Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

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Do you wake up with a zealous urgency to eat breakfast, the most important meal of the day – even when you don’t feel like it? We all wolf down our toast or cereal, because we’re told that it can make us lose weight, strengthen our immune system, our metabolism and give us that brain boost that is so vital to begin the day. But is brekkie really what it’s cracked up to be?

Most of the nutritional studies that show that those who skip breakfast tend to be more unhealthy, overweight and sluggish are methodologically weak. There are numerous other factors that can contribute to a breakfast eater’s obesity (such as sugary cereals and saturated fats) and to a non-breakfast eater’s good health, which throws the breakfast-as-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day ideology right up. Plus, many of these studies are funded by the food industry that relies on your zealous urgency to eat breakfast. Dr James Betts, a senior lecturer in nutrition at the University of Bath, has gone as far as saying that the idea breakfast is inherently good for us may stem from marketing campaigns designed to sell us cereals, eggs and bacon.

But what about the view often touted that skipping breakfast will make you binge later? Not true, Dr Betts reported in the Telegraph. He asked one group of people to eat a breakfast of 700 calories or more, while another group only drank water until lunch. He found that those who had skipped breakfast ate more lunch – but not enough to make up the 700-calorie deficit. He also found skipping breakfast did not affect fat levels or make people gain more weight.

In reality breakfast does not “jump start” your metabolism and skipping it does not automatically make you overeat and gain weight. What breakfast really is, is optional, boiled down to personal preference. However, putting off a morning meal can leave you to binging on unhealthy snacks or cheats as you head towards mid morning.

If there are reasons why you want to eat breakfast, such as it energises you or improves focus, then those are good reasons to have an early meal. If breakfast feels forced or makes you sluggish, then there’s no pressure to force feed just for the sake of eating. Weight loss and health depends on how many calories you eat, the foods you eat, and the macronutrients you consume in your diet, so as long as you eat healthily you really have no cause for concern. Don’t believe in dogma. Just as you have a unique body, you can have a unique diet.

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