Breakfast has long reigned as the most important meal of the day. But while it’s historically been praised for everything from hunger busting properties to magical weight loss powers, recent science suggests those cornflakes or scrambled eggs aren't all they’re cracked up to be. Here are five breakfast myths… debunked.
Myth 1: Eating breakfast makes you lose weight.
Previous research stated that eating breakfast could help fight obesity—and that weight-busting power has been touted for decades. But now newer findings suggest that this older research may have been misinterpreted. One study’s breakfast eaters reported more physical activity and another saw success in participants who changed their entire eating habits as a whole, The New York Times reports. More recent research finds the opposite of what we once believed: that eating breakfast is linked with slightly more physical activity, but not a direct change in the metabolism. For weight loss, the overall type and amount of food, along with your exercise plan, seems to be most important.
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Myth 2: Breakfast is good for your heart.
According to the same research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, despite older claims that breakfast is good for your heart health, whether or not we eat breakfast seems to have very little to do with our cardiovascular system.
Myth 3: Eat breakfast and you’ll munch less throughout the day.
While we’ve often heard that eating in the morning, whether you’re hungry or not, can help bust cravings for the rest of the day, recent science suggests otherwise. Researchers looked at the effects of skipping breakfast versus eating a high-carb or high-fiber breakfast. They concluded that the breakfast-skippers were hungrier at lunch, but didn’t actually consume more calories in total throughout the day than breakfast eaters. (Older research, however, does show that eating breakfast could jump-start metabolism.)
If you wake up hungry, you should definitely eat a healthy breakfast, but if you’re looking to stave off hunger throughout the day, another option is to pack more protein into your diet. Research shows that increasing the amount of protein in your diet can help grow the amount of eptide YY (PYY), a hunger-fighting hormone, in your body. So while breakfast alone may not reduce hunger for the rest of the day, a protein-packed one could. Try scrambling a couple of eggs, spooning some cottage cheese or grabbing a handful of nuts to pump more protein into your meal.
Myth 4: Everyone should eat breakfast.
All this said, there is one group of people for whom breakfast remains a vital meal of the day, and that’s athletes. It may take a lot of mental effort to get you to the office on a Monday morning, but riding a train or driving a car simply doesn’t burn enough calories to make breakfast absolutely necessary if you’re not hungry. However, someone who’s training for a physically demanding event, such as a marathon, needs to refuel before working out. If dinner was your last meal, by the time you wake up, you could have been fasting for around 12 hours, leaving your liver lacking 70 to 80 percent of glycogen (the stuff that helps your body maintain blood sugar levels), Outside Online reports. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel a morning workout.
Myth 5: Drinking too much coffee in the morning will dehydrate you.
Love that cup of coffee (or three) with your eggs in the morning? The good news is that while caffeine can dehydrate you a bit, you usually drink it mixed with a bunch of water. The water in your coffee or tea balances out the dehydrating effect of caffeine, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, a cup of Joe may even help hydrate you. So go ahead and relish your daily brew (just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, too).
The bottom line?
Even though breakfast may not be the silver bullet we once thought, if you’re hungry, you definitely shouldn’t skip it (just lay off the sugar-laden cereals and pastries).