06/06/2014 02:02 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:04 EDT

Eating Breakfast Doesn't Lead To Weight Loss: Study

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Researchers at the University of Alabama say skipping breakfast does not hinder weight loss, despite popular belief -- although it doesn't help it either.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined the impact of recommendations to either skip or eat breakfast in 309 moderately overweight adults between the ages of 20 and 65, all actively trying to lose weight.

Over a period of 16 weeks, experimental groups were advised to either eat or skip breakfast, while the control group consisted of some who eat breakfast and others who skip. None in that group received guidance as far as breakfast was concerned, only healthy nutrition information.

Study lead author Emily Dhurandhar, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior, says there was no evidence that advising dieters to eat breakfast leads to weight loss.

"Previous studies have mostly demonstrated correlation, but not necessarily causation," Dhurandhar said. "In contrast, we used a large, randomized controlled trial to examine whether or not breakfast recommendations have a causative effect on weight loss, with weight change as our primary outcome."

Considered the most important meal of the day, breakfast has long been said to play a role in weight management.

Many nutritionists believe morning is the best time for the biggest meal of the day, reducing hunger later on and concentrating

principal calorie consumption early, in the idea that it burns off as the day continues.

“Now that we know the general recommendation of ‘eat breakfast every day’ has no differential impact on weight loss, we can move forward with studying other techniques for improved effectiveness,” Dhurandhar said. “We should try to understand why eating or skipping breakfast did not influence weight loss, despite evidence that breakfast may influence appetite and metabolism.”

While Dhurandhar's study examined the effects of breakfast on dieters, it didn't specify what they consumed.

A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that dieters who ate two eggs for breakfast lost 65 per cent more weight than dieters who ate a bagel of equal calories.

Study leader Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD, said that the high protein content of the eggs soothed dieters' hunger sensations throughout the day.

The egg eating contingent also reported feeling more energetic and lost 61 per cent more body mass than the bagel eaters.

Breakfast itself may be no golden egg for dieters, but eggs for breakfast may be golden.