Many women skip breakfast, despite being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Some skip it because they are not hungry some skip it because they feel it will help with weight loss. Surprisingly eating breakfast might not be as important as we thought.
The idea of skipping breakfast seems impossible to me. I wake up hungry and I want breakfast and I rarely wait very long before I eat. But I know many women don’t feel the same way, so I thought I would investigate the pros and cons of skipping breakfast. I especially wanted to focus on issues that are important for women going through menopause.
Skipping breakfast is associated with higher risk of some diseases
Women who eat breakfast have a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But there is not enough evidence to suggest that it is the breakfast skipping that contributes to the higher risk. Women who skip breakfast may also be more likely to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol.
Women who skip breakfast seem to burn more calories and eat fewer calories (maybe)
Studies seem to be inconclusive about how skipping breakfast affects weight loss. Some studies show that women eat more later in the day if they don’t eat breakfast, but some studies show that women burn more calories the rest of the day if they don’t eat breakfast. Some studies have shown that women who skip breakfast do eat fewer calories.
A form of intermittent fasting
Breakfast can be considered a form of intermittent fasting. When you skip breakfast you are probably not eating for around 16- 18 hours and having a 6-8 hour window where you eat. Many women find that intermittent fasting helps with weight loss. However, some women find that intermittent fasting can mess with hormone balance. It seems to be an individual thing.
Are you hungry?
If you skip breakfast because you are not hungry in the morning, then it’s probably better to not eat breakfast, than to force yourself to eat, if you don’t feel like it.
On the other hand, if you skip breakfast because you think it will help with weight loss, you might want to rethink it. This can lead to making poor choices later in the morning.
Pay attention to your hunger cues. Eat breakfast if you are hungry in the morning, don’t if you don’t get hungry until later.
Depends on your habits
Whether you should skip breakfast or not depends on your habits.
If you exercise in the morning, you will burn more fat if you don’t eat breakfast first. But you may find that you need something to eat as soon as your workout is finished. The good news is that carbohydrates metabolize better after exercise.
If you skip breakfast, but then get hungry mid morning and grab a donut or muffin, you might want to rethink skipping breakfast, or at least have healthier snacks ready.
You might find that you are sluggish and slow in the morning until you have a cup of coffee. Your brain might actually need some nourishment to function at its best.
You might not get enough protein when you need it
Most studies concerning breakfast skipping look at weight loss, but getting the right nutrients when your body needs them is also important.
Protein is stored in muscle and other tissue in the body. That means it isn’t available for building new muscle or maintaining muscle unless you are replenishing it when you need it. For midlife women who want to maintain and not lose muscle, this may mean getting protein throughout the day. Protein for breakfast means your muscles have protein when needed. It also means that protein stores in muscle and bone don’t get used for repair.
As you can see there are different reactions to not eating breakfast. The most important thing is to tune in to how your body (and your mind) is feeling with or without breakfast. Don’t force yourself to eat when you are not hungry, but don’t skip breakfast if you are hungry.