Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?
The original reasoning behind breakfast being the most important meal of the day began in the early 1900s. It seems to have stemmed from John Harvey Kellogg (The inventor of cornflakes) who took the stance not because he believed it increased metabolism or was important for our body, but mainly because he believed that breakfast was a time that the whole family should sit down at the table, enjoy time together, and not be rushed or bothered by the daily tasks that the day would be filled with. He believed breakfast “shouldn’t be eaten hurriedly, and all the family should partake of it together.”
Looking at this just face value, it makes sense, you want to get in a lot of good food for your body to use as energy for the upcoming day. But we are going to look at this through all perspectives to see if scientific literature supports this idea. We have to first establish that, for arguments sake, that breakfast will be considered food containing at least 50 calories you would eat 2 hours or less upon waking up in the morning instead of the literal definition of just “breaking a fast” because then we would get no where.
Firstly, constant evidence has shown there is no difference in the resting metabolic rate in individuals who skip breakfast vs those who don’t. So the notion that you’re “waking up” or “boosting metabolism” is just wrong. We know that total daily calories is what is most important overall.
In literature, it has been found that breakfast eaters tend to move more and burn more calories daily. This can be attributed to the fact that our body has this compensatory feedback mechanism (a survival mechanism) that allows us to run in a “low power mode” to conserve our energy to fight against that caloric deficit. BUT skipping breakfast, in most cases (even in my experience), causes overeating later in the day (not for all, in most). So, while breakfast skippers tend to eat less calories, they also tend to burn fewer calories. So what does this mean for you and your goals?
If your goal is weight loss, You should be eating according to a meal schedule that allows you to adhere to a caloric deficit best. Listen to your body and skew the majority of calories to when you are actually hungry during the day, not just eating for the sake of eating.
If your goal is muscle gain, eating a balanced breakfast may lead to better performance in the gym if you train early. Meaning you could be stronger, more fatigue-resistant, and overall more energetic. Skipping breakfast, when it comes to muscle-protein synthesis, may not be the most optimal….BUT as long as you’re getting enough protein daily, you’re still going to get good GAINZ in the gym. It might just not be as optimal when it comes to maximizing muscle-protein synthesis as eating 4-5 meals of at least 30g of protein each meal. Skipping could also cause you to get to the end of the day and realize you have a lot of protein left and miss out totally on protein consumption.
So, the answer is, IT DEPENDS. While there are no convincing evidence out there that states one is better than the other in regards to metabolic changes, hormonal changes, or overall heath effects such as disease risks, it may be better for some to skip breakfast. You may have great results with skipping breakfast and it could improve your overall health, but it could also do the exact opposite for the next person. So, IT DEPENDS. When it comes to my personal coaching experience, some people are not hungry in the mornings and would rather wait to eat their calories at night. While I personally eat breakfast, I consume most of my calories at night (around 1,500 calories before I go to bed). All in all, this decision should be based upon your schedule, appetite, energy levels, and what allows you to adhere to your diet the best.