The Case for Skipping Breakfast

Thrillist recipe waffle breakfast sandwich
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

From the time you first started school, you probably had it drilled into your head that breakfast is essential if you want to be healthy. My school even served breakfast to everyone on big standardized testing days, in hopes that we’d all score high. Clever marketing from cereal companies and other breakfast-specific foods reinforce this belief, but all they're hoping for is a share of the dollars you spend on your morning meal.

Here's the problem: you don't actually need breakfast. And you may even be healthier without it.

Where the breakfast myth all started

Breakfast's reign as king of the meals has been long and fueled largely by propaganda. Its popularity is reinforced by apparent common sense, too -- eating to start your day definitely seems like a good idea.

Breakfast is supposed to give your brain a boost, kick your metabolism into gear, and even help you drop weight. When put that way, breakfast sounds pretty damn good, and for some people that's absolutely the case. But this is the real world, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.

Why you might want to skip breakfast and give fasting a try

Intermittent fasting, which in plain old English could just be called "skipping breakfast," is one of the simplest, most effective tools there is for fat loss, hunger control, and mental alertness.

Fasting helps your body use stored fuel more efficiently. When you go without food, your body needs something to burn, and most people have thousands upon thousands of calories' worth of stored energy (commonly referred to as the muffin top) just waiting to be used.

But fasting isn't beneficial solely because you're feeding on stored body fat. Going without food can also lead to hormonal changes, especially to hormones that regulate energy use, like insulin. Increased insulin sensitivity is an important factor in maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight, so if you've tried other tactics with little success, ditching the eggs could do the trick.

Luna breakfast bars and cornflakes cereal
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

But what about metabolism?!

This is usually the first question I get from people when I start extolling the virtues of fasting. One of the reasons people think breakfast is so important is that it somehow "gets the metabolism going," which sounds like a great way to start the day.

Technically this is true, but only because eating any food requires basic metabolism. But skipping breakfast doesn’t cause the metabolism to come to a screeching halt. In fact, if you fast for short periods of time, the body typically responds by boosting your resting metabolic rate, which shoots down the myth that eating first thing in the morning is important if you're trying to lose weight.

Ultimately, you have to find something that works for you

One of the reasons I see people yo-yo diet, going up and down in weight, is that they struggle to find a plan that works for them. Given all the different schedules and lifestyles possible, what works for you may not work for someone else.This is the beauty of skipping breakfast: if breakfast doesn’t fit with your schedule but you're still forcing yourself to eat it, you're adding unnecessary stress to your life. You prefer drinking some coffee and water and holding off until lunch? More power to you. Don't let yourself be breakfast shamed. Conversely, if that means eating eggs every morning, then have at it. Find what works for you, and stick with that.

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Tanner Baze is a writer and trainer who didn't have breakfast this morning. Follow him: @dtbaze.