You’ve heard it over and over: eat breakfast, eat breakfast. I’ve probably said it over a thousand times in my career. I’ve probably said it in my sleep. Study after study has linked eating breakfast to higher overall nutrient intake and to fewer bouts of emotional eating and cravings later in the day.
Is it true?
It is true; many earlier studies show that breakfast eaters tend to be healthier.
For example, breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight or obese and have a lower risk of several chronic diseases. This is why as a junior dietitian I was shouting it from the rooftops. What is important to note is that most of these studies were observational. In nutrition it is a tricky and often misleading to base advice solely on observational studies. It is difficult to eliminate what are called confounding variables. For example people who skip breakfast might be more likely to have overall poorer eating habits or they might be more likely to smoke or drink alcohol and exercise less. The bottom line is observational studies do not prove causation.
In a recent article by Adda Bjarnadottir, “Is Skipping Breakfast Bad for You? The Surprising Truth”, the evidence reviewed suggests that eating breakfast is not necessary for weight loss and is at times beneficial. The author touts the benefits of intermittent fasting or skipping breakfast a few times a week.
I was shocked. But I always ask myself, does this apply to everyone? Both sexes? In particular do the studies reviewed apply to the women sitting in front of me in my office, women who are stressed and struggling with hormone issues, some of them dealing with emotional eating?
The women in my Body Beautiful program often have hormone dysregulation (insulin resistance, leptin resistance, ghrelin imbalance) coupled with mood swings and/or anxiety. What does skipping breakfast mean for these women? Well, it’s important to note that if cortisol imbalance is suspected then intermittent fasting can be detrimental. In fact some studies suggest that intermittent fasting or skipping breakfast is never beneficial for women. For more reading, see “Female specific responses to fasting in the literature.”
Also, check out my easy to understand video: Breakfast – To Eat, or Not to Eat? That is The Question.
Try these grab-and-go Big Breakfast tips:
High protein choices:
- One cup 2% cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt, fruit, 1/3 cup of steel cut oats (precooked and packaged), and 2 Tbsp of raw seeds.
- 2 Boiled eggs, an apple, 1 slice of whole grain toast with 1 tsp of almond butter.
- Last night’s dinner – there’s nothing wrong with meatloaf in the morning.
Make a blender of protein shake and you’re good to go for the week with protein power in your mug every morning.
1 scoop of brown rice protein powder (xylitol sweetened) (28 grams protein)
1 cup of berries
1/3 cup pre-cooked steel cut oats
1 tsp almond butter
1 cup water, almond milk, or coconut milk
Blend and enjoy!