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Entries in satiety (6)


CLAIM #1: Breakfast Boosts Your Metabolism... (#1 of 9 "Boost Your Metabolism" Claims that are Actually False)

Metabolism-boosting hype generally has a grain of truth behind it that has been way overblown. In other cases, long disproved theories continue to be touted because they are super effective as click-bait (or selling books). You rarely see any actual numbers -- how many calories per day will this raise my resting metabolic rate? -- attached to claims. That’s because for the most part the actual increase in resting metabolic rate (or other components of your daily total energy expenditure), is too small to be of any practical significance.

Metabolism mythology has a life of its own though as it gets regurgitated and reposted throughout the internet and fad-diet books (and unfortunately even by many otherwise reputable sources).

Each of the following false and misleading "Boost Your Metabolism" topics will be discussed in a separate blog over the next couple weeks (not necessarily in this order): Breakfast, Build Muscle, Meal Frequency, Water, Cheat Meals, EPOC, Hot Peppers, MCTs, and Eating after 7pm.

Myth #1: Breakfast boosts your metabolism.

Claims and advice that eating breakfast in some way promotes weight management continue to be doled out despite a lack of evidential support.[i] This problem is so pervasive that it was the topic of a 2013 scientific paper (by highly respected researchers from University of Alabama at Birmingham's NIH-funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center) basically admonishing the scientific community for biased research, and calling on it to do better.[ii]

Some of the false claims regarding breakfast:

CLAIM: Your metabolism will be higher all day if you start with breakfast

The FACTs: the metabolic response to eating breakfast is not different than that to eating food at any time later in the day.[iii] Digesting and assimilating what you eat is called the thermic effect of food (TEF), and by definition TEF is measured as the energy expenditure above resting metabolic rate in response to eating.[iv] [v]

CLAIM: Skipping breakfast leads to overeating later in the day.

The FACTs:  When breakfast is omitted from the daily meal pattern (skipped) calorie intake at the end of the day is generally lower. In other words, the calories missed at breakfast are not completely offset by eating more at lunch or dinner. So at the end of the day an energy deficit remains.

CLAIM: Skipping breakfast makes you hungry.

The FACTs: The effect of breakfast on satiety is transient and not more advantageous than the next meal of the day provides independent of breakfast.[iv]  Note however, that habitual breakfast-eaters and habitual breakfast-skippers respond differently. That's because your body adjusts to the pattern you usually follow so that it "expects," that pattern. So if you usually eat breakfast, and you try skipping it you’re going to be extra hungry for lunch. On the other hand, breakfast skippers aren’t hungry for breakfast to begin with, and eating breakfast is like a curve ball disrupting their system in a different way (which may be why some people claim that eating breakfast makes them more hungry).

Evidence (from well done randomized controlled trials) does seem to show:

  • That breakfast eaters may have higher morning physical activity levels (via less sitting/more moving around) compared to breakfast skippers.[vi]
  • People who regularly eat breakfast tend not to be night eaters, so they are hungry when they get up.
  • Habitual breakfast eaters also tend to be non-smokers, consume less fat and alcohol but more fiber and micronutrients, and are more physically active.[vii]

Clearly, trying to attribute differences in BMI between breakfast eaters, or skippers, is not a straightforward endeavor.

It is important to note that for diabetics eating breakfast results in lower insulin and blood glucose levels for the rest of the day. So, it is very important that diabetics eat breakfast.

For everybody else, you can stick with what works for you because eating breakfast does NOT increase your (resting) metabolism, improve appetite regulation, or reduce overall energy intake. TEF from breakfast is no different, and provides no advantage over, the TEF from any other meal.

The problem with boost-your-metabolism myths is that they distract you from focusing on what actually works, and propagate the notion that there are simple tricks or magical methods that promote weight loss. The best advice remains to be: eat a healthy diet, but not too much, and make activity a part of your day.

All the best!



[i] Meal skipping and variables related to energy balance in adults: a brief review, with emphasis on the breakfast meal. McCrory, MA. Physiol Behav 2014;134:51-54.

[ii] Belief beyond the evidence: using the proposed effect of breakfast on obesity to show 2 practices that distort scientific evidence. Brown, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;98:1298-1308.

[iii] The Energy Content and Composition of Meals Consumed after an Overnight Fast and Their Effects on Diet Induced Thermogenesis: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analyses and Meta-Regressions. Quatela, et al. Nutrients 2016;8(11)670.

[iv] The effect of breakfast on appetite regulation, energy balance and exercise performance. Clayton and Lewis. Proc Nutr Soc 2016;75(3):319-327.

[v] Effect of breakfast skipping on diurnal variation of energy metabolism and blood glucose. Kobayashi, et al. Obes Res Clin Prac 2014;8(3):e201-98.

[vii] The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. Dhurandhar et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100:507–13.

[viii] The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in lean adults. Betts, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100:539-547.



Is what you're drinking helping or hindering your weight loss efforts?

What you drink does impact your calorie intake. The average American currently derives 21% of their caloric intake from beverages, which adds up to a whopping 464 calories a day! The majority of those are empty-calories coming from sweetened beverages.[i]

For a little perspective, decades ago, the earliest soft drinks were sold in 6.5-oz bottles (78-calories) and were a very occasional treat. Today the average soft drink serving is 21-ounces (up from 13.6 oz. in 1977), and clocks in at a whopping 252-calories. Not only that, but over the same time frame servings per day increased from 1.96 to 2.39.

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Which Protein Foods are Best at Keeping Hunger Away?

Knowing something about appetite regulation will support your efforts at eating fewer calories over the course of the day, which translates directly into better success with weight loss or maintenance.

As I discussed in my recent blog 5 Things you Need to Know about Protein for Healthy Weight Loss  protein "stays with you longer" than "carbs" or fat. This characteristic of protein supports your efforts at eating fewer calories over the course of the day. That however is not the end of the story.

We also need to also look at which types of protein are most and least satiating. The first example is liquid proteins, which are a complete exception to the rule. Liquid proteins are NOT more satiating than the other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fat).

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5 Things You Need to Know about Protein for Healthy Weight Loss

How healthy is the diet you’re choosing? When you’re looking at fad diets odds are you’re not thinking much about the potential health consequences of the suggested regime. You might think, “Oh what’s the possible harm?” Or, “I’m only going to do this for a short time.” Dieting however isn’t risk free; here are a few things--just regarding protein--to think about.

Protein helps with important components of healthy successful weight loss.

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The Dukan Diet: 5 things to know

The Dukan Diet--another twist on high-protein/low-carb--is one of the latest best sellers among fad-diet books. Fad diets are always sold as some magical breakthrough, or magical combination of eating the "right things, in the right way." The reality is that high-protein diets date back over 150 years (to 1860!), and if they actually worked--in the long term--we wouldn't have two-thirds of our population overweight or obese.

Here's five things to think about before choosing to take the plunge:

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