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Is it really the most important meal of the day?

Photo: CC, Neutrality, Edits: Kim Wiens.

Traditionally, eating breakfast has been seen as an integral part of our morning routine, so much so that many view it as the most important meal of the day.

I tend to agree.

Breakfast gives you the boost you need to get through your classes. Think about it—our body has been fasting all night and requires some kind of sustenance to start the new day.

This bright n’ early meal can also keep your weight levels in check, since it’s supposed to get your metabolism working earlier in the day and give your body sufficient time to burn off calories. In fact, a recent study by Heather Leidy and her colleagues at University of Missouri has shown that a high-protein breakfast leads individuals to voluntarily decrease their daily consumption by 400 calories.

But others might shrug indifferently and tell you that this meal is really not as important as once claimed.

Researchers conducting a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham divided 300 individuals trying to lose weight into two groups—those who ate breakfast and those who skipped a meal. After 16 weeks, the researchers found no significant change in their subjects’ weight from both groups.

Other studies have also failed to correlate eating breakfast with positive effects such as increased energy and concentration. Researchers note that those who don’t eat breakfast are able to afford it and are likely already dedicated to a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t include this early morning meal.

Another concern is that breakfast may actually increase weight gain. However this is largely determined by an individual’s food choice.

In this light, I would at least agree that breakfast alone is not the remedy for a poor diet and a lack of exercise. Eating breakfast is not a quick fix, nor is dramatic weight loss the key to a healthy lifestyle.

But, on the other hand, the positive effects of skipping breakfast haven’t been tested over long periods of time. These studies I mentioned have only been published in recent years and there needs to be more extensive research done before we can even consider the idea that skipping breakfast is beneficial to your health.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to make breakfast an integral part of my early morning routine until the smoke in this scientific tug of war clears.