We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if we’re trying to manage their weight. But new research suggests this might not be true.
Previous studies have suggested that eating breakfast revs up the metabolism and can help dieters stop overeating later in the day.
But a new review found that eating breakfast does not appear to help people lose weight and should not necessarily be recommended as a weight-loss strategy.
Experts from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, examined 13 studies related to breakfast and weight in high income countries, including the UK.
The pooled results found a very small difference in weight between those who ate breakfast and those who did not, with those who skipped breakfast on average 0.44kg lighter. Those who ate breakfast also ate more calories per day – about 260 more on average.
People who skipped breakfast did not compensate by eating more later in the day, the review found.
The researchers also found no significant difference in metabolic rates between breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers – suggesting there is no evidence that eating it may help with weight loss due to “efficient” burning of calories earlier in the day.
The authors said the overall quality of the studies was low and more research is needed.
Writing in the BMJ, they said: “Caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it could have the opposite effect.”
However, the researchers did note that eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects aside from weight loss, such as improved concentration and attentiveness levels in children.
Commenting on the results, Dr Frankie Phillips, registered dietitian for the British Dietetic Association, said: “Whilst some studies do show that people who eat breakfast tend to be a healthier weight, there is no clear benefit of starting to eat breakfast just as a tool to lose weight.
“The study shows that simply having breakfast isn’t a magic recipe for weight loss for everyone. If you do enjoy breakfast, don’t stop, but take a look at what you are having.”
To do breakfast the right way, she recommended a simple breakfast of wholegrain cereal and milk with a glass of unsweetened fruit juice and a cup of tea.