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Is It Good to Have a Heavy Breakfast?

Rahul Pandita
There has been an ambiguity among dietitians and nutritionists on the issue of having a heavy breakfast. Two of the most widely publicized reports in the past have contrary views about having a big meal early in the morning. We will take a look at both sides of the argument in a bid to ascertain whether it is good to have a heavy breakfast or not.

Heavy or Light?

The popular perception of having a heavy breakfast gained further credibility when a team of researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University conducted a research in 2008 and found out that heavy breakfast helped in weight loss.

Another study in 2011, at the University of Munich, found out that eating a heavy breakfast led to an increase in the total calorie intake per day, which could cause an increase in weight.
Over the years, there has been a constant debate on the merits and demerits of eating a heavy breakfast. Numerous reports have been published in journals and health magazines on whether a heavy breakfast is good for health, but it can be said that the jury is still out on this.
We cannot conclusively say that having a heavy breakfast is good for health because there has been no consensus among researchers on this issue. Surveys which have come out with their findings have done so by selecting a small group of people, and holding them as a representative of the whole population.
As a result of this, there are conflicting views about the benefits of having a heavy breakfast.

In the following paragraphs, we will be taking a look at the arguments and counterarguments on whether a big, sumptuous breakfast does any good to our health or not.
Argument: Heavy Breakfast is Good for Health
Nutritionists have been advising people to have a heavy breakfast to keep their weight in check.
One of the most widely-known reports on the positive effect of a heavy breakfast on health was conducted by a group of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University. The researchers were led by Daniela Jakubowicz, M.D., who also came out with a book on this subject, The Big Breakfast Findings.
Researchers conducted an eight-month study on 94 overweight women. The women were divided between two groups. One group was made to eat a breakfast consisting of a diet rich in carbohydrates and proteins, while the other group was given a low-carbohydrate breakfast.
After observing both the groups over a period of eight months, the researchers found that women who ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast had not only been able to keep their weight in check, but they also lost a few pounds. On the other hand, the group of women who ate low-carbohydrate breakfast were found to have gained weight in the ensuing period.
According to Daniela Jakubowicz, one should have a heavy breakfast in the morning, as it reduces the cravings for carbohydrates later in the day. In her book, she has mentioned that one should look to include protein-rich food in the breakfast to curb the desire of binge eating later in the day.
But what is most surprising about her advice is that she thinks it is OK to have sweets in the breakfast! While most nutritionists are wary of any kind of sweet food in any meal, this book takes a completely unorthodox view and encourages having a doughnut or a piece of cake during breakfast.
Verdict: According to the survey conducted by researchers led by Daniela Jakubowicz, M.D, at the Virginia Commonwealth University, it is good to have a heavy breakfast.
Counterargument: Heavy Breakfast is Bad for Health
The study conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University was released in 2008.
It wasn't as if the findings of the study were unanimously accepted by everyone. Just after its release, numerous health experts and researchers questioned the findings of the study. Another study, the findings of which were published in the Nutrition Journal in 2011, said that having a heavy breakfast was detrimental to one's health.
The study was carried out by a group of German researchers led by Dr. Volker Schusdziarra of the Else-Kröner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine, Technical University of Munich. The study was conducted on 280 obese or overweight respondents and 100 normal weight people.
The obese or overweight people were asked to maintain a food diary for 10 days prior to the start of the therapy. Normal-weight respondents were told to maintain the diary for 14 days. All the 380 people did not follow a fixed diet schedule, i.e., on some days, they had a high-calorie breakfast, and on other days, they had a low-calorie breakfast.
The study found out that in spite of having a heavy breakfast, there was no reduction in the calorie intake among respondents during lunch and dinner. In other words, having a heavy breakfast only led to an increase in the total intake of calories per day.
Verdict: According to the survey conducted by German researchers led by Dr. Volker Schusdziarra of the Else-Kroner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine, Technical University of Munich, having a heavy breakfast will increase the total calorie intake per day, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
The Ideal Breakfast
As you can see, both the reports mentioned above have a completely different viewpoint on whether or not one should have a heavy breakfast. Health experts and nutritionists around the world always ask people not to skip a breakfast.
Eating heavily, whether in the morning or at night, will cause an excess intake of calories; therefore, it is very important to have a balanced diet.
Most dietitians around the world agree to the fact that having four to five moderate meals is better than gorging at one go. When you pace your meals throughout the day, you give your body adequate time to digest the food properly. Eating heavily can cause indigestion and other related problems.
Your breakfast should ideally be made up of a lot of proteins and a few carbohydrates and fats. Some foods that you can include in your breakfast are:
  • Cereals
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Fruits
  • Fish and Eggs
  • Milk (fat-free)
There is no unambiguous answer to whether eating a heavy breakfast is good for health or not. There are as many proponents of heavy breakfast as there are opponents. There is a lot of further research that needs to be done in this regard so that a consensus is built on this subject. Until then, it is our suggestion to have breakfast daily and make sure that it comprises all the essential components of a balanced diet.