The effect of breakfast on appetite regulation, energy balance and exercise performance

Proc Nutr Soc. 2016 Aug;75(3):319-27. doi: 10.1017/S0029665115004243. Epub 2015 Dec 14.


The belief that breakfast is the most important meal of day has been derived from cross-sectional studies that have associated breakfast consumption with a lower BMI. This suggests that breakfast omission either leads to an increase in energy intake or a reduction in energy expenditure over the remainder of the day, resulting in a state of positive energy balance. However, observational studies do not imply causality. A number of intervention studies have been conducted, enabling more precise determination of breakfast manipulation on indices of energy balance. This review will examine the results from these studies in adults, attempting to identify causal links between breakfast and energy balance, as well as determining whether consumption of breakfast influences exercise performance. Despite the associations in the literature, intervention studies have generally found a reduction in total daily energy intake when breakfast is omitted from the daily meal pattern. Moreover, whilst consumption of breakfast supresses appetite during the morning, this effect appears to be transient as the first meal consumed after breakfast seems to offset appetite to a similar extent, independent of breakfast. Whether breakfast affects energy expenditure is less clear. Whilst breakfast does not seem to affect basal metabolism, breakfast omission may reduce free-living physical activity and endurance exercise performance throughout the day. In conclusion, the available research suggests breakfast omission may influence energy expenditure more strongly than energy intake. Longer term intervention studies are required to confirm this relationship, and determine the impact of these variables on weight management.

Keywords: AEE activity energy expenditure; Breakfast skipping; GLP-1 glucagon-like peptide-1; Gut hormones; PYY peptide YY; Satiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Appetite
  • Appetite Regulation*
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Breakfast*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise*
  • Ghrelin / metabolism
  • Humans


  • Blood Glucose
  • Ghrelin