Will breakfast actually help us lose weight?

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Weight Loss

Estimated reading time: 4mins

Will breakfast actually help us lose weight? | Bulk Nutrients blog

The ideal breakfast for fat loss

Firstly, breakfast comes from the idea that we "break" our "fast." And for a lot of people, that takes place in the morning. Most of us eat it thanks to the marketing genius of a popular cereal brand; when we were told it was "the most important meal" of the day, no one questioned it!

But thankfully, some scientists did.

And what we learned was whilst breakfast is no more important than any other meal, there is a favourable way to eat it for fat loss.

Firstly, it has been shown in multiple studies like this one, that meal frequency and eating every few hours doesn't increase your metabolism. So, eating breakfast to "kick off the metabolism" isn't true. What matters is that we consume fewer calories than we burn.

But amongst this, what we've also learned is that taking an "intermittent fasting" approach to breakfast might be a good idea.

One study took 49 females into two groups: breakfast at 8:30 am for 4 weeks, or an "intermittent fasting" style breakfast later at 11:30 am, where they both consumed 15% of their daily energy requirements in their respective breakfasts.

So, what did they find?

The group eating the early breakfast consumed as little as 266-496 extra calories over the day and gained just under a kilo more than the other group. They also reported no better measures of hunger or satiety, increased exercise, or decreased sedentary time.  

But this isn't a surprise. Other intermittent fasting studies have always shown that "fasting" (like the non-breakfast group did, not eating until after 11:30 am) is beneficial for reducing food intake.

What's the best breakfast for fat loss?

It's critical to point out that these studies looked at high sugary breakfasts like cereal. So, if you're going to eat breakfast, there is a better way to do it for fat loss. It's not that eating breakfast is a problem, it's that the food people eat (a load of carbohydrates like in the aforementioned study) chews up their daily calorie intake and steers them closer to the iceberg of a calorie surplus for no added benefits.

So, what's the best breakfast to have then?

Well, consuming a whey protein isolate shake and coffee is a great solution!

Coffee can help blunt your appetite in the morning, whilst protein is obviously as good as it gets for satiety.

Whey Protein Concentrate: Whey protein in the morning is one of the best fat-loss breakfasts you can consume.
Whey Protein Concentrate: Whey protein in the morning is one of the best fat-loss breakfasts you can consume.

Moreover, studies that look at this directly support it; a high protein breakfast has been found to prevent hunger and thus fat gains in overweight/obese people. Moreover, given whey protein will have next to zero effect on your fat gains, consuming it for breakfast is ideal.

An alternative is egg whites with 1-2 yolks with a coffee, as this also counts as a lean breakfast solution, and is perfect if optimal weight loss is your goal. 

Eggs are a great lean protein source that is ideal for breakfast.
Eggs are a great lean protein source that is ideal for breakfast.

Breakfast for muscle growth

Do you need to eat breakfast for muscle growth? Well, it all depends on your situation. If you have a significant amount of calories to eat to achieve a calorie surplus, then starting to consume them in the morning is a good idea.

The bottom line is that a high protein and low-calorie breakfast is a great idea when optional fat loss is the goal. A whey protein shake and coffee might assist you with keeping hunger at bay and losing weight. When muscle growth is the goal, a higher calorie breakfast might be ideal to ensure you consume all your required calories for the day, starting as early as you can.

References:

  1. Leaf A, Antonio J. The Effects of Overfeeding on Body Composition: The Role of Macronutrient Composition - A Narrative Review. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017;10(8):1275-1296. Published 2017 Dec 1. LeCheminant, et al. "A randomized controlled trial to study the effects of breakfast on energy intake, physical activity, and body fat in women who are nonhabitual breakfast eaters." Appetite - Available online 4 January 2017, in press, accepted manuscript 
  2. Leidy HJ, Hoertel HA, Douglas SM, Higgins KA, Shafer RS. A high-protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger, in "Breakfast skipping" adolescents. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Sep;23(9):1761-4. doi: 10.1002/oby.21185. Epub 2015 Aug 4. PMID: 26239831. 
  3. Ravussin E, Beyl RA, Poggiogalle E, Hsia DS, Peterson CM. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Reduces Appetite and Increases Fat Oxidation But Does Not Affect Energy Expenditure in Humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 Aug;27(8):1244-1254. doi: 10.1002/oby.22518. PMID: 31339000; PMCID: PMC6658129. 
  4. Schubert MM, Irwin C, Seay RF, Clarke HE, Allegro D, Desbrow B. Caffeine, coffee, and appetite control: a review. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Dec;68(8):901-912. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2017.1320537. Epub 2017 Apr 27. PMID: 28446037. 
  5. Sievert K, Hussain SM, Page MJ, et al. Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ. 2019;364:l42. Published 2019 Jan 30. doi:10.1136/bmj.l42 
  6. Varady KA. Meal frequency and timing: impact on metabolic disease risk. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2016 Oct;23(5):379-83. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000280. PMID: 27455514. 
  7. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein - its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S105-12. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512002589. PMID: 23107521.

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