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Breakfast vs No Breakfast

(48 Posts)
didireallysaythat Tue 10-Feb-15 22:08:16

So some eating styles (not sure I like the word diet) insist that successful weight loss requires a breakfast. And yet to put on weight you are, yes you guessed, encouraged to have breakfast.

I know there actually is some research on this - can someone point me in the right direction so I can make my own decision please ?


CalicoBlue Tue 10-Feb-15 22:50:55

I know there is some information that states it is good to have a couple of fasts, where your body goes without food for at least 12 hours. The easiest way to do this is eat early in the evening, sleep, and skip breakfast and wait till lunch. I think I read this on an article linked to the fasting diet.

I know when left to my normal eating pattern, I will go till 2 or 3 in the afternoon without eating, but once I start I don't stop.

OldBeanbagz Tue 10-Feb-15 22:51:15

I've been reading up on this today and i think it's better to skip breakfast and save your calories for later in the day.

I'm thinking of doing a mini-fast diet (skip breakfast and then do 30mins exercise) rather than 5:2 because it looks like it might work better for me. There's an article about it here.

BigChocFrenzy Wed 11-Feb-15 00:45:38

A large epidemiological study - very hyped by breakfast cereal manufacturers - shows an association with breakfast skipping and higher body weights in the population. This is the main basis for claims skipping breakfast puts on weight.

However, this association is mainly with disorganised" eaters who skip breakfast, but then eat high-calorie junk later, e.g. crisp, muffins, latte at 11am

People skipping breakfast as part of a deliberate eating plan, mindful of overall calories, are completely different.

A science-based argument that we don't necessarily need breakfast is Here under "debunked myth no. 7"
Also see explanation of Why Breakfast Makes You Hungry

BigChocFrenzy Wed 11-Feb-15 00:46:52

Oldbeanbagz The "mini-fast" sounds similar to 16:8, which just means you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window, i.e. skip either breakfast or supper.

However, to lose weight, almost everyone needs to have a calorie deficit, about 3000 cals weekly to lose 1lb (the exceptions are folk for whom a diet corrects significant metabolic issues, or removes a food that the body cannot handle properly)
So, if you don't have fast days, you would need a daily deficit averaging about 430 cals to lose 1lb weekly.

BigChocFrenzy Wed 11-Feb-15 00:47:52

That means, if you skip breakfast, don't eat back those calories in the 8-hr wimdow

housepicturesqueclub Wed 11-Feb-15 01:03:23

You need to read up on the permanent negative effects of irregular eating habits on metabolism, i.e skipping meals and fasting will slow metabolism(the body's natural defence against lack of food, then when you do eat, less energy is burned and more of it is stored as fat reserves) There is so much dangerous nonsense written about losing weight by amateurs , for their own monetary gain.

BigChocFrenzy Wed 11-Feb-15 02:04:09

You need to do the reading. You are quoting outdated and debunked myths.

I am a scientist and I've examined several dozen peer-reviewed studies on intermittent fasting. I am satisfied that the scientific basis is sound.

Varady performed hundreds of studies on her Alternate Day Fasting approach and has umpteen peer-rebiewed papers.
Michelle Harvey was sponsored by cancer charities to investigate weight loss and reduction of risk factors
Mattson is a world authority on aging & dementia, one of the most cited im the field. He is a great advocate of IF both for weight loss and for reducing the risk of conditions like dementia and Parkinsons.
A lot of UK doctors and nurses have lost weight on 5:2 or ADF, as hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.

BigChocFrenzy Wed 11-Feb-15 02:08:03

In the fitness world, many lifters and bodybuilders have been using IF for years, to reduce body fat and build muscle.

OldBeanbagz Wed 11-Feb-15 08:37:31

BigChocFrenzy that's what i'm planning on doing.

Yesterday i did 30mins exercise then had 600 calories in one snack and dinner later in the day. Today i've done 30mins and will have two 'normal' (small) meals.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Feb-15 09:29:11

Everyone eats 'breakfast' - it's simply the first meal of the day!
When this actually is, and what it consists of has varies through history and place. However, implicit in the word is that there should have been a period of 'fasting' - a break without eating. If you have a bedtime snack and then an early morning meal then there's been no 'fast' to break.

But taking the conventional meaning - the research evidence shows that in general it may be beneficial for children and adolescents to eat breakfast rather than not - though whether this is a causal relationship or a societal one isn't really clear - but when it comes to adults the picture is rather different. A recent study had breakfast eaters and non-breakfast eaters swap and the result was that both groups lost a similar (small) amount of weight!

We all vary... if you are typically hungry in the morning then you may find that eating breakfast suits you but obviously think about what you're eating. Eating something sensible like eggs will probably work better for you than skipping breakfast but then grabbing a muffin or biscuit for elevenses. Eat white toast or cereal and chances are you'll still feel like that snack.

If you aren't hungry when you wake - why eat? I started doing 5:2 intermittent fasting a couple of years ago, over which time I've lost about a stone to get to (and maintain) healthy BMI - and found that I now rarely want to eat breakfast anyway. On days when I do have something, I don't find I'm any less hungry by lunchtime. So for me, not eating breakfast helps me maintain weight loss. I'm short and over 50 so I simply don't have many calories to play with.

So, OP - work out what eating style suits you. Don't just randomly skip meals - figure out what pattern works for you. Planned fasting or eating two meals rather than the (current, western) conventional three isn't 'irregular' eating. Do some exercise if you can - not for the calories it burns but to help maintain (or increase) your muscle mass - losing muscle is what actually reduces your metabolism.

oldbeanz - I always exercise in the morning (should be doing it now) and find that this also reduces desire for breakfast. Your plan sounds good. smile

housepicturesqueclub Wed 11-Feb-15 09:50:56

Big Choc frenzy many lifters and bodybuilders eat every 3 hours, to ensure there are sufficient nutrients available through the day to support recovery and growth, without putting on any unnecessary fat. Meals can have different ratios of protein/carbs/fat, depending if before/after workout, or recovery phase.

Are you sure it's a myth that has been debunked? what is the basic science around fasting then? why would you want to not take on calories when you have work or movement to do?? Are you convinced that fasting does not force the body to break down muscle protein for energy??

Eating small amounts regularly seems to works for me. Why the need for science and interrupted eating patterns, if people just ate healthily and moderated calorie intake?

housepicturesqueclub Wed 11-Feb-15 10:16:40

One of the top search results for '5:2 fasting' -

Eating normally for five days a week and taking in just 500 calories (600 for a man) for the other two sounds like the perfect diet. But a number of health experts say it’s just a fad.

However, former professional athlete Richard Phillipps, founder of Embody Fitness (, says 5:2 is just another excuse for poor nutritional habits.

And he’s not alone in his doubts about 5:2. Nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire from the Health Supplements Information Service (, says you can’t beat exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

‘Restricting your calories dramatically will have a negative affect on the body’s metabolic rate, in turn putting the body into a catabolic state,’ he says. ‘This means when your body does not have enough nutrients going in (predominately protein), it responds by going to other sources, such as muscle and tissue, to use as fuel. So you could end up losing muscle in the long run.’

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Feb-15 10:38:10

'you can’t beat exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.'

That is certainly true. People who do various forms of IF successfully do exactly that!

from your link:
'cutting your calories two days a week won’t compensate for eating badly the other five.' again true. Whoever said anything about eating badly 5 days a week? confused The aim is to eat well on those 5 days!

>Are you convinced that fasting does not force the body to break down muscle protein for energy??

Just click on Bigchoc's profile link! grin I've lost fat and gained muscle during the time I've been doing 5:2. We're both over 50, so other things being equal we'd have been losing it. The plural of anecdote is not data - for that you can look at studies such as Varady's (I don't have a link to hand).

'Restricting calories' - by whatever means - is really the only way if you want to lose weight. If you are at your desired weight then you don't restrict your calories - but you can choose when to eat them.

The negative parts of that article iare largely people speculating about what 'might' happen - which turns out to be contrary to what people find in practice. IF is sustainable (unlike 'diets'). It absolutely is possible to do HIIT and heavy weights while fasted.

But as it also says: 'So is it possible to follow the diet if you stick to a healthy eating plan on the five normal days and are careful to balance your food choices during the fast? ‘Yes, if you choose the right version,’ says Sian Porter from the British Dietetic Association.'

If eating small amounts regularly works for you then that's great - stick with what works for you. And I'll stick with what works for me. smile

didireallysaythat Wed 11-Feb-15 10:52:47

Thanks for the comments. I've always eaten breakfast, more out of habit than anything I think but at the weekends I can potter around the house happily for 3-4 hours and as long as I have a coffee I'm happy. I have two kids and a husband who are very different - they all need to take on (usually sugary) food almost immediately or they get so grumpy, can't think logically, etc etc. So I think they need early morning food (although I should look to improve it).

I'm a little concerned that if I skip the 7:30-8:00 meal (this morning two eggs scrambled) I may eat lunch earlier and then "think" I need something before supper at 7pm. But I guess I should try it - I too am a scientist so I feel like I should spend an hour on pub med reading up but then again I get statistics so know that I could be a couple of standard deviations off the mean and actually require an early morning meal.

As for exercise.... Sigh.... The only slot I have is before 6am or post 9pm and the kids sleep so awfully that I've decided that sleep is probably more important for my sanity right now.

TalkinPeace Wed 11-Feb-15 12:04:31

Breakfast is only essential for the manufacturers of breakfast foods

Nobody else needs it more than eating at any other time of day.

ALL of the research about how essential breakfast is - over the last 30 years - was funded by the food industry
who stand to lose a great deal if we actually ate the right amount and stopped being overweight

Pretty much every single study about disordered eating was based in hospitals with people whose food intake did not match their body's needs
either the under weight or the overweight

There is an utter crass failing in all that research to include the H0 data set - ie the millions and millions of people who stay a healthy weight and never come to the attention of the medical profession.

And anybody who says that skipping meals in a controlled way needs to remember

Three meals a day is a modern Western construct - most of the rest of the world do not eat three times a day. Much of the world is lucky to eat once a day.

Gaps between meals are not inherently bad for you - if they were, Judaism and Islam, both of which involve regular fasting - would have died out long ago.

TalkinPeace Wed 11-Feb-15 12:05:53

LInks to a freebie newspaper and the manufacturer of dodgy supplements does not encourage me to take your views seriously.

Most bodybuilders have body and dietary issues, even before they start

Breadandwine Wed 11-Feb-15 12:38:30


I've been intermittent fasting for coming up to three years now - lost 24lbs and I've been maintaining for around 28 months.

14 months ago I began weight-bearing exercises:
From a zero start I now do 80 press ups every other day with a 5kg rucksack on my back. 20 of these with my feet on the bottom step.
I began with a 3kg kettlebell 13 months ago, and now I'm the proud owner of a 12kg kb.

! have a 24hr liquid only fast once a week and skip breakfast most days - and I have never been healthier, felt so good or had put on so much muscle.

I exercise whilst fasted - I've just done 6 sessions of HIIT and I'm 18 hours into my weekly fast.

None of this I could have forecast 3 years ago, it's all come as a complete surprise to me.

So don't worry about missing the odd breakfast - it's good for you. And anyone reading this who would like to improve their health, or lose weight, the best advice I can give you is to get over to the latest Mumsnet 5:2 diet thread and follow all the research laid out in the OP. Then join the thread and benefit from all the support and advice you could wish for.

BigChocFrenzy Wed 11-Feb-15 13:45:04

There are several hundred, possibly thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers on IF. e.g. Google papers by world-respected scientists like Varady and Mattson's

Michael Mosely created 5:2 by taking their scientific work and publishing it in the mass market. Just because he made money out of their research doesn't invalidate the science.

Statements by dodgy supplement manufacturers and their house "nutritionists and dieticians" are NOT based on science.

In the past, bodybuilders and weightlifters would eat 6 times per day.
Some still do take their 6 smelly tupperware containers of tilapi and broccoli with them all day. Many others now achieve great bodies via IF.

Similarly, some people (not many !) have the willpower to lose weight by cutting calories 7 days a week. Some of us prefer just to cut calories for 2 days or every other day.

BigChocFrenzy Wed 11-Feb-15 13:48:21

Dr. Mark Mattson, a leading researcher into IF, has published more than 750 peer-reviewed scientific articles and is the most highly cited neuroscientist in the world, with an "h index"of over 150 (i.e., he has authored more than 150 articles that have each been cited at least 150 times)

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Feb-15 14:01:02

As far as I can see, the main monetary gainers resulting from 5:2 are (smaller sized) jeans manufacturers .grin You don't need any books or special food.

housepicturesqueclub Wed 11-Feb-15 14:34:47

I see 5:2 seems to be trademarked, says it all really.

The Metro link was just an example of the 3rd search result on Google for the subject.

To the OP, if you were to feel hungry in the morning, why would you not eat breakfast? surely if your body sends a signal of hunger, there's good reason for it?

Religious fasting is hardly based on sound scientific principles, and not done for purpose of fad dieting.

so BigChocfrenzy, you follow this diet because you like to overeat or eat the wrong things 5 days a week, then suffer/punish yourself for the 2 other days? sounds great fun!

TalkinPeace Wed 11-Feb-15 14:43:09

I see 5:2 seems to be trademarked, says it all really.
No its not.
If it was, the BBC would be required to put the symbol after the numbers.
But you cannot trademark a ratio.

housepicturesqueclub Wed 11-Feb-15 15:39:36

I saw something on a website with 5:2 and the TM symbol after it - typical, cannot find it now.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Feb-15 16:09:10

house - the OP said she doesn't really feel hungry in the morning, just has breakfast out of habit so actually the question is why would she eat it? If your body isn't sending you a hunger signal, why would you eat just because it's a particular time of day?

If you are someone who really does feel hungry first thing, then by all means eat then. We're not all the same.

People who find that IF of one form or another suits them don't find the 'fast' days to be 'punishment'. They usually don't 'eat the wrong sort of things' 5 days a week either - though they may find that they can now enjoy a bit of wine or cake, which is nice. In my case, being small and over 50, I was finding that eating healthily my weight was creeping up - it's hard to get portion control spot on if your TDEE is really low - to acually lose any weight I'd have to eat pathetically little (<1000 cals) all the time by conventional 'diets'. That really would be joy-sapping punishment! So this way of eating has allowed me to have very gradually whittled down to a healthy weight (with a much better fat/muscle ratio). I seem to have been in remarkably good health throughout; a slightly dodgy glucose test before I started was one of the things that prompted me to try this and that's spot on now.

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