Research: Eating breakfast is not good for weight loss

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Eating breakfast every day may not be a good plan for weight loss.  

Breakfast of Pancakes Bacon Eggs

Breakfast of Pancakes, Bacon, and Eggs

Eating breakfast may be a common practice to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.  In fact, cereal companies have pushed this myth for decades to get you to include their products into your diet.  The problem with the first meal of the day is that research keeps debunking it.  I have written an article on the link between eating breakfast and a slim waistline.  This claim that breakfast is the key to losing weight is like poorly conceived and is only correlation and not causation.  

I used to feel guilty when I skipped breakfast.  It is what I have been taught as a child, and I was indoctrinated to eat breakfast every day.  I grew up with parents and grandparents that insisted that a large diet was the key to starting the day right.  We have been brainwashed by the government, and television propaganda that promised eating cereal was the key to being healthy.  Television was part of your Saturday morning routine, and a good part of the TV was the commercials that pushed the breakfast cereals on many unsuspecting families.   

Much of the belief that breakfast is essential to good health starts from the industry and government agencies that depend on these products to be solvent.  In fact, most of it was based on research pushed by and funded by the cereal makers and Department of Agriculture.  How trustworthy is a research result that was found in a study funded by General Mills or Kellogg?   The cereal companies whose businesses depend on people being more of their grain-based cereals.  I am immediately suspicious when I see that a study is funded by a company that makes a profit from the results of the study.  Financial gain makes it difficult to subjective when you are incentivized by a certain result.  

Research is growing to support intermittent fasting.  Time and research have shown that fasting is safe.  Breakfast skipping is one method of intermittent fasting.  If you practice 16:8 fasting in which you fast primarily at night, and after waking, it is not as difficult as you might think.  I, for one, was very skeptical before researching for this and prior attacks.  

Recent independent studies suggesting breakfast may not be as essential as we have been taught[1].  In the study, researchers examined the effect of regular breakfast consumption on weight change and energy intake through a systematic review and meta-analysis.  Researchers examined the results of 13 randomized controlled trials to determine the effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake.  The analysis revealed only a small difference in weight favoring participants who skipped breakfast and participants assigned to breakfast had a higher total daily energy.  

This study suggests the claims that breakfast is a health panacea may be unsupported.  I am not quite ready to suggest that breakfast is not an important part of the daily diet for some of us.  If you eat breakfast every morning and have a healthy weight, don’t stop.  If not, consider skipping it.  If graze all morning if you skip, consider adding breakfast.  The best science we have suggests you should probably individualize you diet or fasting based on your ability to maintain a calorie deficit.  

The bottom line:  Breakfast is not as essential as we thought and skipping it might be the key for you to obtain and maintain a healthy weight.  This study suggests that the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss resulting in a lower weight and fewer Calories eaten.  I suggest you talk to a medical provider about intermittent fasting as a means to lose weight. Further randomized controlled trials of high quality are needed to examine the role of breakfast eating in the approach to weight management.


K. Sievert et al., “Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials,” BMJ, p. l42, Jan. 2019 [Online]. Available: 10.1136/bmj.l42″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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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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