As far as most of us can remember, breakfast has historically been considered the most important meal of the day. It’s been thought to kick-off our metabolism, boost our performance at school or at work, and help us maintain a slim figure.
As a person who hardly ever has breakfast, and with the recent apocalypse of time-limited eating, I have had my doubts over this. In the latest issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ, February 2019), one of the articles describes how misleading and unfounded the notion to ‘breakfast like a king’ has been.
Tim Spector, professor of epidemiology at King’s College Hospital, sums up a systematic review and meta-analysis to conclude that there is no evidence to support the long-believed claims that skipping breakfast makes us gain weight or reduces our metabolic rate. Furthermore, there’s now enough evidence to show that skipping breakfast can be a useful way to lose weight: based on overall daily caloric consumption and the knowledge we now have about the effects of longer periods of fasting.
In addition, let’s remember the myth that we should keep snacking or ‘grazing’ through the day to prevent us from overeating. After some hugely exciting work on the gut microbiome, scientists have been able to show that the community of around 100 trillion gut bacteria actually has a circadian rhythm and may benefit from short periods of fasting. These bacteria are thought to work better when there is a break from food intake, which in turn may have long-term effects on general health.
In a nutshell, the article makes us reconsider the idea that breakfast is a must for us all. It encourages us to rethink the evidence and do what works for us as individuals; whether this is with the aim to lose or maintain weight or improve overall health.
Personally, if I have breakfast as soon as I get up, not only do I end up with digestion issues, but I also get hungry earlier than I would if I had skipped breakfast!
At the same time, if having breakfast works for you and your schedule, that’s great. The conclusion is that we mustn’t feel that we are doing something wrong by skipping it.
Please note that if you take certain medications you may have been advised to have regular meals. If in doubt, speak to your health professional about whether skipping breakfast is suitable for you.
Reference: Spector Tim, Breakfast- just another diet myth? February 2019, theBMJ, p.186