It’s the most important meal of the day. You’ve heard it before, probably hundreds of times. You may have touted it to others, while hiding behind a guilty grin. Or perhaps you’ve nervously laughed (or cried a little) on the inside, when this age-old saying briefly echoed in your mind just before you scarfed down the only breakfast in sight – which just so happened to be a glistening, sugary glazed donut at 10 am from the pastry box in the office lounge. Damn!
Fact is, though many of us know that having a healthy, filling breakfast is important, too few of us are eating breakfast every morning like we should. And the reasons for skipping breakfast are usually the same: too busy, not hungry. Yes, for many of us making breakfast means getting up earlier – which equates to less snooze button time. And for others who claim to have a “lighter stomach,” a full, hearty breakfast just doesn’t sound very appealing in the wee hours of the morning. But even still, to all of you who shun breakfast for lack of time or appetite, I say, “Tsk! Tsk! Little grasshopper! Breakfast is indeed your most important meal of the day- especially if you’re trying to lose weight.” And here’s why:
Break your fast
The term breakfast comes from the word “fast,” as in fasting, or not eating. When you wake up in the morning you’ve probably gone at least 7 hours if not more without eating. Imagine how you feel 7 hours into the work day without food? Hungry? Tired? Irritated? Ready to slap someone? Is this how you want to start your day? Of course not! So having breakfast means you’re literally breaking your fast, and having a well-balanced breakfast is very important because it’ll give your body the first dose of slow-burning energy it needs to stay productive and metabolically stable until lunch.
Starvation, snacking and getting fat
When your body goes for long periods without food, and then you scarf down something like that glazed donut at 10am, your insulin levels will rapidly rise, which will then signal your body to store fat- even though you’re not particularly well fed. So now you’re starving and you’re storing fat!! But all this is easily avoided when you take the time to eat a balanced breakfast first thing in the morning. You break your fast, and you prevent the vicious cycle of starvation, junk food consumption and insulin spiking.
But there’s more. Here’s another interesting fitness tidbit you may or may not have heard of: Metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a condition that can lead to other illnesses like obesity, heart disease, and insulin resistance. And researchers have found that starting your day with a healthy dose of calories (from breakfast), may result in decreased risk of metabolic syndrome because insulin levels become more stable throughout the day and you’re also less likely to graze on random junk food when you start the day with breakfast.
Extra food for thought: Not eating breakfast kinda makes you stupid
Yeah, you read that right. Not only does your body need glucose (a form of energy found in many carbohydrates) but your brain needs it too. Low glucose levels can lead to difficulty concentrating, slow processing of new information, and even trouble with short and long term memory. Translation: not eating breakfast can make you dumb.
Time and time again studies have shown that healthy and fit people eat a nutritious and balanced breakfast every morning. That said, when shooting for a balanced breakfast, I’d go for something that contains a 40:30:30 macronutrient ratio of protein to healthy fats (like monounsaturated fats) to complex carbs (including fiber). Studies have shown that people who eat a breakfast that’s high in protein (think eggs) are better able to lose weight and stay slim, when compared to those who eat a more carb heavy breakfast (think cereal). So overall the 40:30:30 macronutrient ratio is a good place to start if you want to keep your insulin levels low, your metabolism up, and your body adequately fueled until lunch. – Doc
Dr. Phoenyx Austin is a physician, author, owner of Dr. Phoenyx FitBody products, and a certified personal trainer dropping a healthy dose of GET FIT knowledge. Her motto: The gym is my office and pushups are my prescription! Check out Dr. Phoenyx’s awesome natural hair care book If You Love It, It Will Grow – available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. And don’t forget to say hello to the Doc on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!