On my homepage, I reviewed the positive and negative aspects of intermittent fasting (cycling between fasting and eating). Now, I review some studies on health associations of eating breakfast in the morning.
1. Breakfast and Body Weight
One retrospective analysis of 186 participants in a metabolic clinic demonstrated an association between eating breakfast and lowered body weight. (1)
2. May Be a Benefit to Obese Children
One study with 156 obese Chinese adolescents compared isoenergetic (equal in calories) breakfasts with either an egg or steamed bread. The most interesting thing I found with this study was the positive change of satiety signals in response to a higher protein breakfast.
Results: Subsequent lunchtime food intake and body weight were decreased while satiety was increased in subjects on an egg breakfast, which is associated with an increase of serum PYY and GLP-1 (p < 0.001, respectively). There were strong correlations between weight loss, appetite, subsequent food intake and changes of appetite hormones. (2)
Major caveat: This was a comparison of a breakfast with a good quality protein verses steamed bread. Bread raises insulin and this could confound the results. (I always tell my clients to balance proteins, carbs, and fats to modulate insulin response!)
In another study, which was a randomized crossover study, a breakfast with a high protein content was compared either with a breakfast of cereal or skipping breakfast altogether in 20 obese girls over the course of 6 days. Interestingly, both breakfast eating groups reduced daily hunger and increased daily fullness. The high protein breakfast elicited a greater effect in fullness then the “normal protein” group and also had an effect on satiety cues. This study supported regardless of content, breakfast may be helpful in female adolescents:
Breakfast led to beneficial alterations in the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals that control food intake regulation. Only the HP breakfast led to further alterations in these signals and reduced evening snacking compared with BS, although no differences in daily energy intake were observed. These data suggest that the addition of breakfast, particularly one rich in protein, might be a useful strategy to improve satiety, reduce food motivation and reward, and improve diet quality in overweight or obese teenage girls. (3)
3. It May Alter Metabolic Markers Positively
A randomized crossover trial with 10 women used milkshakes and cookies and alternated timing of consumption of them (breakfast or later in the day) to compare the effect of eating breakfast verses skipping it. The interesting thing with this study is that even with high glucose “junk” foods, eating this breakfast of junk helped with insulin response and lipid markers in the short study:
Conclusion: OB impairs fasting lipids and postprandial insulin sensitivity and could lead to weight gain if the observed higher energy intake was sustained. (4)
Note: OB= omitting breakfast
Quality, Timing, or Both?
The following study demonstrated that altering macronutrient content also influences hunger and satiety. This means what you eat for breakfast combined with whether you eat it at all could make for an even better result. Specifically, a small study with 17 obese men demonstrated the following:
Conclusion: In the short term, high-protein, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets reduce hunger and lower food intake significantly more than do high-protein, medium-carbohydrate nonketogenic diets.
Depending on your current health status, genetics, gender, digestive health, microbiome compensation,
and hormones, intermittent fasting may definitely be helpful, especially if you are male. However, if you are a nonobese woman, I’d definitely reconsider fasting long-term for implementing a more middle-of-the road approach of eating a quality breakfast with fat and protein and allowing time for a fast during sleep without food in your belly.
Read the first part of my blog on my homepage for other pros and cons.
(1) PA Goyal, R., & Julka, S. (2014). Impact of breakfast skipping on the health status of the population. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 18(5), 683-687. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.139233
(2) High-Protein Breakfast Promotes Weight Loss by Suppressing Subsequent Food Intake and Regulating Appetite Hormones in Obese Chinese Adolescents. Horm Res Paediatr. 2014 Jun 11. [Epub ahead of print]
(3) Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals
controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls., Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):677-88. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.053116. Epub 2013 Feb 27.
(4) Hamid R Farshchi, Moira A Taylor, and Ian A Macdonald, Deleterious effects of omitting breakfast on insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy lean women 1,2,3,, 2005 American Society for Clinical Nutrition
(5) Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum. Am J Clin Nutr January 2008 vol. 87 no. 1 44-55.