“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. For many years, this phrase was accepted as absolute truth. But is it really? Does skipping breakfast cause weight gain? Does eating breakfast improve brain function? Should you or shouldn’t you?
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Until the early 1800s, breakfast was, well, no big deal. It wasn’t considered any more important than lunch or dinner. And generally, people just ate whatever they had, which was usually leftovers from dinner. Not croissants.
But then everything changed. The Guardian printed a fascinating article about the history of breakfast. Their research suggests a combination of “fear of indigestion, religious moralization, and advertising helped push the idea of breakfast as the most important meal of the day.” It’s definitely worth a read!
WHAT’S THE SCIENCE SAY?
Does it actually improve cognitive ability?
Here’s what the science says: “Results suggest a small advantage to consuming breakfast for memory, especially delayed recall.” So yeah, maybe. The study also examined how macronutrient breakdown and age of the participant affected the cognitive impact of breakfast. It’s pretty interesting!
What about changes in body weight?
A recent meta-analysis of 13 studies reported “a small difference in weight favoring participants who skipped breakfast (mean difference 0.44 kg, 95% confidence interval 0.07 to 0.82), but there was some inconsistency across trial results”.
In other words, eating breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
If you wake up hungry, eat breakfast. If you’re not hungry until 11am, maybe don’t eat breakfast. Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.
And I think it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), it’s always good to consult your doctor before making any major dietary changes!