DO I REALLY HAVE TO EAT BREAKFAST TO LOSE WEIGHT?
I’ve never been a huge breakfast lover. Don’t get me wrong, I love biscuits and gravy or strawberry topped waffles, but I was never really in the habit of eating first thing in the morning. So I was always a bit skeptical about whether or not breakfast was really “the most important meal of the day.”
And it turns out, if you listen to those nerdy researchers, it is. A large majority of the research out there shows that if people are searching for fat burn, weight loss or muscle building, then breakfast is essential. Now I say “probably” because there are a handful of studies that don’t agree, but generally, the overwhelming majority of folks say that you need an early morning nosh session to see good progress with your fitness goals.
And that the ideal breakfast happens within an hour of waking.
So what happens if you skip breakfast?
- Your blood sugar levels drop and by noon, you’re overly hungry and more likely to cave in on cravings or overeat later.
- Your metabolism slows down to save energy. It’s not sure when your next energy dose will be so it starts storing fat to use later.
- If your metabolism slows but you’re still using lots of energy, then your body starts breaking down your muscles for fuel.
- And your cortisol level increases the longer you go without food. And higher cortisol leads to more fat storing.
That morning meal is literally meant to “break the fast” from not eating all night. And by breaking the fast, you’re able to start your metabolism, increase your energy and focus and protect your muscles. Rather than trying to save energy (aka storing fat), breakfast eaters are able to start burning fat and calories first thing in the morning leading to better fitness results overall.
It’s no wonder researchers found that breakfast eaters are leaner, make better dietary choices and are overall healthier. But they also found the AM eaters are smarter, have more friends, and perform better on tests. Who knew your morning omelet could do so much?
But don’t throw any pop-tarts into the toaster quite yet. Remember those studies that didn’t agree with the importance of breakfast – the one’s that found that breakfast didn’t help you lose weight or build muscle? Well in most of those studies, breakfast was usually something high carb and sugary – think Frosted Flakes or toast with jelly (or those pop-tarts you’re about to warm up).
What you eat for breakfast is just as important as when you eat it.
Those high carb, high sugar breakfasts are actually worse for your fitness goals than skipping breakfast all together. Those meals give you huge insulin spikes, energy crashes and high cortisol that tells your body to start storing fat.
So given the choice between a bowl of Cocoa Crispies and skipping breakfast, you’re better of waiting until you can get your hands on something healthier.
So what are you supposed to eat? In order to get the healthy perks of breakfast, you need about 20 grams of protein to jumpstart your metabolism.
Tossing leftover proteins with a few eggs is an easy way to get that dose of metabolism revving protein. But if you’re tired of eggs or just hate having a full stomach in the morning, protein shakes are a good alternative.
Remember, what you eat first thing in the morning sets your neurotransmitters for the entire day. And those neurotransmitters don’t start working until they have a dose of nourishment.
So yes, breakfast is that important to hitting your fitness goals. If you want to see faster or better results in the gym, get a dose of protein within an hour of waking. And watch out for those sneaky, sugary breakfast foods that should be treated more like dessert.