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Is skipping breakfast a good idea?

Across the country every morning, most people start the day with a breakfast that they believe is healthy for them, as well as giving them the nutrients and energy needed for the rest of the day. A new study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) could disrupt the public perception of breakfast, as it suggests that the science that previously supported the positive effects of eating breakfast is invalid. This new Australian research suggests that skipping breakfast reduces one’s daily food intake by 260 calories.

The principles behind skipping breakfast are the same that feature in intermittent fasting, a relatively new trend which promotes the benefit of the human body being in a fasted state. This health fix is supported by scientists who state that during the period of fasting – as a result of a lack of available glucose – the body undergoes gluconeogenesis in which molecules from body fat are broken down to provide energy. Skipping breakfast therefore ensures that, for a significant amount of time, the body lacks available glucose and therefore has to burn excess fat to respire. As skipping breakfast is essentially a form of fasting, those who go without in the morning will reap the benefits that fasting has been proven to provide. In addition to weight loss, fasting has been shown in an article from the Harvard Press, to increase the lifespan of humans to a significant degree through increased cell regeneration. Intermittent fasting has also been found to be beneficial to athletes as it results in greater insulin sensitivity as well as increasing the levels of growth hormone which increases muscle growth.

The principles behind skipping breakfast are the same that feature in intermittent fasting, a relatively new trend which promotes the benefit of the human body being in a fasted state

Professor Kevin Whelan, a diet expert from King’s College London, publicly stated: “Breakfast is not bad for the health,” reminding the public that breakfast doesn’t inherently result in weight gain or health implications. Professor Whelan advocates for the eating of a healthy breakfast, as cereals and milk provide a fundamental source of calcium and fibre. The study in the BMJ does not conclude that breakfast causes obesity, it simply suggests that skipping breakfast could lower your caloric intake which aids in weight loss. The findings of the Monash University academics show that the public’s perception of breakfast as being entirely healthy and mandatory must be questioned in light of this new research, without making large, sweeping conclusions and health claims.

The BMJ research shows that skipping breakfast as part of a fasting regime can help lose weight due to caloric restriction, but must be done whilst maintaining a healthy diet in order to be beneficial. This can be done by ensuring that the meals that one does eat are complete, containing all the vitamins and minerals needed for a balanced diet. The study, despite reviewing experiments with small sample sizes, can be accepted as it reached valid conclusions about the results of skipping breakfast on weight loss. The Australian research team have stated that they are planning to carry out a similar experiment with a larger sample size. This will be used to confirm or reject the conclusions made from the 2017 study published in the BMJ. However, the conclusions made are corroborated by other studies all confirming that fasting, such as skipping breakfast, can help promote weight loss as well as lengthening lifespan and increasing muscle growth. Experts state that weight loss mainly occurs through diet and therefore through caloric restriction, whilst eating healthily will aid in shedding a few pounds.

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