Dieters who enjoy a hearty breakfast are just as likely to have a big lunch and dinner, new research suggests.
The idea that a large breakfast helps people consume fewer calories for the rest of the day is a myth, according to experts.
Writing in the Nutrition Journal, researchers from the University of Munich examined the eating habits of almost 400 obese and normal-weight people.
Some always had a big breakfast, others ate a small one and some skipped the meal altogether.
Over the course of the two-week study, the participants were asked to record everything they ate and drank, including weighing foods to accurately note down portion sizes.
The experts then analysed the calorie intake and found that people who ate higher calorie breakfasts did not cut down at other meals, as is commonly believed.
Both big breakfast eaters and those who ate nothing or a low-calorie meal consumed the same quantity of calories for lunch and dinner.
This means that those who ate a small breakfast, or had nothing, consumed fewer calories overall.
A big breakfast (on average 400 calories greater than a small breakfast) resulted in a total increase in calories eaten over the day of about 400 calories.
Previous studies have produced conflicting results on the issue.
Sian Porter, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said: "Apart from providing you with energy, a healthy breakfast gives you many other nutritional benefits.
"It has been shown that people who eat breakfast have more balanced diets than those who skip this meal.
"They are less likely to be overweight, lose weight more successfully and have reduced risk of certain diseases."