The Great Debate: Should You Eat Breakfast?

Conventional wisdom seems divided on this issue. Is it better to skip breakfast or to eat it? Will skipping breakfast cause you to gain more weight or lose it? Is it healthier to eat breakfast?

The answer is: it depends.

I realize that’s unsatisfying. And I’m an avowed breakfast eater, but I know plenty of people who get nauseous if they eat first thing in the morning. So I decided to investigate to see what the real truth was.

So, first things first: will eating/skipping breakfast help with weight loss? Studies show that breakfast skippers tend to overeat later in the day–snacking more and eating larger dinners. If you skip breakfast, youll likely get hungry before lunch time, which can lead to extra snacking–and calories you don’t need. Studies also show that young people who don’t eat much at breakfast are at risk for developing metabolic problems later in life.

Skipping breakfast can cause other issues. It can affect focus and memory. Studies show skipping breakfast might increase the risk of diabetes in women and the risk of heart disease in men.

But some people handle skipping breakfast just fine. In fact, because breakfasts tend to be carb-heavy (cereal, toast) skipping it may help you shift your diet to eating more lean protein and fewer refined carbohydrates. Intermittent fasters have also had positive results when they skip breakfast (something I hope to return to more in depth in a future post).

So, basically, stick with what works. Personally, I feel like I need breakfast to fuel my morning activities, especially if I’m exercising. I need the fuel or I start to feel awful mid-workout. Plenty of people do fine—no overeating or snack binging—by putting off eating until late morning. But if you aren’t sure what works, here are some things to keep in mind that I learned while researching:

• If you would like to eat breakfast but it makes you nauseous, try eliminating gluten, dairy, refined sugars, preservatives, or artificial colors or chemicals. You can also try water with lemon or green juice instead of breakfast.

• If you skip breakfast, have some healthy snacks—hummus, fruit, yogurt, veggies—at the ready for when hunger strikes late-morning. This will keep you from indulging in bigger, unhealthy lunches.

• Do you skip breakfast because you feel full when you wake up? Take a look at your late-night snacking habits. Try eating lighter dinners to see how it affects your hunger in the morning.

• If you’re eating carb-heavy breakfasts and feel hungry again quickly, switch to breakfasts with more protein. Yogurt, eggs, nuts, and cheese all contain dietary protein that will help you feel full because your body takes longer to burn it off.

So I can’t tell you whether you should eat or skip breakfast, only that you should do what feels right for you. My advice would be to take a little time to assess how you feel in the morning and make changes if what you do now isn’t working.