Breakfast is so similar to marmite. You either love it or you avoid it completely. Nevertheless, should we or shouldn’t we be having breakfast each morning? The answer to that question is one the most sought after by people and is one of the most debated topics in nutrition right now. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. We are all different and it usually comes down to what works best for you.

The term breakfast means to ‘break-the-fast’ from the night before. Therefore, regardless of what time you eat that morning meal, whether it be 8am, 10am or even 12pm, you are still going to be breaking the fast. Yet, for one reason or another, this is considered to be the “most important meal of the day” and often suggested that we eat it as soon as we wake up.

I prefer to look at this meal as “the first time you feed yourself”. Therefore, rather than “should I have breakfast right away, or skip it and have it later in favour of the intermittent fasting approach?”, this first meal should be about setting a precedent for how you will eat for the rest of the day. The key message is to make sure you eat something that is nutritiously healthy.

The reason for this is simple: this meal creates the momentum needed for a day full of  healthy habits, productivity, and improved mood/energy rather than a day filled with that so-called unhealthy chaos and laziness.

With that said, the question still remains. As such, this post will discuss both methods.

INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF)

This nutrition protocol dictates the times at which you eat and the times when you fast (not eating). Now there are many different variations to this (i.e. 24h fasting, alternate day fasting and the 12h fasting).

A commonly used approach is the 16/8 fasting. This is a 16-hour window where you fast and an 8-hour window where you feed (i.e. 12pm-8pm eating).

The potential benefits of IF are:

  • Fat Loss (body will eventually adapt to not eating in the morning, leads to a reduction in total calories throughout the day…. THE ONLY WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT is by being in a negative energy balance).
  • Improve Insulin Sensitivity (Less resistant to insulin. High insulin resistant has been shown to increase the risk of our body storing food as body fat as opposed to burning it for energy).
  • Lower LDL cholesterol.
  • It is implied women may not respond as well as men, as more restrictive IF protocols could potentially cause issues with women’s hormones. (‘IF’ can still be beneficial for women, but a more relaxed approach of 10/12 hours instead of 16/8 might be more suited).
  • Good for people who aren’t hungry in the morning or don’t have time to eat.

BREAKFAST RIGHT AWAY

It has been reported that having breakfast can lead to “improved concentration, great energy levels and a faster metabolism”… well that statement is as solid as an ice lolly sitting on a BBQ – it doesn’t hold water.

Don’t get me wrong, eating a good nutritious breakfast consisting of PFF foods (Protein, Fibre and Fat) would provide us with the benefits listed above. However, unfortunately not everyone eats like this and there are many people who do have breakfast but tend to eat refined CHO and high glycaemic foods like cereals, pastries etc.. which can in fact have the opposite effect of the benefits listed.

So, the idea that this is the most important meal of the day depends on the foods you are eating.

The potential benefits for Breakfast are:

  • Reduces Stress Hormones (When our body doesn’t receive food in a timely manner, this increases the risk of producing excessive Cortisol, which can in turn lead to fat storage, and cravings for high CHO/sugary refined foods).
  • Reduces Hunger Hormones (more control over ‘Ghrelin’, thus reducing the feeling of hunger, whilst increasing ‘Leptin’ the feeling full hormone. So, this may reduce the chance of binging on more foods throughout the day – eat less).
  • People who want to build muscle would be more suited having breakfast as this is the easiest way to get those additional calories required for growth. A positive energy balance is recommended when wanting to build muscle and size.

Bottom Line, there is no such thing as a perfect diet or nutrition protocol that works for everyone. The main part of healthy eating is habit. Therefore, you need to find out what works well for you, your goals and what is sustainable for your lifestyle.

 

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