What Happens When We Skip Breakfast?

You've probably heard that you should eat five meals a day and never skip breakfast? In this article, we'll explain what skipping breakfast actually does and how it affects your health.
What Happens When We Skip Breakfast?

Last update: 20 October, 2020

Have you ever heard people say that we should eat five or more meals a day? If so, we’re sure you’ll be interested to hear what we have to say about it! One of the biggest nutritional myths concerns how many daily meals are recommended, and the importance of your first meal of the day. In this article, we’ll explain what happens to your body when you skip breakfast.

Before we begin, it’s important to highlight that breakfast is one of the most critical meals. But it often includes a high number of over-processed products. It’s common for the first meal of the day to include low-quality biscuits, sweet products, and pastries. This isn’t a healthy practice.

Consequences if you skip breakfast

In this article, we’ll discuss what happens to our bodies when we don’t eat breakfast, all supported by scientific evidence, of course. However, you and your nutritionist can decide what your first meal of the day should include, in accordance with your needs and goals.

Skip breakfast: weight loss

Skipping breakfast is essentially intermittently fasting. In these situations, at least 14 hours will have passed since you last consumed something – from dinner the previous evening, to lunch the following day.

This fasting technique has been associated with better body composition. Scientific studies show that this reduces the amount of fatty tissue, which in turn improves health.

Reduced risk of developing diabetes: skip breakfast 

In addition to the positive effects on the body’s composition, skipping breakfast can reduce the risk of developing metabolic illnesses. According to a study published in the magazine, Nutrients, fasting – especially in the morning – reduces insulin resistance.

timed fasting empty plate clock

This contributes to improving the management of diabetes and prevents the appearance of illnesses in healthy adults.

Cancer prevention 

Another result of skipping breakfast is the increase of a physiological process that’s related to reducing the number of inefficient cells in the body: autophagy. In various studies, this has been found to link to a reduction of tumors forming, since certain pathways used for oncological processes are inhibited.

As such, removing breakfast from your diet and adopting intermittent fasts can have a positive impact on cancer prevention. However, it’s important to note that cancer can develop for many reasons, and isn’t dependent on whether you eat or not in the morning.

When shouldn’t you skip breakfast?

Despite the fact that we’ve numbered a range of benefits of skipping breakfast, this isn’t always possible. In fact, there are certain cases where specialists definitely don’t recommend it, in those such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and teenagers
  • People with uncontrolled diabetes

People in those categories shouldn’t fast, as it could damage the individual or their health in the medium term.

Also, if you have diabetes and you’re considering including intermittent fasting in your routine, you must first establish how you’re going to control the level of glucose in your blood. This is in order to avoid hypo- or hyperglycemia because it can be dangerous.

If you do eat breakfast, it should be a quality meal

We’ve mentioned the advantages of skipping breakfast, but this doesn’t mean it’s always the best option. It’s possible to create a quality meal for breakfast that’s beneficial to your health. The key to this is choosing fresh ingredients instead of those that are over-processed.

healthy breakfast with porridge and fruit

It’s essential to guarantee a source of protein that has a high biological value in this meal; foods with a high lipid content, or ones that provide high-glycemic carbohydrates (and fiber). All of this is even better with tea or coffee, but don’t forget your rations of fruit or veg.

Skipping breakfast can be good for our health

This sentence would probably have caused a fair bit of controversy a few years ago. But, today we can categorically say that not eating breakfast can be beneficial for our health, in a range of situations.

This doesn’t mean that you should never eat breakfast. If you do eat breakfast, you should ensure you choose a quality meal.

Pastries, sweet or over-processed items are always going to be bad for your health but can be even worse if you eat them for breakfast. If you do this, you should consider changing your habits.

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  • Welton S., Minty R., O’Driscoll T., Wilms H., et al., Intermittent fasting and weight loss: systematic review. Can Fam Physician, 2020. 66 (2): 117-125.
  • Grajower MM., Horne BD., Clinical management of intermittent fasting in patients with diabetes mellitus. Nutrients, 2019.
  • Antunes F., Garcia Erustes A., Costa AJ., Nascimento AC., et al., Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy? Clinics, 2018.