Breakfast Is Toast

Science sticks a fork in the Special K Way

Every morning, my husband Doug gets up early enough to make himself breakfast. Not just coffee and toast, but a real old-fashioned breakfast—a bowl of cereal and fruit, then an egg-white omelet, or French toast, or sausage and hash browns. While he does this, I sleep. I love breakfast, but I love sleep more. I have a cup of coffee when I finally do rise, then head for the office, where I’ll have a mid-morning snack of an orange, maybe, if I remember to bring one. Otherwise, I just wait it out until lunch.

This is a very, very bad way to eat.

I know this because I’ve been told all my life: Eat a good breakfast! It will get your day off to a better start! It’s how you get your engine revving! It’s the most important meal! You’ll eat less the rest of the day when you begin with breakfast! And it only makes sense. If you skip breakfast, you’ll be starving for lunch, and you’ll eat more than you would have if you’d started out with a nice, sensible bowl of Special K and milk. You might even eat more for dinner—rationalizing having, say, an extra serving of potatoes au gratin, or a brownie, by telling yourself, “Well, I missed breakfast, so I deserve a treat.”

Well, guess what? Conventional wisdom is once again wrong. A study by German scientists, published in Nutrition Journal, shows that it doesn’t make a single bit of difference whether you eat a big healthy breakfast, a scone on the run, or just that cup of black coffee I gulp down—you’ll consume the same number of calories throughout the rest of the day no matter what. In other words, if you eat breakfast, those calories just tack on as extra. We don’t “compensate” by reducing the rest of our daily intake.

The study looked at 380 obese and normally weighted subjects, and the results were the same in both groups. The senior author, Dr. Volker Schusdziarra of the Technical University of Munich, says he never advises anybody to start the day with bacon and eggs, or even granola and yogurt: “Eating breakfast is just added calories.” Who knew?

One less thing to feel guilty about in life—hooray! Excuse me now; I’m going back to bed.