Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Does eating breakfast really matter?

Egg omelet with goat cheese
Photo Credit: Jenny

For years, we’ve been told that eating breakfast is essential to a healthy diet and that skipping breakfast can potentially lead to obesity. However, recent scientific studies overwhelmingly question this claim.

An excellent mini-review[1] regarding the supposed weight-loss benefits of breakfast eating was recently published (June 2014). If you have 20-30 minutes, I encourage you to read it for yourself. The publication can be found here:

Otherwise, I’ve summarized a few key points:
  1. One of the main criticisms of breakfast (BF) eating studies is the lack of consideration regarding the duration of the overnight fast.

    “Consider, for example, two BF-eaters having their last meals at midnight; one then consumes BF at 5:00 a.m. (5-h overnight fast) and the other consumes BF at 10:00 a.m. (10-h overnight fast). Both are considered “BF-eaters” in the majority of studies, but the difference in overnight fast durations makes them metabolically distinct from each other. Similarly, “BFeaters” who have an earlier dinner (last meal) at 7:00 p.m. followed by BF at 10:00 a.m. have an overnight fast of 15 h, which can be metabolically similar to “BFskippers” who had a later dinner (midnight) and skipped BF altogether and ate their first meal at 3:00 p.m. (same 15-h overnight fast).”

    The duration of fasting has been shown to have major effects on metabolic activity. Since this important parameter is not taken into account during these breakfast experiments, there remains a significant question regarding the validity and interpretation of these studies.
  2. Skipping breakfast has been linked to risk of obesity in USA and UK but not in other countries such as Australia, Portugal, and Saudi Arabia
  3. Skipping breakfast is similar to fasting, which has been shown to have positive metabolic effects on weight loss.
  4. Skipping breakfast often leads to increased hunger ratings, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to overcompensating at later meals.
  5. There is currently no direct causality that links skipping breakfast to increased risk of obesity.
The overall opinion of this review is that in terms of losing weight, skipping breakfast is equivalent to skipping any meal throughout the day, and that other factors are more important when it comes to losing weight such as total caloric intake and total energy expenditure.

Need more proof?
A randomized controlled trial was published in June of 2014 regarding the consumption or skipping of breakfast and its effect on weight loss. In this study, overweight and obese adults (who were otherwise healthy) were told to either eat breakfast or skip breakfast. After 16 weeks, there was no significant difference in weight change between the two groups, indicating that breakfast alone (whether you eat it or skip it) may not have a significant impact on your weight.[2]

Interesting finding:
A study published in November of 2013 suggests the beliefs in the effects of breakfast on obesity are greatly distorted. Using a cumulative meta-analysis, the authors investigated the prevalence of biased research reporting by citing articles that used casual language and biased interpretations. The overall finding was that the effects of breakfast eating on obesity are only “presumed” true and that the cumulative scientific findings up to this point are not enough to support the proposed beneficial claims.[3] 

-Dr. David

Blueberry pancake 
Photo Credit: Jenny

Jenny's breakfast opinion
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that you should make it your biggest meal (though the science above says otherwise). I tend to make all my meals the same amount of calories. It's important that you try to include some protein in your breakfast as well.

I know that you all have busy schedules, but your body needs nutrients in order to function well. When I have eaten even a small breakfast, I will realize that I am starving a few hours later, and I will feel dizzy and cranky.

Here are some breakfast ideas: 
  • Toast with peanut butter and banana 
  • Cereal such as cheerios,with a hard boiled egg (cooked the night before) 
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt Parfait 
  • Protein smoothie 
  • Omelets
  • All eggs: Sunny-side up, poached, hard boiled, soft boiled, over easy, scrambled (make sure you include some fruit and carb) 
  • Pancakes with yogurt and fruit  
  • Waffles with yogurt and fruit 
  • Bacon, eggs and toast 
  • Crepes with yogurt and fruit 
  • Breakfast burrito 
  • Breakfast taco 
  • Breakfast pasta 
  • Breakfast pizza 
  • Granola and yogurt 
  • English muffin with peanut butter

Breakfast Pasta: Papparadelle with Truffle Oil and Scrambled Eggs
My family and I eat this for brunch sometimes when we wake up later. I know that this isn't the most healthy recipe on the planet, but it's filling and has a little bit of an earthy flavor with a savory bite. If you make this recipe and eat it, great job for taking the time to make breakfast. You get your protein, carbs and fats in one meal. 
Serves 4
Total Calories: 3066 / 4 = 766.6 calories

  • 1-2 tablespoons of truffle oil: 120 calories for 1 tbsp of oil 
  • Seven eggs : 490 calories 
  • 6 tablespoons of butter: 600: 
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese: 456 calories
  • 3/4 lb of pappardelle pasta: 1400 calories
  • Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta as you normally would do. 
  • With a little fry pan, melt about four tablespoons of butter and add the truffle oil. Set aside on low heat. 
  • Mix together seven eggs in a bowl. 
  • Add a tablespoon of butter to another frypan. Dump the eggs in and scramble them with a fork. 
  • When the pasta is finished cooking, add the pasta to the frypan with the eggs. Mix. 
  • Serve with parmesan on the top.

[1] Zilberter and Zilberter. Frontiers in Public Health. 2014; 2: 59
[2] Dhurandhar et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014; Jun 4. [Epub ahead of print]
[3] Brown et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 98 (5): 1298-308.

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