5 common myths about breakfast

Myth 1. Eating breakfast boosts our metabolism.

The best scientific evidence we have shows our resting metabolic rate is not increased by eating breakfast. Indeed, research shows that even not eating anything prior to midday for 6 weeks straight does not impair our resting metabolism.

Myth 2. Eating breakfast means we eat less calories in total throughout the day.

This is not only unproven, we actually know the exact opposite is true: we eat more. This makes good sense, because when we skip breakfast, we are skipping the intake of a significant amount of calories.

Myth 3. Purposely skipping breakfast is a good strategy for weight loss.

The largest and longest study to compare the effectiveness of skipping vs. eating breakfast on weight found that skipping breakfast:

  • does not result in any significant weight loss, and
  • does not have any significant effect on our weight compared to eating breakfast.

Just because eating breakfast does not increase our metabolism, and can mean we eat more calories in total, does not mean that we should purposely skip it.

Myth 4. When we eat is more important than what we eat.

What and how much we eat is, in my view, what matters most:

  • Whilst breakfast eaters have higher nutrient intakes than breakfast skippers, high nutrient intake is (of course) dependant on eating more nutrient-rich foods.
  • Whilst breakfast eaters have better long-term health than breakfast skippers, good health is (of course) dependant on eating healthier foods.

Myth 5. There is a ‘correct’ time to eat for everybody.

Research shows that one of the most consistent predictors of body weight (outside of genetics!) is the driver of what makes us eat:

  • When we eat in reaction to our external environment and emotions, we are more likely to overeat.
  • When we eat in response to our internal hunger signals, we are less likely to overeat.

Being more conscious about eating according to hunger is one of the most effective strategies we have to prevent overeating.

For me, the biggest problem with advice about eating or skipping breakfast is that it gives the impression we must be eating at a certain time.

In general, we actually don’t.

For most of us, eating is best done by listening to the hunger signals of our body, and not by worrying about what the time is on our clock.

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