Is breakfast a have-to?

Higher carb breakfast
Quinoa, nuts and apples

There are new, interesting studies about whether eating breakfast is a better health option or improves weight loss.  No surprise… we’ve been following a bunch of half-logical assumptions as fact and repeating them so much that everyone believes them.  There are a lot of examples of this in nutrition; remember these:

“Margarine is healthy.”  gets declared over and over again as your arteries drown in their artificial sludge.

“Low fat is healthy” is cut and paste from one magazine advertisement to another  as low fat diets and bad fats starve your brain of food and your hormones of their building blocks.

“Sweeteners are the healthy option.” That’s a real marketing coup.  How did we ever buy into the concept that the more artificial a food is, the better it is for us?

So, what is proven with good science rather than repeated from bad assumptions?

Breakfast and your health

The answer is completely individual and depends on your health and personal choices.

  Weight loss

Metabolism

There is no difference in metabolism between people who eat breakfast or those who skip.  In other words, eating breakfast doesn’t kick-start your metabolism and doesn’t make you burn more energy in the day.

Energy

Your energy peaks at different times if you eat breakfast or extend your fast.  If you eat early, your energy peaks in the morning.  If you skip breakfast, it peaks in the afternoon and evening.

Blood glucose / Appetite Control

If you skip eating in the morning, your blood glucose levels might be a bit unstable in the late afternoon.  That’s something you want to avoid.  There are ways to manage it, but if you are diabetic, have metabolic syndrome or if you’re not generally healthy, eating breakfast might be best for you.  Spikes in blood sugar cause energy and appetite spikes too which are bad in general, but also make losing weight difficult.

Exercise

Exercise while you’re still fasting does mean you burn fat rather than other energy sources, so it’s useful if you want to burn fat stores. BUT fasting exercise is tough going on your chemistry if you are stressed.  It’s more important to protect your health than to burn fat faster.

Other Health Factors

Concentration

Nothing.  There’s nothing yet to support what eating or fasting does to your concentration (mental energy), so that’s something you have to test for yourself.

Colon Health

If you’re in good health, then skipping breakfast at least once or twice a week can be a best practice.  It gives your colon long enough to clean out properly and then your good bacteria have a chance to heal and repair it.  We have lengthened our day with our electrical lifestyle: artificial light and lots of devices keep us busy longer, which means we eat over a longer period.  That shortens the time available to our colons for this maintenance and housekeeping routine.

Asparagus, roast tomatoes and egg

Breakfast foods of choice

A small study shows that an egg and beef breakfast makes you feel fuller than a lower protein one.  That might be because of the quality of the carbohydrates used in the study.  Test these options for yourself and compare these to your normal breakfast:

  • Poached egg on spinach or asparagus
  • Baked mushrooms and feta
  • Whole oats, cooked the night before with added protein powder, reheated
  • Shakshuka – eggs poached in a tomato-chili sauce
  • Quinoa porridge with nuts, berries and a milk of choice
Cereal breakfast
Cereal breakfast

Your worst choices for breakfast are prepared cereals, even the high fibre kind.  Rather eat whole foods and ensure a good balance of protein in your meal.  How you balance meals and fat in the rest of the meal depends on whether you eat high or low fat.  The quality of whatever you eat is really important because you need the best fuel for your energy and concentration.

How to skip breakfast if you don’t usually

If you normally eat breakfast and want to skip it for a while, but maintain your energy, rather build up slowly.  Extend your breakfast time hour by hour.  Eat when you’re properly hungry rather than just eating from habit.

If you do have an afternoon energy dip or hunger pangs, you can try to manage that with a higher fat or protein balance for lunch.  If that doesn’t help, then possibly have your sugar checked out.  Or is your body in stress-overdrive that means this isn’t the right choice for you?  Work with a therapist or coach if you don’t have an easy fix for your energy.

Breakfast best practice?

  • Eat breakfast if you are stressed or work in a stressful position as a protection for your own chemistry.
  • If you skip breakfast and struggle with an energy dip or hunger pangs in the late afternoon, manage your blood sugar.
  • Otherwise do what works best for your own energy and concentration.

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