Like you, I've been hearing that breakfast is the "most important meal of the day" for a long time. Probably back before I knew what a calorie really was, had ever tasted a drop of glorious coffee and insisted my food consumption prior to 9 a.m. include copious amounts of sugar and saturated fat.
However, researchers are finally calling a couple major breakfast claims into question—that it helps with weight loss and revs your metabolism—according to two new studies published in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition after finding there wasn't a ton of information to substantiate these ideas.
In the first study, researchers from the University of Bath asked 33 healthy adults to either eat a 700-calorie breakfast or eat nothing for six weeks to see if there was any effect on metabolism. The result? Nothing.
Resting metabolic rate remained constant for both groups and, what's more, the breakfast-skippers didn't pig out at lunchtime either. The other study lasted longer, 16 weeks, and centered on breakfast's common weight-loss claim.
University of Alabama researchers assigned 300 overweight or obese people to three groups: those told to eat breakfast, those told to eat nothing, or those told simply to "eat something healthy" for their morning meals. Again, the effect was nil. "What we found was absolutely no difference in the change of weight among the three groups, severely calling into question the idea—at least among ordinary adults—that it's important to eat a good breakfast every day for the purposes of weight control," says study author David Allison.
The research did show breakfast is not totally lacking merits, though, or at least proved healthier people abide by that old adage to eat up: those who noshed in the morning tended to be more active during the day, burning around 442 additional calories. Like, whoa. To put that stat in perspective, it's the equivalent of a solid hour running on the treadmill. Blood sugar also stayed more constant for these men and women.
Overall, researchers say they need more trials for definitive answers, but skipping breakfast doesn't seem to stunt weight-loss efforts or damage your metabolism.
Ultimately, I agree—to an extent. You have to figure out what routine works best for your lifestyle and health goals. If you don't feel you need breakfast (or think you'll only be grabbin' sugary cereals or a fatty bacon-egg-and-cheese bagel every morning), you might be better off waiting until lunch to eat. If you're like me and typically go the healthy route (an oatmeal, PB and banana combo is love, y'all), then breakfast may help you stave off hunger later in the day. Like anything, you just have to be smart about your choices.
Stay healthy with our nutrition guide.