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    Here's The Truth About Breakfast And Weight Loss

    To skip or not to skip.

    Breakfast is delicious; we all know that.

    And you've probably heard that it's the most important meal of the day.

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    But what does that actually mean? And what if you're just not hungry when you wake up? Should you eat breakfast anyway just because it's so important?

    BuzzFeed Health talked to Brian St. Pierre, registered dietitian and director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition and Dr. Holly Lofton, director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, to try to understand exactly wtf is so magical about breakfast (besides bacon).

    It turns out that the evidence supporting the idea that breakfast is necessary, or even very important, is pretty questionable.

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    Although it's easy to find studies that show a relationship between skipping breakfast and negative health outcomes (especially weight gain and obesity), it turns out that overall this research isn't reliable — some studies show correlation but not cause and effect, others are methodologically flawed or biased in some way, and still others cite those very same flawed studies.

    For instance: Here's a study from 2013 that shows that eating breakfast was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, but no cause-and-effect relationship was shown. Here's one that says that skipping breakfast is not an effective way to manage weight, and that eating cereal for breakfast is associated with lower body mass index, but — surprise! — the study was sponsored by Kellogg's, a company that makes breakfast cereal.

    On the other hand, the evidence that we don't really know if breakfast makes a difference is very strong.

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    A 2013 study looked at the existing research on skipping breakfast and gaining weight and actually found that our belief in this association is way stronger than any scientific evidence for it.

    And here's another one that reviewed existing studies on skipping breakfast and concluded that "no definitive conclusion can be made concerning the role of breakfast skipping."

    Of course, this doesn't mean that breakfast is definitely pointless, either.

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    It really just means that we don't know for sure, with a couple important exceptions. St. Pierre says that although the data on breakfast skipping is "almost all correlational," there does seem to be reliable evidence that breakfast is important for malnourished children or elderly people at risk of being malnourished. Otherwise, says St. Pierre, "breakfast is just a meal."

    So, the research is kind of all over the place. But IRL are there any benefits to eating breakfast?

    The answer is that it basically depends on your goals, your appetite, and your lifestyle.

    Obviously, if you wake up starving and need something in your belly to function, you should eat breakfast.

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    This does make physiological sense: When you wake up, your body's hormonal profile reflects the fact that you haven't eaten in several hours, says St. Pierre. Your blood sugar is low while ghrelin, the hormone that promotes hunger, is higher, and leptin, which controls satiety and tells you not to eat, is lower. But even though all this stuff is happening your body, it doesn't necessarily mean that everyone feels or responds to it in the same way.

    St. Pierre estimates that about 75% of people are "breakfast people," who experience hunger and low energy within an hour of waking up and need that breakfast pick-me-up. Other people might feel perfectly fine till later in the morning, and that probably just has to do with genetic predisposition, he says.

    If you're interested in managing or losing weight, eating breakfast could help.

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    Lofton says that she's found that patients who skip breakfast tend to be hungry after dinner and snack closer to bedtime. This can compromise weight loss goals, says Lofton, because evening calories are less likely to be worked off by activity and are likely to be stored as fat since probably the only activity you're doing after dinner and dessert is heading to bed.

    "Start feeding your body earlier in the day so you can be satisfied earlier, before bedtime," Lofton advises.

    Breakfast might also help you eat more healthily in general.

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    But not because breakfast is "in and of itself a magical elixir," says St. Pierre. It's more that a wholesome breakfasts sets people up to make thoughtful food choices later on.

    And Lofton says that a morning meal can make a big difference in terms of regulating hunger till it's time to eat lunch. She says that when your appetite is moderate, because you've had a nutritious breakfast, you're more likely to choose healthier foods for lunch than if you skipped breakfast and are totally ravenous by late morning. When you're super hungry you're "prone to think about what's most convenient versus what's healthy," she says.

    That said, don't make your breakfast all about the carbs.

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    "I don’t recommend a carb-only meal because it sets you on a glucose roller coaster first thing in the morning — you'll crash two hours later," says Lofton. So cereal, pastries, or oatmeal aren't going to keep you full for very long.

    But if you can't imagine giving up your morning carbs, just have them in moderation and pair them with protein (oatmeal and eggs, for example) to help you stay fuller for longer, says Lofton.

    If you can swing it, a balanced meal of whole foods would be ideal.

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    A nutritious, balanced breakfast would look like "a nice mix of protein, healthy fats, quality carbs, and ideally some vegetables," says St. Pierre. This might be an omelet with vegetables, a bit of cheese, and a piece of toast or some fruit, he says.

    But if you don't see yourself cooking a meal in the morning, you can get that same balance of macronutrients with something convenient like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and some nuts and fruit. If you're way pressed for time, St. Pierre recommends a super shake, which is basically a super hearty, customizable smoothie that you can blend and drink on the go.

    In conclusion, breakfast might be magical for you and your life. But it might also be just another meal.

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    If your health is where you want it to be — your doctor gave you the thumbs-up, you feel energetic, you're sleeping well, your workouts feel great — then you probably don't need to change anything, says St. Pierre. On the other hand, if you're ravenous throughout the day or trying to lose weight, you might want to try this whole breakfast thing. It could be delicious and energizing, or it could also be a time-sucking inconvenience you don't want to deal with and aren't hungry for.

    The good news is that none of these options is healthier or better than the next. So, live your life!

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