Strange Things That Can Happen To Your Body When You Skip Eating Breakfast

Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day, and with good reason. According to Rush University Medical Center, breakfast gives your metabolism a boost, lowers your body mass index, or BMI, and can help you consume less fat throughout the day. However, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that almost a quarter of people in America pass on breakfast every morning.

There are a few reasons why people tend to hold off on breakfast, according to Gunderson Health System. These range from not being hungry to not having time to simply not liking breakfast foods. However, whatever the reason may be, skipping breakfast can have a detrimental effect on your body and impact everything from your concentration to how quickly and efficiently you burn calories. If you don't like traditional foods, you could even consider having leftovers from the night before or making something simple like peanut butter and jelly. If you avoid breakfast, you could be affecting your body in some surprising ways.

Your energy level goes down

Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the main source of energy for our bodies (via ReAgent). In fact, all biological organisms rely on glucose as their primary energy source. When we eat, the food is primarily broken down into glucose, which then travels to your cells to get you up and moving. Without glucose, our brains, muscles, and other organs wouldn't be able to function, so it's critical to our diet. 

Some of the glucose you consume is stored in the liver in a form known as glycogen (via Better Health). At night or whenever you're not eating for an extended period of time, the liver turns glycogen back into glucose to keep your blood sugar in check. As a result, when you wake up, your glycogen levels are low, and eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast is an ideal way to bring everything back in line. 

For women, it could impact your hormones

In the morning, women's cortisol levels begin to rise, continuing to rise until the afternoon before declining by the end of the day (via Rescripted). Eating breakfast helps to keep those cortisol levels regulated, so passing over a meal can cause that spike to occur later in the day than it ordinarily would. This can make it difficult to sleep at night, and also make the production and metabolism of estrogen more difficult. In addition, skipping breakfast can affect levels of leptin, which can make it harder to feel full. As a result, women who skip breakfast may feel cravings throughout the day for high-sugar and high-carbohydrate foods. 

According to a 2015 study published in Physiology & Behavior, women who skipped breakfast showed a larger cortisol reaction at lunchtime than those who has breakfast. Additionally, these women also showed elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. This study showed that skipping breakfast could lead to physical issues, including heart attack or stroke. 

Your heart could be at risk

Skipping breakfast could impact the levels of LDL cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, in your body. A 2023 study published in Nutrients revealed that the combination of going to bed late and then skipping breakfast the following morning contributed to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in men. The study also showed that skipping breakfast could also lead to metabolic syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, metabolic syndrome is a number of conditions that include high blood pressure, excess body fat, and high cholesterol. 

The negative impacts of skipping breakfast were reinforced by a 2019 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. According to that study, people who didn't eat a morning meal were 87% more likely to die from a stroke or cardiovascular disease than those who took the time to eat breakfast. The study also showed that people who passed on breakfast also tended to be overweight, drink heavily, and have poor dietary habits. All of these factors could contribute to heart problems down the line. 

Your blood sugar levels could be impacted

Breakfast won't just fill you up in the morning and get you going for the day; it could also have long-term effects on your overall health. According to a 2023 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, there is a connection between eating an early breakfast and a 59% lower risk of developing diabetes. People who ate after nine in the morning ran a higher risk of developing diabetes than those who ate before eight. 

In addition to these findings, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that people who skip breakfast for up to five days saw a 55% increase in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In part, this risk was exacerbated by a higher body mass index, or BMI. A 2015 study published in Obesity showed that women who were overweight and skipped breakfast saw their insulin and glucose levels rise on days where they skipped breakfast versus days when they did not. 

You could gain weight

Many people believe that passing on breakfast and eating later in the day may be a good way to create a calorie deficit. However, you may only be setting yourself up for failure later in the day. According to Atrium Health, if you skip breakfast, the calories you save earlier in the day will just come back to bite you later, as your hunger will increase. As a result, you may find yourself eating more fatty foods throughout the day to fill you up. 

Additionally, a 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition corroborated these findings by revealing that people who don't eat in the morning tend to consume larger and larger amounts of food as the day progresses. A 2018 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition links the consumption of breakfast with augmenting appetite and eating behavior. People who skipped breakfast reported having a larger appetite and feeling less full throughout the day as opposed to those who made time for breakfast in the morning.

It may be hard to concentrate

Starting off your day with a good meal may be just the thing you need to kickstart your brain and sharpen your mind. A 2008 study published in Appetite demonstrated the power of breakfast on the brain. The study showed a link between the consumption of glucose- and carbohydrate-rich foods and both short- and long-term memory performance. Those who took part in the study felt better, were able to think more clearly, and had improved moods as opposed to when they skipped breakfast. 

In particular, young people can benefit the most from a healthy breakfast in the morning, according to a 2005 study published in Physiology & Behavior. The study showed improved cognitive performance, particularly with complex visual tasks, after consuming breakfast. In younger children between six and eight years old, consuming breakfast led to better spatial and short-term memory, as well as the ability to listen better following breakfast. 

Your moods can change

It's not just your body that will thank you for breakfast, it's also your mind. A 2020 study published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity linked passing on breakfast to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and decreased levels of happiness. The reason for this is the fact that breakfast foods are loaded with nutrients that are good for the brain, including omega-3 fatty acids and B-vitamins. WIthout these nutrients in the morning, you could be setting yourself up for mood swings as the day goes on. 

Additionally, a 2019 study published in Psychiatry Research showed that workers who skipped breakfast at least once a week showed more depressive symptoms than those who ate breakfast every day. There were a number of reasons that could be the cause of these symptoms, including a lower level of cortisol. In addition, skipping breakfast could throw off a person's circadian clock, the study suggests. As a result, your emotions could also be thrown off as well, leading to feelings of depression and overall moodiness. 

Food cravings can spike

A 2014 study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia showed that consuming breakfast triggered the release of dopamine in the brain. This brain chemical is associated with the receipt of rewards, and as a result, food cravings later in the day appeared to be moderate. When there are lower dopamine levels present in the body, people tend to seek it out in greater amounts by consuming more and more food. 

Skipping breakfast will also increase hunger, leading to excessive calorie consumption later in the day, as shown by a 2018 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition. Across the board, eating breakfast led to more positive outcomes throughout the day. Hunger, the desire to eat, and the planned intake of food all decreased following a morning meal, while feelings of fullness increased. Additionally, adding breakfast to one's dietary routine also led to improved sleep health in some cases. 

You could lose your hair

By depriving yourself of certain nutrients in the morning, your scalp could end up paying the price (via Elle Canada). Skipping breakfast means that certain vitamins, such as vitamin B and zinc, as well as the proteins supplied by a healthy breakfast, are not consumed. Because of this, your hair may begin to grow weak and begin falling out. 

Protein, in particular, is a key component for good hair health, and low-protein diets are connected to hair loss (via Good Food). A lack of protein in the diet can lead to the hair growing brittle and slowly beginning to fall out. Eggs are a staple of most breakfasts, and a great source of a protein known as keratin. According to Healthline, just one cooked egg can provide up to 33% of the daily value of keratin in your diet. Eggs are also a great source of selenium, riboflavin, and vitamins such as B12 and A, all of which are great ways to get your day started right.