It’s back in the world nutrition debate: Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? We’ve long been told that women who eat breakfast are less inclined to overeat later. But recent research has revealed no difference in body weight between those who eat breakfast and those who don’t.
Weight isn’t everything
The idea of going 12 to 14 hours without eating – intermittent fasting – has been popping up in the health literature lately. This means basically skipping either breakfast or dinner a few times a week. There’s research to back it. On the other hand, the American Heart Association reported that women who eat breakfast have lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol.
A new study just out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition offers some fresh insight into what happens to your body when you regularly skip breakfast. You burn more calories, but increase inflammation. The study found that when people skipped a meal, they just made up the difference later by adding extra calories. Whether two or three meals a day, the daily calorie consumption stayed steady. What was different was that the people who skipped a meal burned more calories over the 24-hour period. And skipping dinner resulted in more than twice the calorie expenditure over skipping breakfast.
There was no difference in blood glucose levels, insulin secretion or physical activity, but serum glucose levels and markers of inflammation and insulin resistance were higher after lunch on breakfast-missing days. The subjects also burned more of their own body fat when they skipped breakfast. The researchers suggested that this could lead to low-grade inflammation and impaired glucose metabolism in the long run. This could potentiate the onset of type-2 diabetes.
The Cost of Breakfast
When you’re checking the IHOP prices for breakfast, consider the cost to your health as well. More research is needed to clarify whether skipping breakfast is really worse for you in the long run. The study only measured inflammation after lunch. Often, these markers follow a daily rhythm, so we don’t know whether skipping a meal resulted in an overall increase in inflammation or a momentary one around noon. Burning more calories by going without food for half a day is an attractive tool in one’s weight loss handbag.
The study was only a few days long, as well, so it doesn’t speak to the lasting effects of intermittent fasting on someone who makes it part of her lifestyle. Possibly the most noteworthy aspect of the study was that it showed that people tend to eat the same amount of food each day whether they do it in two meals or three.
Because inflammation is associated with major killers – heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – not to mention chronic debilitating conditions like arthritis, it is important to adopt strategies to deal with it. But one of the most powerful inflammatory influences on every woman’s body is her own body fat. Keeping the pounds off still makes the most sense.