Can You Really Skip Breakfast? A Nutritionist Answers
By JJ Virgin
I never thought I’d need to do this, but a few weeks ago I found myself ardently—and impatiently—defending breakfast.
It started when a friend mentioned a New York Times story titled “Sorry, There’s Nothing Magical about Breakfast.”
“The bottom line is that the evidence for the importance of breakfast is something of a mess,” Aaron E. Carroll concluded. “If you’re hungry, eat it. But don’t feel bad if you’d rather skip it, and don’t listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers.”
I’ve never claimed breakfast offers mystical powers, and I never—OK, rarely—lecture, yet I’ve discovered a pattern working with clients for three decades: Folks who skip breakfast eat more throughout the day, and not wild salmon and Brussels sprouts, either.
Nope, that eats more debacle typically reaches its nadir about 10 p.m. when the siren call of Chunky Monkey blares from the freezer.
That slippery slope into high-sugar-impact mayhem makes sense when you consider that breakfast sets your metabolic tone for the day.
Science is on my side here. Over two studies, researchers looked at folks who either consistently ate or skipped breakfast. Skippers had “significantly increased” appetite at lunch.
Another study likewise found breakfast avoiders made up for “lost calories” at subsequent meals. Researchers concluded that skipping breakfast “could lead to weight gain…”
Without breakfast, you become a caffeinated, angry mess, snapping at your incompetent receptionist and subsequently fighting a glazed doughnut urge.
So, let’s stop it with skipping. For fat loss and to feel fabulous, eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. Not only that: I want breakfast to be your day’s biggest meal.
Again, cue the science. In one 12-week study, two groups of overweight and obese women ate either a high-calorie breakfast or dinner. The breakfast group lost more weight.
That doesn’t give you permission to make breakfast dessert. A high-sugar-impact low-fat muffin and skinny latte become a fat bomb set to explode at about 10:30 a.m.
Look, I get that very few people have the time or inclination to eat breakfast. Manufacturers capitalise on this breakfast-phobia with a plethora of high-sugar-impact crap they even manage to bill as healthy.
Don’t fall for it. Skip the sugar and dial up healthy fat, fibre, and protein. Studies show a high-protein breakfast crushes your hunger hormone and keeps you full longer, and epidemiological studies show that people who eat more fibre have a lower body weight.
I also know you’re busy, so breakfast oftentimes takes a back seat to the zillion other tasks that confront you. You’re not going to whip up wild salmon and spinach at 7 a.m.
That’s why I love protein shakes. Studies show they can "produce significant sustainable weight loss and improve weight-related risk factors of disease.”
Plus, they’re so freaking easy. Just blend non-soy, non-dairy, plant-based or defatted beef protein with frozen raspberries, avocado, kale, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk for a satiating, portable breakfast that takes five minutes to make but keeps you full for hours.
Ultimately, nothing becomes a one-size-fits-all approach, and for the occasional person (maybe you’re doing intermittent fasting), skipping works.
But nearly everyone feels and performs better eating in the morning, and a protein shake makes the perfect way to do breakfast and get on with your day