Time-restricted eating has become a popular way to reduce caloric intake. It’s often referred to as intermittent fasting (IF), however IF refers to strict reduction in calories 1-2 days per week, while TRE is keeping a closed window for eating during the day, eating during a 6-10 hour window. Over recent years, one of the most popular ways to achieve TRE is by skipping breakfast, but is that really safe? Turns out that over the long-term, the answer is likely NO.
What the evidence says
- A 2020 study assessed the health of 21,972 university students in 28 countries, linking breakfast skipping to “Inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, frequent soft drink intake, not avoiding fat and cholesterol, current binge drinking, current tobacco use, gambling, not always wearing a seatbelt, inadequate physical activity, inadequate tooth brushing, not seeing a dentist in the past year and having been in a physical fight. In addition, infrequent and/or frequent breakfast skipping was associated with depression, lower happiness, post-traumatic stress disorder, loneliness, short sleep, long sleep, sleep problem, restless sleep, sleep problem due to traumatic event, and poor academic performance”
- A 2015 study of 75 women between 18-45 years old ranging from normal weight to obese concluded that while self-reported stress didn’t differ between breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers, “stress-independent over-activity in the HPA axis which, if prolonged, may increase risk (e.g., hypertension) for cardiometabolic disease in some people.
- A 2023 review article found that restricting eating to only 8 hours a day for those that are overweight or obese can lead to weight loss, but noted that “early TRE”, meaning they started eating before noon and ended their eating earlier in the day was more effective.
- A 2023 review found that while TRE induced weight loss, it was primarily lean muscle and not fat loss.
- A 2023 study found that in both pre- and postmenopausal women, skipping breakfast reduced the important resilience hormone, DHEA.
Summing it all up
If skipping breakfast means eating fewer calories, you may lose weight or maintain weight. However, it may come at the expense of your long-term health and current well-being. If you’re looking to keep your “feeding window” to 8-10 hours, we strongly suggest eating breakfast and completing your last meal earlier in the evening. This matches the circadian rhythm of the day and your diurnal pattern which can mean better energy, improved sleep and increased metabolism. But, there’s a but….
All breakfasts are not created equally. Make sure to eat a high fiber breakfast free from unnatural sugars to get the best form of long-lasting energy. Check out Megan’s Florasophy banana bread for a perfect start to the day HERE.