Many health experts will tell you that breakfast is the single most important meal of the day, and absolutely non-negotiable if you're trying to lose weight .
But how much truth is there to this?
In actual fact, there's no real consensus amongst the scientific community about whether eating breakfast actually helps with weight loss.
Consider the following studies published over the last few years, with totally different and contradictory findings:
- Eating less calories at breakfast is better for weight loss (read this study here)
- Eating more calories at breakfast and less at dinner is better for weight loss (read this study here)
- Whether you're told to eat or skip breakfast has no effect on weight loss (read this study here)
- Skipping breakfast and not eating until midday is better for weight loss (read about this study here)
- Eating a high-carb and protein breakfast including a dessert (cookie, chocolate or doughnut) helps with weight loss (read this study here)
So, if even the experts can't agree on this one, what are we supposed to do?
My advice is simple:
Eat breakfast as soon as you wake up if you're hungry, and if you're not, eat it when you do eventually get hungry.
I am an advocate for the concept of eating intuitively, which is eating whatever you feel like when you're hungry, and stopping when you're full.
I don't think it's a good idea to ever eat something 'just in case' you get hungry later. I can tell you that you will get hungry later, and it's better to take something with you wherever you're going so you can eat it then instead. Not only is eating when you're not hungry deeply unsatisfying, but it also disrupts your hunger and fullness cues. These cues are there for a reason, and listening to them is the easiest way to maintain your weight eating what you want, without ever counting a single calorie.
However, there is just one caveat to this advice: if you know that you're the kind of person who will compensate for not having breakfast by indulging in something that isn't particularly nutritious later in the day (the 'I didn't eat breakfast so I can afford to eat this piece of cake' mentality), then I'd recommend that you do eat something small at breakfast time, even if you're not particularly hungry.