10 Harmful Effects Of Skipping Breakfast 

Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is all you need to stay active throughout.

Reviewed by Ritika Dass, MSc (Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics) Ritika Dass Ritika DassMSc (Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics) facebook_iconlinkedin_icon
Written by , Health & Wellness Writer Tanya Choudhary Health & Wellness Writer twitter_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , Senior Editor Arshiya Syeda Senior Editor Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , Health & Wellness Writer Himanshi Mahajan Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 2 years

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for good reason. You are breaking the fast your body went through the night and fuelling it with essential nutrients to get your day started. While some enjoy a hearty breakfast in the morning, some may skip their breakfast due to waking up late or having no time to rush to work. Amy S. Margulies, RD, CDCES, LDN, NBC-HWC, says, “The morning is a busy time! When you are trying to get yourself to work, even when working from home, or taking your kids to daycare or school, time for you to eat breakfast is not going to naturally occur. It takes conscious effort to make sure you provide yourself with the time to sit down at a table, in a chair, and enjoy at least 15 minutes to consume a well-balanced breakfast.”
In this article, we explore 10 effects of skipping breakfast and why it does more harm than good. Keeping reading to know more.

Why Breakfast Is Important

Breakfast is a vital meal of the day for various reasons.

A good breakfast, especially one that is protein-rich, helps jumpstart your metabolism (1). Skipping breakfast may slow your metabolism down and make weight loss much harder.

A well-rounded breakfast provides essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs to function optimally. Breakfast also stabilizes blood sugar levels and prevents energy slumps and mid-morning cravings (1). More importantly, it sets the tone for healthier eating habits and reduces chances of any overindulgences later in the day.

Skipping breakfast may lead to a few unpleasant effects. Learn more about them below.

Effects Of Skipping Breakfast

Mary Sabat, RD, LD, says, “If people skip breakfast, they are more likely to overeat later in the evening or nighttime when their bodies don’t need the extra calories. This late-night eating can lead to insulin spikes before bed and put them into fat storage at night.”

In a 2021 survey conducted with 11924 US adults, 39% had their breakfast every day (40% male and 38% females), 11% had it once or twice a week (12% males and 11% females), while 10% of respondents always skipped breakfast (9% males and 12% females).

Keep scrolling to understand the effects of skipping breakfast.

1. Bad For Your Heart

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According to a study published in JAMA, men who skip breakfast have about 27% more chances of sustaining a heart attack when compared to those who eat breakfast. Dr. Leah Cahill, who led the research, tells that the rate of risk is not so worrisome. But she also supports the fact that indulging in a healthy breakfast could actually curb the risk of heart attacks. (2)

People who avoid breakfast are also known to have an increased susceptibility to hypertension in turn, leading to clogging of arteries. This, on the other hand, puts them at an increased risk of heart diseases and stroke.

2. Higher Risk Of Type-2 Diabetes

Harvard University School of Public Health conducted a study that aimed to find a correlation between eating habits and health. 46,289 women participated in the research conducted for about six years. The results of the study were amazing. According to the outcome, women who had the habit of avoiding breakfast were at a higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes, than women who had their daily breakfast.

Skipping breakfast may affect the genes involved in the circadian clock and metabolism and leads to elevating postprandial sugars. However, quality research is warranted in this regard.

Even worse, working women who skipped their morning meals had 54% more chances of developing Type 2 diabetes [4]

3. Skipping Breakfast Might Cause Weight Gain

If you are on a weight loss regimen and have the habit of skipping breakfast, give it a second thought now. According to the studies conducted on the negative impacts of not eating breakfast, people who miss the morning meal had higher chances of gaining weight, quite contrary to your slimming goal. Are you confused? Just read on.

Those who skip breakfast tend to consume more calories, saturated fat, and simple sugars during lunch and dinner.

Dominique Andreoli, MS, a nutritionist, says, “Skipping breakfast can disrupt hormone levels, including the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin, which can lead to overeating later in the day. Additionally, skipping breakfast will raise the stress hormone, cortisol.”

Elizabeth Quinn, CNS, FMCHC, says, “When you skip breakfast, you are in a calorie deficit for the rest of the day. Your body will get that energy one way or another. The hungrier you get, the less willpower you will have. Now you will start to think of all those foods that you crave.”

Skipping breakfast peps up the craving for sugary and fatty foods. Plus, since your hunger pangs will quite be intense, you end up gorging down whatever you come across during the day. The higher your hunger levels are, the more the quantity of food intake will be, which will result in overeating later in the day. And, this at times exceeds your recommended daily calorie intake. A constant practice of skipping breakfast will finally lead to weight gain and not weight loss [3]

protip_icon Quick Tip
Individuals who follow intermittent fasting for weight loss or other benefits may skip dinner to start their fasting window around sunset and break it early instead of skipping breakfast the following morning.

4. Negative Impact On Mood And Energy Levels

A moody woman lying on her couch empty stomach
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According to a study that appeared in a journal called Physiological Behavior in 1999, avoiding breakfast can have negative impacts on energy and mood. The British research team did a study on 144 healthy people who underwent overnight fasting. The group was divided into three. One group was given a healthy, moderate breakfast, second group only coffee, and the third group was not given breakfast. The groups were then monitored for a couple of hours. According to the study, the group who were not given breakfast showcased the poorest memory skills and highest fatigue levels. There was no significant difference between the other two groups.

The baseline: Avoiding breakfast could swish down your energy levels and negatively impact your memory. [5]

5. Risk Of Cancer

Skipping breakfast can make you overindulge in food during the day time. This in turn paves the way for the increased prevalence of obesity. [6] According to research that was conducted by Cancer Research UK, it was found out that a person who is overweight or obese has an increased risk of developing cancer [7]

6. Affects Cognitive Functioning

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Including breakfast in your daily diet regimen bestows you with better cognitive functioning. A study was conducted on a group of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 in two trials. In one of the trials, the group was allowed to have breakfast, and in the second trial, the group was asked to refrain from the morning meal. The results were interesting. The group, when on a breakfast regimen, showcased better accuracy in a visual search test, while lack of breakfast showed poor concentration, which hampered the results.

The finding: Inclusion of breakfast gives the cognitive function a boost [8] While the study was conducted on adolescents, it can easily be extended to adults too.

7. Could Cause Migraines

Hypoglycemia is the medical term used to indicate low levels of blood sugar. Skipping meals trigger a massive dip in sugar levels, in turn, triggering the release of hormones that could compensate for the low glucose levels. on the other hand, increases blood pressure levels, triggering migraines and headaches. [9]

The incidence is higher when you skip breakfast, as it is the first meal of the day you are consuming after nearly 12 hours of fasting. So, if you want to keep those headaches away, do ensure that you eat your breakfast.

8. Triggers Hair Loss

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One of the major side effects of skipping breakfast results is hair loss. Yes, a meal that contains dangerously low levels of protein could affect the levels of keratin, averting hair growth and triggering hair loss. Breakfast is the quintessential meal of any day and has a major role in promoting the growth of hair follicles. [10]. So, if you wish to enjoy lush, strong hair with zero hair fall, then you ought to indulge in a protein-rich breakfast daily.

9. Could Affect Your Metabolism

Will your car ever start if there is no fuel? No, right? Similarly, you need breakfast to give your metabolism a jump start. It is the first meal of the day you are feeding your body with, after its rest for about 12 hours. According to various studies conducted on the importance of breakfast, people who eat this meal have a higher level of resting metabolism. [11]

10. Worsens Hangover

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It is perfectly fine if you overdid on your alcohol consumption the previous night. You can use a nourishing breakfast to ward off your hangover. A healthy breakfast rich in iron, folate, and other minerals and vitamins will help your body to compensate for the lost nutrients. It will also kick up your energy levels [12].

Just remember this – skipping breakfast could worsen the hangover by bringing down the sugar levels, causing headaches and nausea [13], inviting headaches and nausea. So, just have a healthy breakfast to overcome your hangover.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Protein-rich breakfast options include eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, nut butters, cheese, black beans, sausage, and low-fat meats.

Infographic: Most Harmful Effects Of Skipping Breakfast

Skipping breakfast is probably one of the worst things you can do to your body. After a full night of rest and fasting, treating your body with a proper breakfast is a must. If you think you can manage without breakfast, see the infographic below to know its harmful effects.

most harmful effects of skipping breakfast (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

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Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day. However, not many take it seriously, and studies suggest that the effects of skipping breakfast can be serious. For example, those who skip breakfast were found to be at a greater risk of heart attack, type-2 diabetes, weight gain, cancer, cognitive decline, migraine, hair loss, irritability, and metabolic disorders. It may also lead to low energy levels and mood swings, which may impact your activities during the rest of the day. So, have a breakfast that is as nutrient-dense as possible to fuel your body and stay active.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which meal is best to skip?

According to Margulies, “There is no recommended meal that is best to skip. Often, skipping a meal increases your level of hunger for the next meal, causing you to overeat at that meal, or even indulge in a less healthy, calorie-laden snack before your next meal.” However, if you had to pick one, Quinn adds, “The evening meal is the best one to skip. Frontloading your calories and protein at the beginning of the day gives you the energy to function and build muscle throughout the day. Then, you have a long overnight period (at least 8-10 hours) where your digestive tract is able to rest and do housekeeping.”

Does skipping breakfast cause brain damage?

Yes. Skipping or the intake of low-quality breakfast may cause decreased cognitive function, resulting in slow response (14). It may also lead to brain damage. However, limited data is available to prove this claim.

Do I really need breakfast?

Yes. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can help boost your metabolism. It also keeps you more focused and alert.

Key Takeaways

  • Avoiding your breakfast increases the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes.
  • Skipping your breakfast may lead to weight gain due to the tendency to eat more.
  • Avoiding your breakfast lowers your blood sugar levels, leading to migraines and headaches.
  • Skipping your breakfast daily also impacts memory, reduces energy levels, and puts you in a bad mood.

Explore the surprising side effects of skipping breakfast. From energy crashes to impaired concentration, click on this video to discover why breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day.
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