Why You May Not Want to Skip Breakfast

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Breakfast is arguably one of the most delicious meals of the day. But just how important is it? Some people believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day while others embrace the idea of intermittent fasting (IF) and often forgo their morning meal.

While there is limited research supporting skipping breakfast, there is some research indicating that breakfast is an important meal and part of a healthy lifestyle. Plus, studies show people who eat breakfast tend to have healthier habits. Here's what you need to know about breakfast including the benefits and why you may not want to skip it.

Benefits of Breakfast

Not only does eating breakfast every day offer a host of health benefits, it's also a morning ritual Americans have grown accustomed to. There's something about enjoying a bowl of oatmeal, some scrambled eggs, and a cup-of-joe while reading the paper as the sun rises. Taking time to enjoy a meal rather than rushing out the door is a great way to start the day.

In a study on the effects of breakfast patterns on body weight, diet quality, and nutrient intake, researchers found that those who ate breakfast tend to have healthier habits than their breakfast skipping counterparts. Here are some other ways breakfast can be beneficial.

Breakfast Can Curb Cravings

Eating breakfast every day—especially one rich in protein—can increase fullness throughout the day and reduce cravings. That means you're better able to make healthy food choices and consume appropriate portion sizes later.

Not only that, sticking to a regular meal pattern, including breakfast, with a shorter duration between meals helps prevent overeating, reduce stress, and improve circadian rhythm.

Breakfast Keeps You Satiated

Hunger can be a real pain when you're trying to focus and get things done. Eating a nutrient-dense breakfast packed with protein and high-fiber whole grains can keep hunger pangs at bay and give you the energy you need to tackle the day. Plus, it takes the body longer to digest protein and fiber allowing you to feel full for a longer period of time.

One study looked at the effects of a breakfast containing eggs on energy and satiety. Researchers found that those who ate eggs had more energy and were satisfied longer after their meal than those who only ate cereal. They also found that those who included eggs with breakfast ended up eating less at their next subsequent meal 4 hours later (lunch).

Breakfast Can Maintain Glucose Levels

According to researchers, eating a breakfast that includes whole grains is an excellent strategy for preventing type 2 diabetes and improving metabolic wellness.

Meanwhile, another study compared young men who ate breakfast and those who skip breakfast across 6 consecutive days. They found that people who skip breakfast have an increased glycemic response, which can lead to weight gain.

Similar studies found skipping breakfast caused a spike in blood glucose and a greater body mass index (BMI), which may be associated with obesity.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a dated, biased measure that doesn’t account for several factors, such as body composition, ethnicity, race, gender, and age.

Despite being a flawed measure, BMI is widely used today in the medical community because it is an inexpensive and quick method for analyzing potential health status and outcomes.

Breakfast Can Boost Exercise Performance

Some people exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach in an effort to burn more body fat. Truth is, fasted cardio may not give you the fat loss benefits you are hoping for. And the drawbacks—dehydration, increased injury risk, muscle loss, reduced strength, and reduced speed—may outweigh the potential to burn more fat.

On the other hand, eating a nutritious breakfast with carbs and protein before a workout could actually give you the boost you've been looking for. Getting proper fuel before exercise sessions may help you to work harder during the routine and boost the number of calories that you burn.

Breakfast Can Provide Important Nutrition

Breakfast is the perfect opportunity to get in your daily recommended intake of essential vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, fiber, and healthy fats. If you skip breakfast you're losing a chance to meet your nutrient needs.

Researchers in Canada looked at the impact of breakfast on Canadian children and adolescents. They found that those who didn't eat breakfast were lacking in vitamin D, calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as vitamin A, phosphorous, and zinc. Insufficient amounts of these nutrients can lead to insomnia, depression, and a predisposition to infections.

Why People Skip Breakfast

The reasons people skip breakfast often come down to they're just not hungry in the mornings, don't have the time, or don't want to eat so early. Some people may skip breakfast to exercise on an empty stomach while others skip breakfast to prevent upset stomach or indigestion following breakfast in the morning. Regardless of their reasoning, skipping breakfast works for some people, while for others it is not quite so successful.

You may even wonder how skipping breakfast will impact your metabolism. Some people used to believe that skipping breakfast would cause your metabolism to slow down. But researchers in one study found no distinct difference in metabolic rates between those who ate breakfast and those who did not. However, they did note that skipping breakfast can help your body metabolize calories and prevent overeating.

The truth is restricting meals, calories, or food groups promotes diet culture and may lead to disordered eating. There is no one-size-fits when it comes to diet and meal timing. You should work with a healthcare practitioner or registered dietitian to find out what works best for you.

What to Eat for Breakfast

Because skipping breakfast really isn't ideal for most people, figuring out what to eat for breakfast is the next step. The problem is for some people, the thought of planning another meal can feel like adding another brick to the stack already on your shoulders. Fortunately, breakfast doesn't have to be extensive or time-consuming in order to be delicious and nutritious.

To get the most out of your morning meal, prioritize protein and high-fiber whole-grain carbohydrates.

Including protein in your breakfast will help boost energy for the day while keeping blood sugar steady. This means energy levels will sustain through to your next meal rather than hitting you with a big crash shortly after eating. Plus, protein will help keep you feeling fuller longer, can promote weight loss, and help maintain muscle mass.

In a study comparing high-fiber carbohydrate-rich breakfast with high-fat breakfasts, researchers found that those who ate high-fiber carbs with their breakfast remained full and satisfied long after the meal and ate less overall throughout the day.

Some simple breakfast ideas that are packed with protein and high-fiber carbs include scrambled eggs with multigrain toast, Greek yogurt topped with granola and fruit, and high-protein overnight oatmeal. Also make sure you drink plenty of water in the morning.

In fact, properly hydrating in the morning is important, too. Turns out sleeping just 6 hours is enough to cause inadequate hydration. To combat this, drink 16 ounces of water upon waking to replenish fluids lost while sleeping, especially before diving into a cup of coffee.

How much you sleep may correlate with what you choose for breakfast. It's important to note that inadequate sleep can increase your hunger levels. Evidence shows that a lack of sleep drives ghrelin production, which may cause you to be hungrier and eat more throughout the day.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you eat breakfast or skip it, it's important to evaluate your expectations. If you're thinking it's going to impact your weight management goals or boost your metabolism, you could be opting out for all the wrong reasons. What's more, skipping breakfast affects each person differently.

For some people, skipping breakfast fits their lifestyle. For others, skipping breakfast may be the reason they can't stop eating at night or haven't yet reached their weight management goals. Talking to a healthcare practitioner or registered dietitian can help you determine whether skipping breakfast is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does breakfast kickstart your metabolism?

    Breakfast does not kickstart your metabolism. In a study comparing calories burned over 24 hours in those who ate breakfast and those who did not, no difference was found. However, including protein with breakfast can slightly increase metabolism via the thermic effect of food.

  • Does skipping breakfast cause weight gain?

    There is no evidence supporting the idea that skipping breakfast will make you gain weight. That said, you do need to make sure you are eating a balanced diet and meeting your nutritional needs—even if you skip breakfast.

18 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN
Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN is a sports and pediatric dietitian, the owner of Nutrition by Shoshana, and is the author of "Carb Cycling for Weight Loss." Shoshana received her B.S in dietetics and nutrition from Florida International University. She's been writing and creating content in the health, nutrition, and fitness space for over 15 years and is regularly featured in Oxygen Magazine, JennyCraig.com, and more.