There's a popular conception out there that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain. A new study now shows this is pretty much bullshit.
Observational studies have correlated low body weight with eating breakfast, leading nutritionists to recommend that breakfast be eaten by people trying to lose weight, particularly those who are obese. But when this theory was put to the test by University of Alabama Birmingham's Emily Dhurandhar and colleagues, the correlation did not translate to causation.
Their randomized 16-week clinical trial of over 300 overweight and obese individuals showed that dieters who ate breakfast lost no more weight than people who skipped breakfast.
That said, previous evidence does show that breakfast may influence appetite and metabolism. Alice Walton writes in Forbes:
There are very good studies that suggest that skipping breakfast does influence our health in other meaningful ways. For instance, it's well known to affect metabolism, since it forces the body to stay in a fasting state for a longer period of time. Last year, a study found that skipping breakfast was linked to coronary heart disease, presumably because the extra time fasting leads to a rise in a group of factors that together increase heart risk. "Prolonged fasting," says study author Leah Cahill, "leads to increases in diastolic and systolic blood pressure, blood concentrations of insulin, triglycerides, free fatty acids and LDL-cholesterol, and to decreases in blood concentrations of HDL-cholesterol."
At the same time, however, other studies show that intermittent fasting yields some tremendous benefits, including the prevention of metabolic diseases, decreasing the body's expression of IGF-1 (an insulin growth factor), the switching on of DNA repair genes, and more.