The answer could well be - no breakfast.
I was a religious breakfast eater for years. I’ve eaten everything from bread & jam, weetabix, corn flakes, eggs, dosa, peanut butter sandwiches etc. Then I stopped. Why? I just wasn’t hungry in the morning and having breakfast started feeling like a chore. So I thought - why am I not listening to my body. I’ll eat when I’m hungry.
That was over 10 years ago.
What happened? Nothing really. In fact, I found that overall I needed lesser food in a day. It was actually quite liberating to not have to eat as per the clock and just listen to my body. Now that I’m a qualified trainer and nutrition coach, I know I did the right thing. Let me tell you what the latest science is (very briefly) on the topic of breakfast.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” or “Breakfast will jump-start your metabolism”is something we have all heard before. But the health advantage of consuming a regular breakfast has been over-hyped.
A recent paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at studies over the last 30 years on the effect of breakfast on weight. This study notes that:
- the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss.
- caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it could have the opposite effect.
- there is no evidenceto support the notion that breakfast consumption promotes weight loss or that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain.
The quote from the study is below:
“ConclusionThis study suggests that the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss, regardless of established breakfast habit. Caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it could have the opposite effect.”
The link to the BMJ paper is here Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
Below is the cover of the Feb 2019 issue of the BMJ that covered this topic. It was a big deal, that’s why it made it to the cover page of a prestigious medical journal.
If you're confused, I totally understand. Health and nutrition information is everywhere and most of it is unreliable. Here's the bottom line...
If you’re a breakfast eater, carry on; just make sure to choose healthy foods. If you’re not hungry, don’t force yourself to eat breakfast.
If having a breakfast works for you, here are some ideas:
- If you have carbs, keep them low-GI as that will digest slowly and keep you fuller for longer. Oats are a great example of a low GI breakfast.
- Keep it low/zero sugar. In the example of oats, chop some banana into it, which will get you fruit and the sweet taste. Avoid sugary cereals.
- Include some protein - eggs are a great option. Cook it any way you like, just make sure you don’t use too much oil/butter.
- If you have fruit - eat it. Don’t drink it. Fruit has a lot of fiber, so eat the fruit, not the juice which is mostly sugar and water.
Be flexible and don’t force yourself to have breakfast if you don’t feel like it. Our lives are busy and no two days are the same. For example:
- If you have an early dinner, it's likely you'll be hungry soon after you wake-up. So, having a breakfast makes a lot of sense.
- If you had a late & heavy dinner, you shouldn’t be hungry in the morning. So don’t force yourself to eat breakfast.
- If you exercise hard early in the morning and then feel hungry, eat something - be sure to choose healthy foods.
- If you wake up very early, then its likely you can’t wait till lunch, so a breakfast will work well.
Always check-in with your body first and experiment to see what works best for you. In general, don't try to force yourself into an eating pattern that doesn’t sit well with you or that you can’t sustain — it may end up backfiring.
We must many myths on the D9 program and show our users what really works.