The Nutritional Effects of Skipping Breakfast

We look into how eating a healthy breakfast on a daily basis can help you lose weight, improve your mood and even ward off some diseases.

School Of Nutrition Posted Oct 25, 2017 Future Fit Training


The Nutritional Effects of Skipping Breakfast

Your mother was right all along – breakfast actually is the most important meal of the day.

Most of the current official nutritional guidelines even recommend that you eat breakfast daily and it is claimed that by skipping it you are raising your risk of obesity. Unfortunately although this advice can easily be followed, it still appears to be a problem as it was found that up to a quarter of Americans are regularly skipping breakfast (1).

Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast tend to be healthy with a lower chance of being overweight or obese and also have a low risk of numerous chronic diseases (2, 3). Yet since these studies are observational studies, they cannot demonstrate causation. There is an increased likelihood that those who eat breakfast have a healthier diet as they consume more fibre and micronutrients (4, 5). Some research even suggested that people who skip breakfast also have more unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and exercising less (6).

So if you need some inspiration to make a habit of eating a regular morning meal, read through to find out what happens within your body when you skip breakfast;

Nutritional Effects of Skipping Breakfast - Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop

Breakfast is literally meant to mean ‘breaking the fast’ from the time you’ve spent asleep throughout the night. Eating in the morning helps to restore glycogen and stabilise the levels of insulin. By ignoring and not replenishing your glucose levels in the morning you will end up feeling overly hungry, irritable and fatigued. These symptoms are the first thing you’ll experience in the morning especially if you skip your morning meal (7).

Nutritional Effects of Skipping Breakfast - Your Metabolism Slows Down

Some evidence suggests that by eating breakfast you can encourage your body to burn more calories throughout the day. When you don’t eat any food for a long period of time, your body begins to store as many calories as it can, in order to prepare for a potential period of starvation. As metabolism levels slow down, the body even turns to the glucose which is stored in your muscles as a backup source of fuel, which effectively means that your muscles waste away (8).

Nutritional Effects of Skipping Breakfast - Stress Hormone Levels Increase

Eating breakfast can have a positive effect on cortisol – the primary ‘stress hormone’ which is produced by adrenal glands. The levels of cortisol are highest at around 7am in the morning, which is why it’s important to eat something so that you can bring the hormone levels back down. When cortisol levels are too high, you will most likely feel anxious or jittery (9).

Nutritional Effects of Skipping Breakfast - Increased Risk of Heart Disease

By regularly skipping morning meals you are more susceptible to weight gain and at an increased risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol (10, 6, 11, 12). A study over the length of sixteen years found that men who skipped breakfast daily, were twenty seven percent more likely to experience heart attacks or have a coronary heart disease as the cause of their death (13).

One of the most common reasons that people avoid eating breakfast in the mornings is because they simply don’t feel hungry. If you can relate to this, you can start your day with a milkshake or a healthy smoothie instead. Aim to keep your dinner portion sizes small and cut back on alcohol and any snacks just before you sleep, so you can work towards building a healthier routine for yourself.

For more information on the nutritional effects of skipping breakfast, see our nutrition and weight management course.

[Sources]

Kant, A.K. and Graubard, B.I., 2015. 40-year trends in meal and snack eating behaviors of American adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(1), pp.50-63.
Deshmukh-Taskar, P.R., Nicklas, T.A., O'Neil, C.E., Keast, D.R., Radcliffe, J.D. and Cho, S., 2010. The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumption with nutrient intake and weight status in children and adolescents: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2006. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110(6), pp.869-878.
Giovannini, M., Agostoni, C. and Shamir, R., 2010. Symposium overview: Do we all eat breakfast and is it important?. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 50(2), pp.97-99.
O'Neil, C.E., Nicklas, T.A. and Fulgoni, V.L., 2014. Nutrient intake, diet quality, and weight/adiposity parameters in breakfast patterns compared with no breakfast in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(12), pp.S27-S43.
Rampersaud, G.C., Pereira, M.A., Girard, B.L., Adams, J. and Metzl, J.D., 2005. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), pp.743-760.
Cahill, L.E., Chiuve, S.E. and Mekary, R.A., 2014. Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 59(2), p.555.
Adolphus, K., Lawton, C.L. and Dye, L., 2013. The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7.
Garaulet, M., Gómez-Abellán, P., Alburquerque-Béjar, J.J., Lee, Y.C., Ordovás, J.M. and Scheer, F.A., 2013. Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. International journal of obesity, 37(4), pp.604-611.
Witbracht, M., Keim, N.L., Forester, S., Widaman, A. and Laugero, K., 2015. Female breakfast skippers display a disrupted cortisol rhythm and elevated blood pressure. Physiology & behavior, 140, pp.215-221.
Uzhova, I., Fuster, V., Fernández-Ortiz, A., Ordovás, J.M., Sanz, J., Fernández-Friera, L., López-Melgar, B., Mendiguren, J.M., Ibáñez, B., Bueno, H. and Peñalvo, J.L., 2017. The Importance of Breakfast in Atherosclerosis Disease: Insights From the PESA Study. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70(15), pp.1833-1842.
Watanabe, Y., Saito, I., Henmi, I., Yoshimura, K., Maruyama, K., Yamauchi, K., Matsuo, T., Kato, T., Tanigawa, T., Kishida, T. and Asada, Y., 2014. Skipping breakfast is correlated with obesity. Journal of Rural Medicine, 9(2), pp.51-58.
Geliebter, A., Astbury, N.M., Aviram-Friedman, R., Yahav, E. and Hashim, S., 2014. Skipping breakfast leads to weight loss but also elevated cholesterol compared with consuming daily breakfasts of oat porridge or frosted cornflakes in overweight individuals: a randomised controlled trial. Journal of nutritional science, 3.
Cahill, L.E., Chiuve, S.E. and Mekary, R.A., 2014. Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 59(2), p.555.

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