Home > breakfast, I told you so, low carb, weight loss > Breakfast and Weight Loss

Breakfast and Weight Loss

I’m sure you’ve heard it numerous times and from different sources that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even so, people looking to drop a few pounds are quick to skip breakfast. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Your mother was right; breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. Breakfast helps to balance your hormones, which sets the proper balance for the rest of the day. Without breakfast, your first meal of the day will usually occur around lunch time, at which point your blood sugar levels are crashing faster than my Pfizer stock. Big deal you say? Well, low blood sugar levels are what cause you to feel drained and tired and gives you those intense sugar cravings. And whatever few calories you did save by skipping breakfast are going to be made up five fold when you lose all self-control and choke down the super colon buster burger with cheese, fries and diet soda (because after all, you’re trying to lose weight). Good job…your mother would be so proud! When it comes to looking good naked and being healthy, breakfast is one of the most important behaviors you can adopt.

The National weight Control Registry (http://www.nwcr.ws/) has tracked thousands of people who have lost between 30 and 300 pounds, with 66 pounds being the average. The NWCR found that of those people who lost weight and were able to keep it off for at least 1 year, 78% ate breakfast every day. If you want to lose body fat AND keep it off, breakfast is an easy way to get started.
Want more? Here’s a study presented at The Endocrine Society’s 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco:

Jakubowicz D, et al “Effect of diet with high carbohydrate and protein breakfast on weight loss and appetite in obese women with metabolic syndrome” ENDO meeting 2008; Abstract P3-220.

The study consisted of two groups consuming identical total calories, between 1,085-1,240 daily.

Group 1 consumed 17g of carbs daily

Group 2 consumed 97g of carbs daily

Here’s where things get interesting, Group 1 consumed 290 calories for breakfast, while Group 2 consumed a 610 calorie breakfast.

After 4 months, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the 2 groups. However, after an additional 4 months:

Group 1 (290 calorie breakfast) lost a total of 9.4 pounds

Group 2 (610 calorie breakfast) lost a total of 39.8 pounds.

Take home lesson: eat a big breakfast and reduce calories the rest of the day.

Here’s another study:

Alexander et al. Association of Breakfast Skipping With Visceral Adiposity in Overweight Latino Youth.Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 May 7.

The study consisted of 3 groups consuming identical daily total calories. The 3 groups were then split into the following:

Group 1- No breakfast

Group 2- Breakfast occasionally

Group 3- Breakfast every day

The researchers concluded “breakfast omission was associated with increased levels of intra-abdominal fat independent of daily energy intake. Eating breakfast is associated with lower body fat levels in overweight Latino youth. Interventions focused on increasing breakfast consumption are warranted”

Do yourself and your waistline a favor, eat a big breakfast.

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  1. Cameron
    August 2, 2009 at 22:47

    I've drafted this comment in response to another, similar post, and am pasting it here as well. I'm happy to see that this entry at least cites the studies in detail. But I'm here to state that the above wisdom is NOT a universal absolute, and am utterly convinced that science will come around to seeing my method as valid as well in due time. Here's my response:I lost 25-30 pounds 7 years ago, and have kept the weight off. But the fact that I've succeeded where most people fail doesn't stop the "experts" from scolding me for daring to buck conventional wisdom. I don't eat breakfast.I don't eat lunch.I don't swallow the claims that this is bad for my health.Many people prefer to scold than stopping to consider something that may help them. But doesn’t my success in an area dominated by soul-crushing failure indicate you should consider my points?My own story of weight loss is, of course, anecdotal, so how about some research that supports my claims: first, Dr. David Levitsky, professor of nutrition at Cornell, conducted a controlled study where subjects skipped breakfast. They ate more than they usually would at lunch, but not enough to make up the difference. There was a net loss in caloric intake. Dr. Mark Mattson of the National Institute of Aging had subjects skip breakfast and lunch, then had them a prescribed, full day’s allotment of calories worth at dinner. They neither gained nor lost weight, but his opinion was that if left on their own they’d eat less for dinner. That’s my experience. Exercise discipline and don’t eat junk-food (except occasionally), and you won’t eat more throughout the course of the day. Just make sure you have a good selection of assorted, nutritious foods for your one meal.As for metabolism: one’s basal-rate of metabolism never stops, but it does decrease while sleeping. It’s true that eating can increase it – through what’s called thermogenesis – but then so can drinking a glass of cold water.My routine is tough at first to get used to, but I think many can relate to how you get into a “zone” where you just don’t feel hungry. Today I ran 11 miles/17.7K on an empty stomach (btw- I’m not lying; I have better things to do than misrepresent myself on an internet forum). When I finished at about 1, I had plenty of fluids, but no food. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all about how “bad” that is for you. Talk to the hand. I’m right on this; I’m TELLING you. I’m not going to claim it’s the ONLY way to lose weight, but long-term success stories are rare, so I’m clearly doing something right. And I feel utterly confident that the “Breakfast is the most important meal” canard will be revised, as part of ongoing scientific inquiry, in due course.

  2. Cameron
    August 2, 2009 at 22:54

    Now, looking at those studies, here's a weakness: the subjects were alloted a specific amount of calories they had to consume each day (at least that's how it appears).If you have subjects skip breakfast and lunch, then eat what they want for dinner, not having to end up with x number of calories, their net calories consumed will end up being less. Dr's Levitsky and Mattson came to that conclusion in their studies. Now, outside controlled conditions, people have to resist temptation to gorge on junk-food. It's doable, and I and others are proof of that.

  3. Jess Banda
    August 3, 2009 at 06:34

    Thanks for shring your story…whatever works for you, works for you. Your methods employed may not work for others, as it may slow their metabolism down to a crawl. Also, you stated you lost "weight," but how much of thata was muscle? Having your bodyfat measured using a 12-site caliper measurement would have tracked whether you lost muscle or bodyfat. Since you wrote you cana run 11 miles wiithout eating, then know that your body is breaking down muscle into aamino acids for fuel…if you could truly run 11 miles without ANY fuel, then you NIH would be studing you to help combat fod shortages in third world countries. If you compare the physiques of long distance runners to sprinters, you'll be amazed of the difference. Long distance runners look like concentration camp surviviors…due to their body utilizing the muscles for amino acids. That's why solely measuring body composition changes with body weight is a bad idea. But if you're haappy, thata's all that mtters.

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