We hear this a lot- “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. But is it #evidencebased?
A randomised controlled trial (RCT) had people either consume breakfast (>700kcal) within 2 hours of waking or fast (only water) until 12noon (for 6 weeks). They found:
• No difference in weight between the groups (before or after the intervention).
• No change in sleep duration.
• No change to cardiovascular health.
• No change to eating patterns- for those fasting until 12, normal eating resumed in the afternoon and was similar to those who had consumed breakfast (in macronutrient content and timing).
• No difference in physical activity levels throughout the day- breakfast consumers were more active in the morning, but over the day step count and activity levels were the same for fasters and breakfast eaters.
• Breakfast consumers did eat more kcals over the course of the day.
Interesting results, BUT this intervention only lasted 6 weeks. After 6 months or a year the data could be very different.
There are concerns from healthcare professionals regarding breakfast skipping. If we skip breakfast, we are missing an opportunity for nutrition- many people consume wholegrains, fruit and dairy at breakfast, which they do not consume at other points in the day. Also, skipping breakfast can lead to individuals becoming overly hungry by lunchtime- this can result in consumption of more food than needed (and becoming uncomfortably full), eating too quickly, eating whatever you can/what is handy (not being able to wait to cook/buy a more nutritionally balanced meal).
Greatest concern is for children and adolescents who skip meals.
A study looking at breakfast consumption among almost 10,000 children and adolescents in America between 1999- 2006 found that breakfast skippers had lower nutritional intakes. Those who consumed a cereal-based breakfast had significantly greater intake of vitamins A, C, B6, B12, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium.
Something I hear a lot from people is that they don’t feel hungry/don’t have time before they leave the house in the morning for breakfast.
If that’s you:
• Don’t feel like you must eat in the morning- if you aren’t hungry first thing, don’t force yourself to eat. But honour your hunger when it strikes. That means eating when you’re hungry- don’t delay until lunch!
• Plan ahead- prepare some grab & go options that you can bring with you for when you get hungry/get to work or school. Think pots of quick cook oats, overnight oats, muffins, mini cereal boxes, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, yogurts, sandwiches, bagels (or any combination of these)-these can be packed up and brought with you, or left at work/picked up on the way.
BUT REMEMBER- DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST AS A WEIGHT LOSS STRATEGY. DO NOT TEST HOW LONG YOU CAN STARVE YOURSELF. IF YOU ARE HUNGRY EAT- YOUR BODY NEEDS NOURISHMENT AND IS ALWAYS DESERVING OF IT.
Lots of love,
Little O x