ua en ru

Consequences of skipping breakfast: What happens to your body

Consequences of skipping breakfast: What happens to your body Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

Many Ukrainians unintentionally skip breakfast because they simply don't have enough time to eat properly before work. Conversely, some consciously avoid the morning meal, believing it aids weight loss. But what happens to the body if breakfast is regularly skipped, and is it worth doing? The answer to this question is provided by Eat This, Not That.

Destabilization of blood sugar levels

Without a well-balanced breakfast, blood sugar levels may drop, leading to fatigue, irritability, and an inability to focus. According to a 2019 study, skipping breakfast led to increased blood sugar levels and worsened control.

"Since you're fasting all night while sleeping, your blood sugar is already naturally dipping [after waking]. If you don't bring it back up by eating a well-balanced breakfast, your blood sugar will continue to drop throughout the morning," says dietitian Caroline Young.

Over time, this may result in significant blood sugar fluctuations and instability, potentially causing pre-diabetes or diabetes. Studies indicate that skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Decreased attention span

Breakfast provides necessary nutrients that the brain requires for focused work. Skipping this meal can lead to worsened concentration and a foggy mental state. A 2017 study revealed that participants who skipped or consumed an unhealthy breakfast had poorer cognitive performance throughout the day compared to those who had a healthy breakfast.

"Breakfast provides the body and brain with essential nutrients and energy after a night of fasting. For some individuals, skipping breakfast may lead to decreased cognitive performance, including difficulties with concentration, memory, and problem-solving," explains dietitian Trista Best.

Slowed metabolism

The body expects calories in the morning, so skipping breakfast may negatively impact metabolism. Research shows that the body may adapt by slowing down metabolism, potentially resulting in weight gain.

"Regular meals, including breakfast, play a role in maintaining a balanced metabolism. Skipping breakfast may disrupt this balance, potentially affecting the body's ability to use efficiently and store energy," says Best.

Improper hunger signals

Skipping breakfast can lead to strong cravings later in the day, potentially causing overeating and complicating adherence to a balanced diet.

"Your body seeks equilibrium, so skipping breakfast may lead to more cravings or binging later in the day as your body tries to make up for the missing calories," notes dietitian Sara Schlichter.

According to her, research has shown that those who skip breakfast consume more carbohydrates, overall sugar, and total fat than those who eat breakfast.

Increased сortisol levels

The stress hormone cortisol responds not only to emotional stress but also to physiological stress caused by skipping meals. According to a systematic review in the journal Nutrients from 2021, skipping breakfast may elevate morning cortisol levels, potentially increasing appetite and impacting sleep quality.

"For your nervous system to be regulated, it needs adequate nourishment. So, when you skip breakfast, your body is more likely to go into a dysregulated state, such as fight-or-flight, which comes with anxiety, elevated heart rate, and irritability," explains Young.

Decreased energy levels

Breakfast fuels the body with the necessary energy to activate metabolic processes and obtain energy for daily activities. Skipping breakfast may cause a sharp drop in blood sugar levels, leaving you fatigued, sluggish, and irritable.

"Since eating is what gives us literal energy (calories break down into ATP), continuing your fast from overnight by not eating breakfast may lead to extra fatigue, fogginess, headaches, mood swings, and poor cognitive performance," says Schlichter.

Previously, we wrote about 7 products that strengthen health in winter as much as supplements.

Also, read about 5 teas that help get rid of belly fat.