Skipping breakfast: consequences

How does irregular eating habits like skipping breakfast affect the body?

Does it
helps us to
lose weight
or does it have the opposite effect? The truth is that there are contradictory studies in this regard. Thus, a large population-based study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that a hearty breakfast helps us avoid snacking throughout the day, which keeps weight gain at bay. Another study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that skipping breakfast does not affect our calorie intake throughout the day. However, most of these studies are observational and cannot tell us much about the mechanisms behind weight loss, our metabolism and breakfast.

A new research developed by the University of Bath (UK) and published in the journal Journal of Physiology has explored the metabolic effects of eating or skipping breakfast. The study, led by Javier Gonzalez, examines how breakfast affects metabolism and fat cells in lean and obese people.

Experts asked 49 adult participants to eat breakfast or fast until noon every day for 6 weeks. Of the participants, 29 were classified as “lean” and 20 as “obese” based on their body mass index (BMI). Participants in the breakfast group consumed 350 kilocalories within 2 hours of waking up, while those in the fasting group consumed nothing until noon.

Until now the real impact of irregular eating habits – such as skipping breakfast – had not been studied much.

Both before and after, the team examined the volunteers’ cardiometabolic health markers, their appetite responses, and their body fat distribution. In addition, they monitored the activity of 44 genes that regulate key proteins, and the ability of the fat cells to use
in response to insulin.

Skinny people benefit from skipping breakfast

The results determined that, in lean people, skipping breakfast for 6 weeks increased the activity of genes that helped burn fat, thus, improved metabolism. However, this effect was not seen in obese adults.

Thus, in obese individuals , fat cells could not take up as much glucose in response to insulin as lean people did. This effect appears to be proportional to the individual’s total body fat.

Researchers believe this is an adaptive mechanism in people with obesity, where their body is trying to limit the amount of glucose its fat cells can take in, so it avoids storing extra fat.

“By better understanding how fat responds to what and when we eat, it can help us focus more on those mechanisms. We can discover new ways to prevent the negative consequences of having a large amount of body fat, even if we can’t get rid of it,” explains Gonzalez.

The study has limitations, however, because the participants ate high-carbohydrate breakfasts, so it is not possible to extrapolate these findings to other types of breakfasts, especially those high in protein.

“Our future studies will also explore how breakfast interacts with other lifestyle factors such as exercise,” Gonzalez concludes.


Molecular adaptations of adipose tissue to 6 weeks of morning fasting

vs daily breakfast consumption in lean and obese adults. Journal of

Physiology 2017. DOI: