Mom always told you that you need to have a big breakfast in the morning. Now studies are starting to question that age old advice.

Most of us have heard that skipping breakfast is a bad idea if you’re trying to lose weight. You’ll end up being hungry all day, says the theory, and eat more than enough to compensate for the calories you saved in the morning.

The Big Breakfast Theory also gets support from manufacturers of (big surprise here) cereals and other breakfast foods. The manufacturers don’t actually claim that breakfast helps you lose weight, but they do say it’s "the most important meal of the day," or that skipping it might make your child do poorly in school. Those are two great sales pitches that very few other industries could dream of using.

Is the Big Breakfast Theory true, or just a myth?

To test the hypothesis, German scientist Volker Schusdziarra, of the Else-Kroner-Fresenius Center for Nutritional Medicine in Munich, asked 380 volunteers to record everything they ate for 10 to 14 days. Some were normal-weight, others obese. Then the researchers analyzed everyone’s records.

Most subjects’ eating patterns varied. They might eat a big breakfast one day, none the next, and a small one the next. Occasionally, a big breakfast led them to skip their mid-morning snack. In other words, their behavior was pretty normal.

Conclusion: "People ate the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for breakfast," Schusdziarra concluded.

To be more precise, when subjects ate a "heavy" breakfast - defined as more than 400 calories greater than what they termed a "small" breakfast - they generally ended up carrying their 400-calorie or higher excess through the rest of the day. When they skipped a snack, for example, their calorie savings did not offset the extra calories they had gotten at breakfast. In other words, they gained no advantage whatsoever from front-loading their intake. This is very interesting for any calorie counter.

I have also suspected this from my own personal experience At one time I thought if a ate a large breakfast I would want less food through out the day. But the reality was I was eating the same calories for my other meals. I actually put on 3 ponds over the course of a week.

One small study does not establish a truth, of course. But it does undermine claims that we often hear but never see substantiated by facts.

The Big Breakfast study appeared in the January 17, 2011, issue of Nutrition Journal, published by GeoMed Central.

Author's Bio: 

For over a decade David Clemen has been an active contributor to multiple health and nutrition online publications.