Breakfast: Really the Most Important Meal?
We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Is that really true, and should you force yourself to eat in the AM if you’re not hungry? Our Healthy Skeptic serves up the answers.
The Claim: Breakfast is the most important meal.
I’m one of those people who have to eat breakfast every day. And I’ve told others they should as well because, as we often hear, it’s the most important meal of the day. But it turns out the science behind the advice is iffy so for breakfast, I may end up having to eat my words.
Breakfast is often touted as key to weight control because without it, the thinking goes, you’re hungrier and more likely consume extra calories.
In fact some studies have linked breakfast-skipping with higher weight. But these just show associations and don’t prove cause and effect.
Studies that do show cause and effect, so-called randomized trials, have generally found that breakfast eaters have no advantage when it comes to weight. What’s more, breakfast skippers may actually consume fewer calories throughout the day, according to some research.
As for other benefits, eating breakfast is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. But again, this research doesn’t prove cause and effect.
The same goes for much of the research linking breakfast to kids doing better in school.
Bottom line, the case for breakfast is far from bulletproof. So if you’re not a breakfast person, don’t feel you have to force yourself to eat. If, on the other hand, you’re like me and need breakfast to function, by all means eat. Just go easy on the giant muffins and chocolate chip pancakes.
For more on diet and nutrition claims, check out my book, Coffee is Good for You, which reveals the truth about everything from red meat to red wine.
Helping you be a healthy skeptic, I’m Robert Davis.