Welcome to Food Myths Exposed where Guckenheimer’s dietitians deconstruct facts and debunk myths surrounding food, nutrition and health.
As a dietitian, I often get asked about breakfast. Should I eat it? If so, what should I eat and when should I eat it? And while more and more people are choosing to skip breakfast, we’ve heard many times over that the am meal is the most important meal of the day. The theory is based on the idea that eating an early morning meal may boost metabolism while helping to manage appetite – thus preventing overeating later in the day.
But is it true?
Here’s some background: A large systematic review published in 2013 basically debunked what prior research had led us all to believe for years – that skipping breakfast causes obesity. Later, several pro-breakfast studies were found to be funded by food manufacturers with a vested interest in making sure everyone eats breakfast!
But then in late 2017, another large study was published which gave credence to the old adage “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” The researchers found that those who ate their largest meal early in the day were more likely to have a lower body mass index than those who ate a large lunch or dinner and breakfast eaters tended to keep their weight down generally, compared with breakfast skippers.
That’s good news for breakfast eaters – here’s one more reason to go pro-breakfast….
Given that keeping weight off for good seems to be harder than actually losing weight in the first place, the National Weight Control Registry is following over 10,000 people who have lost a significant amount of weight, to better understand the strategies they are using to keep that weight off. 78% of them eat breakfast on a daily basis.
So while eating breakfast does NOT cause or prevent obesity, evidence does suggest that eating breakfast is a practice followed by people who tend to manage their weight well.
The bottom line is that while there may still be some disagreement over the importance of breakfast as a meal, one thing most of us do agree on is that what you eat is probably more important than when you eat it.
If you do opt in for breakfast – choosing nutrient dense, slow burning, low glycemic index carbohydrates paired with lean protein and healthy fats along with some colorful produce will support your immune system, help keep your energy levels high and blood sugars stable.
That’s the optimal approach to breaking the fast.
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