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Why Skipping Breakfast is Dangerous to Your Health

Maybe some coffee is all we can stomach when we first wake up. It takes a little while to get revved up and ready to eat breakfast, and by the time that happens, it’s noon already. Find out the impact that skipping breakfast can have on your health.

Why Skipping Breakfast is Dangerous to Your Health

If you're thinking about skipping breakfast – and around 25% of Americans already do – here's why you should think again. To be fair, some of us just don't have much of an appetite in the morning. Maybe some coffee is all we can stomach when we first wake up. It takes a little while to get revved up and ready to eat breakfast, and by the time that happens, it's noon already. Skipping breakfast is very common in people who have diabetes as well – as their blood sugars and insulin levels can sometimes be elevated in the morning (known as the 'dawn phenomenon'). This means they are less likely to feel hungry upon waking, and more likely to skip breakfast – which could be quite dangerous.

With diabetes, blood sugar control is everything. That's because maintaining a normal blood sugar is the absolute best way to prevent or delay complications that arise from having diabetes, like heart disease, kidney disease, and obesity. The problem is – skipping breakfast and waiting until noon to eat makes controlling blood sugars in diabetes much more challenging, and could be dangerous.

The Effect of Skipping Breakfast on Blood Sugar Control

A study was conducted in diabetics who skip breakfast and then compared these individuals to people with diabetes who do not skip breakfast. Researchers evaluated the impact of skipping breakfast on blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity differences between these two groups. What they found is convincing evidence that it's a good idea for people with diabetes to eat breakfast, and dangerous for long-term health to skip breakfast.

According to the study, skipping breakfast has been consistently linked to higher HbA1c levels and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) after eating in patients with type 2 diabetes. But they wanted to determine exactly what happens with blood sugars immediately after eating lunch and dinner and how a sensitivity to insulin changes.

What they found is that skipping breakfast increases blood sugars an average of 36 points higher after lunch and dinner, along with an impaired insulin response. An impaired glucose response means that less insulin is functioning to shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream, causing blood glucose levels to remain high. This study shows the long-term influence of breakfast on glucose regulation that continues throughout the day. So skipping breakfast is not a good idea – and could be dangerous for people with diabetes.

Eating breakfast every day can likely be a successful strategy for reduction of high blood glucose levels after eating in people who have type 2 diabetes.

Breakfasts for People Who Don't Enjoy Breakfasts

In order to make breakfast easier to stomach – try making a light smoothie with added protein powder to help stabilize blood sugars throughout the day. Sometimes drinking breakfast is a little easier to handle if you normally skip it. Add coffee to a chocolate-flavored protein smoothie to jazz it up a notch and get two-for-one in the morning. Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or whole grain granola can be a great way to start incorporating a light breakfast into your day.

If cooking is not an option for you during the day – try making egg-ham-and-cheese quiche-like muffins that you can reheat in the morning, and take with you on the go. Add a few veggies to make it a nutrient powerhouse breakfast.

Exercise can help increase your morning appetite – especially weight lifting or other kinds of resistance exercise like kettle bells, pushups, sit-ups, and standing squats. Do a few of these in the morning to help get the blood flowing and wake your body up to prepare for a meal. Taking a shower first, and drinking some water with lemon juice may help wake up your stomach to prepare for breakfast food as well.


Daniela Jakubowicz, Julio Wainstein, Bo Ahren, Zohar Landau, Yosefa Bar-Dayan and Oren Froy. Fasting Until Noon Triggers Increased Postprandial Hyperglycemia and Impaired Insulin Response After Lunch and Dinner in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Diabetes Care Published online before print July 28, 2015, doi: 10.2337/dc15-0761

Zilberter T, Zilberter EY. Breakfast: To Skip or Not to Skip? Frontiers in Public Health. 2014;2:59.doi:10.3389/fpubh.2014.00059.

Sarah Asay's Photo
Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on December 30, 2015. Updated on January 14, 2016.


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