Does Breakfast Matter? The Surprising Facts and Myths

Does Breakfast Matter The Surprising Facts and Myths

Thousands of Brits and Americans

There’s a good chance that you are one of the thousands of Brits and Americans who skipped breakfast today.

There is also a good chance that you are overweight. This is a guess based on statistical data and the fact that you are reading this article.

One set of statistics I recently saw said that about 25% of Americans skip breakfast. Another set said that nearly one-third (33%) of Americans are obese.

Is there a correlation between eating breakfast and being overweight?

Will eating breakfast be a significant factor in a weight loss program?

The answer to those questions is yes…er, I mean no…or maybe I mean maybe.

While there seems to have been no definitive studies linking breakfast and weight loss directly, there does seem to be a mathematical relationship between skipping breakfast and gaining weight.

There also seems to be other evidence that eating breakfast can be a factor in weight loss for some people.

As I often point out, weight gain and weight loss, is very seldom the result of a single action or omission.

However, like activity, nutrition, rest, cortisol, and chocolate ice cream (my sin), eating breakfast can and should be an important part of any weight loss program, even if just to help prevent any further weight gain.

Preventing Weight Gain

One significant aspect of eating breakfast is that it can definitely be a weapon against weight gain.

Someone who does not eat breakfast (and we aren’t talking about coffee and donuts) is more likely to snack later in the day, and is more likely to eat more food at meals than if they had eaten breakfast.

A large portion of this is simply due to fluctuations of blood sugar and other chemicals related to hunger and stress.

Which can be toned down by the simple act of starting the day with a healthy meal of some kind.

Loss Of Energy

People who skip this are more likely to run out of energy earlier in the day. Simple equation here. Less energy = less activity = less calories burned + snacking and overeating = X or Y or something.

What do you think?

Maybe creeping weight gain?

Lack Of Attention And Poor Performance

School children in particular, but even the guy at the next desk, may have trouble keeping up with lessons, work, life if they skipped breakfast.

It’s no problem for you because you ate breakfast right? The ability of the brain to function depends to a great extent on the nutrition which is provided to it.

Don’t Like To Eat Breakfast?

Everybody’s got an excuse. I don’t have time. I don’t like to eat breakfast. There’s nothing to eat in the house. Eating it makes me feel sick.

Come on. We’re all grownups here. When we know that doing something is good for us, not doing it is bad for us, and it’s simple to do, refusing to do it is childish.

Nobody said breakfast has to be a gourmet meal. A peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk and a banana is better than nothing. A bowl of cereal takes less than a minute to prepare and less than five minutes to eat.

There are a multitude of nutritious breakfast bars available. You don’t even have to eat them at the house.

Keep them in your desk drawer or stick one in your pocket or purse as you leave the house. Sure beats munching on a Hershey bar from the machine and raiding the candy bowl on the receptionist’s desk!

Let’s Have Some Breakfast

If you want to control your weight, fight fatigue and prepare yourself to cope with stress throughout the day, Start the day off right with breakfast. The calories you take in at the morning meal will help prevent your taking in even more calories later in the day.

Advantages of eating in the a.m.

Various studies have found different benefits of starting your day with breakfast, including:

  • Having a lower BMI
  • Consuming less fat through the day
  • Meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption
  • A higher daily calcium intake
  • Having higher daily fiber intake
  • Having better performance (memory and attention) (for school-aged children)


Much of the research just makes good common sense. If you start with a healthy, satisfying meal in the morning you’re less apt to nibble on less nutritious things during the day.

Which we often do out of hunger — you grab the first or easiest thing in front of you.

See for yourself why the “facts” are so suspect:

Myth 1: This is the most important meal of the day

Your mom was right about many things, but this isn’t necessarily one of them.

Breakfast is only the Most Important Meal if it’s your only healthy meal of the day (thank you, Greek yogurt), or if you regularly overdo it on pancakes and waffles and muffins and more, which could ultimately impact your health.

Myth 2: It makes you *~sMaRtEr~*

Studies do show that when schools serve breakfast, children do better academically. But most of the evidence suggests that hungry kids who may not have access to food at home benefit the most.

So in theory, the whole breakfast-makes-you-do-better-on-tests thing could be a bunch of bull and the truth is that kids perform better when they’re not distracted by hunger, no matter what time of day they eat.

Also, the jury is out on whether breakfast benefits the adult brain — there’s not a ton of research on the topic.

Myth 3: Eating breakfast fends off hunger. If you skip it, you’ll house anything and everything for lunch

Not necessarily. In the new Cornell study, study subjects either ate no breakfast, a high-carb 335-calorie breakfast, or a high-fiber 360-calorie breakfast.

Yes, the breakfast skippers were the hungriest at lunchtime, but they didn’t eat more calories than those in the other breakfast groups, and ended up eating fewer calories throughout the day. (Granted, this study was conducted in a lab, so it might not reflect real, snack-filled-office life.)

Myth 4: You can lose weight just by eating breakfast

Wrong again. In a small, 12-week Vanderbilt University study, researchers tracked the weight loss of 52 overweight women on different but calorically equal weight-loss programs designed to change up their breakfast-eating habits.

Habitual breakfast eaters who skipped breakfast during the study lost slightly more weight than people who normally skipped this and started eating it for the study.

In the overall results, breakfast-eating habits didn’t play a major role in weight loss or gain.

Myth 5: Breakfast = morning food coma

Actually, This can give you more energy: In a six-week University of Bath study that assigned two groups of lean adults to either eat breakfast or fast until noon and then tracked their activity levels.

Researchers found that breakfast eaters naturally moved around more than those who skipped breakfast.

The extra activity helped breakfast eaters burn almost 500 more calories than breakfast skippers, who were generally more sluggish.

Myth 6: Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism so you burn more calories all day

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The fact is, this doesn’t significantly increase your resting metabolic rate (aka the speed at which your body burns calories).

The Bath study also found that breakfast eaters burned about 11 more calories per day.

Which is basically nothing, considering an average, moderately active woman in her 20s eats about 2,000 to 2,200 calories per day.

Healthful Breakfast Ideas

Ensure you have enough variety by rotating through a few different nutritious options for breakfast each day.

For example, eat oatmeal with fruit and a glass of milk two days a week, a vegetable and cheese omelet with 100 percent juice on three days a week, and whole-grain toast with peanut butter, Greek yogurt and tomato juice the remaining two days.

Each meal offers a different set of nutrients — as well as the important combination of protein, whole grains and healthy fats — but you’re still limiting your options to just a few.

If you need breakfast on the go, pre-make breakfast sandwiches consisting of a whole-grain English muffin, one egg or egg white and a slice of low-fat cheese; store it in the fridge and reheat it before leaving the house.

The Bottom Line

If you wake up hungry, eat. If your appetite doesn’t kick in until later, don’t force it or beat yourself up.