Conventional Wisdom Vs Fitness Contrarian: Skip Breakfast

Conventional Wisdom (CV) will tell you the importance of breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day. If you skip breakfast, your metabolism will be slowed, you will have low energy, you won’t think clearly, you will be starving and wind up bingeing later. All these beliefs have been proven to not be true except for bingeing. You can always binge if you want to even if you’re not hungry.

There were so many mornings when I woke up and was not at all hungry but felt like I had to eat a big breakfast because CV told me to. Now I would not send a child to school on an empty stomach but if you are an adult and watching your weight like the rest of us, you can. Skipping breakfast or any meal, for that matter, is a smart way to reduce your calories for the day without any negative health repercussions.

If I had to choose between starting the day with two pieces of toast and a glass of orange juice or not eating until lunch, I would choose not eating. You would be way ahead by not eating all that unhealthy sugar found in your toast and orange juice.

We at Fitness Contrarian think it’s a good idea to skip breakfast if your goal is weight loss. Not eating until lunch is a great way to reduce the amount of calories you eat in a day without compromising your health. Not eating for 14 or 15 hours by skipping your first meal of the day is a method of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous health benefits such as: increased energy, clearer thinking, greater fat burning, better tissue repair and possibly longer life.

It’s perfectly ok to eat breakfast if you like to but don’t think that skipping breakfast is unhealthy. In fact eliminating any meal in your day is a healthy option for weight loss.

Don’t let Conventional Wisdom tell you the importance of breakfast. It’s not the most important meal of the day.

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Best – Mike Cola


About Mike Cola

Mike Cola has well over 50,000 hours of hands-on personal training experience. He started his own personal training studio in1989, Mike Cola Fitness, which is located in New York.Connect with Mike @ Google+

13 Responses to “Conventional Wisdom Vs Fitness Contrarian: Skip Breakfast”

  1. It has been hard for me to make the shift to thinking that it’s ok to skip breakfast. Since I was a kid, I was taught breakfast was the most imporatant meal.

    It also helps to differentiate between the goals of weight loss vs. physical performance when deciding to skip meals. I would still say for someone who is looking for peak performance at an athletic event or a test, that breakfast is very important, but you are obviously addressing weight loss so that makes sense.

  2. Hey Tom,

    I was also brought up to think that breakfast was the most important meal of the day too. When you’re a kid it might be the most important but when you’re grown up and want to control your weight, it’s perfectly OK to miss a meal or two.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Best – Mike

  3. This is a great tip that I wholeheartedly agree with! I was never a big fan of breakfast growing up but somewhere after college got brainwashed into thinking I had to eat first thing in the morning to jumpstart my metabolism. Now I go a few days a week without touching food until lunch.

  4. I didn’t think it was just conventional wisdom; I thought it was the research literature.

    Just a few examples:

    Breakfast skipping as a risk correlate of overweight and obesity in school-going ethnic Fijian adolescent girls.
    Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(3):372-82.

    Breakfast skipping and its relation to BMI and health-compromising behaviours among Greek adolescents.
    Public Health Nutr. 2010 Jun 8:1-8

    Associations of breakfast skipping with obesity and health-related quality of life: evidence from a national survey in Taiwan.
    Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Apr;34(4):720-5.

    Factors associated with overweight in children in Rasht, Iran: gender, maternal education, skipping breakfast and parental obesity.
    Public Health Nutr. 2010 Feb;13(2):196-200.

    And anyway the choice isn’t toast and juice or nothing. There is also the option of a healthy, balanced breakfast. Protein and whole grains work for me. If I were to skip breakfast I would be vulnerable to eating everything in sight by 10:00. (As a formerly obese person, I want to avoid this!) Plus, skipping breakfast would have a negative impact on my workouts. If I were to skip a meal (which I won’t), it would have to be supper — after all, I’m going to spend the evening on the couch.

  5. I find that if you are not hungry at breakfast and eat anyway, you increase your need to eat.

    When I skip breakfast I find that I can wait a longer time to eat.

    What I wonder is in the really distant past was food waiting for man when he got up to start the day. Hunger may not have kicked until later in the day. Energy was needed for the day. Breakfast can make you sluggish.

    Calorie restriciton keeps your immune system working. Three meals a day may be overload.

    In the past man had fasted more. The routine we have for eating may be flawed.
    The reason is there are no breakfast, lunch or dinner times that everyone uses.

    The majority of people may bombard their systems with food. To eat the same on a daily basis doesn’t seem natural.

  6. @Blanche

    when you get up, you have been fasting how night, so your body has switched to burning fat for energy.

    So if you don’t eat right away, you are still on fat-burning mode (and burn the fat from your body as energy) and you might not even feel hugnry.

    If you eat breakfast, you switch off this mode and turn sugar burning mode (from the breakfast) and once the sugar is eburned, you will feel hungry again…

    Great post Mike!


  7. I am hardly ever hungry as well when I wake up so I normally skip breakfast as well.

  8. @ David

    I do the same thing. I don’t eat anything until lunch a few days per week.

    @ Canadian

    Thanks for taking the time and referencing the studies. I have read similar studies and feel that they are more behavioral studies about eating breakfast.

    I think that people who make a point of eating breakfast do it because they want to live a healthy life and think that eating breakfast is a good thing. People who eat breakfast; therefore, do a number of other things like not over eating, exercising and just taking care of themselves. That’s why I think these studies have shown that people who skip breakfast are over weight. One of the studies referenced, pointed out a correlation between those who skip breakfast and those who smoke. In general, breakfast eaters are thinner then breakfast skippers because they are health conscience.

    What I wanted to point out with this post is that you don’t have to eat breakfast to be healthy. In fact, it can be a good idea to skip breakfast or any meal if you are an adult and your goal is weight loss. It’s a healthy way to eliminate some calories from your diet. Intermittent fasting has some real health benefits that I mentioned in the post.

    I am glad that you have found a way to control your weight. But don’t rule out intermittent fasting. I think you would be surprised if you tried it. You won’t be as hungry as you think and can still have a great workout on an empty stomach. If you want to experiment with it, take an easy walk on an empty stomach and see how you feel.

    Thanks for the comment and keep up the good work with your diet and exercise program.

    @ Blanche

    I agree – Calorie restriction keeps your immune system working. Three meals a day may be overload.

    There is no reason why you have to eat three or more meals a day to be healthy. As long as you eating whole natural foods and watching your calories, meal frequency is not as important.

    @ Yavor

    Thanks for the help.

    @ Louis

    Most days I’m not hungry until late morning. So I just skip breakfast on those days too.

  9. Certainly the most over-hyped meal in my opinion. Waiting until around 12-1pm to eat is a great way of restricting calories to allow some extra room for the weekend or get extra lean.

    As a teacher I agree with you about never sending a child to school on an empty stomach. A child will simply not have the same discipline as an adult and would struggle to keep their concentration levels up.

    Great advice.

  10. @ Bill,

    Breakfast is definitely over-hyped. For me skipping breakfast is the easiest meal of the day to eliminate if I want to cut out some calories from my diet.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Best – Mike

  11. Your very wrong there mate skipping breakfast is the worst thing one can do. Breakfast is food and food = energy. For one who is trying to loose weight is also recommended for him or she to eat breakfast because this will kick start their metabolism. If losing weight is on your agenda simply eating less, so for breakfast control your portion.

  12. I can see the point on both sides actually. Certainly this is an important meal for children. It is also important for adults and I believe the comments are right on about making sure it is balanced. Certainly a quality protein source would be wise for those who do eat breakfast. In my experience, as Mike indicated, those who benefit from eating breakfast are those who also make other health conscious decisions such as working out regularly and exercising proper portion control. I would tend to agree with skipping breakfast if the individual does not have a proper understanding of how to eat breakfast or how to feed for their stated goals. A fast of sorts can lead to better energy in some and certainly a clearer mind. In my personal situation I eat a quality protein and proper oatmeal with fresh fruit most days and this supports my workouts and guides my food choices better throughout the day.
    Mike- nice job in qualifying your statements. Good discussion.

  13. I’m at 82 kilograms trying to get below 80. I work out enough to burn 3000 kcal every day, but I want to keep my calorie intake below 2000 kcal to shed a kilo a week. Noticing how I’m really not hungry at the “most important meal of the day,” I decided to stop eating breakfast. I just now told my mom I was going to skip breakfast to limit my calories. She said I was gonna get fat (and this is from someone who takes astrology and feng shui seriously, by the way). Honestly, it’s all about fewer calories in and more calories out, plain and simple.