Is Skipping Breakfast Really Bad?

Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles | August 8, 2017

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, we’ve all run out the door in the morning without eating breakfast. Some of us do it regularly. We give excuses, saying that we’re not hungry or that we’re too busy. And for some, skipping breakfast is a way to control calorie intake in an attempt to lose weight. Does this really work? Not really.

Meal skipping may, in fact, lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. In order to delve into this issue more deeply, a study was conducted on the timing of meal skipping and its impact on circadian rhythm, energy balance, glucose metabolism, and postprandial inflammation. In this study, participants were divided into two groups: (1) a breakfast-skipping group and (2) a dinner-skipping group. The macronutrient content of their diets remained the same at 55 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat, and 15 percent protein.

After each meal, researchers measured the levels of glucose, insulin, and inflammation in participants. Interestingly enough, the total calories burned was equally as high in the group that skipped breakfast as it was for the dinner-skipping group. The amount of fat burned, however, was higher for the former. The amount of insulin measured was the same in both groups, but the glucose measured was higher after lunch for those who skipped breakfast. Inflammation was highest after lunch for that group, as well.

What does this all mean? The study suggests that the natural metabolic process is negatively affected when we skip meals. Breakfast-skipping had a more negative effect on metabolism than dinner-skipping did. Inflammation can cause a host of health problems, and there was a high measurement of inflammation in both groups. Inflammation can lead to weight gain, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Most importantly, our metabolic rates slow down when we skip meals and, in order to control weight, we need to do the opposite!

My advice: EAT! Don’t skip meals. Eat at regular intervals and balance your nutrient intake throughout the day. What you eat is just as important as when you eat. To feel energized and satiated all day, or until your next meal, make sure that your breakfast provides your body with a balance of macronutrients and other essential nutrients!

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Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles

Jenn Giles, R.D., C.S.S.D. is all about health and wellness. She has over 15 years’ experience, including a dual master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She supplements all of this with her spin instructor certification and USATriathlon Level I Coach Certification.

Jennifer is passionate about (actually, obsessed with) the sport of triathlon. She has been personally participating in triathlons since 2000 and running road races since 1992. She is a two-time Ironman finisher and has completed countless numerous marathons. She has been a member of Power Bar Team Elite since 2006 and competed as a member of the 2006 Aquaphor/ Sponsored Athlete Team. She was ranked as USAT All American Honorable mention in 2006 and 2011. Jennifer does all of this along side of her husband, Patrick, who is an equally accomplished triathlete and runner. They try as hard as they can to do all of their training and racing together.

She will tell you, however, that her most important, most rewarding and most challenging job is as a mother of four. She knows first hand the challenges of maintaining optimal fitness, overall good health and achieving goals while raising a family - of which good nutrition is the cornerstone.

Most importantly, she knows how to motivate, inspire and challenge athletes based on their own abilities, strengths and everyday lifestyles. She believes there is an athlete in everyone - no matter what their abilities are – and if those abilities are manifold, then there is an even better athlete in there!

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