Weight loss: a good breakfast would not be essential

The idea that breakfast should be the most important meal of the day when you want to lose weight would not be so good. This is at least what an Australian study suggests.

In the vast world of slimming and dieting, it is often accepted that, to lose weight, it is important to start the day with a well-fed breakfast and then reduce the caloric intake of other meals.

Behind this recommendation is the notion of a body clock: skipping breakfast would deprive your body of the resources it needs, which would disrupt the body clock and lead to weight gain.

But a new study published in the BMJ undermines this premise, and seems to indicate that a good breakfast would not necessarily be the best strategy to adopt to lose weight. Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, have undertaken to review 13 scientific studies examining the relationship between breakfast and weight gain in high-income countries.

When cross-checked, the results revealed a very small difference in weight between those who ate breakfast and those who did not: those who skipped this meal weighed on average 0.44 kg less.

Breakfast lovers consumed about 260 more calories per day than others. Also, this analysis suggests that people skipping breakfast do not compensate by eating more at other meals.

The researchers also indicate that they found no metabolic differences between the two groups, suggesting that there is no valid evidence that breakfast helps with weight loss.

While inviting the scientific community to continue research on the subject, the authors of the analysis believe that eating breakfast regularly, at a set time, could have real benefits, especially for the concentration and attention of children in school, who are more turbulent if they are hungry from mid-morning.

Believing that breakfast “is not the magic formula for weight loss for everyone”, Dr Frankie Philips, dietician of the British Dietetic Association, points out, however, that breakfast is probably the easiest meal to balance, for example with whole grains, milk and a glass of fruit juice without added sugar.

“If you can’t have breakfast at 7am, take it with you and eat your breakfast at work. But plan what you’re going to eat, because it’s much better to have breakfast with you than to have a chocolate muffin and a latte when you’re hungry later,” says the dietitian.

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