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Is it safe to skip breakfast?

Is it safe to skip breakfast?

Generations of people have been taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast is rumoured to cause many ill effects like lack of concentration, digestion issues and is even believed to slow down the metabolism for the day. 

However, recent studies have suggested that this may not be the case. New lifestyle choices like Intermittent Fasting (IF) in fact encourage skipping breakfast, as a way to remain focused and alert until noon!

So what is the skinny on the new set of dietary rules?

The pros and cons

There are definite benefits to eating a heathy, hearty meal at any time of day. For some people, eating breakfast is a viable, needed choice for their lifestyle. People who have a long morning commute, or exercise in the morning, could benefit from a healthy smoothie breakfast, or a protein packed acai bowl. 

Breakfast eaters are still believed to keep better, more organised routines throughout the day.  According to Healthline, people who eat breakfast also tend to eat a healthier diet, with more fibre and micronutrients. This is most likely because what we consider to be ‘breakfast food’ is usually high in fibre and Omega Fatty Acids. 

Another study suggests that people who skip breakfast tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol and exercise less. 

Perhaps these are the reasons why breakfast eaters are healthier, on average. This may not have much to do with the breakfast itself or eating soon after waking up, but more with having an appetite as a side effect of having a fast metabolism and a healthy lifestyle. Pinpointing any actual health effects to eating in the morning is quite impossible. People can be healthier for a number of reasons and be breakfast eaters by chance.

In fact, the article continues that higher quality studies called randomised controlled trials suggest that it does not really matter whether you eat or skip breakfast.

No link to metabolic rate

Another popular myth about eating breakfast is that it will kick-start your metabolism for the day. A fast metabolism refers to the way your body burns through the energy; quickly. It means that you are using all of the calories, or energy units in the food you eat and stopping weight gain. When your metabolism is slow, it means that you burn through calories slower, usually resulting in sluggishness and midline weight gain. Your metabolic rate loosely refers to the speed of your digestive system. 

Your body is always burning calories, for literally every task. 

Basic functions that also burn calories are breathing and cell production, and other automatic functions all take energy. This is the Basal Metabolic Rate. The Medical Society notes that basal means ‘life-sustaining’. These are automatic functions, which keep the body going. 

Resting metabolic rate (also known as RMR) is the rate at which your body burns energy when it is at full rest (while you sleep). 

When you eat has nothing to do with how fast or slow your metabolism will be. It is also not changeable in such a short time. Your metabolic rate depends on what and when you eat, over time. It is also affected by how many calories you consume, and whether you have any underlying issues like thyroid problems or other health conditions that have affected your digestive system. 

It doesn’t affect your weight

Many experts have argued that if you skip breakfast, you are more likely to overeat at consequent meals. However, there is no evidence to prove the theory. Even if you are slightly hungrier at lunch, you probably will not overeat to the extent that it will cause noticeable weight gain. In addition, you will probably be too full to eat supper. Essentially, the calories for the day will even themselves out. You definitely will not be eating double at the next sitting. 

In fact, many studies have shown that skipping meals does reduce appetite.

Intermittent fasting

Breakfast-eaters tend to have lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the American Heart Association reported earlier this year, but the group says the science is not strong enough to suggest that people who don’t normally eat breakfast should start, TIME reports. However, there is conflicting research, which suggests that fasting for longer overnight periods has had great results for people who want to lose weight, and fast. 

IF has become somewhat of a health craze over the last few years. Experts, influencers and even regular dieters, who have tried every method under the sun, swear by it. There are several methods of IF, each with a different timeline to fit every lifestyle. The most popular though is the 16/8 in which people fast for 16-hour periods, usually skipping breakfast and eating within an 8-hour window between 12 and 8pm.
When you fast, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Your cells also initiate important repair processes. The levels of growth hormone increase and assist in healthy fat loss and muscle gain.

Many people have used IF to control the release of insulin in the body and even to eliminate symptoms of certain lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

When changing your diet, be sure to speak to a physician. Having health insurance can make medical experts more accessible and affordable for you.