9/26/14 - Do You Even Breakfast, Bro?
What’s the deal with breakfast? There might not be an American walking this Earth that’s never heard the phrase, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Though I understand what someone could be getting at when they say that, I’m not sure that it really means anything, especially when some of us wake up and eat breakfast out of habit rather than hunger.
This topic could fill volumes. In fact, it does. At the end of the day, your journey through nutrition should be ever evolving and the stages of success you land on may be different than that of your peers. (RANT: Which, by the way, is different than “This is how I do it and since I’m disillusioned to what’s really happening I’m going to be closed minded to maximizing my own potential because not feeling vulnerable is the most important thing to me.” type stuff.) I’m not about to preach to you about intermittent fasting, butter coffee, vegan, Paleo, GOMAD, the Mediterranean diet (whatever the hell that is), or anything else.
Instead, I’m going to do what I often do and ask questions. Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Other than potentially creating better habits for the rest of the day, is there something about meals in the morning that make them more valuable?
In fact, what we do know is that we tend to wake up in a fat burning state, which is why you often feel skinnier in the morning. This fat burning state stops when we produce insulin. Insulin is produced to regulate glucose in the bloodstream when we eat carbohydrates, which raise our blood sugar. How about a glass of (organic) OJ and (organic) oatmeal, anyone?
Seriously, I don’t get it…
Do you think our bodies, then, could benefit from 1) giving our insulin process a break, and 2) enjoy a longer fat burning state by delaying the need for insulin production (eating carbohydrates)? A friendly writer in the nutrition space, Kevin Cann, recently stated:
“In a study done by Holmstrup in 2010, he showed that eating fewer meals had better results on insulin production. In normal weight individuals the group consuming six meals had higher glucose and insulin levels than the group that ate 3 meals (Holmstrup, 2010).”
If we are eating often throughout the day, we’re asking a lot of insulin production, which we know regulates fat storage. Furthermore, you can also imagine our pancreas’ imaginary eyes rolling back in its head and muttering, “Really? You’re eating again, pal?” Plus, have we really evolved to eat every two hours? I don’t think my lineage was that good at finding food.
Since there are some big questions to ask with nutrition when it comes to when to eat, I sometimes want to question whether “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” or not. And, maybe if it is, maybe it’s important not because of what you eat, but if you even eat breakfast at all. In fact, in a cyclical fashion, I often don’t eat until after noon. With fewer, bigger meals I feel like I get all the food I would have eaten otherwise and when I do eat, I feel like it’s received with open arms in my body, to say the least.
If you’re eating breakfast in the morning because you think you should, maybe skip it if you aren’t hungry. If you’re hungry and can’t fathom skipping it, try a protein/fat rich breakfast and see how you feel delaying the introduction of carbohydrates until later in the day. You might find some performance and body composition changes for the better. If you wake up hungry, eat! But, arguably more important than food quality and calorie intake is regulating our hormones. If you aren’t producing and using insulin well, I’m confident you aren’t progressing no matter what your goals are.
To conclude, it’s important to know that experiments like this work with stable hormones. So, if you smoke, can’t wait to be stressed out, or aren’t sleeping well, nothing your body tells you can be taken at face value anyway, so handle those issues first. Women tend to fair worse than men with intermittent fasting. And lastly, eat plenty to fuel your life!
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