For years we have been told that you must start the day with a healthy breakfast and it is the most important meal of the day. Shockingly I’m still yet to see anybody on the news suddenly dropping dead from missing out on their special K or Weetabix.
If I had to pick a meal that is the most overrated meal of the day it would be breakfast. Unless you’re planning on running a marathon that morning or intend to perform a 2 hour cardio session (jogging, spin bike, farting around on cross trainer) then you don’t need a breakfast and certainly don’t need one full of carbohydrates and sugar.
Please note If your main goal is to gain weight and get stronger then eat all day every day and ignore this post. Actually walk to the fridge as running will use extra calories and consume large amounts of protein and whatever else right now.
Back to the topic. Like I said, breakfast isn’t important. Our bodies are actually designed to not eat food first thing in the morning this is why we wake up feeling hungry as it’s our brain telling us to go and find some food and eat. Before Kelloggs, Nestle and processed foods were around most people would either have to cook, hunt or eat left overs from the night before. At worst this would have normally resulted in a high protein and high fat meal, not the shit most people eat first thing today.
When we wake up two major hormones are naturally elevated. One of them being Cortisol. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that breaks down tissue. When we lift weight or perform activity that stresses us, cortisol levels rise.
Elevated cortisol in the morning is actually a good thing as it breaks down fat into usable energy. Many people will argue that you will lose muscle if we skip breakfast, but actually you won’t as your second major hormone Growth Hormone (protective over muscle) is also naturally elevated in the morning. On wakening our bodies are in a primed fat burning state, alert and ready to function until you eat.
Where it all goes wrong!
So we have established you’re not suddenly going to drop dead from delaying your first meal but where does our energy come from and what happens when we eat that low fat bowl of special K?
Firstly we have around 14-16 hours of glycogen stored in muscle tissue and our liver. So for roughly 16 hours we could not eat and function quite fine. In fact a few of the lads in the gym fasted for 80 hours as an experiment. One of them managed to pull a 250kg personal best deadlift, half way through their fast. So when I say you can still function, you really can!
Let’s say you never eat after 8pm as you have been told it will make you fat (btw this is bullshit). If you don’t eat until lunch that day that will add up to 16 hours of fasting and not to mention an extra 10-15 minutes in bed, not having to cook and eat.
Not only do you get more sleep, but you improve your insulin sensitivity and can then eat more food later on in the day to make up your calories.
Eating a high carbohydrate or sugary meal in the morning raises blood sugar and spikes insulin. Insulin is a pretty awesome hormone, I’m not a low carb fanatic. But it is only awesome when it’s not being abused. Insulin is a building or storing hormone and enables us to build muscle as well as body fat.
Surely it makes sense to avoid insulin in the morning when our hormones are naturally primed to burn fat?
What goes up must come down and that’s exactly what happens to your blood sugar levels after your “healthy” bowl of cereal or breakfast bar. 60-90 minutes later you will most likely start feeling hungry, tired and sluggish.
This is because your blood sugar has dropped and your brain is now telling you to go and eat again to raise it. Chances are you will reach for a sweet type of food resulting in a vicious cycle throughout the day which then leads into weeks, months and years. (Oh shit, I just got fat)
So skipping or delaying your first meal will help you stay alert, not mess up the rest of the day and give you more time in the morning to sleep or get the kids ready.
However, some people actually enjoy a meal in the morning or might not get a chance to eat properly during the day. If you don’t want to skip breakfast then aim to eat high fat/high protein foods such as eggs and meat.
This will not raise blood sugar levels as much and will satisfy you until later on in the day. Later that evening you can then enjoy your high calorie foods and your big carbohydrate meals or meal. Like I mentioned earlier, carbohydrates can make you sluggish and sleepy so eating them before bed will only help you sleep better. Our metabolism doesn’t go to sleep when we sleep. Most of our anabolic repairs (Building new shit) is carried out when we’re sleeping so a big carbohydrate meal that raises insulin is probably not a bad idea. We also can’t eat when we are sleeping so there is no chance of us feeling peckish an hour later.
Don’t panic and dial 999 if you skip breakfast. It’s not that big of a deal and the total calories consumed during that day/week is what counts. Avoiding traditional breakfast cereals and bars are going to result in you eating less over a week and eating more nutritionally dense foods or as I call it, real food.
I have used this system with multiple fat loss clients, strength athletes and just about everyone I have trained. It works, it’s simple and fits most peoples’ busy lifestyles.
Click here if you would like my free meal planner and starter back on the front page.