The old saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” seems to have fallen by the wayside thanks to the popular intermittent fasting diet which advocates skipping breakfast and eating your first meal at noon. But even before this latest diet trend, I’ve had countless patients tell me they skip breakfast, eat a small lunch instead and end their day with a large dinner. While depriving yourself of breakfast may seem like an easy way to lose weight, it can actually make you gain weight! When you starve yourself in the morning your body uses its own fat storage as fuel (i.e. your body cannibalizes itself.) This is called “ketosis,” which is a mild form of ketoacidosis. This happens to be the leading cause of death for young adults with type 1 diabetics. When your body goes into ketosis, you can also get “brain fog,” become extremely fatigued, and enter a starvation mode. To protect you, the body rebounds by storing the food you eat for lunch and dinner as fat reserves. It’s a vicious “yo yo” cycle.
We already fast enough. From the time we finish eating at night until the time we wake up, which averages 10-12 hours (that’s almost six months out of the year the average person spends fasting!) Your first meal of the day breaks this fast which is where the word “break-fast” comes from. Breakfast is the most important meal because it sets the pace for the day and helps you keep your weight under control. A recent study by the Endocrine Society shows obese insulin-treated type 2 diabetes patients, eating three meals per day, beginning with a big breakfast, average sized lunch and small dinner, produces better weight loss, less hunger and better diabetes control while using less insulin. This is what I have been recommending to my patients for almost three decades.
There is a lot of research showing the importance of eating breakfast. In a study of nearly 3,000 people, enrolled in the National Weight Control Registry, adults who lost over 30 pounds and kept the weight off for over a year, 78% of them ate breakfast. The people that gained the weight back, skipped this important meal. The Journal of Public Health and Nutrition published research showing people that eat breakfast every day have a healthier body weight. The International Journal of Chronobiology showed breakfast skipping is associated with obesity and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In another study, the British Medical Journal published findings that showed breakfast is protective against weight gain. Last year, the Journal of Nutrition published findings showing consuming a large breakfast is one of he most effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain
In my #1 National Bestselling book Food Sanity, how to eat in a world of fads and fiction, I recommend a healthy breakfast as a vital part of achieving permanent weight loss. Be careful about processed foods like white bread, bagels, cereal; even those “low carb” breakfast bars, can spike your blood sugar and pack on the pounds. Instead of white flour, go for bread made with almond flour, coconut flour, quinoa flour or sesame flour. If you want to make pancakes, use buckwheat flour. This has a low gylcemic index, which means it won’t cause a rapid soar in blood sugar levels like refined white flour does. Buckwheat groats can significantly lower blood glucose and insulin responses. To sweeten those pancakes, skip the maple syrup and pour on some delicious Yucon syrup. This syrup promotes weight loss, helps lower blood glucose and reduces insulin resistance. It has also been suggested as a great sugar substitute for diabetics.
Instead of eating white bread with your morning eggs, opt for rye bread instead. According to research published in the Nutrition Journal, eating a breakfast that includes rye toast can help you decrease your hunger throughout the rest of the day. In another study published in PloS One Medical Journal, researchers found that rye toast also lowers blood sugar surges. Another great breakfast option is organic steel cut oatmeal with blueberries. Even though blueberries are high in sugar (a whopping 15 grams of sugar per cup!), because of their fiber content, the natural fruit sugar is released slowly into the body and won’t cause any unhealthy sugar spikes. Blueberries can actually help normalize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of diabetes by 23 percent.
While many health experts recommend eating a small breakfast or skipping it completely, then consuming a moderate to large lunch and finishing the day with a hefty size dinner, you should do the opposite. Think about it. Why would you consume a heavy dinner 4 hours after eating a big lunch and then going to bed 4 hours after eating the largest meal of the day? It’s far better to have a large, healthy and energizing breakfast after you’ve fasted for 12 hours, which is when your body needs refueling the most.
Sample breakfast options from Food Sanity:
BREAKFAST CHOICES (pick one):
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