islamabad - Whether you eat porridge and fruit or bacon and eggs, breakfast is often hailed as the ‘most important meal of the day’.

But now, experts are questioning whether we should be eating breakfast at all - or whether it would be healthier to skip it. Studies show those who go without food in the morning do eat fewer calories over the whole day, but they also lack energy and may do less physical activity as a result without realising. Other research shows eating breakfast does kickstart digestion and fire up our metabolism, as well as helping the body regulate blood sugar levels. Dr James Betts, a senior lecturer in Nutrition, Metabolism and Statistics at the University of Bath and Dr Enhad Chowdhury,of the same university, have been studying the effects of eating or skipping breakfast. Here, they reveal the latest research on how eating breakfast affects the body.

In the middle of the last century, popular nutrition author Adelle Davis advised people to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Her advice stuck. Recent examination of the merits of adults eating breakfast has raised the question of whether we should indeed eat like kings at breakfast or just skip it all together. First of all, the ‘most important meal of the day’ is not a title anybody should give to any meal whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.

To attempt to arbitrarily define a specific meal as the most important is not sensible, but there are a few commonly held truths that may have contributed to breakfast receiving this rather lofty title. When considering these ideas, it becomes clear that some don’t have the weight of evidence you might expect. Here are some of the commonly asked questions about breakfast and some of the evidence. As you will see, it’s not a cut and dry issue.

Skipping breakfast causes the brain to be more responsive to sugary and fatty foods, and people often eat more at lunchtime if they skip breakfast. However, they still eat fewer calories overall Does skipping breakfast make you eat more? We know that skipping breakfast causes the brain to be more responsive to highly palatable foods and that people often eat more at lunchtime if they skip breakfast. But in laboratory situations and in more realistic investigations conducted with people going about their normal routines, most studies show that skipping breakfast results in lower total energy intake over the course of a day than eating breakfast.

They experience more hunger in the morning and compensate during lunch, but this is not usually enough to overshoot the effects of missing the meal. Eating in the morning kickstarts the metabolism by setting into motion a variety of biological processes associated with digesting food

Does breakfast ‘kick start’ your metabolism?

Eating sets a variety of biological processes associated with digesting and storing food into action, which result in increased energy expenditure known as diet induced thermogenesis (DIT). Those who skip breakfast makes people feel less-energetic so they reduce their levels of physical activity without consciously realising it (file photo) Higher proportions of protein can push this figure up, but even at its greatest, DIT might only account for about 15 per cent of what you eat.

But there might be more to this than just the increased metabolism due to digestion.

New evidence found that those assigned to eat breakfast used more energy through physical activity (in particular during the morning) than those fasting. So it might be that skipping breakfast makes people feel less energetic so they reduce their levels of physical activity, without consciously realising it.

Skipping breakfast is associated with greater weight and increased fatness over time. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that skipping breakfast causes the weight gain. It could be that eating breakfast is simply a marker of a healthy lifestyle and, in itself, doesn’t protect against obesity.

Skipping breakfast is associated with greater weight over time, but the studies showing this link are not able to identify cause and effect. It could be eating breakfast is a mark of a healthy lifestyle, researchers said.