Skipping breakfast is a predictor of future weight gain and increases your chances of becoming obese, according to a new study presented at the annual session of experimental biology in San Diego, California, this week.
The researchers studied 347 healthy men and women over a 12-year period. All of these individuals had a normal body mass index (BMI) – a weight-to-height ratio that is admittedly an imperfect measure of body fat – if they started the study and their eating habits were consistent for at least two years. They were asked how many times a week they had breakfast from the following selection of breakfasts: never one to four times or five to seven times.
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The rate of obesity was 25 percent higher among those who ate breakfast than those who ate it often. Those who ate breakfast regularly had an average weight gain over the study period of only 3 pounds.
Why should breakfast be the most important meal of the day?
Eating at the morning jump starts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories all day long. A balanced breakfast gives the body nutrients that tend to be neglected during the day.
In addition, non-breakfast eaters were found to have high post-meal insulin levels and an increased amount of inflammatory markers circulating in their system. It is known that chronic inflammation leads to many other diseases, especially obesity. Diminishing insulin levels lead to diabetes and weight gain.
You are what you eat
The content and calories in your breakfast are important.
The American Dietary Association (ADA) recommends whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and fruits and / or vegetables as part of a balanced diet. Protein shakes and bars can be good, but beware of those who are loaded with simple sugars and carbohydrates. Breakfast eaters generally tend to have a better choice of food than non-breakfast eaters and are more active. So it's possible that breakfast is a "marker" for other healthier behaviors.
If you do not have breakfast now, what's the best way to add it to your day?
The total calorie intake in one day still plays a role, so do not go crazy. But the accumulated wisdom of nutritionists says that those who eat a "substantial" breakfast stay full throughout the day and tend to eat less at other meals. They also showed that they have more energy. It also helps reduce cravings that can lead to unhealthy food choices later in the day. Satisfying in the morning helps avoid overeating during the day and allows for better portion control at other meals.
The American Heart Association has found that a balanced breakfast is associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. In addition to breakfast, exercise is important to keep your metabolism and reduce weight.
However, it is important to note that this study did not investigate what these people ate for breakfast and did not pay attention to their physical activity.
Since it was a meeting presentation, the study has not been reviewed by experts or published in a medical journal. The results are currently preliminary.
In addition, everyone acknowledges that every diet-related study relies on study participants "self-reporting" what they eat. While two-thirds of the study population were men, skipping breakfast was a predictor of weight gain across all age groups, gender, and initial BMI.
As the old proverb says, "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar."
Roshini Malaney is a cardiologist at Stony Brook University Hospital and works with the ABC News Medical Unit.