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Health Myths Debunked: Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Kayla Reynolds, MS

The Myth

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

The Background

Whether your mom, a fitness magazine, a diet ad, or a friend, you’ve long been told never to skip breakfast — “it’s the most important meal of the day.” This is a great example of how complicated science gets oversimplified.

The Facts

First, let’s address that some people think that skipping breakfast will help you lose weight. Why? Simple math. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories. To eat fewer calories, you could eat fewer meals. To eat fewer meal, you could simply skip one.

On the other hand, many think that skipping breakfast will lead to weight gain. People who are #TeamBreakfast will share studies demonstrating that people who eat breakfast are leaner than people who don’t. They’ll also share studies that suggesting that those who eat breakfast are better able to maintain weight loss. Unfortunately, those studies don’t show that eating breakfast causes weight loss or weight maintenance — they simply demonstrate that breakfast is associated with the two. People who eat breakfast and are able to maintain a healthy weight likely also have other healthy habits that contribute to this association.

The facts? No one is right. Research shows that eating breakfast will not cause weight loss or weight gain. It’s a lot more complicated than that…

The Bottom Line

Breakfast isn’t a universally “magical meal.”

Ultimately, whether eating a meal first thing in the morning is a good weight loss strategy depends on you.

For some people, eating a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast can help set a healthy tone for the day, keep hunger at bay, and prevent overeating later in the day. For these people, breakfast could very well be the most important meal of the day.

For others, who may not wake up hungry, waiting to eat the first meal until a bit later in the day can save calories for when they have more of an appetite. For these people, skipping breakfast may just be the key to sucessful weight loss.

However, no one should wait until they’re overly hungry to eat. This is when we tend to overeat and poor food choices come into play!

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  • Bonnaroo

    Doh!