Is Eating Breakfast an Important Part of How to Diet?

Does eating breakfast speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight, as some people claim?

British researchers randomly assigned 33 normal-weight people to either eat a big breakfast (at least 700 calories) before 11 a.m. or to consume no calories until noon.


After six weeks, the breakfast eaters had no higher (or lower) resting metabolic rate than the breakfast skippers. While the eaters engaged in more light physical activity and burned more calories throughout the day, they didn’t weigh less or have less body fat than the skippers, probably because they ate more calories (especially from sugar and other carbs) in the morning.

One notable difference: the breakfast skippers had more episodes of high or low blood sugar during the afternoon and evening than the breakfast eaters. That could lead to a higher risk of diabetes over time.

In a second study, U.S. researchers randomly assigned 283 overweight or obese people to get one of three pamphlets: the “breakfast” group was advised to eat breakfast every day before 10 a.m., the “no breakfast” group was told to eat nothing until 11 a.m., and the “control” group got healthy-eating advice with no mention of breakfast. After 16 weeks, all three groups had lost about the same amount of weight.

What to do: If you don’t like eating breakfast, don’t force yourself to eat it to lose weight or boost your metabolism. However, a light breakfast (or mid-morning snack) may keep your blood sugar more even later in the day.

Sources: Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2014. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.083402 & doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.089573.


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