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“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”

How many times have you heard that gem? Over the last few years though, more and more people have started to skip breakfast and tout its benefits in assisting with weight and fat loss. This skipping of breakfast is part of a strategy known as intermittent fasting (IF for short) and has really become a bit of a phenomenon in health circles. I mean, who can complain about not having to worry about what to eat for another meal during the day? However, having breakfast may in fact support weight loss more so than you think.

Many studies have pointed to the fact that people who successfully lose weight in the long term, eat breakfast. And a recent study following a rather large cohort of free living Japanese men and women may just show why. The study by Tani et al took 119 women and 116 men and examined their food intake through dietary recall for 16 days over a year. They then worked out mean proportion of total intakes for the morning, afternoon and evening periods with the following results:

  • Men – 22.6% Morning, 33.8% Afternoon, 43.6% Evening
  • Women – 24.7% Morning, 36.5% Afternoon, 38.8% Evening

From the data, the scientists were also able to gather a couple of statistically significant correlations.

  • When both sexes increased their breakfast proportion of total intake over the mean, their overall total intake and intake in the afternoon and evening sessions was reduced.
  • Greater fat eaten in the morning meal was also correlated with less food overall consumed throughout the day.

In other words, the scientists were able to find that eating a big breakfast and eating a breakfast higher in fat was able to result in reduced calories eaten throughout the day. This represents a suitable strategy for those wanting to lose weight and lose fat.

Practical Applications

While this doesn’t prove that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it can have an impact on subsequent calorie intake. Not everybody enjoys breakfast or has the time to eat breakfast, which is fine. Weight loss strategies should always be tailored to the individual. But if you love your breakfast, go and make it a big one and if you like a bit of extra butter on your toast, go for it! It might just be the key to losing those last few extra kilos. Don’t forget that to always constantly check your progress to see if the strategy is working for you.

1. Wing RR, Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1 Suppl):222S-225S.
2. Tani Y, Asakura K, Sasaki S, Hirota N, Notsu A, Todoriki H, Miura A, Fukui M, Date C. ‘Higher proportion of total and fat energy intake during the morning may reduce absolute intake of energy within the day: an observational study in free-living japanese adults.’ Appetite. 2015 Apr 30. pii: S0195-6663(15)00217-2.
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