We’ve all heard breakfast being called the “most important meal of the day.” You may have also heard advice like this regarding weight loss: “Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner.”
Here are a couple of theories I’ve heard about the role of breakfast in fat loss and fitness:
*Your body is “starving” after going at least eight hours without eating (while you were asleep).
*You are more likely to burn the calories you eat in the morning since you have a full day’s worth of activities ahead of you.
I no longer believe either of these, especially the first one. After studying intermittent fasting I now understand that the human body is not “starving” when you wake. Postponing your first meal, in fact will probably result in more fat being used for fuel (vs. carbohydrates).
I’ve also learn that eating most of your carbs at night can be effective for weight loss as long as you maintain an overall negative calorie balance.
Eating breakfast may be helpful in one way: it may help you comply with a low calorie diet. One study, for example, surveyed subjects in the National Weight Control Registry who had successfully maintained a significant weight loss. Most of these subjects (78%) reported eating breakfast every day.1
But I haven’t seen any research that demonstrates a metabolic advantage to eating breakfast. It seems the only benefit to eating breakfast is the way it may affect your eating habits for the rest of the day (behavioral advantage). Many who skip breakfast tend to overcompensate later in the day with high calorie food choices.
Once again we see fat loss comes down to maintaining and overall negative calorie balance (using more calories than you consume) for an extended period of time–compliance. The time of the day you eat these calories doesn’t seem to matter.
I personally like skipping breakfast and eating my calories later in the day (like the Renegade Diet prescribes). You have to experiment and see what works for you for the long term. You may want to check out Visual Impact Cardio if you want a more detailed plan for cardio and several options for how to plan your diet.
1. Obes Res. 2002 Feb;10(2):78-82. Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.