Can eating breakfast help you get more active?


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You know the drill. Life gets busy. Life gets messy. You work late, get home later and hit snooze on the alarm one too many times the next morning. Make time to eat breakfast? You're lucky you got your butt to work.

But there's a reason why we keep telling you to try to stick to a routine, whether it means getting up at 6 a.m. to ensure you eat a bowl of oatmeal or a poached egg on whole wheat toast, or grab a yogurt and fruit once you get to the office. Researchers at the University of Bath analyzed the links between breakfast and health for people considered to be obese, and compared the results from a fasting group with a breakfasting group. What they found may motivate you to stop skipping the first meal of the day, even if you aren't necessarily overweight.


The most important meal of the day

While eating breakfast won't make you lose weight, it may help you become more active and, better still, may make exercising portion control throughout the rest of the day a little easier.

The study, from health scientists based within the university's Department for Health and published in the leading diet and nutrition journal the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that obese individuals who ate breakfast were more physically active in the mornings and reduced their food intake later in the day.

Increasing activity is one of the most important ways to improve health in our increasingly sedentary population.

"If weight loss is the key there is little to suggest that just having breakfast or skipping it will matter," explains Dr. James Betts, the lead researcher behind the study. "However, based on other markers of a healthy lifestyle, like being more active or controlling blood sugar levels, then there's evidence that breakfast may help."


Apples and oranges

For this study, the researchers just compared the effects of eating breakfast versus fasting. They allowed people to eat whatever they wanted for breakfast. But now, the team wants to conduct additional experiments comparing different breakfast types.

Eating a bowl of oatmeal and chasing it with a greasy sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, for example, is never going to yield the same health benefits as eating a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and a banana. In fact, if you're going to indulge in the greasy, albeit tasty, breakfast sandwich, you may as well skip the oatmeal.

The objective is to give your body good fuel so that you're more active and eat better throughout the rest of a long day. For this reason it's important to understand that the effects of a sugary cereal compared to a high protein breakfast are likely to be quite different. The team of researchers, therefore, hopes to narrow down the effects of different types of breakfast on health.