For and against skipping breakfast: 2 lifestyles battle it out
By Ella Walker . Published 2020-09-17
Research has suggested that eating breakfast in an effort to lose weight ‘may not help’ after all – but not everyone has breakfast anyway.
We’ve long been told that eating breakfast is key if you want to be happier, slimmer and start the day properly. Skip that slice of jam on toast at your peril – it’s the most important bite you’ll take all day, right?
However, a review of studies by experts at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, has found that eating breakfast doesn’t appear to help people lose weight. The reasearch, published in the British Medical Journal, contradicts previous studies that have suggested eating first thing kicks your metabolism into gear and cuts your chances of overeating later on.
So, if you are trying to slim down, should you be skipping breakfast? Dr Frankie Phillips, registered dietitian for the British Dietetic Association, says: “The study shows that simply having breakfast isn’t a magic recipe for weight loss for everyone. If you do enjoy breakfast, don’t stop, but take a look at what you are having.”
The researchers note that further investigation is still required, and haven’t assessed the wider benefits of a regular morning meal.
Dieting aside though, arguably you’re a breakfast person or you’re not. Here are the arguments for and against skipping brekkie…
Luke Rix-Standing is just fine on coffee thanks
First, let’s get one thing clear: Few are born breakfastless, and in my school days, I too choked down a soggy Weetabix. Most achieve it, adopt it, or have it thrust upon them.
Like so many others, my non-breakfast journey started with a change of routine. Longer ago than I care to remember, I headed to university, my bag stuffed with supplies of cornflakes, yoghurt and croissants. But like every self-respecting humanities student, I slept through much of the morning, which proved a cheaper, and frankly more satisfying alternative to a morning meal. Breakfast remained on my radar – the Sunday morning fry-up was a student flat institution – but its hold over me weakened.
Then came the world of work, and a 10am wake-up became 6.30am. When you’re used to late starts, your appetite simply doesn’t function that early, and a cup of coffee is far more conducive to a crowded commute.
A week or two to adjust, and you start reaping the rewards: Get out the door faster, re-allocate your muesli budget, and give yourself an excuse for an early lunch.
If you’re an early morning exerciser, skipping breakfast probably isn’t for you. Thankfully, I’ve barely exercised since 2016.
Ella Walker wouldn’t make it to lunch if she skipped breakfast
I still basically run on school time: Breakfast at 8am, snack at 11.30am, lunch at 2pm, ANOTHER snack at 4pm, then dinner, then pudding, then maybe a cup of tea and a biscuit before bed.
I can’t substitute meals for coffee (to be fair, I can’t drink coffee at all, the jitters are too bad), and even a missed snack will leave my stomach grumbling – that and I’ll get well snappy at you.
So you can imagine how dire things would be for both me and anyone in the near vicinity if I skipped breakfast. Especially as I also need some kind of fuel to cycle the four miles to work. Without something in my system, I’d be incapable of concentrating on anything and would likely pass out by 10am anyway, so perhaps you wouldn’t have to deal with my hangry state after all.
That’s not to say I enjoy breakfast, not on weekdays anyway. It’s more an irrefutable, absolutely necessary morning step, as important as putting clothes on, or brushing my teeth. And, boringly (or efficiently, depending on your point of view), I have the same thing Monday to Friday: Yoghurt, granola, glass of water. Done.
Sure, in an ideal world I’d awake early enough to scoff an array of Danish pastries, boiled eggs and soldiers, bacon, exotic fruits and stacks of French toast. But I’m even worse on little sleep than I am on no breakfast.
- BDA Association of UK Dietitians