New Study: Skip Breakfast to Shed Fat

August 19, 2013
breakfast: bacon eggs toast orange juice picture

Health experts have long emphasized the importance of starting your day with a balanced breakfast, but new research out of Cornell University suggests that when it comes to the scale, your morning meal may be weighing you down.

Researchers broke the study up into two experiments: In the first, participants ate either a high-carb breakfast, a high-fiber breakfast, or no breakfast at all, and were then free to eat as much as they wanted for lunch. In the second, participants ate either a large balanced breakfast or no breakfast, and, again, had no restrictions at lunch.


The results: In the first experiment, neither cutting breakfast nor the type of breakfast influenced how much people ate at lunch. In the second, the no-breakfast group reported feeling hungrier than the large-breakfast group and ate 144 more calories at lunch. However, the breakfast skippers still had a daily net deficit of more than 400 calories (nearly enough to lose a pound a week!) compared to the breakfast eaters, whose morning meal contained 624 calories.

These findings contradict the longstanding belief that abstaining from breakfast sets you up to overcompensate later in the day. What’s more, simple calorie reduction may not be the only benefit of ditching an a.m. meal. Other research has shown that fasting in the morning can prime your body to burn more fat. “You’re already burning body fat for energy when you wake up in the morning, since your body has used up all its carbohydrates overnight,” says Julian Whitaker, MD, founder of the Whitaker Wellness Institute and author of The Mini-Fast Diet. “If you eat, you disrupt this fat burning and your body starts using the food for energy, so you end up storing fat, rather than burning it.” To maximize this morning fat burn, Whitaker recommends working out on an empty stomach. Your sweat sessions will be fueled by stored body fat, rather than carbs, he says.

But that doesn’t mean forgoing breakfast is the right move for everyone. “If you’re at a healthy weight and you prefer eating breakfast, then by all means continue to do so,” says Whitaker. “But if you’re trying to lose weight, delaying your first meal can be an effective way to save calories and burn more fat.”

Whether you choose to eat breakfast or omit it, one thing’s for certain: Making smart food choices is a surefire way to shed pounds and stay fit. Here are 4 Quick and Healthy Meal Ideas.