The opinions on skipping breakfast vary wide. Some claim it will ruin your weight loss. Others say it’s the best thing ever. Which one is the way to go?
Breakfast has been present in the lives of many people for quite some time now. However, more recent findings shed an interesting light on this meal.
Why do people think breakfast is good for weight loss?
A good way to start out is seeing why people think breakfast is so good for weight loss and whether or not these things make sense.
Is the association of breakfast and weight loss also the cause?
An argument that often surfaces when talking about breakfast is “there is research that shows that skipping breakfast makes you fat”.
The thing is that not all research is equally valuable. The studies mostly show an association between skipping breakfast and heavier weight.
This means that people who tend to skip breakfast tend to be more overweight.
These studies can mean a lot of things but you can’t just conclude that’s because of breakfast.
Does breakfast start your metabolism?
Another popular belief is that breakfast “starts your metabolism for the day”.
It’s true that eating temporarily increases calories burned. Your body uses energy to process the food you eat. The amount of energy it uses is dependent on things like meal composition and quantity of food.
However, soon after your breakfast the calorie burning diminishes again.
So, if you would consume your breakfast at a later point you would burn about as much calories in total. This popular belief that you need to “start your metabolism” doesn’t make that much sense if you look closer into it.
Possible disadvantages of skipping breakfast
There are also concerns with possible disadvantages of skipping breakfast.
Initial increase in hunger
A good breakfast can help you feel full until lunch.
Some people fear that they won’t be able to resist snacking throughout the morning.
Your body can undeniably feel hunger for good reasons. However, you can also feel hungry just because you’ve conditioned yourself to eat at a certain time.
When you stop eating breakfast at first you will most likely feel hungry for a few days. Even so you will notice that the longer you go on, the less hunger you feel in the morning.
One thing you can do to make the transition from breakfast to lunch as first meal of the day is gradually moving your breakfast to a later time each day.
If you can’t get over those first few days of hunger without endless snacking, skipping breakfast might not be for you.
Initial low energy
A similar thing can happen with your energy levels. Most people are used to mainly using fuel from carbohydrates. After a while of this your body becomes worse in using fat as a fuel source.
Unfortunately this is exactly what you will have to do when you skip breakfast.
Luckily your body can get fully used to burning fat again but this transition process can take a few days. In these few days you might feel low on energy but this isn’t a permanent problem.
Keep an eye on your daily nutrient intake
You need all kinds of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, calories,.. to be healthy and lose weight.
By skipping breakfast it might become more challenging to reach your daily goal of these nutrients. You have to eat a larger lunch or dinner or eat more nutritious snacks. Some people are just not able to deal with big amounts of food in a short time frame.
Benefits of skipping breakfast
The disadvantages of skipping breakfast are not that bad. They are all things you can get used to over time. That does not yet mean that the benefits make sense.
Once you get used to not eating until lunch you might find yourself eating less calories each day.
Because the room in your stomach is limited you will probably automatically eat less calories.
This comes in handy because to lose weight you need to achieve a calorie deficit in one way or another.
By increasing the time you fast every day you can reduce your insulin levels more.
Insulin is a hormone that your body uses to store energy (calories). When trying to lose weight you want to be able to burn body fat as well as possible.
Can you lose weight by skipping breakfast?
If you are able to get over those first few days of lower energy and hunger skipping breakfast can help with losing weight.
There is no clear reason to believe that it is anything but good for your weight loss and health.
In cases of diabetes and/or medication it is smart to talk to your primary care provider before making any big changes in your eating habits.
Skipping breakfast and lunch for weight loss
There is also a way of eating called One Meal A Day (OMAD) which involves eating within a 4 hour time period. The same benefits and possible disadvantages of skipping breakfast apply to OMAD.
It might be especially hard to fit in enough nutrients in such a small time-window.
Is it okay to skip lunch to lose weight?
Skipping lunch does not have the same effect as skipping breakfast. The good thing about skipping breakfast is that you get a longer fast.
Skipping lunch will still help you reduce the amount of calories you eat but it won’t have the same positive effects on your hormones.
You will most likely keep on feeling hungry even after a few days because you already started eating for the day in the morning.