Skipping breakfast linked to heart disease & weight gain

Too busy to eat breakfast?

Starting your day with coffee and cigarettes which keep you going till lunchtime?

Or maybe you are trying to lose weight and decide to skip breakfast?

According to research published recently by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Why?

Participants who skipped breakfast had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood lipids and fasting glucose levels. (Journal of the American College of Cardiology)

Firstly, the research results showed that skipping breakfast is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is thickening and hardening of arterial walls due to a build-up of plaques (fatty deposits). Over time, atherosclerosis increases the risk of heart diseases and may also lead to life-threatening conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.

What is the correlation between skipping breakfast and heart disease?

According to the research, those participants who were skipping breakfast were more likely to develop fatty build-ups in their arteries than those whose breakfast contained at least a fifth of their daily recommended calorie intake (For example, for a person whose recommended calorie intake per day is 2000 kcal, breakfast should constitute at least 400kcal).

Whilst it might be challenging to see a direct correlation between skipping breakfast and heart disease risk, the research shows a very important finding. Those who skip or eat very low-energy breakfasts (5%-20% of their daily energy intake) are more prone to developing unhealthy eating habits and poor dietary choices, which in turn may increase the risk of heart disease, obesity and other conditions. Those include overeating at other meals during the day, uncontrollable bingeing and poor dietary choices when the hunger strikes (when you feel you need a quick fix), but also addictions such as smoking and drinking alcohol (sometimes used to curb hunger). Therefore, skipping breakfast to reduce calorie intake and lose weight shows to be counterproductive and may actually disrupt your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals, leading to weight gain.

Participants who skipped breakfast were more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking. They were also more likely to be hypertensive and overweight or obese. (Journal of the American College of Cardiology)

It’s also worth noting that the quality of breakfast is as important. Having a balanced meal with enough carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats as well as fibre will ensure a sustainable energy throughout the morning and less food cravings during the day.

For those interested…
How was the study conducted?

The cross-sectional study involved over 4,000 middle-aged bank workers, men and women, with no previous cardiovascular conditions. The researchers looked at the participants’ health and diet and is a part of a long-term study.

The research was questionnaire-based and anything eaten before 10am was considered to be breakfast.

The 3 groups identified were:

  • “high-energy breakfast” – more than 20% of the daily energy intake
  • “low-energy breakfast” – 5-20% of the daily energy intake
  • “skipped breakfast” – less than 5% of the daily energy intake
Before you go, a note from me…

I always urge those around me to focus on having a quality breakfast in the morning, whether it’s something they can prepare and eat at home or take away and eat at work/school/university.

I know I post a lot of breakfast ideas on my Instagram and that’s not because I can’t cook anything else! 🙂 I want to encourage everyone to focus on including a good quality breakfast into their day. Whether it’s a proper brunch style eggs and avocado on toast, overnight oats on the go or a quick snack like canapés, start your day the right way by giving your body enough nutrients and energy to keep you going throughout the day.

I hope you found this useful and please share your thoughts below.

Resources:

Here is the link to the ACC article:

http://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2017/09/28/11/54/skipping-breakfast-associated-with-atherosclerosis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2017-10-04-regularly-skipping-breakfast-linked-to-hardening-of-the-arteries/

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