"What we're seeing is that if you don't eat the foods that are commonly consumed at breakfast, you have a tendency not to eat them the rest of the day. So those common breakfast nutrients become a nutritional gap," says study author Christopher Taylor, professor of medical dietetics in the College of Medicine at Ohio State University.
In the study, breakfast skippers were found to take in less fibre, magnesium, copper, zinc, folate, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D, than those who ate a traditional morning meal.
The other issue for those that eschew breakfast is that you’re more likely to indulge in poor quality snacks. Breakfast skippers were more likely than those who ate in the morning to eat more added sugars, carbohydrates and total fat over the course of the day, in part because of higher levels of snacking, the researchers say. As someone who tends to hammer chocolate-coated protein bars during my eating window, this point really hit home.
"Snacking is basically contributing a meal's worth of calorie intakes for people who skipped breakfast," Taylor says. "People who ate breakfast ate more total calories than people who didn't eat breakfast, but the lunch, dinner and snacks were much larger for people who skipped breakfast and tended to be of a lower diet quality."
It is perhaps worth remembering the literal meaning of breakfast: break-your-fast. If you are following a 16-8 protocol in which you don’t eat until say, 11am, you may be best to make sure that first meal is comprised of more traditional 'breakfast' foods - toast, fruit, cereal with milk etc - rather than break your fast with a snack (I literally just ate a bowl of muesli).
In addition, be mindful of the nutritional quality of the snacks you consume throughout the day. As noted, while it can be tempting to view your eight-hour eating window as a nutritional free-for-all, in doing so you’re likely undermining your efforts. By making a conscious attempt to make your snacks nutritionally sound – fruit, nuts, natural yoghurt are all good choices – you increase your chances of accessing vital nutrients while still benefitting from the hormonal shifts prolonged fasting produces. Do that and you may actually have cause to be smug.