Food & Nutrition

12 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Skip Breakfast

Who needs cereal, eggs, and bacon in the a.m. when your tummy doesn’t even rumble till near lunchtime? You’d be surprised.

You have a greater risk of heart disease

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Some 31 million Americans are breakfast skippers, studies show. Some are trying to cut calories, some are too busy during the morning rush, and others say they just don’t feel hungry. But despite some reports, the research overwhelmingly shows that eating a good breakfast is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. A study from Harvard University found that men who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent greater risk of heart attack or heart disease than those who dug in. Although they haven’t pinpointed a direct cause, researchers suspect that remaining in a fasting state for longer is stressful and makes the body work harder, causing metabolic changes. “The changes in hormones to help maintain blood sugar levels and the trend toward weight gain in patients who skip breakfast has been linked to heart disease,” says Christian J. Gastelum, MD, an endocrinologist at PIH Health in Whittier, California. These changes lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, upping your chances of heart problems.

You’re more likely to get diabetes

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Skipping that bowl of oatmeal or yogurt parfait could mess with your blood sugar. Another Harvard study found that women who regularly didn’t eat breakfast had a 20 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. “Skipping the morning meal is linked with impaired glucose tolerance and that is further associated with the development of prediabetes and diabetes,” Dr. Gastelum says. The theory is the irregular blood sugar spikes that occur when we fast for a long time and then eat a lot because we’re hungry put a strain on the body, which can lead to insulin resistance. If you have diabetes, here are the breakfast rules all diabetics should follow.

You may gain weight

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If you’re trying to lose weight, it would seem that the less you eat, the more pounds you’d drop, right? But that’s not exactly the case. Although research is mixed on whether eating breakfast has a direct effect on weight loss, the link between skipping breakfast and weight gain has been shown. “One theory is that people who eat breakfast are more likely to practice lifestyle behaviors associated with an ideal body weight and good health,” says Shannon R. Weston, MPH, a certified diabetes educator at UTHealth School of Nursing in Houston. “Another theory is that people who skip breakfast tend to overeat at subsequent meals, consuming the majority of calories during the most sedentary hours of the day.” Dr. Gastelum says that some of his patients don’t realize they take in more calories in one sitting than in three planned meals. “Patients who frequently skip meals believing that they are eating less or consuming fewer calories are often wrong,” he says. “They tend to have a rubber band effect on their calorie intake—they skip breakfast and then overeat at lunch.” Here are 20 more hidden reasons your diet isn’t working.

Your metabolism may slow down

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When you skip meals, your body stops working as fast in order to conserve fuel. “The body will slow its basal metabolic rate to compensate for calorie restriction,” Dr. Gastelum says. Plus, in the morning your metabolism has already been slow during sleep. “Prolonged fasting will further reduce the body’s willingness to burn calories and impact the amount of adipose [fat] tissue that’s lost.” Although the results of a recent study dispute this thinking, the same research also showed more calories burned during morning exercise, as well as more stable blood sugar later in the day, when the participants ate breakfast. So, the morning meal does seem to have an impact on the body’s metabolic processes.

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