Breakfast May Not Be The Most Important Meal of the Day

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It is no secret that a lot of nutrition and fitness gurus always encourage people to eat breakfast, and for good reason too. Without going into much detail, eating breakfast revs the metabolism up and staves off hunger pangs that lead to poor eating habits such as snacking. However, there is now some evidence that the importance of having breakfast might have been overstated.

Two recent studies found that whether one eats breakfast or not does not have a direct bearing on the success of their weight loss. Physiologically, there is no direct link between eating in the early morning and weight loss. According to the study findings, the participants who were given breakfast did lose more weight than the group that was not, but the results were not statistically significant.

But what about the timing of meals? Well, scientists agree that it does not matter when food is eaten, despite modest fluctuations in hormonal levels throughout the day. The strongest reason why breakfast is given merit is because it is linked to certain behaviours. Thus, it’s simply a mechanism for curbing bad behaviours rather than a physical manifestation.

On this note, there is also no evidence whether one, three, five or six meals a day is best, as long as the total calorie count remains constant. Of course, there are modest physiological and hormonal effects, but the differences are not significant enough to warrant the promotion of one way over the rest – it really is up to the individual.

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On that note, and to continue on with the rant, the concept of specific diets themselves can be problematic. And most of the time it is not because they are not effective or based on flawed scientific principles, but because people who believe in them tend to have a behavioural dependency on them. That means that when they mess up the diet, their psychology fails them and they can quit.

Interestingly, some research in mice showed that by pushing off the first meal of the day to a later time, the body is primed to be hungrier less often. The specific details of why this is so is not fully known yet, but it could be psychological i.e. regular breakfasts give the body an expectation that food is coming, and therefore releases signals that it is feeding time. Although the study was conducted in mice, it was deemed too important to overlook.

So what should be the conclusion we take out of it? It is simply this – know what you are doing, and work out a plan that takes many factors into account. There are many ways to skin a cat, so to speak, and so it is not anyone’s role to dictate whether you should or should not have breakfast. There are pros and cons to each system – you just have to do the work and find out what works for you, and stick with it.

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