Breakfast - The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain False
When you think of controversial topics, you probably don’t think of breakfast — but there are some pretty conflicting opinions out there. Here’s a quick Google search to show you what we mean:
Breakfast Benefits: Energy, Weight Control and More
7 Reasons Why You Should NOT Eat Breakfast
Why Eating Breakfast Is Bad for Your Health
Skipping Breakfast to Burn Fat? Not So Fast
How Skipping Breakfast Can Actually Boost Your Weight Loss
What Not to Eat in the Morning | Top 10 Worst Breakfast Foods
The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast
See what we mean? So, what’s the deal with breakfast? 🤷 Ultimately, we urge you to listen to your body and fuel it with the right nutrients at the right times in a way that makes sense for you. But if you need a little help decoding the hyperbole, we’re here to help.
Refuel Your Body
It’s called “break fast” for a reason. You’re literally breaking a 12-hour fast (of sorts) with your first meal of the day. Let’s assume you eat dinner between 6-8 p.m. and then sleep for roughly seven to eight hours (a big assumption, we know). That’s practically half the day without any sustenance. If you stayed within your normal calorie range during the previous day, you might even wake up with a little rumble in your tummy. If this is you — please eat! It’s natural and necessary that your body wants to replenish the nutrients (and water) it lost during a night of sleep.
Set Yourself Up for Success With the Right Nutrients
Breakfast also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or school. However, it’s important to choose the right mix of macronutrients to give your brain and your body what it needs to thrive. For example, choose breakfast foods that contain a mix of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fiber. Carbs will give you energy right away, and the protein will give you a boost later on. Fiber will keep you feeling full. Lucky you — there are TONS of options within these categories. Follow these three-part formulas for a tasty, filling and healthful breakfast.
- Oatmeal + Nut Butter + Fruit. Old fashioned oats are a great complex source of carbs and fiber to keep you energized and full. A nut or seed butter of your choice provides a dose of both protein and healthy fat. Sliced bananas or frozen berries add a touch of natural sweetness while adding to the fiber quotient and providing essential nutrients like vitamin C and A.
- Scrambled Eggs + Spinach + Whole Grain Toast. You’re starting to see a pattern. Whole grain toast = complex carbs. Spinach = fiber, minerals like potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B9 and E. Eggs are an egg-cellent (pardon the pun) source of protein and a nutritional powerhouse. They are also no longer a feared source of extra cholesterol. (Pro tip: If you’re trying to stay gluten-free, throw your egg scramble into a corn tortilla with some hot sauce and a slice of avocado. Breakfast tacos are always a good idea.)
- Smoothie With Spinach + Berries + Greek Yogurt. We’ve already touted the benefits of berries (which in this case serve as the carb source) and spinach above, but greek yogurt is another nutrient jackpot. It has roughly double the protein per serving compared to conventional yogurt. And it contains gut-friendly bacteria and probiotics to help boost your immune system and keep stomach woes at bay.
Breakfast Is Especially Crucial for Kids
If mealtime suddenly becomes World War III at your home, we can relate. Sure, your kids may not feel like eating, but breakfast is a battle worth fighting. Most children don’t get all the vitamins and minerals they need from just snacks, lunch and dinner. You, as a parent, rely on that third meal to provide the right mix of nutrients and calories their growing bodies need. Plus, kids who don’t eat in the morning have a harder time focusing, and they become more tired in school. They may also be cranky or restless, and it isn’t just their moods that can suffer. Their school work can, too. One study showed that kids who ate breakfast had higher test scores than those who didn’t.
The Missing Link Between Breakfast and Health
For decades, experts have said that people who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat the rest of the day, and therefore, weigh less. Seems logical, right? But recent studies have found no difference in weight between those who skip their morning meal and those who don’t. It is, however, well-documented that regular breakfast-eaters tend to have lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Yet, without a control in the study, the link is mere correlation, not causation. This means that the same people who eat breakfast most likely have other healthy lifestyle habits that make them healthier overall: proper nutrition, regular exercise, good sleep habits, etc. Conversely, people who skip breakfast tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol and exercise less.
Bottom line: The jury is still out. And the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which we’ve been taught since childhood, is a belief rooted in the current zeitgeist than it is in science.
It Doesn’t Actually Kickstart Your Metabolism
Traditional evidence suggested that eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day. The theory states that eating within an hour of waking, you are signaling to your brain that more food is coming. So rather than go into “conserve” mode, where you body doesn’t use calories, it starts to consume the energy that you’ve stored up overnight. However, that science has since been debunked. If anything, skipping breakfast and prolonging the fasting period called “intermittent fasting” (more on that below!) has the opposite effect, albeit small. As with any diet protocol, the most important factor is how many calories are consumed, regardless of when or how often.
The Case for Intermittent Fasting
While fasting is something we all do each night, intermittent fasting (IF) is intentionally skipping meals for short periods of time to improve health and lose fat. For most, this means skipping breakfast each day and extending the overnight fast from dinner the night before until lunch the next day. Now that you’re aware, listen for IF terms buzzing in every wellness circle online and in person. And for good reason. The benefits, although mostly anecdotal at this point, include a list that seems almost too good to be true. IF can:
- Reduce blood pressure, inflammation and oxidative stress
- Slow down aging
- Improve fat loss, especially in already in-shape people who are looking to get lean without losing strength or muscle mass
- Improve cardiovascular function
- The list goes on
Interested? Try it! However, many proponents of the IF method recommend starting with a trial period to see how your body adjusts and finding the right eating/fasting window that works for your body.
Now You Be the Judge
Now that we’ve debunked some myths and laid out the facts, the message is pretty clear: Eating breakfast is a personal choice.
If you love breakfast, feel good when you eat it and you feel like it’s helping you achieve your fitness goals and/or a healthy lifestyle — great! Keep going, my friend!
If you’re not a breakfast person, you don’t need the jolt of energy to get through the morning and you can maintain a healthy lifestyle without it — don’t force it. There’s no harm in waiting until later in the day for your first meal.
Let us know how you feel about breakfast and how eating it — or not eating it — is helping you live your happiest, healthiest and most productive life possible.