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Skip breakfast can help you lose weight

Breakfast, they tell us, is the most important meal of the day. Over the past 50 years, we have been bombarded with messages extolling the health benefits of processed cereals and oatmeal. They tell us that breakfast helps us reduce weight by speeding up our metabolism – this helps us avoid hunger pangs and overeat at the end of the day.

These are not just marketing messages, they are essential for nutritional guidelines in developed countries, such as the US, UK and Australia, prepared by specialized scientific panels. These messages are mirrored in the media and websites across the world. But what if the benefits of breakfast are just another diet myth?

No word for breakfast

It is popular nowadays to follow the nutritional regimens of our ancestors, but no one seems to be studying whether or not they eat breakfast. The Hadza in Tanzania are the last true hunter-gatherers in East Africa that we believe to live as our ancestors. Living with them, we realized a definite lack of a breakfast routine. They also do not have regular words to describe the "breakfast".

After waking up, the men usually go on a hunting trip or gathering honey without eating, perhaps picking up some fruit a few hours later on the way. If they stay in the camp in the morning or even throughout the day, a handful of honey in the late morning – or even consumed late – may be all they eat until a larger meal at night. That being said, there is no routine and eating patterns are highly variable, depending on the size of the camp and the season.

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The women stay close to the camp and on some days they make simple food such as baobab mush, or eat some stored honey, but rarely before 9 a.m. in the morning, giving them a fasting time since their late night meal. of 15 hours. The lack of a regular breakfast routine has not made them fat or harmful and they do not have most of the western ailments. Maybe we should take a sheet out of their book. At least that's what the latest scientific evidence suggests.

A little honey for breakfast.
Jeff Leach, Provided author

An honest mistake

The health benefit of breakfast was now completely unmasked by a new systematic review and meta-analysis of 11 randomized trials that investigated the impact of skipping breakfast on weight and metabolic rate.

Studies vary widely in duration and quality, and seven analyzed changes in weight as well as changes in energy use. Its conclusion is the same as recent reviews that have been largely ignored, that is, there is no evidence to support the claim that skipping meals causes you to fatten or negatively reduce your resting metabolic rate.

There is now considerable evidence from these studies that skipping breakfast can be an effective way to reduce some people's weight. So why has the field gone so wrong in the past?

One reason is the belief in "grazing" rather than "swallowing" to prevent "stress" in the body from having to digest large meals, especially at the end of the day, when glucose and insulin spikes are higher and the rate metabolic rate. Faulty reasoning was based on laboratory rodents and some short-term human studies. Although the concept of overcompensation at the end of the day was correct – breakfast passengers eat more and reduce their activity somewhat – it is not enough to make up for the energy deficit in a real-world setting outside a laboratory.

Scientists have been honestly misled in the past by many observational studies showing that obese people skipped meals more often than thin people. This mentality has become rooted in nutritional dogma. But these observational studies were seriously biased. Breakfast fishermen were more likely, on average, to be poorer, less educated, less healthy, and on a poorer diet. Overweight people were more prone to dieting and, after a compulsion, more likely to feel guilty and skip a meal.

Despite these shortcomings in science and the steady increase in counter-evidence from randomized clinical trials, the idea that skipping meals is not healthy prevailed for decades. It is still part of the NHS's current Public Health England recommendations and one of its top eight healthy diet messages, part of the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as the Australian Guidelines for Nutrition.

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Another common argument for breakfast is that, in addition to reducing obesity, it is essential for children's mental well-being and attention, even if they are well nourished. Again, the evidence for more than 20 studies, when independently reviewed, is at best weak and inconsistent, and probably biased in the same way as for adults.

The evidence is also accumulating that restricting eating times and increasing fasting intervals may help some people lose weight. Some of these recent developments that seem counterintuitive to traditional thinking make sense when we consider the importance of the intestinal microbiome in our health and metabolism. The community of 100 trillion intestinal microbes has a circadian rhythm and varies in composition and function in the fasting and feeding states. The data suggest that microbial communities could benefit from short periods of fasting. They, like us, may need to rest and recuperate.

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Some of us are programmed to prefer to eat foods earlier in the day and others later, which may be suited to our unique personal metabolism. About a third of people in developed countries often skip breakfast, while many others like it. This does not mean that everyone overweight would benefit from skipping breakfast. There is no one-size-fits-all, and prescriptive diary directions full of erroneous information seem increasingly counterproductive and undermine important health messages.

Different populations have their own varied breakfast habits, but before you go on the next hunt, why not try out your own personal breakfast jumping experiments – it may be convenient for you.

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