How many times have you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you absolutely shouldn’t skip it? Maybe you even purposefully started eating breakfast because of this conventional wisdom, even though you don’t have much of an appetite upon waking.
Well, Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox philosophy advocates the opposite. Instead, she is a proponent of eating light to heavy throughout the day, meaning breakfast should be the lightest meal of the day and dinner the heaviest. Her argument is that eating light to heavy helps to continue the night-time detoxification process through the morning hours, aids digestion and thereby provides more energy for other health and beautifying functions.
I’m a big fan and tend to start my day with a smoothie, have a big salad for lunch, and then usually save my biggest meal of the day for dinner, which is when I’m always hungriest anyway (oh, until like an hour after dinner when I’m ready for my next snack).
Now, as an epidemiologist and health researcher, I wanted to do my own research into this topic. How important is breakfast, really?
The whole idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is linked to some studies that found that people who eat breakfast were more likely to be healthier and less likely to be overweight than those people who skip it.
Well, hearing a claim like that, I can come up with at least a couple reasons why that isn’t evidence for a causal link. Since we’ve been hearing about how important breakfast is for years, maybe healthy people are eating breakfast because they care about health, and so maybe those people who are eating breakfast are also doing lots of other healthy things.
Breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight, you say? Well, what the heck else are they eating? Maybe they’re skipping breakfast because they had a huge, late night meal. Could that be why they’re fat? (Seems so). Or maybe they’re already fat and hoping that skipping breakfast will help them lose weight (But it won’t)!
So is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Maybe not so much!
Myth #1: Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism!
A recent randomized controlled trial tested both of these claims and found that eating breakfast didn’t affect metabolism very much at all. You know what wakes up your metabolism? Waking up! Unfortunately, it turns out eating breakfast doesn’t speed up your metabolism.
Myth #2: If you don’t eat breakfast, you’ll eat more later on!
Eating breakfast doesn’t help people eat less throughout the day. In fact, people who ate breakfast ended up eating 3700 calories more per week. If 3500 calories = 1 pound, that’s a big deal! Skipping breakfast can actually help normalize ghrelin levels (that’s your hunger horomone), which helps regulate eating and fat storage.
Myth #3: Breakfast keeps your blood sugar in check!
Intermittent fasting seems to actually lead to reduced serum glucose and insulin levels, so by delaying your first meal of the day you could actually improve your blood sugar control.
Myth #4: Breakfast helps you think!
This myth stems from those studies showing that kids who eat breakfast perform better academically than those who don’t. Well, that really all just comes down to the fact that kids who get breakfast at home also get a whole lot of other things associated with higher socio-economic status. It’s not the breakfast that’s doing it! Correlation versus causation, guys. Is breakfast super important in ensuring you have a productive day at work? Probably not.
Now, the scientific evidence shows lots of arguments for and against breakfast, but basically it comes down to this: breakfast isn’t the most important thing ever, but if you want to eat it, there’s nothing really wrong with that either! A nice nutritious breakfast is great because it contributes to your overall intake of healthy things. But don’t go reaching for that croissant or jelly donut just because you think you need to have breakfast!
And if you’re not a big fan of breakfast, just get those nutrients in later or better yet, start your day with a nutrient-packed smoothie like the Green Glowing Smoothie or try a fun fruit smoothie like my Peach Mango Smoothie. And y’know what I say, sometimes just go for that big stack of pancakes!