Eating breakfast has been associated with weight loss for years. Conventional wisdom is that by eating breakfast you are boosting your metabolism and this in turn encourages greater weight loss throughout the day. Recent research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition thwarts that concept by showing that skipping or eating breakfast has no noticeable effect on weight loss.
Previous studies found more correlation than causation. Correlation indicates that two variables are associated but doesn’t really say in depth how associated they are. Causation helps to show that variable A causes variable B. In science causation is a stronger connection and level of analysis than a correlation. Without causation it is possible that other compound factors are involved in the findings.
A total of 283 participants engaged in a 16-week program. Participants were healthy overweight or obese and were between the ages of 20-65 years old. Depending on the overall group, the participants were assigned to either skip breakfast or eat breakfast. The researchers hoped to find a change that resulted in weight loss.
Instead researchers found that there was no noticeable difference between those who ate breakfast and those who didn’t. Those who skipped breakfast lost −0.71 while those who did not lost −0.53. Statistically these are so similar that it doesn’t make much of a difference. Skipping or eating breakfast doesn’t really make much of a difference in weight loss.
This doesn’t mean skipping breakfast is something we should do. It only means that it doesn’t contribute significantly to weight loss. The lower calorie consumption may have a difference in total weight loss and it is important to reduce bad calories while increasing good calories. Good calories come from fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, and various kinds of meat.
Fitness enthusiasts are still left with the total calorie count. According to the Mayo clinic it takes approximately 3,500 calories to lose a pound so cutting 500 calories a day out of your diet will help you lose around a pound a week (1). Losing weight and getting in shape are two different but associated things. Go ahead and reduce portions, swap high calorie/low nutrition foods for low calorie/high nutrition foods, and eat a variety of foods for nutrients.
Dhurandhar, E. et. al. (2014). The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved June 6th, 2014 from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2014/06/04/ajcn.114.089573.abstract