Fitness advice: Personal trainer Harry Thomas tackles the myths surrounding the least important meal of the day
Let’s talk about breakfast. Famously said to be the most important meal of the day, the truth is that breakfast not as crucial as you might think. In fact, there are a tonne of misconceptions surrounding the morning meal.
For example, while it’s commonly said that eating early in the day boosts the metabolism, and that you shouldn’t eat lots in the evening, both of these ideas are myths. Another popular belief is that eating breakfast helps to manage your appetite for the day, and while this can be the case for some, it’s still very much dependant on the person.
That’s not to say you should be trying to skip breakfast. It’s still an important part of most people’s day, and many can’t function without it. This used to be the case for me as well, although I do seem to function much better in the gym on an empty stomach. I hardly ever eat breakfast now, unless I’m in a meeting and the smell of a nice fry-up happens to lure me in.
Some people feel more energised after eating first thing. However, some people can’t stand it and really struggle to get any form of food inside them right away. For those of you who really don’t like breakfast first thing in the morning, you can rest assured that, counter to what most people think, it’s not mandatory. It just means you are now able to consume more calories in a smaller time frame.
Diabetics may benefit from a low carb breakfast due to what’s known as the “second meal effect”. When diabetics consume a low carb (or low-glycemic) breakfast it doesn’t just have a positive effect on blood sugar at the time, it actually improves what’s known as PPGR (postprandial glycemic response) at the subsequent meal. Essentially blood glucose is managed much better throughout the day thanks to a well structured first meal.
But for most of us, whether we eat breakfast is ultimately based on preference. Listen to your body, pay attention to how you feel throughout the day and play around with when you consume food.
If you’re eating breakfast in the morning to speed up your metabolism, then stop right now. The main drivers of your metabolism are exercise, daily movement, and the amount of energy it takes to keep your organs working in your body.
To speed up your metabolism you need to up the amount of exercise you do, as well as your daily movements. Studies show that there is no difference at all in regards to calories burned over 24 hours between people who eat or skip breakfast. So no matter what you read online or in magazines, skipping breakfast does not correlate with having a slower metabolism.
The Benefits of skipping breakfast
There are actually some benefits to skipping breakfast. For you City folk who have a fast-paced and hectic start to the day, you can use this to your advantage if trying to lose weight. Rather than pick up food on the go when you aren’t particularly hungry, simply avoid eating until you do feel the need for it.
By skipping breakfast you’re dodging an entire meal’s worth of calories. If you skip a meal, that leaves you with 300-500 more calories to eat throughout the day.
We’re now approaching December, too, which is bound to include over-indulging and drinking. Fasting until you’re hungry allows you to enjoy your evenings more, knowing that you’ve some newfound headroom in the number of calories you can take in.
Does Eating breakfast lead to weight loss?
No. There have been numerous long-term studies to see if eating breakfast or not will affect weight loss. Each one of them concluded that it really didn’t matter. Your metabolism is constantly working.
Your weight loss will largely depend on the amount of food you’re putting into your body on a regular basis. As I have mentioned before, it’s all about calories in and calories out. There are lots of other factors, but the one constant is that if you over-eat, you will gain weight. Conversely, eating less than you burn is the constant factor in weight-loss.
Breakfast is very subjective, but the key thing to remember is that if you want and enjoy it, continue eating it. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t force feed yourself because someone has told you that it’s essential. It’s so easy to be misled or mis-sold when it comes to nutrition, and our main focus at No1 Fitness is to educate people so they can make smarter choices. Enjoy your food, listen to your body, and reap the rewards.