I’m not sure what I like best about the Wolseley. It might be peeping over to see what some minor royal or Tory frontbencher is eating. It could be the pomp and ceremony of the slightly irate service and somewhat tattered silver teapots and cutlery. Maybe it’s because I share my experiences there with a true friend who likes it just as much as me. Whatever the reason, the whole thing revolves around breakfast.
Even when not eating in such grandiose establishments, I’m a big fan of the first meal of the day. As much as I love it, however, I’m not naturally that hungry in the morning. So if I’m restricting how much I eat for weight loss, breakfast is the first thing to get cut back, or even skipped.
That might sound like a sensible way to limit calories to some of you, but to the mainstream dieting industry, missing what’s seen as the most important meal of the day only serves to obliterate your metabolism, ravage your cognitive functioning, and wreak havoc on your blood sugar. But are you plunging your body into disarray by not eating first thing in the morning? Here’s what really happens when you skip breakfast.
The breakfast skipping fearmongering usually starts with talk of metabolism. It’s commonly said that eating breakfast boosts your energy expenditure, making it easier to lose fat. But is this actually the case? A study by Fumi Kobayashi sought to find out.
- In the study, people were randomised to a breakfast group or no-breakfast group
- Once in their respective groups, they were then measured in a room-sized respiratory chamber that can precisely see how much energy they use over 24 hours
- In the breakfast group, people were given breakfast at 8 am lunch at 12pm, and dinner at 7 pm. In the no-breakfast group, they were only given lunch and dinner.
Here’s where the study gets interesting. Both of the groups were given the same number of calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrate. The only difference was that the breakfast group had the calories spread across three meals, and the no-breakfast group over two. Guess what happened? Absolutely nothing. There was no difference between energy expenditure, and there was also zero difference in how much carbs or fat were burned.
In short, breakfast doesn’t boost your metabolism, and a lack of breakfast doesn’t slow your metabolism down.
Your brains main fuel source is glucose, so you need to make sure you keep it topped up so you can concentrate, right? At least that’s how the logic goes. But do we really need half a packet of chocolate hob-nobs to cure the dreaded brain fog?
It turns out that skipping breakfast doesn’t actually affect performance in cognitive tasks, and being a regular breakfast skipper has no effect on how well you’ll do at school.
Ever wonder how people who think they suffer from low blood sugar survive at night? If going a couple of hours without eating plunges them into hypoglycemia, then surely 8 hours or more of nil-by-mouth should be fatal? It turns out that feeling weak or shaky after missing breakfast, due to supposed low blood sugar, is more psychological than it is physical.
- A study by Alken took a group of medical students who said they could feel their blood sugar dropping if they missed a meal and a group who experienced no symptoms and got them to fast for 24 hours.
- Blood samples were taken eight times.
- During the fast, the group who claimed to be hypoglycemic said they felt irritated and shaky, whereas the other group felt fine.
- However, blood sugar in both groups stayed within the normal range for both groups, never getting anywhere near what would be considered low.
Your body, being designed to survive droughts and long periods of not eating, has got a ton of different mechanisms to keep your blood sugar stable. Missing the odd meal here and there isn’t going to hurt.
Nothing bad happens if you skip breakfast. If you don’t have the time or want to save the calories for when you’re hungriest, feel free to eat your first meal later in the day.