The answer is yes and no. It depends on what you eat for breakfast.
As a weight loss doctor, I spend a significant amount of time with every new patient discussing the importance of breakfast and I have lost count of how many times I have heard “If I eat breakfast, I am hungry all day long”. Through experience I know exactly what these patients are eating. It is the typical American breakfast fare – donuts, bagels, cereal, instant oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, etc. All refined carbohydrates with very little protein. This will satisfy us for 2 to 3 hours – glucose is deposited into the bloodstream quickly, the pancreas produces a significant spike in insulin with a resultant drop in the sugar making us hungry and irritable.
There is an overwhelming amount of evidence from recent studies that supports the significance of breakfast on health and wellness. The following list just scratches the surface of all the research that has been done on how breakfast affects weight, health, and our mental well-being.
What Research Tells Us About Breakfast
- People who skip breakfast crave more carbohydrates later in the day.
- People who skip breakfast weigh more and have more unhealthy habits than those who eat breakfast regularly – they consume 40% more sweets, 55% more soft drinks, 45% fever vegetables, and 30% less fruit
- Men who skip breakfast are 20% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Eating breakfast daily makes you 34% less likely to become diabetic.
- Eating breakfast improves mental performance including English and math skills, hand eye coordination, and problem solving skills.
- Egg protein for breakfast has been shown to make people feel fuller during the day. One study showed that patients ate 100-400 fewer calories at lunch if they ate eggs versus a bagel for breakfast. Another study showed that those that ate 2 eggs lost 65% more weight than those that ate bagels for breakfast.
- People who eat breakfast are less likely to have heart failure and it may increase life span.
- People who skip breakfast tend to exercise less , have higher cholesterol, higher insulin levels and larger waists that those that eat breakfast regularly
- Fat free milk at breakfast can make you feel fuller and eat fewer calories at lunch.
- A high fiber, low glycemic index breakfast helps women burn more fat when exercising.
- Eating breakfast decreases the risk of being obese.
- Skipping breakfast makes the reward centers of the brain respond to high calorie, fatty foods at lunchtime.
- Breakfast skippers are more likely to gain weight by overcompensating at lunch with higher fat foods.
- 78% of the people in the National Weight Control Registry, a database of patients that have lost significant weight and kept it off, eat breakfast every day as part of their weight maintenance program.
- Breakfast as it relates to children
- Eating breakfast improves math grades, reduces hyperactivity, decreases absence and tardy rates.
- Kids who eat breakfast are less likely to become obese.
- Protein at breakfast helps teens control hunger and eat less later in the day.
- Breakfast cereals marketed to kids have 85% more sugar than cereals targeted to adults.
- The American preschooler sees an average of 642 TV cereal ads per year for these high sugar cereals.
- Children are more likely to eat breakfast daily if their parents eat breakfast daily.
It is hard to believe that one choice we make every day can affect our health and performance to such a great extent. We have all heard it before, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and it is a crucial part of any weight loss program. I generally recommend my patient start with a 300 calorie breakfast with at least 30 grams of protein. This protein will protect lean muscle mass as my patient is losing weight and controls their hunger much better all day long. I also recommend trying different breakfast options – find what makes you feel better, more energetic, and fuller for longer. Breakfast needs to make sense in your life. I have patients that have a protein shake because it is quick and easy and does not feel like a heavy meal (for those who tell me they just can’t eat breakfast, this is a great fit). You can cook two eggs in the microwave in a minute. I turn my first cup of coffee into a Mocha with a scoop of Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder (only some whey powders dissolve in hot liquids so check it out first). My 6 year old son mixes up my breakfast for me – 1 cup of Kashi Go Lean cereal into a cup of greek yogurt. It takes him about a minute and he is proud that he makes mom’s breakfast. I eat it on the road while dropping kids off in the morning. There are protein bars that are low in sugars that are a good option for people on the go early in the morning and to take when traveling. Find what works in your life and make the choice to be healthier by eating breakfast every day.
Please let me know if you have any questions on breakfast or breakfast ideas or if you would like specific details on any of the actual studies or results on breakfast. I do have to thank MrBreakfast.com which has a library of breakfast research which was invaluable when searching for statistics on breakfast and recent studies. There is also a recipe library of over 2000 breakfast recipes on the site for more ideas.