Skipping breakfast can trigger dangerous blood sugar spikes in diabetics

Skipping breakfast can trigger dangerous blood sugar spikes in diabetics
Skipping breakfast can trigger dangerous blood sugar spikes in diabetics

People with type 2 diabetes who do not eat until noon risk consequences that could last all day long, say researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Previous research has already linked missing breakfast to cardiovascular problems and obesity, but little was known about how not eating in the morning affects people with diabetes. Tel Aviv University researchers found that missing breakfast has a strong impact on type 2 diabetics. “Fasting” until mid-day triggers major spikes in blood sugar (postprandial hyperglycemia) that impair insulin responses during the rest of the day.

“Despite the fact that many studies have previously demonstrated the benefits of a high-caloric breakfast for weight loss and to regulate the glucose metabolism, very little was known regarding the effect of skipping breakfast on glycemic spikes after meals throughout the entire day,” said Daniela Jakubowicz, a professor at Tel Aviv University. “It is quite remarkable that, for type-2 diabetic individuals, the omission of breakfast is associated with a significant increase in all-day blood sugar spikes and of HbA1C, which represents average blood glucose levels over the preceding three months.”

The study participants were 22 people with type 2 diabetes who had an average age of 56.9 years and a mean body mass Index of 28.2 kg/m2. The participants all ate breakfast and the same balanced meal of tuna, milk, bread, and a chocolate breakfast bar for lunch and dinner on one day, and then fasted until lunch the next day.

“We theorized that the omission of breakfast would not be healthy, but it was surprising to see such a high degree of deterioration of glucose metabolism only because the participants did not eat breakfast,” said Jakubowicz. The participants had glucose peaks of 268 mg/dl after lunch and 298 mg/dl after dinner on days they missed breakfast. When they ate breakfast, their levels were 192 mg/dl and 215 mg/dl. “This means that reducing the amount of starch and sugars in lunch and dinner will have no effect on reducing elevated glucose levels if diabetic individuals also skip breakfast,” said Jakubowicz.

Researchers say that the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin lose their “memory” between dinner in the evening and lunch the next day. As a result, beta cells require more time to recover after lunch and produce less insulin responses or delay them. This results in elevated blood glucose levels throughout the day. Fasting until lunch also increases fatty acids in the blood that makes insulin ineffective in reducing blood glucose levels.

“In light of our study, we highly recommend that type-2 diabetics not skip breakfast because it causes major damage to the beta cell function and leads to high sugar levels, even if they don’t overeat at lunch and dinner,” said Jakubowicz. The researchers are planning to do a similar study on type 1 diabetics.


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