Wellness experts have been emphasising on the importance of having a light and early dinner as a key for long-term health. But it happens many a time that we end up having a lavish meal at the end of a long and tiring day to reward ourselves or due to skipping of lunch earlier in the day. This may be followed by a feeling of guilt for consuming so many calories at one go or one may feel bloated the next morning after a high-calorie meal. Many people tend to skip breakfast to compensate for overeating. But they often wonder whether not having the morning meal could be beneficial or harmful in this case. When we asked experts, they are divided over this. While some say skipping breakfast can be a dangerous choice for health, others feel it provides a longer overnight fast window which can help burn fat more efficiently. (Also read: 5 healthy breakfast options to balance your hormones naturally)
Breakfast is an important meal, but why people are skipping it?
Breakfast has been traditionally considered the most important meal of the day and skipping it is linked with increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Breakfast, the first meal of the day, is an important part of a balanced meal and improves concentration and performance during the day. However, many intermittent fasting diets that promote eating within a fixed time window, have been promoting the culture of skipping breakfast and it’s usual for people who are following these diets to have their first meal at 12 pm.
“Traditionally, breakfast has been hailed as the most important meal of the day, providing essential nutrients to kickstart metabolism and fuel the body for the day ahead. However, recent trends in intermittent fasting have challenged this notion, suggesting that prolonging the fasting period by skipping breakfast can have potential health benefits,” says Dr. Rohini Patil, MBBS & Nutritionist Founder Of Nutracy Lifestyle, specialises in the field of diet and nutrition, with over 8 years of experience.
Skipping breakfast is fast gaining popularity in the era of intermittent fasting where people eat in a specific time window, say 8 hours, and fast for the rest. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Reese Witherspoon, skip morning meals as part of intermittent fasting.
Are their benefits of skipping breakfast?
“Proponents of skipping breakfast argue that it extends the overnight fasting window, allowing the body to tap into stored fat for energy and promoting weight loss. This approach is believed to enhance insulin sensitivity, regulate blood sugar levels, and even reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, intermittent fasting methods like the 16/8 protocol, which involves fasting for 16 hours and consuming all meals within an 8-hour window, have gained popularity for their purported health benefits,” says Dr Patil.
However, particularly after a heavy dinner if your body is not giving hunger cues or you don’t feel like eating in the morning, you may skin your breakfast or have light breakfast, as per Dietitian Shruti Bhardwaj.
“Yes one can skip breakfast after a heavy dinner. One can skip or prefer to have very light breakfast which includes green tea and nuts, only fruits or a glass of low-fat milk with no added sugar. After taking heavy dinner one usually sleeps, so no point in taking heavy breakfast. Skip breakfast or else, can take something light or take directly brunch. If one is diabetic, I would suggest to go for brunch around 11-11.30am,” says Shruti K Bhardwaj, Chief Dietician Zydus Hospitals, Ahmedabad.
Side effects of skipping breakfast
A small new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says people who skip breakfast burn more calories on days they do it, but this may increase dangerous inflammation. As per this study, glucose concentrations and markers of inflammation and insulin resistance were higher after lunch on breakfast-skipping days.
However, people who skipped breakfast were able to burn fat more efficiently, but this practice can lead to problems with metabolic flexibility which in turn can cause low-grade inflammation and impaired glucose homeostasis.
“The opponents of skipping breakfast emphasize the importance of breakfast in providing essential nutrients and energy to support cognitive function, mood regulation, and physical performance throughout the day. Breakfast is often considered a cornerstone of a balanced diet offering an opportunity to incorporate nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources,” says Dr Patil.
“Skipping of breakfast is never a good way to start a day. Good nutrition is about eating balanced meals throughout the day. Eating breakfast boosts up the energy levels, improves concentration and increases the ability to perform better. Heavy dinner may reduce the appetite in the morning, but rather than skipping breakfast one must always prefer to start with the right choice of breakfast,” says Nutritionist Priya Palan.
Whether or not to skip breakfast is afterall an individual decision depending on what the body is demanding at the point, hunger cues, energy levels among others, says expert.
No one-size-fits all approach
“Experts suggest that the decision to skip breakfast after a heavy dinner should be individualized and based on various factors, including personal preferences, lifestyle, and health goals. While intermittent fasting may offer benefits for some individuals, it may not be suitable or sustainable for everyone. Factors such as hunger cues, energy levels, dietary preferences, and overall health status should be taken into consideration when determining the most appropriate eating pattern,” says Dr Patil.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and individuals should listen to their bodies and make informed decisions about their eating habits.