For decades, breakfast has been touted as the "most important meal of the day," gaining a reputation as a surefire way to rev your metabolism, boost weight loss, and ensure satiety throughout the day. Then came the tidal waves of anti-breakfast studies claiming that the first meal of the day led to as many as 500 overeaten calories by the end of the day.
Which way is right? Well, both. Breakfast does not necessarily lead to weight gain, boost your metabolism, suppress appetite, or have anything to do with overeating at lunch, according to a new study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. What breakfast—or a lack thereof—does is help you start your day exactly how you choose.
In this new study, researchers conducted two rigorous trials that randomly assigned participants to either partake in or abstain from breakfast. The first trial, led by the University of Bath, allowed 33 lean adults to choose to eat a 700-calorie breakfast or nothing during the course of six weeks. By the end of the trial, participants' metabolic rates remained the same, and those who skipped breakfast didn't overeat at lunchtime. "As a scientist, I was quite shocked actually at how sparse the evidence base was," study author James Betts told Time.
The second trial, which studied 300 overweight participants who were instructed to eat or skip breakfast during the course of 16 weeks, came to similar conclusions. "A recommendation to eat or skip breakfast for weight loss was effective at changing self-reported breakfast eating habits, but contrary to widely espoused views, this had no discernable effect on weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight," concluded the study.
So, fix yourself breakfast if you like. Or don't. We won't shame you either way.