Experts debate the health benefits of going without

Dr. Oz sparked a national debate recently when he proclaimed skipping breakfast could be the best thing you could do for yourself in 2020.  The popular talk show host and cardiologist is promoting his lifestyle health plan System 20, which he says will help people not only lose weight but also reduce their risk for health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, by 20% in 2020. System 20 is based on the practice of intermittent fasting for 12 to 16 hours could see potential health benefits that could help both your mental and physical health, especially when it comes to those with diabetes. Eating breakfast is “part of the dogma that we’ve been fed,” Dr. Oz told TMZ recently. “The smartest thing we could do in (2020) is to cancel breakfast and have your first meal when you’re actually hungry.” He goes on to recommend that people just eat brunch everyday instead. System 20 advises people eat only between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., allowing them to drink black coffee when they wake up.

Breakfast fans beg to disagree

Not everyone is getting on the fasting bandwagon. Not only does this advice contradict previous advice from Dr. Oz. (10 Reasons You Should Never Skip Breakfast), but it’s also set off a backlash from breakfast lovers. Actor Mark Wahlberg who prides himself on eating two breakfasts a day to fuel his intense daily workouts is one objector. Wahlberg is currently engaged in a public Instagram debate with Dr. Oz on the subject.

Missing this first meal not recommended for kids

We asked some of our nutritionist contributors to weigh in on the subject. Lisa R. Young, PhD, RDN, says, as with most nutrition controversies, “there is not a one size fits all

Lisa R. Young says no for kids, but it’s fine for adults to wait till they’re hungry to eat their first meal of the day.

approach.” She goes on to say, “Children should most certainly eat breakfast when they wake up before heading to school. However, adults don’t have to eat breakfast right away in the morning if they are not hungry or are rushing off to work.  They are better off waiting to eat as opposed to shoveling some food in.” However, Young recommends adults eat something within several hours of waking up to keep blood sugar steady. “Even a snack or a mini breakfast,” she says. “A yogurt and berries or an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, for example, would be great options.” If it’s hard for you to find breakfast options that appeal to your kids, this Smart Lifebites story is packed with kid-friendly breakfast recipes. 

How can you anyone’s engine run well on empty?

Amanda Hernandez, MA, RD, says she doesn’t believe it’s beneficial to skip breakfast. “Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast gives you energy to power through your morning and

Beth Stark thinks eating breakfast helps people concentrate better.

without it, you may not feel as energized. Start the day with a breakfast loaded with fiber and protein to feel your best.”

Beth Stark, RDN, agrees, citing studies that show starting the day with a nutritious breakfast is likely to translate into better intake of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains throughout the day. “It also promotes better concentration, ability to focus and performance with problem-solving tasks which is critical for individuals when they’re on the job,” Stark says. “When you think about it, the latter definitely makes sense—just like cars don’t run well on empty, neither do our bodies function optimally without the proper fuel.”

A personal choice

Mia Syn thinks it’s up to you as long you’re staying within your daily calorie needs.

Mia Syn, MS, RDN, thinks that the decision to eat breakfast vs. brunch is up the individual.  “Eating breakfast versus brunch daily is a personal choice,” Syn says. “Some people feel hungry first thing in the morning and need food to fuel their AM workout or long commute while others fare fine on an empty stomach until brunch. As long as you are staying within your daily calorie needs for the day personalized to your age, gender, height, weight and activity level, there is no harm (or benefit) to starting your day with breakfast or a later brunch.”

So how do you feel about going without this morning meal? Are you an adamant breakfast eater or just as happy to skip it and go straight to brunch or lunch? Let us know! 

–Patty Yeager

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