Another study causing confusion! Well, it’s never the study: it is invariably always the media response to a study that causes the confusion.
The study suggested people who eat breakfast maintain a lower body weight. The first issue with the interpretation is that in real terms, the difference between breakfast eaters and non-eaters was minuscule.
But more so, it is important to stress that what breakfast comes down to is more a matter of timing and preference. The timing issue is important, because ‘breakfast’ as we traditionally call it is a product of social timing: you wake at 7am, and have to be at work by 9am. Eating something typically falls in between. So ‘breakfast’ in the social sense is more a product of the Industrial Revolution than anything. However, your body has its own internal timing. This is more important. Most people do get hungrier earlier in the day, but it may not be until 10am, outside what we typically call ‘breakfast’
Also, many people whom skip breakfast do so as a wider pattern of disordered eating: deliberately trying to restrict food intake earlier in the day, only to overeat in the evenings. This is often why skipping breakfast is associated with more weight gain, but let’s not blame breakie: it’s a behavioural issue.
So, what does the research really show? Yes, it appears to be more beneficial to eat most of your daily energy earlier in the day. But this doesn’t have to mean breakfast in the traditional 8am sense! Look at many Continental countries; smaller breakie, main meal in the middle of the day.
The pattern we don’t really want is undereating during the day, followed by eating most of our daily energy in the evening.
So, breakfast at 7am? 8am? Sure, if you’re hungry and want it. Don’t feel like it until 9am, or 10am? That’s cool too, you do you. But between your breakfast, whenever it is, and your lunch, try to have your biggest meals of the day.
As always, stay fit and stay healthy!