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Simplifying Science

No Breakfast, No Problem?

Whose kids don’t eat breakfast? I have one of those. Or rather, I have one who would like to be counted among the ranks of the no-food-past-my-lips-while-I’m-still-half-asleep, but I deny her the opportunity. 

That’s because in medical school and in the medical literature — all over the press actually — there’s a strong conviction that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I spent years in my practice negotiating with (okay, sometimes begging) teenagers to just get a few bites across their lips before they walked out the door. Or at the very least a couple of sips of a smoothie, ideally with protein. I was a broken record. 

Over the past several years, though, there’s emerging data that long periods of fasting are actually good for you. Really good. Life extending, weight changing good for you. Basically, you can skip breakfast or you can skip dinner (but not both!) and your body will thank you. This article summarizes the research that exists for adults and it got me thinking: should we be changing what we preach to our teens? Are the morning food-refusers actually onto something? I don’t know of any research that has looked at this population in particular (if you do, please share), but I will say that based upon everything I have read recently, I am thinking about running an experiment of my own in this new school year. I might just lay off the insistence that breakfast gets consumed and see how my daughter feels in that first class of the day, honoring her internal clock, which is apparently trying to dictate a prolonged daily fast. I will let you know how it goes. 

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Fasting is one of the biggest weight-loss trends to arise in recent years. Endorsed by A-list celebrities and the subject of a spate of best-selling books, it was the eighth most-Googled diet in America in 2018.

But fasting shouldn’t be dismissed as just another fad. At the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, I’ve employed what’s called intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, to help patients with an array of chronic… READ MORE