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Over the past couple of decades, there has been a rather large health boom. This boom has brought about a large number of claims. Some of which have merit, while others are as legitimate as the witch hunt of the late 1600s. Therefore, I am beginning an article series, where I will shed some light on these flip flop topics. These articles will not only serve to educate you beyond that of the “special guest” fitness icon on your favorite morning show, but will also grant me some practice in research and writing, as I come closer to beginning graduate school.
Does Eating Breakfast Help You Lose Weight?
This claim has been made, debunked, made and debunked again. So it leaves one to wonder, does it or does it not?! Well, to give you straight up answer, no. Well, at least from a direct physiological standpoint, it does not. There have been no significant findings that eating breakfast directly burns fat. In fact, study after study has shown that meal timing has no significant difference on weight loss, all together. However, it has been shown that eating breakfast leads to a number of diet and exercise habits, that lead to greater weight loss and overall health/ well-being.
These benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Lower incidence of snacking throughout the day, resulting in lower calorie in-take.
- Lower dietary fat intake, resulting in a lower calorie intake throughout the day.
- Greater exercise performance (length, intensity, calories burned, etc.). This leads to more muscle and fat loss over time.
- Less feelings of hunger or satiety throughout the day. If you’re less hungry, than you are less likely to overeat. This isn’t rocket science, in fact, it’s hardly even nutritional science.
Does Eating Breakfast Help with Overall Health?
Yes! This is the MAIN point you should take from this article. When it comes to breakfast, the health benefits far outweigh the weight loss benefits. After all, being healthy involves more than how much fat you have. This is something you should consciously remind yourself of when starting a healthier lifestyle. All to often, people have this mindset that the number on the scale is the most important thing. This could be farther from the truth. In fact, research has shown that it is healthier to be overweight and fit, than it is to be a desired weight, and unfit.
It has been shown that breakfast can lead to:
- Greater cognitive function- In a particular study, those who ate breakfast made less mistakes during tasks throughout the morning, than those who skipped breakfast. They also had much lower mental fatigue. You want a raise at work? Eat breakfast.
- Lower rates of metabolic issues– In an 18-year study, those who ate breakfast 4 to 7 times a week had lower occurrences of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure. This is a big deal, because these issues can severely raise the risk for heart disease. In case you were unaware, heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. Not cancer, HEART DISEASE.
- Lower incidences of giving up- That’s right, those who ate breakfast were more likely to follow through with their goals, and stay on track.
What Type of Breakfast Should I eat?
The answer to this question highly depends on your morning activities.
If you workout in the morning:
- Pick a meal moderately high in carbohydrates
- High in protein
- Lower in fat
Note: Eat this meal 45-90 minutes before you exercise for optimum results.
- Piece of fruit and whey isolate protein.
- Nutritious cereal and egg whites.
- Greek yogurt and fruit.
If you don’t workout in the morning:
- High in protein- improves performance, recovery, and has shown to help prevent excessive afternoon snacking.
- High in fat- prevents a large insulin response. Insulin inhibits fat burning, and can cause sugar crashes.
- Little to no carbohydrates- Carbohydrates, no matter the type, will cause insulin increases. This is unwanted, as mentioned before. Not to mention, it would be ideal to save your daily carbohydrate intake for your workout later in the day.
- 50-200mg coffee- gives in absence of carbs, reduces hunger (specifically coffee), and burns fat. This equates to 8-32oz. of coffee. Note: this recommendation is only for those who are healthy enough to consume it.
- Shake (see below)
- 2-3 whole eggs, some egg whites mixed in, and coffee with heavy whipping cream or creamer.
- 1-2 cups of liquid egg whites, turkey bacon, and a 1/2 to 1 oz. of cheese.
What If I don’t Like Eating Breakfast?
If you do not like eating breakfast, but you feel you should begin, there are two things I would suggest.
- Eat something as soon as you wake up. Research has shown that a strong hunger hormone (ghrelin) peaks within the first 30min. of waking, but then plummets after after that. This may be the reason that you don’t feel hungry enough to eat breakfast if you happen to wait too long.
- Make the change. You may not like eating breakfast solely due to the fact that you don’t, and you haven’t for sometime. This is much like if you are used to waking up at 10am, and then suddenly have to get up at 6:30am. It will feel wrong and terrible at first, but with repetition and consistency, you will adapt. Breakfast eating is no different.
- Try a shake. Shake is an easy, liquefied way, for someone to eat breakfast. When I say shake, I don’t mean some “30-day shake” nonsense. I mean a homemade shake designed to give you want your body needs, and avoids what it doesn’t need.
- ½ scoop of whey isolate protein.
- 1 tbspn. of coconut milk
- 1tbpsn heavy whipping cream
Blend, and enjoy.
Does Skipping Breakfast Have any Benefits?
This is where things get interesting. Note: if you are not a serious weightlifter or athlete, then this does not apply to you. Ever heard of intermittent fasting? How about Carb-Back loading? If not, let me briefly describe their principles. Both of these, despite their differences, aim to do the same thing- use insulin response properties to increase muscle/strength and lose fat.
Normal insulin pulls carbs into muscle from the bloodstream, however, it also stores fat. Notice I said “normal insulin”, this refers to the biological rhythm. The activation of this insulin is most sensitive upon waking (causing more fat storage). Which is why diets are always asking you to refrain from eating until later in the day. There is also “not normal insulin”, which is the insulin initiated through muscular activation (ex. working out). This muscle activation must be at a certain level, which is usually reached through vigorous weight lifting. Also, this works best if the lifting is done at 5pm or later. I would not suggest this style for someone who works out in the morning.
If this is something you are interested in, then keep an eye out for an article I will be writing very soon on this type of dieting.
- Schlundt, J. , Et Al.; The role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity. Am J Clin Nut. March 1992. Vol. 55 no. 3 645-651
- Chowdhury A., Richardson, J., Et Al.; The Causal Role of Breakfast in Energy Balance and Healthy: a Randomized Controlled Trial in Obese Adults1,2. Feb 10th, 2016, doi. 10.3945/ajcn.115.122044
- Odegaard, A. , Van Horn, L.; Breakfast Frequency and Development of Metabolic Risk. Diabetes Care36:3100-3106, 2013
- Leidy, H. , Ortinau, L.; Beneficial Effects of a Higher-Protein Breakfast on the Appetitive, hormonal, and Neural Signals Controlling Energy Intake Regulation in Overweight/ Obese, “Breakfast Skipping” Late-Adolescent Girls.
- Veasey R., Haskell-Ramsey, C.; The Effect of Breakfast Prior to Morning Exercise on Cognitive Performance, Mood and Appetite Later in the Day in Habitually Active Women; July 14th, 2015. Nutrients 2015, 7(7), 5712-5732; doi: 10.3390
- Kiefer, John. Carb-Backloading: Manual For Total Body Fat Control. N.p.: DH, 2012. Print.
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