The Perils of Skipping Breakfast
Credit: Jennifer K Rakowski

The Perils of Skipping Breakfast

A new study finds that men who skip breakfast have a 27 percent greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than guys who regularly eat a morning meal. Surprisingly, this was the case even after accounting for other risk factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, high stress, and poor diet. "Constantly going in and out of starvation puts the body through major stress," says study co-author Eric Rimm. That daily stress, in turn, can spell trouble for your heart. "Over time, prolonged fasting can lead to insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and blood pressure problems, which can then trigger heart disease," says lead author Leah Cahill. But skipping a meal won't always do you harm. Intermittent fasting – for 12 hours at a time about every week – has been shown to increase energy, help burn fat, and even build muscle without adverse consequences. That is only the case if you don't end your fast with refined carbs or extra calories later in the day. "Glucose and triglyceride levels shoot up when you don't spread food out over the day and you try to jam it all in at once," says Rimm. The bottom line: Eat a healthy breakfast on most days, and if you're fasting, be sure to follow up with nutritious, low-calorie meals afterward. "There's a good chance that first bite of food will lead you to eat fewer calories for the other two meals."