If you’re trying to lose weight, you should skip breakfast, according to new research. It’s thought that eating a big breakfast in the morning stops you feeling as hungry throughout the day, helping people to slim down.
But a new review published in The BMJ suggests ‘the most important meal of the day’ may not help people to control their weight.
Researchers found there is no good evidence to support the idea that eating breakfast promotes weight loss – or that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain.
In fact, the findings show that daily calorie intake was higher in people eating breakfast and that skipping brekkie does not cause greater appetite later in the day.
The researchers said their review questions the thought that eating breakfast helps you lose weight.
Previous studies have suggested that eating breakfast is linked with maintaining a healthy weight.
But the researchers said those findings were observational and possibly reflected an individual’s wider healthy lifestyle and food choices.
The team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, analysed the effect of regularly eating breakfast on weight change and daily energy intake, based on evidence from 13 studies, mainly in Britain and the United States, from the last 28 years.
They did a number of trials which focused on eating or skipping breakfast and changes in body weight, while others looked at the effect of breakfast on daily energy intake.
For the study, the people studied included habitual and non-habitual breakfast eaters, or both, at a range of body weights who were monitored between 24 hours and 16 weeks.
The researchers found that the total daily energy intake was higher in groups who ate breakfast compared with those who skipped it – an average of 260 more calories consumed in a day – regardless of their usual breakfast habits.
And the results showed that those who skipped breakfast were on average one pound (0.44 kilos) lighter.
But the effect of breakfast on weight did not differ between people with a normal weight and those who were overweight.
It has previously been suggested that eating breakfast may help with weight loss because of the efficient burning of calories early in the day preventing overeating later on. But the reviewers found ‘no significant difference’ in metabolic rates between breakfast eaters and skippers.
And skipping breakfast was not linked to people feeling hungrier in the afternoon.
The researchers said that because of the varying quality of the studies included, the findings should be interpreted with caution.
But study co-author Professor Flavia Cicuttini, of Monash University, said: ‘Currently, the available evidence does not support modifying diets in adults to include the consumption of breakfast as a good strategy to lose weight.
‘Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it may have the opposite effect.’
Professor Tim Spector, of King’s College London, added that people have different preferences for when they eat food, which ‘might suit our unique personal metabolism.’
He said: ‘No one size fits all, and prescriptive slow moving diet guidelines filled with erroneous information look increasingly counterproductive and detract from important health messages. ‘While waiting for guidelines to change, no harm can be done in trying out your own personal experiments in skipping breakfast.’