The answer is… Nope! But neither are lunch or dinner. For folks seeking weight loss and/or better overall health, the questions you should be asking are WHAT to eat and HOW MUCH, not necessarily WHEN to eat.
In a recent study, it was determined that “contrary to widely espoused views this (a recommendation to eat or skip breakfast for weight loss) had no discernible effect on weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight.”
The decision to eat or skip breakfast should be one of personal choice. Does eating breakfast leave you feeling energized and ready to take on the day? Great, bon appetit! Does eating breakfast leave you feeling less than stellar, sluggish and in a mental fog? Boo! Perhaps you should first take a look at the quality of the food you are eating to determine if that’s the culprit (put down that donut!), or if you feel better skipping breakfast all together, more power to you. It doesn’t really matter.
There is no science, from direct comparison, that supports the idea that eating breakfast is better than not eating breakfast. What matters is WHAT you eat and HOW MUCH. Before we continue, we can also debunk the myth that eating breakfast ignites your metabolism first thing in the morning. In this study, there was no change in metabolism between those who ate breakfast and those who did not.
In fact, there has been a lot of recent buzz around intermittent fasting (timing your food intake to allow for longer periods of time in a fasting state; commonly by delaying breakfast.) The claims are that intermittent fasting has been linked to decreases in body fat and increases in energy and mental focus. There is also evidence that intermittent fasting can decrease the risk of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer! Read more here.
So why then, does everyone always tell you breakfast is the most important meal? Well, let’s take a look back at the origin of this myth. In a 1917 issue of Good Health (the self-proclaimed “oldest health magazine is the world”), Lenna F. Cooper writes, “In many ways, the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is the meal that gets the day started.” On its face, this seems relatively logical, but many studies (the ones linked above included) prove this to be false. Please note the magazine in which Ms. Cooper stated this information was edited by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (famous inventor of many breakfast cereals). Like many food lies and myths, we must take a look at the source of the information and evaluate what the person sending this message has to gain. In this case, Mr. Kellogg had quite a lot to gain. Read more about the history of breakfast here.
At the end of the day (or I guess beginning of the day since we are talking about breakfast) what you can take away is that breakfast is great for some, but not for others. It will depend on your personal preferences and how it makes you feel. I happen to love breakfast and enjoy sitting down to a meal first thing in the morning. I feel energized and happy after my morning meal and will continue to enjoy this part of my day until I decide it no longer suits me. If you are not a breakfast person, feel free to skip this meal (guilt free), the decision is yours.
Hungry for more? Check out this recipe for Breakfast Casserole with Bacon, Sausage, Sweet Potato & Kale from A Calculated Whisk.