Debunking “the Breakfast Protection” Myth

PAT SALBER

Originally published 1/17/11 at The Doctor Weighs In.

Dieters, haven’t we all been told “Don’t skip breakfast?”   And, how about this one: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?”  “A good breakfast is THE key to dieting success.”  Right?

I have always loved those messages as I am a Breakfast Lover.  Ever since I lost a bunch of weight as an Atkins diet enthusiast, my breakfast eating habits changed permanently.  I can no longer abide cold cereal – it’s been years since I have eaten it – and I love BIG hot protein-rich breakfasts – you know, eggs, bacon, sausage & ham.  Over the years, hash browns and biscuits have crept back into my “big breakfast,” but I still have a deep abiding belief that I am doing good by piling on, in the the early am,  calories that should protect me from late-in-the-day ingestions – thus keeping me (more or less) slim.

Oh no, fellow dieters, a recent report from Health Day News (HDN) has now challenged my beloved breakfast fantasy – “eat big in the am to save big in the pm”. It turns out that what I wanted to believe about big breakfasts, may not be true.  HDN reports that a new German study debunks the idea.  Per Health Day News:

“Dr. Volker Schusdziarra, a researcher with the Else-Kroner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine in Munich, surveyed 380 people about their daily diets. Participants included 280 people who were obese and 100 who were of normal weight. Everyone kept track of what they ate over a period of 10 to 14 days.  The investigators found that breakfast habits varied. People sometimes skipping breakfast altogether and other times consuming either a big or small meal, according to the study, published online Jan. 17 in the Nutrition Journal.  However, those who ate a “big” breakfast — defined as being an average of 400 calories greater than a small breakfast — ended up with a net gain of 400 calories over the day.”

The depressing finding is that people ate the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for breakfast.  It turns out that you don’t reduce your caloric intake during the day by anywhere near the extra calories you ingest in your Great Big Breakfast.  This is really an unfortunate finding for people like me that hope to be able to enjoy an “all you can eat” breakfast and then make up for it  by being moderate eater later in the day.

Another myth debunked.  Oh well.

Pat Salber, MD MBA writes at The Doctor Weighs In.

2 thoughts on “Debunking “the Breakfast Protection” Myth

  1. I think the only weight loss myth that hasn’t been debunked (and probably never will be) is “eat a balanced diet and burn more calories than you consume”. Simple but not easy but like I tell my children on a regular basis, “As much as you may wish there were, there are no shortcuts.”

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