Better Breakfast Month: Eat it or Skip It?
What do you eat for breakfast?
Do you eat breakfast at all?
If not, what’s the rationale?
An estimated 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day, the most common reasons being not feeling hungry, not feeling like eating or they were too busy.
Females are more likely than males to skip a morning meal because of being busy or running late, according to a study.
Before we troubleshoot why someone might not be hungry (did they have a gigantic dinner of refined foods and wake up still full?), let’s consider whether or not breakfast is really all it’s cracked up to be.
Is skipping breakfast all that bad for us?
Rewind about a hundred years and read what was published in a 1917 article in Good Health:
“The breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is the meal that gets the day started,” Lenna F. Cooper, B.S., wrote in the self-proclaimed “oldest health magazine in the world” edited by none other than Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (yes…that Kellogg) “… it should be made up of easily digested foods, and balanced in such a way that the various food elements are present in the right proportions. It should not be a heavy meal, consisting of over five to seven hundred calories”.
So we were being told to eat a refined breakfast, keeping it nice and light? I wonder what might fit that bill? Oh, right! Corn Flakes! Just the perfect thing to fuel one for a long day ahead!
With advances in technology and a subsequent decrease for calories needed to fuel a day of hard labor, a breakfast of corn flakes may have made sense to some degree, but a meal first thing in the morning of primarily carbohydrates with little to no fat or protein, one might argue, is worse than no breakfast at all.
Refined breakfast cereals (and they’re all refined…even those good old corn flakes) have a high glycemic load (the amount of carbohydrate in the food in relation to its impact on blood sugar levels).
A glycemic load of 20 or more is high, 11 to 19 is medium, and 10 or under is low.
The glycemic load has been used to study whether or not high-glycemic load diets are associated with increased risks for type 2 diabetes risk and cardiac events. Researchers have determined that people who consumed lower-glycemic load diets were at a lower risk of developing type 2-diabetes than those who ate a diet of higher-glycemic load foods. Higher-glycemic load diets were also associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease events.
Refined cereal gets a 20.
Eat cereal, blood sugar rises, the pancreas produces insulin, prompting cells to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage after which levels in the bloodstream begin to fall.
Premature hunger, fatigue and a craving for more carbs.
Contrast this with a case of someone proactively not eating breakfast, not because they didn’t have time or woke up still stuffed from last night’s meal, but because they’ve chosen to allow their body to adapt to rely on fat as their fuel.
Implementing intermittent fasting (“IF”) causes the body to release cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body, which is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes.
The most important thing to consider with regard to deciding whether IF is right for you or not is to distinguish it from a haphazard fasting ‘cleanse’ put into play as a punitive measure for a three day binge of eating everything and anything in sight.
While it might appear that I’m making light of a potentially serious situation, the reality is that it’s easy for one to misunderstand a well informed, properly planned use of intermittent fasting and instead, mistake it for a way to mask an eating disorder, whether it be starving for periods of time or binging and purging.
Intermittent fasting is neither.
The nuts and bolts are simple: there are health benefits to fasting for periods of time and doing so may well be a better approach versus cramming down a bowl of sugary cereal first thing in the morning.
But it’s certainly not the only way to go.
Eating the first meal of the day after an exercise session comprised of rich protein sources, veggies and a good dose of fat can also be the ticket to a day of steady balanced energy to keep you going strong all day long.
Which is better?
There’s no right or wrong, and so long as you’re in good health and not dealing with serious medical issues, it’s likely that you can safely test it.
Mark Sisson wraps it up nicely on his site, when he addresses who should or should not implement it:
“If you’re truly hungry, eat. Failing to do so will add stress.
If you’re stressed, don’t IF (intermittent fast). You don’t need another stressor.
If you’re training six days a week, don’t IF. Unless you’re genetically blessed, you’ll need lots of fuel to prevent overtraining.
If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. If coffee’s enough, skip breakfast.
If life is good, try fasting.
In the end, the prudent path is to simply listen to your body. Don’t let CW grazing propaganda drive you to eat when you aren’t hungry; don’t let the IF dogma make you feel guilty about grabbing a handful of macadamia nuts and jerky in between meals when you are fasting. Try it out, skip a meal, go fourteen hours or so (you already do eight every night) without eating, get a workout in, go for a walk, go about your day and see how you feel. A quick trial is not going to kill you…
Are you lightheaded?
Are you weak?
Did your workout suffer?
Then maybe it’s not for you. Maybe you need to fix a few things (Primal eating, sleep, chronic stress) and then try again…”
What will you tweet for #BetterBreakfastMonth this month?
Whether you go for IF, a homemade smoothie to go or good old-fashioned omelet, one thing’s for sure; you’re in a better position than anyone who’s going to cereal route!
 Polis, Carey. “31 Million Americans Skip Breakfast Each Day.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
 “The NPD Group – Global Market Research and Business Solutions.” Global Market Research and Business Solutions. NPD Group, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2015
 Klein, Sarah. “A Brief History Of How Breakfast Got Its ‘Healthy’ Rep.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 201
 Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard School of Public Health, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2015
 “Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Try Fasting? | Mark’s Daily Apple.” Marks Daily Apple RSS. N.p., 22 Feb. 2011. Web. 18 Sept. 2015