People have been told many things about breakfast. For example:
All of these claims have been based on the findings of published scientific research.
However, careful scrutiny of methods, sample sizes and false deductions based on correlations, not causation has proven most of these claims are wrong - myths rather than facts.
The study highlights the bias that has crept into research studies about human nutrition and diets.
The reality is that there is no magic about food, which should be regarded as fuel (calories) you put into your tank with a reserve tank (fat) that you can top up and draw from as needed.
Breakfast is just another meal, another opportunity to top up the main tank. What matters is how much fuel you add in relation to how much fuel you use of burn.
Learn more about breakfast myths and how to avoid them.
A review, recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the claim that skipping breakfast causes weight gain in various studies exceeds the strength of scientific evidence presented in those studies. It is a classical case of a correlation being wrongly extrapolated to prove a causal relationship. Just because more obese people skip breakfast does not prove that missing breakfast caused their obesity. The analysis of a number of previous studies showed evidence of:
Unfortunately there is a tendency for the rigors of the classic scientific method of testing and disproving of hypotheses to be compromised by bias and preconceptions. Researchers rush to find support for prior claims and conclusions without proper assessment of the validity of the first study.
Correlation is like the common cold in science where the expressions 'Great minds think alike' and 'Fools never differ' can be driven by the clamor for highly competitive research grants.
The classic example is the story of the scientist who proved that stomach ulcers were caused by a bacteria that could be treated with antibiotics. This claim was laughed at by the established scientific community for may years, before all the previous claims and research hit a iceberg and sunk like the Titanic.
Extrapolation from correlation to cause is the incurable disease of scientific research. And so say all of Us!
A new study at Cornell University found that while skipping breakfast did tend to lead to an increase in calories consumed at lunch, the extra calories did not make up for the calories missed at breakfast.
For some adults, missing breakfast, or fasting at breakfast may actually be a good way to lose weight – not gain it.
At the end of the day what matters is how many calories you have eaten and burned. This is not rocket science. It is just like fuel for your car. It makes no difference how many times you fill the tank or when you do it. What matters is supply and demand. With food and calories any excess calories get stored as fat (the reserve tank).
Any deficit between what is burnt or expended and shuffles into and out of the fat reserves (the spare tank).
When you fuel up, and when you press the accelerator or apply the brakes matter very little. Its the net daily total that matters. That is common sense. Its not rocket science.