Breakfast and Your Metabolism


Contributed by Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS

 

The last handful of years has brought into question the validity of many of nutritional science’s most long-held beliefs. With further research we now understand that a conventional feeding pattern may not be ideal for everybody, that consuming fat doesn’t necessarily make us fat, and that the ideal start to a day doesn’t include sugar-laden cold cereal (even if it contains some whole grains). We are told that breakfast gives you energy throughout the day, improves concentration and performance, and helps you manage your weight right, and everybody knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

 

According to popular belief within the world of food economics, that old adage is actually the result of a marketing campaign by General Foods in 1944, aimed at selling more cereal, specifically Grape Nuts, which it has advertised as its whole grain superfood for over a century.1 Interested in improving the health of its soldiers, government nutritionists actively worked alongside General Foods and other breakfast-food manufacturers in a widespread campaign to increase adherence to breakfast during World War II and an institution was born. Historically, a meal to “break the night’s fast” wasn’t even customary until Industrial Revolution-era Europe, and to this day its reverence in the American food culture isn’t shared by much of the rest of the world.

 

So, we got it wrong for most of history, but breakfast is still crucial for overall health and especially managing weight, right? We’ve heard that “breaking your body’s fast” jumpstarts your metabolism, gives you energy to start the day, and is key in weight management, but what does the science say? Though observational studies, ones which failed to truly isolate breakfast among the dozens of related factors, have proclaimed that breakfast is essential in any weight maintenance program, more rigorous study has brought that assertion into question. A randomized controlled trial involving 300 participants found no difference in weight maintenance between experimental groups which ate breakfast and skipped breakfast, and a control group which was asked to follow their normal routine.2 Other recent studies have found that, contrary to widespread belief, those who skip breakfast generally tend to consume less calories throughout the day.3,4 Based upon the most current research, nutrition professionals are coming around to the idea that the decision about whether or not to consume breakfast is highly individual and should be based more upon your own schedule, satiety levels, and behavioral habits than any perceived benefits it may have in regards to weight management.

 

Like so many other factors in your weight management journey, the decision to eat breakfast is highly individual. If you schedule workouts in the morning and would otherwise feel sluggish, by all means gulp down that Slim & Sassy® TrimShake on your way to the gym. If you know skipping breakfast will result in a mid-morning binge, grab a banana and a handful of almonds as you are headed out the door. Otherwise, don’t stress it and make your morning eating decisions based upon how you feel.

 

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