Should I Eat Breakfast?

Based on conventional nutritional wisdom, it has been widely regarded that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It supposedly jump starts your metabolism, provides an energy boost and helps to keep you from eating more calories throughout the day. But are the health benefits of eating breakfast true? Well, this depends.

What the Research Says

Like any research on nutrition, many studies contradict themselves. I believe this is because we are studying human biology, and the effects of a particular thing, when everyone’s biology is different. Everyone’s metabolism is different, as are their mental and emotional health. So many factors play a role in the human, a fascinating creature, that it becomes quite hard to pour out conclusive answers to nutrition questions.

Past research has shown breakfast to be beneficial, as “breaking the fast” (between yesterday and today) helps ‘reboot’ the metabolism and get a jumpstart to the day. This same research also shows that people who eat breakfast are less likely to suffer from undesirable weight gain as they get older. On the surface this makes sense, but I argue that there are certainly other factors that must be taken into account before one starts worrying that they forgot about breakfast this morning.

Many people recommend eating breakfast “like a king”, lunch “like a prince” and dinner “like a pauper. This may work for some people, but not for others, and I will explain that a little bit below.

The Health Benefits of Breakfast

The health benefits of eating breakfast include, mainly,  providing adequete nutrition. There isn’t any research at all showing that it helps speed up metabolism, but it is suggested that food, after fasting, helps bring the metabolism back to normal levels (fasting decreases metabolism, which might not be such a bad thing…read below…).

At the same time I would like to see most people eat breakfast on most days, I wouldn’t want them to “pig out”, unless, of course, they find that they eat less throughout the day. If I don’t eat breakfast, I don’t get enough nutrients throughout the day, which is one important aspect of eating breakfast.

Should I Eat Breakfast?

Recent research has shown that those who don’t eat breakfast, or eat very little in the morning, exhibit very little risk of weight gain or obesity. In fact, it might even work in their favor by decreasing weight. Compared to the studies showing the individuals eating a large meal at the beginning of their day, these studies show that eating a small meal, or nothing at all, during the morning can decrease the risk of undesirable weight gain, mainly because it decreases the amount of calories consumed during the day.

Calories are not created equal, however. You can eat 100 calories worth of eggs (1 1/2 eggs) or 100 calories worth of a sugar cookie, and receive different results. It’s not just about the quantity of calories, but the quality, as well.

Also, an explosion of new anti-aging research suggests that intermittent fasting, or fasting for short periods once a week, can increase insulin sensitivity, decrease weight and decrease mitochondrial damage associated with aging due to normal human metabolism. Fasting anywhere from 16-20 hours has shown these anti-aging benefits, and can easily be achieved if one doesn’t eat anything after dinner, until the next morning’s lunch. Or, to eat breakfast and lunch and skip dinner. I wouldn’t recommend doing this everyday, as I still see breakfast as being an important part of the day—just not everyday.

Plus, I know that I do not have a huge appetite to eat like a king in the morning. It slowly builds throughout the day. Also, if I do “eat like a king” in the morning, it somewhat, psychologically, puts me into “feasting mode”, and I eat far too many calories all day than I normally would if I ate a normal sized breakfast with average calories.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

What makes a healthy breakfast? Before answering this question, you should first rule what is a unhealthy breakfast. These items include:

  • Ready to eat breakfast cereals – These are full of sugar and an unnecessary amount of carbohydrates that will make you crash just a couple of hours later. There is hardly no protein or fat to keep you satiated for longer.
  • Bagels, toast, muffins – I’m generally referring to the bread products made with wheat flour and sugar. Even gluten free breads may contain a large amount of starches and carbohydrates, as well as sugar. If you are going to have a muffin, cupcake or slice of bread, make it grain-free (perhaps with coconut or almond flours).
  • Juice, of any kind – Juice is very unnatural, and to have that much sugar invading your system at such an early hour of the day will cause an onslaught of inflammation and free-radical damage, despite the claims that juice is healthy.

Now for some healthy breakfast ideas:

  • Eggs – You simply can’t go wrong with one of nature’s perfect foods. Because there contain virtually no carbohydrates, but plenty of protein and a modest amount of fat, you are helping your blood sugar remain more stable throughout the day, leading to greater energy. Check out this recipe for a healthy, high protein omelette.
  • Grain-free, sugar free breads – These include pancakes, waffles and muffins made from coconut flour and almond flour. If made without sugar, these complete protein foods  make a fantastic breakfast every now and then. Although I don’t recommend consuming sweets for every breakfast, it is a good way to break up the monotony. Check out this recipe for coconut flour waffles.
  • Raw milk – I love raw milk, but I don’t drink it often. I am very grateful to have access to raw goat’s milk, which digests fairly easy and includes protein and healthy fat to start my day. Because it contains sugar (in the form of lactose), I don’t drink it every morning, however the fat and protein will limit the effects it has on blood sugar.
  • Green Smoothie – This is also a once or twice a week breakfast, because of the high amount of carbohydrates. You can perhaps drink it before a morning workout, to provide energy, or after a morning strength training program, to replenish your glycogen stores. See the green smoothie recipe here.

How Intermittent Fasting Works

I will be doing a post about the health benefits of intermittent fasting tomorrow, but I do want to quickly exhibit how it is done. I see it as a possible anti-aging tool, which can help lessen mitochondrial damage and telomere shortening, not a quick weight loss diet. One can fast for a 24-hour period every other day, or once a week, or once a month. Or one can fast for 16 hours, and eat for 8 hours. Many people are already doing this if they do not eat anything after dinner and skip breakfast the next day.

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I am so glad to be back! Summer is finally here and I am free from studying, exams and the like until my next term starts. I have a few recipes waiting in the wings (and some in the oven), and I can’t wait to share. If you want to be updated as to when they arrive, please subscribe to this blog with your email above, OR follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Tell your friends, as well, if they are until true healthy living.

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2 Responses to “Should I Eat Breakfast?”
  1. Lauren 19 May 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Hi!

    Wow, I am so late! Thanks for posting this! Now, I am wondering, could you do an example of a full breakfast meal (also examples of full snacks, a full lunch, and a full dinner) because sometimes I still feel hungry. It’s difficult knowing when enough is enough. Or do you plan to do that in a different post? Thank you sooooooooooooo much!!!!!! : D

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