How Important Is Breakfast?
An old-wives’ tale or backed by science? Regardless of which school of thought you associate with, recent studies have uncovered that there may just be a link between your overall health and your breakfast habits.
Studies suggest it isn’t necessarily what you’re eating for breakfast, or if you’re skipping breakfast altogether (although some studies do suggest skipping breakfast has negative effects on your metabolism, which ultimately could lead to unstable blood sugar levels, obesity, increased risk for heart disease and type II diabetes), but rather, when you’re eating breakfast and how much you are eating in the morning.
As explained in a previous blog post, there are windows of time throughout the day that are optimal for meal consumption. However, a recent article in Psychology Today points out that findings in a recent study by the Journal of Nutrition indicated that people who ate their largest meal of the day at breakfast were less likely to be overweight or obese, compared to those who ate their largest meal at lunch or dinner. The findings also suggested that those who ate breakfast were more likely to be a healthy weight than those who skipped breakfast.
As Psychology Today points out, a similar study published in the journal Obesity indicated similar results. In this particular study, 93 overweight and obese women were put on a prescribed diet for 12 weeks. While all the women in the study ate the same types of foods and the same amount of daily calories for the 12 weeks, some women consumed their largest meal for breakfast, while others consumed their largest meal at dinner. After 12 weeks, women in both groups lost weight, but those who ate their largest meal in the morning lost about two and a half times more weight than those who ate large dinners. The women who ate larger breakfasts also showed improvements in other areas of their health, including reduced belly fat, hunger levels and fasting blood sugar levels (used to test for diabetes).
This evidence is so strong that even the American Heart Association issued a statement about how properly planning and timing meals/snacks likely reduces risk factors for heart disease, in addition to preventing obesity and diabetes.
Why does it make a difference when you eat your biggest meal? For starters, if you eat more in the morning, you’re less likely to consume as many calories throughout the rest of your day. Your body has an entire day to burn off and use the calories from your breakfast, as opposed to when you eat a large dinner. If you skip dinner, or eat a smaller one, your body will go into a fasting state for longer overnight, which will positively impact weight loss and metabolism.
There are many studies on this subject, and the results of one can be contested with the results of another. But the main takeaway is to be cognizant of when you’re eating breakfast, how much you’re eating for breakfast and how much you consume throughout the day to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul.
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