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Breakfast May NOT Be the Most Important Meal of the Day

Fitday Editor
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Breakfast. Go without it, and you're just begging to pack on the pounds, right? Fitness experts may tout the virtues of breakfast when you're trying to slim down, but new research shows that the link between your morning meal and the numbers on the scale may be weak, if it even exists at all. That's not to say a healthy breakfast won't help you get the day started right, but you may be no more likely to gain weight if you skip it altogether.

The Study

The latest study comes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and disputes the notion that eating breakfast has any effect on weight. This may be the most insightful research on the subject yet, as previous studies have only found a correlation between breakfast and weight, but not causation. So while a greater percentage of overweight subjects in the past may have been breakfast-skippers, the evidence didn't show that their lack of morning sustenance actually contributed to their weight.

Said David Allison, senior investigator and director of the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center, "The field of obesity and weight loss is full of commonly held beliefs that have not been subjected to rigorous testing; we have now found that one such belief does not seem to hold up when tested...This should be a wake-up call for all of us to always ask for evidence about the recommendations we hear so widely offered."

A total of 309 overweight and obese adults participated in the UAB study, and people were randomly instructed to either eat breakfast or to go without food in the morning. There was also a control group, which was not given any instruction on breakfast habits at all. Some people in this group ate breakfast, while others did not.

The Result?

No group had any weight-loss benefit over the other, implying that breakfast habits are irrelevant when it comes to shedding pounds. With a 16-week span, this study also lasted longer than many similar trials.

Despite these findings, however, the jury is still out on whether or not breakfast matters for weight maintenance over the course of years or decades. In addition, researchers didn't monitor factors such as hunger level, body-fat levels or metabolism. Because the body tends to burn fewer calories when deprived of food, there's still a chance that skipping breakfast may cause enough of a metabolic slowdown to affect weight over the long term.

Should You Eat Breakfast?

Weight loss or not, it's still a smart idea to start the day with a dose of proper nutrition. Your brain and muscles require carbohydrates to function at peak performance, and breakfast calories can help keep you energized throughout the morning.

To help your body get going in the early hours, try a bowl of oatmeal with almond milk and berries, or an egg-white omelet with spinach and mushrooms. And forget about sugary donuts or sweet cereals, which contain too many empty calories and will leaving you craving more food shortly after eating. By greeting the day with a balanced meal instead, you'll help ensure good health--regardless of your weight-loss goals.

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Nina Kate is a certified fitness nutrition specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She also studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has contributed to numerous major publications as a freelance writer. Nina thrives on sharing nutrition and fitness knowledge to help readers lead healthy, active lives. Visit her wellness blog at BodyFlourish.com.



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