LivingSkipping breakfast: consequences

Skipping breakfast: consequences

Does breakfast help us lose weight or does it have the opposite effect? The truth is that there are contradictory studies in this regard. Thus, a large population study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that a large breakfast helps us avoid taking other snacks during the day, which keeps weight gain at bay. Another study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, and xponía that skipping breakfast does not affect our calorie intake throughout the day. However, most of these studies are observational and cannot tell us much about the mechanisms behind weight loss, our metabolism, and breakfast.


New research developed by the University of Bath (UK) and published in the Journal of Physiology has explored the metabolic effects of eating or skipping breakfast. The study, led by Javier González, examines how breakfast affects metabolism and fat cells in lean and obese people.

The experts asked 49 adult participants to eat breakfast or fast until noon, every day, for 6 weeks. Of the participants, 29 were classified as “thin” and 20 as “obese”, according to their body mass index (BMI). Participants in the breakfast group consumed 350 kilocalories within 2 hours of waking up, while those in the fasting group did not consume anything until noon.


Both before and after, the team examined the volunteers’ markers of cardiometabolic health, their appetite responses, and their body fat distribution. In addition, they monitored the activity of 44 genes that regulate key proteins, and the ability of fat cells to use glucose in response to insulin.

Skinny people get benefits from skipping breakfast

The results found that, in lean people, skipping breakfast for 6 weeks increased the activity of genes that helped burn fat, thus improving metabolism. However, this effect was not seen in obese adults.

Thus, in obese individuals, fat cells could not take in as much glucose in response to insulin as lean people did. This effect appears to be proportional to the individual’s entire body fat.

Researchers believe this is an adaptive mechanism in obese people, where their body is trying to limit the amount of glucose their fat cells can take in, thereby avoiding storing extra fat.

“By better understanding how fat responds to what and when we eat, it can help us focus more on those mechanisms. We can discover new ways to prevent the negative consequences of having a lot of fat, even if we can’t get rid of it.” , explains González.

The study, however, has limitations, since the participants ate breakfasts with high carbohydrate content, hence it is not possible to extrapolate these findings to other types of breakfasts, especially those with high protein content.

“Our future studies will also explore how breakfast interacts with other lifestyle factors such as exercise,” concludes González.

Reference: Molecular adaptations of adipose tissue to 6 weeks of morning fasting vs daily breakfast consumption in lean and obese adults. Journal of Physiology 2017. DOI:

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