It’s the mantra your mom repeated every morning before sliding a bowl of cereal toward your face and sending you off to school: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Yet even as a teenager, you quietly wondered how something so important had spokespersons the likes of Frankenberry and Cap’n Crunch. Well, new research shows the familiar adage might just be old wives’ tale after all (no offense to your mother).
Multiple studies recently indicate that the best-known supposed benefits of breakfast—that it boosts metabolism and can aid in weight loss—are bollocks. (One of the studies was from the UK.)
Here are five reasons we didn’t need a PhD to suspect the same thing…
1. How Healthy Can Cereal Really Be?
Nearly half of all Americans (49 percent of them) start their day with a bowl of cereal. Sure, some people swear by a bowl of Mueslix, but a very unscientific study of looking in your cupboard will probably reveal that many of us prefer cereals of the marshmallow-aided or sugary fruit–packed variety.
2. Doughnuts Are Basically Breakfast Cakes with a Hole!
“Don’t be late to work without a box of doughnuts!” It’s a policy that accounts for why the company break-room table is often covered with detritus from Krispy Kreme. It can also account for weight gain. The old office standby is not particularly healthy: A Dunkin’ Donuts Chocolate Frosted Cake Donut has 370 calories and 23 grams of fat. Sure, that’s one of the more delicious varieties, but it’s hard to find any doughnuts on the Dunkin’ menu with fewer than 250 calories. And that’s not even bringing your Frozen Caramel Coffee Coolatta into the equation.
3. Whatever Happened to a Plain Cup of Joe?
Speaking of breakfast beverages, Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t the only franchise serving high-calorie takes on the most classic of morning drinks. A cup of black coffee barely has any calories at all. But that’s not what you’re looking for on the Starbucks menu. Earlier this year, the coffee giant crunched the numbers and discovered that in many metropolitan areas their top-selling drink is the sugary Frappuccino.
4. Some of the Best Breakfasts Are Actually Dinner
As far back as 2005, of the 1,000 people queried in an ABC poll, 48 percent under the age of 45 admitted to having eaten cold pizza for breakfast. Let’s hope the other 52 percent have since had the pleasure of eating pizza and other leftovers for breakfast, from cold ravioli to spicy Chinese. Cheers to those who manage to fire up their ovens in the early hours. A few years ago the Food Channel website declared hot pizza for breakfast one of the year’s “top 10 breakfast trends.”
5. The Fast-Food Breakfast Market Has Exploded
McDonald’s invented the Egg McMuffin in 1971, breaking the idea of fast-food breakfasts to the masses. Now, here we are in 2014, a golden era where even Taco Bell has finally introduced a breakfast menu. One study found that 73 percent of people have had a McDonald’s breakfast and more than half said they’d do it again. Breakfast is certainly one of the most important meals of the days for fast-food restaurants’ bottom line.