BREAKFAST - THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY....OR IS IT?

toast.jpg

SO SHOULD YOU EAT BREAKFAST?

The old adage goes ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper’.  Certainly when I was training considerable importance was placed on eating a good well-balanced breakfast; the prospect of skipping breakfast was viewed with horror and regarded as a complete no-no.  However, interestingly I have readjusted my thinking on this in recent times…..

There are plenty of studies that look into the pros and cons of eating breakfast, but like all these things, their findings are only ever as good as the research methods.  

Arguments pro breakfast include: 

  • Less likely to be overweight: if you skip breakfast you will get so hungry you will eat more during the rest of the day
  • Have better concentration: you can’t think straight if you don’t eat
  • Boosts metabolism: breakfast ‘kick starts’ your metabolism so that you burn more calories during the rest of the day.

The truth is, when you look at the research for every argument there is a counter argument (or often the actual study published was pretty rubbish and for example contained the magnificent total of 15 people….seriously)

NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL APPROACH

All I can say is that the more I work in this field the more I believe there really isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach.  I think that it is wrong to force fit everybody into the same model.   Without a doubt there are many people who do perfectly well if they skip breakfast.  They can perform very well with no lapses in concentration; they don’t make up for a missed breakfast by eating a gargantuan lunch and have no weight issues.  However, many others would keel over if they left the house with nothing to eat and would be unable to work well until they’ve had some food.

INTERMITTENT FASTING HAS INFLUENCED THINKING

Interestingly, more recent dietary approaches include various types of intermittent fasting, which would support the whole idea of skipping breakfast (for some).  For example the 16/8 method encourages a 16-hour overnight fast followed by an 8-hour eating window (so you eat your meals within an 8 hour timeframe).  This would either mean skipping breakfast completely or eating breakfast at a later point during the morning.  Several of the conferences that I have attended recently would also support this approach.  In a recent lecture that I attended on the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, Professor Dale Bredensen clearly detailed how he encourages a 12-16 hour overnight fast for his patients.  The new Metabolic Balance plans that have just been released by Germany also now encourages a 14 hour overnight fast.  And there are many more specialists who are now incorporating this type of fasting into their programmes.

The logic behind this is that fasting affects changes to hormone levels (increases human growth hormone, reduces insulin levels), cellular function (improves cellular protection mechanisms) and gene expression (lowers risk of degenerative diseases)….however research is still very much ongoing.

So what does all this mean for you?  

Figure out what suits you best and don’t force fit a model if it doesn’t.  I am currently experimenting with delaying my breakfast to around 11.00 / 11.30am (maybe not on everyday but many during the week) and it seems to be suiting me just fine, I am certainly not eating more at lunchtime and have dropped a couple of pounds.  However, I have many clients that would find this approach completely miserable and counter productive so it would definitely be best avoided.

BUT IF YOU ARE GOING TO EAT BREAKFAST MAKE SURE IT'S A GOOD ONE

The most important thing to remember is that for many people breakfast is a toast-fest, a bowl of sugary cereal, or even worse a muffin or a pastry….maybe washed down with some fruit juice.  These all make for a massive refined carb overload and are options that are usually very protein light.  Foods like these will always trigger an insulin response, which will destabilise your blood sugar levels – making you feel a bit rubbish, affecting your concentration and brain power and are likely to trigger mid morning munchies. Any insulin spike will also switch off fat burning – not good if you are trying to manage your weight.  So if you are going to eat breakfast (at any time of the morning) make sure it is a good one……choose the high fibre / low glycaemic index carbs (low sugar) and always balance this with a decent protein quota.

CHECK OUT THESE GOOD BREAKFAST OPTIONS:

Healthy Fast Food - 5 healthy breakfast ideas - click here

Protein Packed Apple and Bircher Muesli - click here

Raw Flax Porridge - Blackberry - click here