Our whole lives we have been fed the story that breakfast is the most important meal of the day
To get started we need to probably break this down into segments. Our whole lives we have been fed the story that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it jumpstarts your metabolism and without it we are on a slippery slope to some sort of dietary abyss. The truth is breakfast is not the be all and end all of life. We have such a complex metabolism, and metabolic processes that even without breakfast we can be healthy as well as look and feel great!
Firstly we need to know that all things being accounted for if we are in a calorie deficit we will lose weight, and in a calorie excess we will gain weight. Now to the more complex factors, all things are not equal and we need to take this into account. So many people are walking around with a misinformed notion of what health is, we encounter metabolic damage (insert YouTube link) weekly. If we could get the entire populace to read this article, we could start turning our scourge of overweight and obese people into a fighting fit force that would intimidate an army.
But this is about breakfast, so let’s stick to the script. We do need breakfast, we also need food in general and also air and water. What I am trying to say is; yes the average person needs breakfast in order to keep their sanity. Will breakfast do magic in your stomach? NO, we as humans need food, which is calories and calories are made up of Macronutrients and Micronutrients. Not complicated. If you as a human get your macro’s and micro’s in in the right amounts and the right calories you will live healthily. The general populace needs breakfast to get themselves to the point of balance and calorie maintenance required for everyday functioning. People who do not get their required caloric and nutrient intake, will experience various issues over the long term. We don’t want skinny people who all end up with nutrient deficiencies in later life, nor do we want overweight people who end up with lifestyle diseases either.
Be warned that food types and level of activity play a role in all of these calculations, we are focusing on breakfast but that is a small piece of a very big picture.
Now you need to know, want to know or already know that everyone is different and everyone will react differently to any specific system and hence individualization is key.
There are various ways in which we could approach having breakfast, or skipping breakfast. Let’s start with a great way to skip breakfast and maintain your status quo.
Firstly, Intermittent Fasting:
There are various ways to go about life without breakfast where health benefits are proven and the system is easy to apply to life. One such system is called intermittent fasting. This is a favourite of mine, I use it weekly and I am a believer in the flexibility it gives me to play around with my food intake throughout the day and week. Here is a basic rundown of how it works; firstly what is fasting? It is basically choosing not to eat even if food is available, so if you sleep for 8 hours you have also fasted for those 8 hours. Do not think you will experience some sort of blackout and sugar depletion if you spend half of your day without food, this will only happen to people with insulin problems who can also fast and do so successfully as well. Intermittent fasting is basically going for an extended period without eating, the fast is then broken and you have created a calorie deficit for yourself for the day. This way you can manipulate and negate the effects of high calorie days, or in my case the few weekends that go awry.
Fasting is simple, you can fast in various ways such as 20 hours fast and 4 hours “feed”, 16:8 ratio, or 24 hours straight. It’s your choice, the world record for fasting is over a year so do not think you will die if you go without food for a day! Fasting is there to help control or reduce weight, your body will burn its glycogen and if you fast for long enough it’s fat.
So the other misconception of losing muscle is a non-starter. Intermittent fasting is in my experience easiest when started in the morning when you wake and broken around lunch time, so the basic 16:8 ratio is my preferred fast duration. Intermittent fasting requires its own lengthy blog, the basics explained here give some insight into how easy it is to implement it and reduce your calories. The drawbacks are very much lifestyle and mental, most people are driven to madness at the thought of not eating, or worse people eat because others are eating and not because they are hungry. Habits will need to be adapted for intermittent fasting to work. Intermittent fasting has various benefits besides the caloric deficit you are creating. One of these benefits include stabilising insulin levels in individuals prone to high insulin levels.
The hard hitting truth is we have been conditioned over time to believe we have to eat at certain times for whatever reason be it health or habit. Physiologically we can go without food for weeks, so a few hours won’t kill the average individual.
Most people however “need” breakfast like they need their phones. So then a well thought-out, structured and specific breakfast is what I would advocate. This does mean effort, this does mean some diligence and this does mean noting what you eat and then putting it into a calculator of some sort. Being lazy will not be easily hidden, if you want to achieve something you will need to put in some effort here.
The trick, if you can call it that is to enjoy your food. Healthy food is great, have some eggs and bacon or muesli and yogurt, have fruit, have bread, have meat, have cereal…just be sure it’s accounted for and please do not have sugar-laden cereal. So many people quickly hoover down a bowl of chocolate flavoured “air“ and call it breakfast, that is not what we are talking about. Give yourself the chance to get in the needed macronutrients and micronutrients.
My verdict after working with people from all walks of life is simple and not straight forward, if you can track your food intake and adjust accordingly then you do not NEED breakfast. You have the tools needed to ensure you get your daily required calories and if all things are taken into account you will be able to manage or manipulate your weight and ensure you stay healthy.
If you do not track your food intake, you will need to form habits that can get you to the closest thing to being in control. This means a well-planned breakfast and balanced lunch and dinner. These people do need breakfast, in order to stay as healthy and balanced as possible breakfast is an important part of their bigger picture. This is the case for the majority of people who couldn’t be bothered with doing anything extra, more admin is unwelcome and any extra effort a burden. Follow a plan and keep control.
My verdict is, know yourself and then make the rule accordingly. To breakfast or not to breakfast, that is your question?
by Theo Pretorius