There’s a new study looking at eating breakfast and weight loss.
In the past, some studies suggested that eating breakfast might help promote weight loss, while skipping a morning meal might lead to weight gain.
But according to a new review of research published January in the BMJ, there’s no strong evidence to support the idea that eating breakfast aids weight loss.
The authors of the review looked at data from 13 randomized controlled trials conducted over the past three decades, mostly in the United States and United Kingdom.
They found that people who ate breakfast tended to consume more calories per day than people who skipped it. On average, breakfast eaters ate 260 more calories in a day, meaning it’s unlikely they ate significantly lighter at other meals even though they consumed extra calories in the morning.
The authors also found that people who ate breakfast tended to weigh slightly more than people who skipped it. On average, breakfast eaters were 0.44 kilograms (15.5 ounces) heavier.
But does this mean breakfast is “unhealthy”? Not exactly.
“Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, such as improved concentration and attentiveness levels in childhood, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults,” the authors wrote.
The authors warned existing data on this topic is of limited quality.
For example, most of the clinical trials they assessed included small numbers of participants. Only two of the trials included more than 50 people.
The average length of the trials was also short. They were conducted over periods of 2 to 16 weeks, providing no evidence on the long-term effects of breakfast habits.
The results also varied from one trial to another. For example, eight trials found that breakfast eaters tended to consume more calories per day than breakfast skippers, but two trials found the opposite.
“As the authors suggest, the quality of the data is low and the results need to be interpreted with caution,” Rahaf Al Bochi, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Healthline.
“Research suggests that the benefits of breakfast are beyond weight,” she continued. “At the end of the day, nutritional requirements are very individual. It is important that you seek a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition recommendations.”