After decades of lectures from moms, nutritionists and teachers on the importance of breakfast, a new study is heralding the weight loss benefits of skipping that morning meal, reported Forbes on Thursday. The research supports those who view mini-fasts as the way to shed pounds quickly.
Although previous studies have shown breakfast boosts weight loss, this research project took a different approach. The reason: A lack of causation in the earlier studies.
"Previous studies have mostly demonstrated correlation, but not necessarily causation," explained study author Emily Dhurandhar, assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior at University of Alabama Birmingham. To correct this issue, she conducted "a large, randomized controlled trial to examine whether or not breakfast recommendations have a causative effect on weight loss, with weight change as our primary outcome."
For 16 weeks, participants in the study either ate breakfast or skipped the morning meal. In contrast to previous studies, those who ate breakfast did not lose more weight.
The take-away message to dieters: If you hate breakfast and try to force yourself to eat it to lose weight, you can relax. Moreover, you may actually benefit through the extended fasting period that results when you skip breakfast.
In one study, researchers found that skipping breakfast improves the metabolism. The reason: It keeps your body in a fasting state.
Several experts have created plans based on this premise, such as Dr. Julian Whitaker. His book "The Mini-Fast Diet: Burn Fat Faster Than Ever with the Simple Science of Intermittent Fasting" explains how to skip breakfast and then use a low-carb diet to put your body into ketosis and lose weight more easily. He says you can lose up to 30 pounds in 12 weeks with that approach.
In a similar approach, "The 8-Hour Diet: Watch the Pounds Disappear Without Watching What You Eat!" advises limiting your food intake to an eight-hour period each day. For example, you would skip breakfast and then eat your first meal at 11 a.m., lunch in mid-afternoon and your final meal of the day at 7 p.m.
Other studies have shown that restricting calories in a pseudo-fast just two days a week can have the same benefits. "Eat, Fast, Slim: The Life-Changing Fasting Diet for Amazing Weight Loss and Optimum Health" offers both approaches, explaining how to fast two days a week or how to fast for a daily 16-hour period to shed pounds without counting calories or carbohydrates.