The Great Breakfast Myth
I quit eating breakfast everyday almost a year ago, and I’m better without it.
For years upon years we’ve all had it beaten into our thick skulls that a filling, nutritious breakfast is the best way to achieve health and a trim waistline. It’s become such common knowledge, that nobody even questions it.
But have we been lied to?
Let me get this party started by saying that I LOVE me some breakfast food. There is nothing better than diving into mountains of hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and sausage. All at once.
Quite frankly, I get down to some breakfast food.
But I don’t exactly get down to breakfast. It’s just not my jam, and it took me a while to realize that there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I might be doing my waistline, and my overall health a favor by skipping out on breakfast.
Before the zealots sworn to defend the breakfast castle gates until the end come after me, I’ll say there isn’t anything inherently wrong with breakfast. Tons of people have lost weight while adhering to a weight loss program that calls for eating breakfast. In fact way back in 2008, there was actually even a study published that showed those who ate a calorically dense breakfast lost more weight than those who didn’t.
Breakfast isn’t the only way to lose weight though. Why don’t we do a little learnin’ and I’ll lay some breakfast truth on ya.
The theory born from this study was that those who ate a more filling breakfast early in the day snacked less later on, and therefore lowered total overall calorie intake. The value of that study has been questioned for many reasons. One of my favorite is that 90% of Americans eat breakfast daily, yet nearly 50% are overweight.
This could be explained by a number of reasons, like people eating the wrong foods for breakfast. Regardless, it isn’t exactly stellar support of the eating breakfast theory.
The main support of the breakfast theory is that with a large, calorically dense breakfast you are taking advantage of increased insulin sensitivity. In a very, very brief explanation, insulin sensitivity is good. Insulin resistance is bad. We generally have 2 periods in the day when we are the most insulin sensitive. After a period of fasting (sleep), and after a workout. During this time the body is ready to handle carbs the most efficient way possible, and use insulin the way we want. Ideally to help build muscle, and burn fat.
We’re the most insulin sensitive in the mornings after a minimum of 8 hours of fasting because our glycogen (stored carbohydrates) levels are the lowest, so any carbs we consume the body immediately uses to replenish glycogen levels.
This is also the case immediately after a workout. So if we’re working along this theory, wouldn’t it make sense to extend our fast just a few hours, and maybe even include a workout at the end so we can further deplete glycogen, and in turn make ourselves even more sensitive to the wonder hormone insulin?
In another hit to the breakfast debate team, it seems that not eating when you first wake up might have added hormonal benefits to it as well. You may not realize it because the industry loves to push products on you, but hormones are the key players when it comes to fat loss, muscle gain, and overall health. Put simply; don’t mess with hormones. They don’t play games.
It seems that when we skip out on breakfast and go a few extra hours without eating, basically extending our nighttime fast, we make hormones work even more to our advantage. This is because we secrete growth hormone when we sleep, and it’s the highest when we’re in our deepest stages of sleep. But when we eat our first meal of the day, we stop secreting GH. This isn’t inherently bad, except for the fact that GH is one of the master hormones. A hormone that can do wonders for you.
Growth hormone aids in recovery, is seen as the anti aging hormone, and is generally just kick ass. We like growth hormone. We like repairing damaged muscles, and we like being younger. Skipping out on breakfast for a few hours leads to having more circulating growth hormone. Eff yeah bro. Growth hormone also offsets the effect of cortisol, which isn’t an inherently bad hormone and is needed if we want to lose fat. Too much cortisol is bad news bears. Even worse news, most of the general population has elevated levels of cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol are related to stored belly fat. Which is the worst news of all.
So am I saying you need to give up breakfast for good? Not quite. Like I said, I love me some breakfast foods, and when would I have been exposed to those very foods? Breakfast time. Duh. Am I saying that breakfast isn’t the wonder meal we’ve been told it is? You can bet your bottom dollar on that.