another meal that you may omit without any adverse consequences. However, there are no real advantages to skipping breakfast, and having one is a great way to split your calories throughout the day.
While skipping breakfast has been linked to a higher risk of obesity in the UK, Hong Kong, and the USA, there was no link in Australia, Portugal, and Saudi Arabia. The data is hugely controversial and split. However, few controversial studies indicate that breakfast might not make much of a difference and that it is optional. These differences may generally be due to different body types and requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all diet, and you should take the help of an expert to figure out what works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are skipping breakfast and sleep schedule related?
A. A sleep-deprived person tends to have a greater appetite. There may be a direct relationship between sleep cycles and breakfast choices. Research also shows that skipping breakfast leads to poor quality of sleep.
Q. What are some consequences of skipping breakfast?
A. Here are the three significant health consequences of skipping breakfast a
- Skipping breakfast can cause weight gain due to overconsumption of calories during subsequent meals.
- You are more prone to illnesses as missing breakfast increases low-density cholesterol or harmful cholesterol levels.
- It also leads to decreased concentration, cognitive ability, and reduced work efficiency.
Q. Is it OK to skip breakfast daily?
A. Keeping in mind the drawbacks discussed above, it is not advisable to skip breakfast, especially not daily. It helps boost our energy level and brainpower and make better dietary choices throughout the day. But, on the contrary, it harms our cognitive abilities and increases the risk of prolonged illnesses.
Q. Which meal is the best to skip to lose weight?
A. Having three meals a day is generally a good way to get your essential calories of the day. However, if you plan to skip a meal, dinner would be the best meal to forget. It has been proven that night-time calories are different from day-time calories and cause more weight gain. Therefore, nutritionists suggest keeping the meals light and nutritious rather than skipping them.
Q. Does skipping breakfast help lose fat?
A. Skipping breakfast does not help you to lose fat. Research proves otherwise. You are more likely to gain fat by skipping breakfast than losing fat. While skipping breakfast does cut down the daily calories, the research on this is minimal. It might cause bloating and fatigue instead.
Q. Should you eat breakfast if you are not hungry?
A. It is healthy to have a light breakfast such as fruits, milk, etc., rather than skipping it altogether. The body has been fasting overnight and needs some nutrients to be productive throughout the day.
Q. Does not eating breakfast affect your brain?
A. There is enough research to indicate that skipping breakfast decreases your cognitive function, concentration level, and work efficiency. Even the youngsters who have breakfast regularly tend to perform better academically. Breakfast is known to boost brainpower.
Q. What should I eat for breakfast?
A. a general breakfast plate should consist of a variety of nutrition-rich foods. The meal plating should be rich in fibre, protein, and whole-grain carbs. There should also be enough fluids right from when you begin your day.
Q. Why do some people skip breakfast?
A. Due to the lack of time, hunger, or the desire to exercise on an empty stomach, some people avoid breakfast. Some are not hungry early in the morning, and others promote diet culture. However, most nutritionists suggest against disordered eating and timing of the same.
Q. Should I eat breakfast before or after a workout?
A. It is not ideal to work out on an empty stomach. When you exercise on an empty stomach, you may burn valuable energy sources and have less stamina. In addition, low blood sugar levels may also leave you lightheaded, nauseous, or shaky. Hence it is advisable to eat something digestible before a workout.
Q. Should you have breakfast as soon as you wake up?
A. It is not necessary to have breakfast as soon as you wake up. Usually, people have a morning routine before they have breakfast. However, the choice will also vary depending on the person’s schedule and routine chores.