Life Without Breakfast, A Recipe for Disaster
I always ask my patients to give me a detailed description of not only what they eat but also when they eat it. It’s striking to me that far too often people eat very poorly at breakfast or don’t eat breakfast altogether.
Neither of these situations is ideal for your body or your brain, which both require to be fed on a regular basis. The average person eats dinner between 6 and 7 pm and goes to bed without a snack. They wake up between 7 and 8 am. This represents a twelve-hour period without food, which is great if you are going to take a fasting blood test to determine cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The body wakes up due to a drop in melatonin (the sleep hormone) and a surge of cortisol (the stress hormone), which help bring up your blood sugar level and mobilize you for action. However, shortly after waking up your cortisol levels begin to drop, and it’s exactly at this point that your body is counting on you to provide it with fuel in preparation for the upcoming day.
Hunger leads to fat storage
If you don’t eat breakfast, or “break fast” as it was once called, then your body has to get calories from some other source such as from your muscle, and muscle breakdown may occur. It can also lead to a slight increase in insulin, because your body will be trying to get the sugar in your bloodstream into your cells, which is one of insulin’s roles. However, once you do finally get hungry and eat, the elevated insulin levels put you into storage mode, which means that the calories you eat will likely be stored as fat. This doesn’t happen if you eat a healthy, balanced breakfast.
Clinical research supports the disastrous effects of skipping breakfast. Harvard researchers found that people who eat breakfast have one half the risk of becoming obese and developing insulin resistance.The reason for this finding? It is probably safe to say that the person who eats breakfast is less likely to eat a disproportionately higher level of junky carbohydrates (dried cereals, rolls, doughnuts, etc.), which those who skip breakfast are likely to eat when their blood sugar begins to drop.
If we think about skipping breakfast from an evolutionary model, where our ancestors were not always assured of a steady food supply, then skipping breakfast may activate a survival mechanism by which the body goes into storage or conservation of resources mode. In other words, no food, no problem–the body will slow down your metabolism and thereby keep your calories around longer, keeping weight on your body.
Low energy, poor concentration
If we don’t feed our bodies and our cells don’t have the nutrients they need to carry out their functions, our bodies stop working the way they should. You could think of it as the body going on “strike” or your cells doing a “work slowdown.” You will experience decreased performance. Your mind won’t think as clearly (think of all the young students who are eating nothing or junk food in the morning and having trouble paying attention in school) and you won’t have as much energy (think of all the people who are drinking coffee to get the burst of energy that they don’t have because there is no food or poor quality food in the tank).
Not only will your performance suffer but you will gain weight, because the body will try to conserve what calories you are giving it. After all, your body knows what to do even if your mind tells you otherwise.
I like to start my day with OptiMetaboliX or Vegan or Whey Fit Food, three products that respectively give you a rice and pea protein blend or whey protein source with over 21 grams of protein in each shake. OptiMetaboliX has the added benefit of curbing desire for food in general and carbohydrates in particular.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you give your body the nutrients that it deserves…eat a healthy breakfast every day!
Yours in infinite wellness,