The simple answer to this question is yes. In my clinic, I’ve seen time and again that people who regularly skip breakfast are more likely to become overweight or obese. And they’re surprised to learn that not eating, or eating less, can lead to weight gain!
Contrary to the belief that skipping breakfast means you eat less eat less food in a day, in fact you end up eating a lot more. By not eating breakfast, you keep yourself on an empty stomach for a longer time. During this period, the level of a hormone called ghrelin, which typically makes you hungry, surges. At the same time, skipping breakfast can make your insulin (the hormone that maintains blood glucose level) go down. When your insulin level is low, you feel hungry, and this pent-up hunger naturally leads to overeating. That’s why breakfast-skippers tend to eat a heavier lunch—or even get fast food between breakfast and lunch. These big, heavy meals are often energy dense but not nutrient dense: high in carbohydrates and/or fat but low in important nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. People who make skipping breakfast a regular habit are more likely to suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, develop erratic eating patterns, and consume fewer meals overall. And the few meals they do consume are more likely to be full of sugars and refined carbs. When this practise continues over a period of time, the excess carbohydrate and fat is stored in the form of fat, making the person overweight or obese.
While the patients of mine who regularly consume breakfast eat more meals per day, they consume fewer calories and more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They also tend to eat less in the evening and later at night. Their blood glucose levels remain steady, thus preventing hunger pangs and even reducing their chance of diabetes in the long run. Eating a wholesome breakfast in the morning boosts your energy, helps you concentrate, and increases your productivity.
Eating breakfast is an excellent way to keep your weight in check and increase your work productivity. An ideal breakfast includes a combination of carbohydrates from organic whole grains; protein from meat, fish, or seeds and nuts; good fats from raw or cultured butter, coconut oil, or lard; and fiber from a fair share of vegetables. Here are some examples:
- Oatmeal with almonds and chia seeds
- Mixed pulse pancake with eggs and green veggies
- Shrimp with brown rice and loads of veggies.
If you really want to maintain your health and your weight, be sure to make breakfast the most important meal of your day—not the least.
- Skipping breakfast and 5‐year changes in body mass index and waist circumference in Japanese men and women
- A high‐protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger, in “breakfast skipping” adolescents
- The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumed with overweight/obesity, abdominal obesity, other cardiometabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in young adults.
- Benefits of breakfast for children and adolescents: update and recommendations for practitioners
Image from iStock/Dexailo.