New Insights Into the Importance of Breakfast

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Do you need to eat breakfast every single day?

For decades the conventional wisdom has been that eating breakfast kick starts one's metabolism.

A new op-ed in The New York Times turns that idea on its head. The author, Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, writes, “Our belief in the power of breakfast is based on misinterpreted research and biased studies.”

In the column titled, “Sorry, There’s Nothing Magical About Breakfast,” Carroll writes that breakfast has “no mystical powers” and should simply be eaten if a person is hungry after waking up.

ABC News Chief Women’s Health Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said today on “Good Morning America” that Carroll is correct that breakfast is not a one-size-fits-all meal.

“This concept that your body needs to eat as soon as you’re vertical because it’s in a fast, that is a complete myth,” said Ashton, who recently earned a master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University.

“From a medical and nutritional standpoint, we have to understand, the body doesn’t really enter a fasting mode until you’ve been without food for like 36 or more hours,” Ashton said. “Your liver is always supplying glucose into your bloodstream so this is an individual preference.”

Ashton said the studies that have linked breakfast to weight and good health were based on association and not causation, two different measures in scientific study.

Ashton said her personal preference is to eat in the morning. She usually goes for eggs on Wasa toast, Greek yogurt with Chia seeds or a homemade smoothie.

She has similar advice for her patients.

“I say, ‘Look, if you’re going to make bad choices because you’re ravenous and you don’t eat breakfast, then you should eat breakfast, but it should be smart. It should be simple. It should be sustainable,’” Ashton said.

Have more breakfast questions? Ask Dr. Ashton on Twitter.

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