Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
March 2, 2024 ·  6 min read

Dr. Oz Says Breakfast is a Sham, Waiting for Brunch is Healthier. But Why?

This article was pubished on Januray 15, 2020 and has since been updated.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has been drilled into our brains, much to the chagrin of people who don’t like eating first thing in the morning. Now, those people may rejoice. American TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz announced that we should “cancel breakfast” in an interview with TMZ.

His exact words were: “I think…one of the first things I’m gonna do is ban breakfast. I don’t think we need to eat breakfast; that’s an advertising ploy.

 “Unfortunately, a lot of the dogma that we were fed for decades came out of advertisements; it wasn’t really based on the truth around our health.”

He described the hunger many people feel first thing in the morning as food withdrawal.

“You’re not even hungry, you’re having withdrawal because you had some super-carbohydrate like a potato chip or some French fries at 10 at night,” he said. “That means that your body’s insulin is all whacked up. By the next morning that withdrawal is happening and you’re starving.

Most Americans are addicted to food when we should be addicted to life.”

This may be confusing for many people who heard that eating breakfast early can lower the risk of heart disease and obesity, but many studies had inconclusive results, while some find it to be beneficial while others show it doesn’t really matter. [1]

For those who are now confused about healthy morning eating habits, Dr. Oz gives a few pieces of advice. “You got to do it at the right time to have done it right,” he said. “Move your breakfast back a couple of hours, you’ll be happy,” and “Cancel breakfast and have your first meal when you’re actually hungry.” [2]

The first piece of advice sounds like intermittent fasting, while the second refers to intuitive eating. Here lies the solution for breakfast confusion for early-morning eaters and haters.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not as scary or intense as it sounds. It’s simply an eating pattern, and its most common schedule is fasting for 16 hours a day, where most of the fast takes place overnight, and eating is for the remaining eight hours. For example, a person can eat from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. then fast for 16 hours until the next day. Anyone can change these windows to fit their schedule and natural appetite.

Although research on this topic is still in its early stages, numerous small studies have been completed and many benefits have been found about this practice, including:

  • Improving insulin sensitivity
  • Rising levels of growth hormone, which can aid fat loss and muscle gain
  • Helping cellular repairs
  • Reducing overall calorie intake
  • Releasing fat-burning hormones
  • Lowers inflammation
  • Reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol [3]

Weight loss is the most common reason for people to try I.F. and a 2014 study found that it caused 3–8% of weight loss for the participants over 3–24 weeks. They also lost 4–7% of their waist circumference. [4] It’s important not to “compensate” for the missed meal by overeating during the 8-hour period off weight loss is the goal. 

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

This eating pattern is not for everyone. For example, those who are underweight or women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should avoid it. 

Women in general may not benefit from this schedule. One study showed that while I.F. improved insulin sensitivity in men, it worsened blood sugar control for women. [5] There have also been anecdotal reports of women who lost their periods while doing I.F. and regained it when they returned to their regular eating plan. While I.F. may affect woman differently, it’s still possible the practice may hold some benefit. Check out this I.F. guide for women

The list continues with people who have diabetes, low blood sugar, and take medications. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new eating plan, including I.F. [6]

Another group of people who should not begin I.F. are those with a history of or predisposition for eating disorders. If someone on this eating pattern begins showing signs of disordered eating — such as worrying about food, self-shaming, guilt from breaking the rules of the fast, feeling out of control during eating periods, feelings antisocial or depression, amenorrhea, or the fast interfering with regular life — it’s recommended to discontinue I.F. and see a doctor about these symptoms. [7]

What is Intuitive Eating?

If fasting doesn’t appeal to you, that’s okay. There’s no one-size fits all diet. Intuitive eating is a philosophy where every individual is the expert of their own body and should eat according to their hunger. In short, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. So many diets have defied this seemingly simple rule and intuitive eating is about dismissing diet culture and making ourselves in charge of our own bodies. [8]

Breakfast has been shown to carry many health benefits such as kick-starting the metabolism, helping people focus, lowers levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and lowers the risk of diabetes and obesity. Skipping the meal may cause people to overeat later one and feel sluggish and unfocused in the morning. It’s also a great time to consume healthy foods like grains, fruits, and nutrients the body needs. [9]

Therefore, if someone is hungry in the mornings, they like to refuel after a 6 a.m. run, or for any other reason, breakfast is still an option. They may want to toy with Oz’s idea of pushing the meal off for a few hours and having brunch, but if that leaves them feeling cranky, lightheaded, or stressed, by all means have breakfast. Choose something healthy, full of protein and fiber, and light. Research has found that protein rich breakfasts can lead to overeating during the day. [10]

That said, there are many people who force themselves to eat in the morning or do it by rote because they heard it’s good for their health. This eating pattern may not be healthy for them and they might embrace the idea of brunch if they don’t want to try I.F.

Should We Really Cancel Breakfast?

At the end of the day, every person is different and their body has different needs. It’s important to occasionally take a good look at the habits we’ve developed and see if they can be improved, as they sometimes can. But all because something may be healthy for others, it may not be healthy for us.

So should you cancel breakfast, push it off, or eat it? That depends on you. Whichever option you take, you have scientific evidence, as long as you make healthy food choices. (Sorry, donut breakfasters.) 

Read More:
Truths and Lies About Fasting That Everyone Should Know


  1. Jessica Brown. Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? BBC. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181126-is-breakfast-good-for-your-health November 28, 2018
  2. Chelsea Ritschel. DR OZ SAYS EATING BREAKFAST SHOULD BE ‘CANCELLED’ BECAUSE ‘MOST AMERICANS ARE ADDICTED TO FOOD’ Independent UK. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/dr-oz-breakfast-cancel-food-addiction-americans-health-brunch-a9281881.html January 14, 2020
  3. Kris Gunnars, BSc.  Intermittent Fasting 101 — The Ultimate Beginner’s Guid. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#should-you July 25, 2018
  4. Adrienne R. Barnoskya, Kristin K. Hoddy, Terry G. Untermana, Krista A. Varady. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X October 2014
  5. Heilbronn LK1, Civitarese AE, Bogacka I, Smith SR, Hulver M, Ravussin E. Glucose tolerance and skeletal muscle gene expression in response to alternate day fasting. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15833943 March 2005 
  6. Michael Hull. The lowdown on intermittent fasting. Examine. https://examine.com/nutrition/the-low-down-on-intermittent-fasting/ November 1, 2019
  7. Charlotte Markey. Is Intermittent Fasting Just a Trendy Name for Disordered Eating? U.S. News. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/is-intermittent-fasting-an-eating-disorder May 3, 2019
  8. Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD. A Quick Guide to Intuitive Eating. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/quick-guide-intuitive-eating#principles June 25, 2019
  9. Brunilda Nazario, MD. Breakfast: Is It the Most Important Meal? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/breakfast-lose-weight#1 December 27, 2018
  10. Heather J. Leidy, Rebecca J. Lepping, Cary R. Savage, Corey T. Harris. Eat a protein-rich breakfast to reduce food cravings, prevent overeating later, researcher finds. University of Missouri-Columbia. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519113024.htm May 19, 2011