Skipping Breakfast is Bad? New Study Results

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Skipping Breakfast is Bad? New Study Results – Thomas DeLauer

Study – Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Cohort study of a nationally representative sample of 6,550 adults, 40 to 75 years of age, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III 1988 to 1994

Frequency of breakfast eating was reported during an in-house interview – death and underlying causes of death were ascertained by linkage to death records through December 31, 2011

The associations between breakfast consumption frequency and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality were investigated by using regression models

Among the 6,550 participants (mean age 53.2 years; 48.0% male) in this study, 5.1% never consumed breakfast, 10.9% rarely consumed breakfast, 25.0% consumed breakfast some days, and 59.0% consumed breakfast every day

During 112,148 person-years of follow-up, 2,318 deaths occurred including 619 deaths from cardiovascular disease

In follow-up, skipping breakfast was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease

Specifically, the study found that those who never had breakfast had a 87% higher risk of cardiovascular mortality compared with people who had breakfast every day

Problems with Study

As mentioned, the study involved data from 1988 to 1994 on 6,550 adults who reported how often they ate breakfast in the form of a survey

The survey data generally let respondents define what meal would be considered breakfast

The major issue is that the subjects who regularly skipped breakfast also had the most unhealthy lifestyle habits – these people were former smokers, heavy drinkers, physically inactive, and also had poor diet quality and low family income

All of those factors put people at a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease than just skipping breakfast – the study attempted to account for these confounders, but it’s hard to keep apart breakfast skipping from their unhealthy lifestyle in general

Note: Some people might skip breakfast as part of a fasting routine, but the breakfast skipping in the study and breakfast skipping during fasting are two different concepts and practices

Note on Breakfast Studies: Some studies are funded by breakfast companies, such as Kellogs, and one study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, which found that skipping breakfast had health costs, was funded by the Quaker Oats

Benefits of Skipping Breakfast

Hormonal Profiles

A study published in the journal PLoS One looked at the effect of time of day on performance, hormonal and metabolic response during a cycling time trial in cyclists – this is relevant because it looked at their hormone levels during the morning

The study found that insulin, cortisol, and total and free testosterone concentration are all higher in the morning (+60%, +26%, +31% and +22%, respectively) than at night

Additionally, epinephrine and norepinephrine have an ∼12-h circadian rhythm with two large peaks at 7:00–10:30 am and 8:00–10:00 pm

Fat Loss vs Fat Storing

*In the AM insulin is higher, so want to take advantage of elevated catecholamines*

When you’re constantly eating, you’re consistently releasing insulin, which puts your body into its “absorptive phase”

About four to six hours after you eat, the glucose levels in your blood decrease, triggering your pancreas to produce glucagon

Glucagon signals the fat cells to release free fatty acids (a process called lipolysis), which signals the body to release stored fat to be used as fuel

Waiting to Eat – Digestion

When the body is fasted, the muscles in the small intestine produce a periodic wave of forward motion called the migrating motor complex

The migrating motor complex is a distinct pattern of electromechanical activity observed in gastrointestinal smooth muscle during the periods between meals

It is thought to serve a “housekeeping” role and sweep residual undigested material through the digestive tube

An increase in gastric, biliary and pancreatic secretion is also seen in conjunction with the motor activity

These secretions aid in the cleansing activity of the migrating motor complex and assist in preventing a buildup of bacterial populations in the proximal segments of the digestive tube

The periodic nature of the migrating motor complex is thought to be controlled from the central nervous system and may be implemented in part by the enteric hormone motilin

Ingestion of food will abolish a migrating motor complex and restore a digestive pattern of motility


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