Top Breakfast Myths – Debunked!
August 17, 2015 | 12,312 views
The belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is now a thing of the past, as mounting research continues to support the benefits of intermittent fasting, a dietary pattern that promotes longer bouts of fasting by limiting your food intake to a specific timeframe.
Here are some common breakfast misconceptions that were proven incorrect by a study from the University of Alabama, Birmingham:
- Eating breakfast helps you lose weight – In an effort to find out whether eating or not eating breakfast truly had an impact on weight loss, researchers divided 309 overweight and obese but otherwise healthy adults into two random groups. Some were told to eat breakfast, while the others were told to skip it. After 16 weeks, the researchers found no difference in weight loss between the groups.
In essence, it didn't matter if they ate breakfast or not. However, it's important to note that they didn't control the food intake of the participants involved. The reason why there may be no significant weight loss between the two groups is that all of them may have been eating a standard American diet – refined carbs and processed fructose – which hinders your body from effectively burning fat.
- Eating breakfast improves your metabolism – In an article by Time magazine, it was revealed that eating your breakfast regularly does not improve your metabolism. Disputing the previous notion that eating breakfast will actually prevent you from overeating later in the day because their metabolism was boosted earlier, many people find that eating breakfast leads to feeling hungry again soon afterwards, which can lead to unnecessary snacking.
Again, this may have something to do with the type of food the participants in the said study were eating. Typically, you will find that eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast will make you hungry again far sooner than a low-carb, high-fat breakfast will. The reason for this is that if your body is using sugar as its primary fuel, it will need a "refill" at regular intervals, as sugar is a very fast-burning fuel.
Intermittent Fasting and Low-Carb Diet – A Powerful Combo
If you're obese or severely overweight, I believe the first thing that you should do is to cut back on your overall sugar and grain consumption. I highly recommend keeping your total sugar or fructose intake below 25 grams a day, or as little as 15 grams a day if you have any health problems related to insulin and leptin resistance, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, until your insulin-leptin sensitivity has been restored.
Fructose is particularly troublesome, as it triggers a key enzyme, fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes your cells to accumulate fat. This is especially true if you are overweight, but far less of an issue if you aren't. Likewise, grains also break down into sugar in your body, thereby promoting insulin and leptin resistance just like other sugars, which in turn promotes obesity and makes losing weight a real struggle.
After getting rid of sugar in your diet, you can take your weight loss efforts further by practicing intermittent fasting and exercising in a fasted state. The simplest way to get started is to skip breakfast, make lunch the first meal of your day, and have your dinner no later than 7PM or at least three hours before you hit the sack. I typically suggest sticking to this type of eating schedule, however for those who have schedules that do not allow this, eating breakfast and skipping dinner is an acceptable alternative.
The general rule is to limit your eating to a specific and narrow window of time each day (about six to eight hours), instead of eating every two to three hours all throughout the day. By providing ample amount of time in fasting, your body empties its glycogen stores, which rarely happens when you're eating three times a day, and turns on its natural fat-burning mode.
Warning: I strongly advise against fasting without your doctor's consent if you are hypoglycemic, living with chronic stress, have cortisol dysregulation, or have an existing medical condition. Pregnant women or nursing mothers are also not good candidates for any type of fasting, as babies need generous amounts of nutrients before and after birth.
For more information, read my article "Breakfast—Not the Most Important Meal After All...", which discusses this topic more in detail.