We have long been told that breakfast is "the most important meal of the day". They say eating a meal in the morning can boost your metabolism and possibly avoid eating too much at the end of the day. This can be beneficial if you want to maintain or lose weight, or at least that's what breakfast advocates make us believe.
As it turns out, a regular breakfast may not be as good for people trying to lose weight. A new research paper published in the British Medical Journal analyzed more than a dozen different studies on breakfast habits in order to paint a more detailed picture of how early meals affect weight, and the data do not seem particularly good for breakfast lovers.
"Although strategies aimed at the prevention and management of obesity should be multifactorial, many international dietary recommendations suggest regular inclusion of breakfast for weight control and as a protective factor against obesity," the authors explain. "These recommendations are often derived from the presumption that skipping breakfast leads to overcompensation of energy at the end of the day."
This seems to make logical sense, but the data show that this is not necessarily so for many people. By monitoring overall intake among breakfast consumers and breakfast bakers, the study suggests that those who eat breakfast end up eating more generally when the sun goes down.
The authors are quick to point out that the data are not entirely consistent, urging the need for large-scale controlled studies to conclusively determine the benefits of eating or skipping breakfast. However, the analysis showed that those who skipped the first meal of the day were generally slimmer than those who ate.
"This study suggests that adding breakfast may not be a good strategy for weight loss, regardless of the established breakfast habit," the authors explain. "Caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as this may have the opposite effect."