Researchers are questioning whether breakfast really helps with weight loss. Two trials tested the merits of the most important meal of the day and were published in the August issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The studies tested the main breakfast claims that is helps with weight loss and boosts metabolism, according to a Time article.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other educational institutions gathered 300 volunteers who were trying to shed some pounds. They randomly asked subjects to either skip breakfast, to always eat the meal or to continue with their current dietary habits. Each group had people who always ate or skipped breakfast at the start, so some people changed habits, while others did not.
Four months later, the volunteers returned to the lab for a weigh-in. No one had lost much, only a pound or so per person, with weight in all groups unaffected by whether someone ate breakfast or skipped it.
In a study of slimmer volunteers, researchers at the University of Bath found the resting metabolic rates, cholesterol levels and blood-sugar profiles of 33 participants and randomly picked them to eat or skip breakfast. Volunteers were then provided with activity monitors.
After six weeks, their body weights, resting metabolic rates, cholesterol and almost all measures of blood sugar were about the same as they had been from the start, despite eating breakfast or not. The one difference was that the breakfast eaters seemed to move around more during the morning; their activity monitors showed that breakfast-indulgers burned almost 500 calories more in light-intensity movement.
Skipping the first meal of the day did not cause the volunteers to scarf down big lunches and dinners, but it did make them a little more sluggish early in the morning.
The studies were short-term and involved a limited range of volunteers. More randomized experiments are needed before the full impact of breakfast can be understood, James Betts, the professor who led the study of lean people, told The New York Times.