Breakfast and Weight Loss: What is the Skinny about Breakfast?


Breakfast: Is It The Most Important Meal of the Day?


We have all heard the statement that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  My grandmother always told me it was unhealthy to miss breakfast.  I have read in many books that missing breakfast makes weight loss more unlikely.  Breakfast can help with weight loss according to research.  What is the skinny about breakfast?

The best research to review on breakfast is the National Weight Control Registry.  The research that spun off to review that data from this project has revolutionized our understanding of weight loss and maintenance.  This registry is a data pool of subjects who have been successful at losing weight.  The data reveals that 78% of successful weight loss maintainers eat breakfast and those that do report higher energy levels and more exercise​[1]​.   This should point to a lower weight regain if all other variables are the same.   Although this does not indicate a causal relation to success, eating breakfast is a characteristic common to successful weight loss maintainers and may be a factor in their success.   

Ok, I will accept that those that eat breakfast are more likely to maintain lost weight, but is there any evidence to show that they are more successful at losing it?  One randomized controlled  I reviewed tackled this question with a 12-week study that included 152 subjects that either ate breakfast or now.  The breakfast group lost 2.7 additional kilograms that the other group did not​[2]​.    This data clearly suggested that eating breakfast helped increase body weight and they suggested that it did so by minimizing impulsive snacking.  

Recommendations on breakfast: I recommend that you eat a morning meal.  I suggest a meal higher in fiber and protein because of prior research I have reviewed.  Eggs with high-fiber toast would be a great meal to start the day.  The evidence is breakfast high in protein and fiber will keep you full longer.  This research suggests that regularly eating a healthy breakfast may help you lose excess weight and maintain your weight loss in the following ways: Reduced hunger. Eating breakfast may reduce your hunger later in the day, which may make it easier to avoid overeating.  Although I doubt that there is anything special about breakfast and I do not think that missing breakfast does any special harm that missing another meal would not also cause.  Then again, I do not recommend meal skipping.  

[1]Wyatt et al., “Long-Term Weight Loss and Breakfast in Subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.”
[2]Schlundt et al., “The Role of Breakfast in the Treatment of Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial.”


  1. Schlundt, DG, JO Hill, T Sbrocco, J Pope-Cordle, and T Sharp. “The Role of Breakfast in the Treatment of Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 55, no. 3 (March 1, 1992): 645–51. [PubMed]
  2. Wyatt, Holly R., Gary K. Grunwald, Cecilia L. Mosca, Mary L. Klem, Rena R. Wing, and James O. Hill. “Long-Term Weight Loss and Breakfast in Subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.” Obesity Research. Wiley-Blackwell, February 2002. doi: 10.1038/oby.2002.13
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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