Effects of Skipping Breakfast

Stressed mother with son
A busy woman skipping breakfast in the morning. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

You’ve likely heard “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” If you are trying to lose weight or think clearly throughout the day, this can prove very true. People who eat breakfast every day are more likely to be thinner than those who do not. This is due to a number of factors in the body, including your metabolism, which is enhanced when you eat breakfast.

You Lose Energy

Calories are a measure of energy -- the more calories you take in, the more energy your body is able to produce. When you skip breakfast, your body may not have enough energy to perform its daily functions. The body may start taking energy stored as glucose from your tissues, which can cause you to feel tired and lethargic. If you skip breakfast, you are more likely to experience a mid-morning slump that can leave your thinking cloudy.

Your Hunger Increases

One of the reasons why those who eat breakfast are better able to maintain their weight is because they stave off hunger by eating a healthy breakfast. When you skip breakfast, your stomach sends signals to your brain that it is empty, and you begin to experience hunger pangs. The longer you wait, the more your hunger grows. If you’ve skipped breakfast, you are more likely to reach for unhealthy snack options, such as convenience foods high in fat and sugar -- like a candy bar from a vending machine, a doughnut or a large bagel. Over time, this can contribute to weight gain.

Your Metabolism Drops

Your body’s metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories for daily life functions. The faster your metabolism, the faster you burn off foods you eat, which helps you maintain a healthy weight. Think of your metabolism like stoking a fire. If you constantly stoke the fire, you will be consistently warm. If you let the fire run out and re-light it, you will experience temperature fluctuations. The same is true for your metabolism. If you keep it burning by eating breakfast, you will burn more calories all day instead of experiencing fluctuations in metabolism that reduce your body’s ability to burn calories.

You Gain Weight

Weight gain is ultimately the body’s result of skipped breakfast meals. Because skipping breakfast slows your metabolism and increases your hunger, this can add up to extra calories over time. Also, because you feel fatigued, you may not be able to engage in as much physical activity, which also can contribute to weight gain. Even if your schedule does not permit a significant amount of time for eating, grab-and-go options like cereal bars, protein shakes or low-fat yogurt are quick breakfast options.

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