Written by Nyomi Graef
How important is breakfast for weight loss? Well, not surprisingly, as with many areas of health, different experts have different opinions. It depends on what studies they cite/their own research, knowledge, beliefs, and so on. Let’s take last month, for instance: I posted on my business Facebook page a recent ABC News article, by Tim Spector and Jeff Leach, about how research has found that eating breakfast appears to not help everyone lose weight. Lauren O’Callaghan, from Express Newspapers, however, wrote earlier this month that: "... those who do eat breakfast are more successful with weight loss, losing more weight and keeping it off more successfully than those who don’t." Lauren goes on to say that: "... Suzy Weems, a registered dietitian and professor of family and consumer sciences at Baylor University, explained: "You should eat at least 250 to 300 calories at breakfast."" WebMD reports that Professor Weems says: "You can’t have Twinkies and coffee and expect to slim down, or even maintain weight loss. The food you choose matters." WebMD says: "... more than 75% of people who lose more than 30 pounds and keep it off eat the morning meal every single day."
So what’s my view on breakfast and weight loss? Body weight is affected by far more than just whether or not we eat breakfast. Over time, the quality, quantity, timing and frequency of our food and drink intake all affect our body weight. Add to this (and this list is not exhaustive) our health, individual biochemistry, genes, medication, and the type, frequency and duration of exercise that we do. It’s complex!
Skipping breakfast, and breakfasts that increase the risk of weight gain
We encourage weight gain if we often miss breakfast and then eat/overeat on junk food later on. Also, eating doughnuts, sugary muffins/muffins made with refined flour, and high sugar/low fibre/highly processed breakfast cereals for breakfast, for instance, is bad for our health and our weight. (Of course these foods all increase our risk of weight gain regardless of when we eat them). They contain few vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients. They are high in sugar/bad fat/white flour/unhealthy additives, so they can be viewed as a desert wasteland in terms of their nutritional value. Avoid them! They promote weight gain!
Benefits of eating a healthy breakfast
Healthy breakfasts can have heaps of benefits, such as:
Good breakfast choices
Choose good quality wholefoods for breakfast that are low in added sugar and low in white flour, but have good amounts of healthy fat. And eat enough fibre and protein at breakfast time. Why? Many reasons. To name just a few:
What are some good foods to eat for breakfast? Great choices include free-range eggs, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, kale, broccoli, spinach, quinoa, nuts, and fresh fruit such as bananas and fresh berries.
Still thinking about skipping breakfast? Remember that the quality of our breakfasts is vital. The researchers of a study of breakfast, on nearly 530 Spanish adolescents, sum it up well. The authors write that their results: "... indicate the importance of eating a good quality breakfast, rather than just having or not having breakfast."
On a final note, remember that having healthy eating and drinking patterns throughout the day and night is also important. And although breakfast is just one meal in our day, make it a healthy one. Meals all add up to affect our body weight, health, happiness, work and recreation.
Bayley, B, 2018, Easy health hack: a late breakfast is Michael Mosley’s secret, SBS, https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2016/09/20/easy-health-hack-late-breakfast-michael-mosleys-secret-weapon
Ferrer-Cascales, R. et al., 2018, Eat or Skip Breakfast? The Important Role of Breakfast Quality for Health-Related Quality of Life, Stress and Depression in Spanish Adolescents, Int J Environ Res Public Health, Aug; 15(8): 1781, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6121474/
Newman, D, 2018, The Benefits of Eating Breakfast, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/many-benefits-breakfast?fbclid=IwAR0JNFVoclWFqBc9-dJ5q8oe-WNnuEAnFzkJcNWoFNv2unJkzIbGXkrAvhY#1
Noe Pagán, C, 2018, Can breakfast help you lose weight?, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/breakfast-lose-weight#1
O’Callaghan, L, 2019, Weight loss diet: Best breakfast to eat to lose weight without feeling hungry, Express Newspapers, https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/diets/1101250/weight-loss-diet-plan-breakfast
Spector, T and Leach, J, 2019, What if the benefits of breakfast are just another diet myth?, ABC News, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-01/skipping-breakfast-health-benefits-eating-early-lunch-diet/10767446