It seems that science cannot go a fortnight without releasing yet another contradictory study about whether skipping breakfast is good for you or not.
It might seem that forgoing breakfast could be a way to lose weight — less calories, right? Yet for years, we’ve been told by dieticians, nutritionists, and pretty much every Dr. Oz-type under the sun that skipping our first meal upon waking will lead to weight gain, because you’ll overeat later in the day.
Eat a healthy breakfast! The mantra has been pounded into us.
Now, a story in Salon questions the legitimacy of the breakfast lobby, suggesting that perhaps it’s no better than an old wives tale.
Reporter Ari Levaux points to a study published January 2011 in Nutrition Journal which found that people eat the same size meals (and the same amount of calories) later in the day, regardless of whether they’ve had breakfast. This certainly challenges the ethos that skipping breakfast leads to binging later.
Levaux also cites a study recently published in the Journal of Obesity — though incorrectly.
Levaux reports that the study found that subjects who ate their first meal before 3 p.m. ate fewer total calories than those who ate their first meal after 3 p.m. In fact, the study looked at whether people ate their main meal of the day before or after 3 p.m., not their first meal of the day. So really, that study has nothing to do with breakfast.
These are interesting studies, but provide no definitive answers and do little more than add to the debate. For every one of the studies Levaux cites, another can easily be found that cites pretty much the opposite.
That being said, with this much controversy swirling around the health impacts of the first meal of the day, Levaux does provide one piece of sage wisdom that could be worth taking: “I’m not eating until I’m hungry.”