April 22, 2019

Eating breakfast 'not a good strategy' for weight loss

01 February 2019, 08:25 | Silvia Roy

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The clinical trials show that if people are encouraged to eat breakfast, they still eat more calories than they should later in the day, she said.

Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day, but according to a new review out Wednesday in the BMJ, it won't help you lose weight.

Carried out by researchers at Monash University, the new study looked at 13 randomised controlled trials from the last 28 years to investigate whether regularly eating breakfast could have a positive effect on weight change and daily energy (calorie) intake. It also challenges studies that suggest skipping breakfast can disrupt the body's internal clock and lead to weight gain.

People who skipped breakfast did not compensate by eating more later in the day, the review found.

People who ate breakfast ended up eating about 260 calories more a day, the review found. People who skipped breakfast were about one pound lighter than those who ate breakfast.

The researchers wrote: "This study suggests that the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss regardless of established breakfast habit".

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Indeed, the researchers cautioned that numerous studies included in the review had notable limitations.

"We should not change diets to include breakfast eating in order to lose weight".

"Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it may have the opposite effect", they conclude.

"The study shows that simply having breakfast isn't a magic recipe for weight loss for everyone". People who always eat breakfast shouldn't be discouraged from doing so, she said.

"We are not talking about breakfast being the cause of obesity", he said.

Most of the studies tracked participants for less than a month.

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Having breakfast as the main meal of the day also significantly reduces the need for insulin by -20.5 units/day (from 54.7 to 34.8) compared to those spread out throughout the day, which requires people have 2.2 more units a day (from 67.8 to 70).

They also failed to find a link between people skipping breakfast and subsequently feeling hungrier later in the day.

Prof Cicuttini explains that the focus should be not placed on when we eat our largest meal of the day - whether it's at lunch or breakfast - but on total daily calorie content.

Professor Tim Spector, of King's College London, discussing the findings, said that people have different preferences for when they eat food, which 'might suit our unique personal metabolism'.

The Association of UK Dietitians recommends that 20-25% of people's daily nutritional requirements should come from their breakfast.

Eating breakfast won't make you slim if you're knocking back a bowl of sugar disguised as cereal, or a full English (which can tally at 800-1000 calories, far above the 200-400 in a serving of cereal).

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He added: 'No 'one size fits all, ' and prescriptive slow moving diet guidelines filled with erroneous information look increasingly counterproductive and detract from important health messages. And nor will opting for avocado, rolled oats and other healthy breakfast options help if they're supersized portions.

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