We’ve long been told that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” It’s said that eating a meal in the morning can give your metabolism a bit of a boost and possibly prevent overeating later in the day. This may be beneficial if you’re hoping to maintain or lose weight, or so breakfast proponents would have us believe.
As it turns out, a regular breakfast might not be all that great for people trying to slim down. A new research paper published in the British Medical Journal reviewed over a dozen different studies on breakfast habits in order to paint a more detailed picture of how early meals affect weight, and the data doesn’t look particularly good for breakfast lovers.
“Although strategies aimed at prevention and management of obesity must be multifactorial, many international dietary recommendations suggest the regular inclusion of breakfast for weight management and as a protective factor against obesity,” the authors explain. “These recommendations are often derived from the presumption that skipping breakfast leads to energy overcompensation later in the day.”
This would seem to make logical sense, but the data shows that it doesn’t necessarily pan out that way for many people. In monitoring overall intake among both breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers, the study suggests that those who eat breakfast do end up eating more overall by the time the sun sets.
The authors are quick to point out that the data isn’t entirely consistent, urging the need for large-scale controlled studies to conclusively determine the benefits of either eating or skipping breakfast. However, the analysis showed that those who skip the first meal of the day were generally slimmer than those who ate.
“This study suggests that the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss, regardless of established breakfast habit,” the authors explain. “Caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it could have the opposite effect.”