Bacon or Bust: Should You Skip Breakfast?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Rise and shine, or rise and dine? For decades, eating breakfast on the daily has been heralded as the cornerstone of a healthy diet, with countless studies linking morning meals to everything from better academic performance to more efficient glucose metabolism to reduced risk of heart disease. For many, it provides the necessary fuel to tackle an early workout or demanding workday. If you're trying to slim down, breakfast has also been shown to give you an advantage in the weight loss department.
 
But recently, new research emerged suggesting that it may be okay for dieters to skip breakfast. In one Canadian study of more than 12,000 people, there was no significant difference in body mass index between the groups who started their days with morning meals and those who opted out. And other studies have suggested that minifasting, or occasionally skipping meals—breakfast, perhaps—could help regulate blood sugar, boost energy and strengthen immunity.
 
Complicating things further, a 2016 Yale study showed that eating two breakfasts could do more to prevent childhood obesity than skipping breakfast, the idea being that breakfast-skippers would be more likely to overeat later in the day. "In addition to preventing obesity, eating breakfast has also been linked with better concentration and test scores in school-aged children, as well as reducing incidence of hunger, notes Lisa Andrews, registered dietitian with Sound Bites Nutrition. "As 15 million children suffer from food insecurity in the U.S., offering breakfast at school is a great alternative to combating malnutrition as well as obesity."
 
With all of these conflicting reports hitting your newsfeed, what's the definitive answer on the a.m. eating debate? SparkPeople's registered dietitian, Becky Hand, is here to break it down.
 
One Breakfast Does Not Fit All
 
Hand's quick answer to whether breakfast is beneficial or expendable: It depends.
 
"One-size-fits-all nutrition recommendations just don't work, and that includes breakfast," she says. "It's not realistic to make a general recommendation that everyone needs to eat breakfast within a certain time of waking."
 
According to Hand, the question of when and if to eat first thing in the morning hinges on many different factors, such as age, medical needs, physical and mental demands, and hunger scale and food availability throughout the morning hours. For example, a construction worker who will spend the next six hours digging a ditch likely needs more early sustenance than a teenager who will sleep until mid-morning, and someone who will be doing creative work at a computer may need more fuel than someone performing routine tasks. If you typically become grouchy or fatigued when you go a few hours without eating, you're probably not a good candidate for waiting until noon to nosh.

"When determining the importance of breakfast, also consider the quality of that breakfast," Hand recommends. Chocolate-covered puffs of dough won't deliver the same benefits as, say, scrambled eggs with whole-wheat toast or an apple with peanut butter.
 
The Breakfast Bottom Line
 
The only way to determine whether breakfast is essential or dispensable is to assess your situation and your eating plan, says Andrews.
 
If you don’t have much of an appetite in the mornings, you’re already a healthy weight and your a.m. activities don’t require early fuel, you may be able to skip it. But if you tend to wake hungry and your body needs sustenance to perform critical morning tasks, you’re a good candidate for a healthy breakfast. The quality of the food also plays a big factor in the decision to skip or not to skip. If you usually start the day with sugary cereal or donuts, which add more empty calories than sustaining fuel, your diet won’t suffer without it. But if you reach for high-protein, relatively low-calorie breakfasts that help curb cravings and keep you full until lunch, your current eating plan is likely serving you well.
 
And in the event that hunger strikes early, it's always a good idea to have high-quality foods readily available. "If food is not available or there is no time for a break, you may need to force yourself to eat a lighter breakfast earlier in the morning to stay in working action until noon," Hand says. Short on time but big on hunger? Check out these quick and healthy breakfast ideas to get your engine going in 10 minutes or less.
 
What do you think about the purported benefits of eating (or skipping) breakfast? Do you eat a full breakfast, grab a quick snack on the run or just wait until lunch?

*Updated 7/19/16 to ensure accuracy of research findings.

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Comments

RO2BENT 7/25/2021
Each person's situation is unique Report
MARYJEANSL 7/25/2021
I have never been much of a breakfast eater - don't care for cereal at all, and can't eat sweets (pancakes, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, etc.) on an empty stomach without making myself feel sick and light-headed. If I do decide to eat breakfast, I'll grab some cheese or some nuts on the run. If I have time, maybe a few sausage links or some bacon. Protein is key for me. Report
SISTERPRETTY 7/25/2021
Interesting...thanks... Report
CECTARR 7/25/2021
Thanks Report
LEANJEAN6 7/25/2021
I do enjoy breakfast! Report
7STIGGYMT 7/25/2021
I eat breakfast every morning. Report
QUEENFROG 7/25/2021
Breakfast must be almost forced for me, but It does prevent excess hunger later. Report
TWOTONTESEE 7/25/2021
Love breakfast. Overnight oatmeal 3 times a week with a different berry each time. Report
CHERYLHURT 7/25/2021
I’m hungry 2-3 hours after I get up. Report
BECCAWEBB123 7/25/2021
I am one who needs to eat breakfast and it needs to be 400 or more calories of good nutrition Report
AZMOMXTWO 7/25/2021
thank you Report
FERRETLOVER1 7/25/2021
Don't like this article. Report
CORVETTECOWBOY 7/25/2021
Thanks for sharing Report
LIS193 7/25/2021
Great article Report
JANIEWWJD 7/25/2021
I eat breakfast everyday!! Report
FRAN0426 7/25/2021
I have to do an Insulin injection every morning--so eating breakfast is a must. they say you should be eating within 19 minutes after your injection. Report
JANTHEBLONDE 7/24/2021
Great article! Report
HOPEINGOD 3/18/2021
I spread my breakfast sometimes. Cereal first thing and fruit later. Or omelet and fruit later. Report
RAPUNZEL53 2/26/2021
Great. Report
PATRICIAAK 2/13/2021
:) Report
KATHYJO56 2/9/2021
I eat a light breakfast, but not when I first get up. I need to wait an hour or sometimes two. Report
PATRICIAAK 11/15/2020
:) Report
CECELW 10/13/2020
I have been eating breakfast nowadays Report
SUSANYOUNGER 10/3/2020
Love breakfast Report
SUSANBEAMON 8/22/2020
At the risk of sounding pedantic, you can't avoid eating "breakfast". The first time you eat after getting up after 6-8 hours of sleep, you break your fast. Report
Thanks. Report
KHALIA2
NO WAY!!!!!! Report
KHALIA2
Most important meal of the day! It is a MUST!!! Report
KHALIA2
Must have my breakfast! It is the most important meal of the day! Report
KHALIA2
Thanks! Report
thanks Report
PATRICIAANN46
Thank You............. Report
KHALIA2
Must have my breakfast! Report
Great information Report
Thanks Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I usually cannot eat breakfast when I first get up. My stomach seems to be able to tolerate food between 10 am and 10:30 am. If I have an early Doctor appointment, I will eat only a couple of bites of food and just an ounce of milk. This is so I won't get that gnawing feeling if I am there for a while. And when I am able to eat lunch, I really do not feel that hungry. Report
KHALIA2
MUST have my breakfast! Report
KHALIA2
MUST have my breakfast! Report
I have a cup of coffee with half and half then I eat breakfast about 2 hours later, after my morning chores. Report
i starting to enjoy my breakfast and I do feel better when I do . need to start working on getting my lunch to be a habit . Report
I eat breakfast unless i'm doing intermittent fasting Report
I try to eat something small every morning but not when I first get up. Food does not sound appealing when I first get out of bed Report
"Break"Fast starts whenever you eat your first meal, for some that can be 7am other's 11am, or 1pm.. Report
I've been doing intermittent fasting for the last 4 months. No breakfast. Eat in an 8 hour window. Fast 16. As a type 2 diabetic my A1C went from 6.5 to 5.7 in three months. Nearly a full point drop. My triglycerides are 111 for the first time EVER! I've gone from losing 3 pounds a month to about 5 pounds a month through a national conference, vacation and the holidays. I also changed to low sugar low grain, gluten free, no fake sugars either at the same time. It's really reduced the pain from my rare arthritis (DISH) as well. this works for me. I think I can do this forever. The hardest part is the gluten free... but gluten free seems to be low pain as well. Report
EAT A BREAKFAST EVERY DAY. USUALLY AFTER MY MORNING WALK. Report
Never skip breakfast! Report