Skipping Breakfast and the Circadian Rhythm

Breakfast is famously known as being “the most important meal of the day” because it provides the body with fuel for the rest of the day.

Other health benefits of breakfast are: providing the body with essential vitamins and minerals, helping you make better food choices throughout the day, and boosting your brainpower.

However, many people often skip breakfast.

The Circadian Rhythm

Breakfast may have a connection to the circadian rhythm of the body.

The circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates the sleep-wake 24-h cycle, and it includes other physiologic processes, like eating behavior, hormones, and body temperature.

The part of the brain responsible for regulating the circadian rhythm also regulates body temperature and melatonin in relation to the sleep-wake cycle.

In general, body temperature peaks in the late afternoon and declines to its lowest point at night during sleep.

Day-to-day meal frequency is mainly influenced by lifestyle, habits, and biological factors.

The internal clock influences a variety of biological processes, like metabolic, behavioral, neuronal, and endocrine.

Meal timing and how it affects the circadian rhythm haven’t been studied in-depth, which is why a recent study investigated the effects of skipping breakfast.

The Details

The study aimed to examine the effects of skipping breakfast for 6 days on body temperature in relation to the body’s circadian rhythm.

The participants were 10 male adults between the ages of 20 to 30 years, who were split into two groups - the breakfast skipping group (two meals) and the three meals a day group.

During the study, they underwent several assessments, including body temperature.

The results indicated that the circadian rhythm of the body temperature was delayed, even though the sleep-wake cycles didn’t change during the course of the study.

It’s important to note that the core body temperature is increased even when skipping breakfast, however, it’s much more pronounced when we don’t skip breakfast.

In Conclusion

There seems to be a link between skipping breakfast and the circadian rhythm, however, this study only investigated short-term effects.

It remains to be seen what future studies could discover about the long-term effects of skipping breakfast.


Resource: Ogata, H.; Horie, M.; Kayaba, M.; Tanaka, Y.; Ando, A.; Park, I.; Zhang, S.; Yajima, K.; Shoda, J.-I.; Omi, N.; Kaneko, M.; Kiyono, K.; Satoh, M.; Tokuyama, K. Skipping Breakfast for 6 Days Delayed the Circadian Rhythm of the Body Temperature without Altering Clock Gene Expression in Human Leukocytes. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2797. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092797 

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