In findings that were shared at the Experimental Biology 2018 meeting, researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed the breakfast habits of 350 adults and found that those who made a point of eating breakfast gained the least amount of weight.
Over the course of one year, those who regularly ate breakfast gained about three pounds, while those who skipped it gained about eight! Participants who just occasionally ate breakfast (as opposed to regularly or not at all) gained about five pounds. So not as bad as the skipping-breakast-altogether crew, but certainly not as good as those who ate it regularly.
The researchers also found that eating breakfast helped to prevent the accumulation of belly fat. We know what you're thinking: Yes, that means you're a step closer to sexy abs — but this is great news for your health too. Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, can increase your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
"It's the fat that produces toxins that damage the blood vessels," Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, tells CBS News.
But how could eating an extra meal actually stave off weight gain? Though doctors haven't quite put their finger on the answer, Dr. Somers says that the leading theory has to do with fullness.
"If you eat a good breakfast in the morning, you're less likely to be hungry during the course of the day," he says.
And Dr. Hana Kahleova, director of clinical research at the nonprofit Physicians Committee, who recently conducted a large-scale study of people's eating habits, says that our hormones play a major role.
"Our body has an inner clock and regulates the levels of different hormones during the day," Dr. Kahleova says. "So, for example, insulin is secreted most efficiently in the morning. Therefore our carbohydrate load should be the largest in the morning."
This is awesome news for breakfast enthusiasts, but bear this in mind: What you choose to eat matters too. To keep your appetite in check, start your day with one of these protein-packed breakfasts. If you're not a fan of cooking and would rather buy your morning meal, these are the 12 best and 12 worst fast-food breakfast choices.
And for breakfast skippers who are interested in changing their ways, try getting breakfast on the go, and peep our list of the seven best breakfast sandwiches and eight to avoid.
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What Do YOU Think?
Are you a breakfast eater, or do you tend to wait for lunch? What's your favorite morning meal? Share in the comments section!