an array of breakfast food and drink

To breakfast or not to breakfast?

There are lots of different theories out there about when and if you should eat breakfast. There are various schools of thought on this –which camp do you fall into?

Camp 1: get up and eat!

The camp that says you should eat within an hour of getting up and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! To be missed at your peril! A 2003 study  at Harvard Medical School by Dr Mark Pereira found that eating breakfast lessened risk of obesity, diabetes and heart attacks.  (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2824987.stm)

Eating early in the day stabilises blood sugar levels which leads not only to higher energy but also lowers the likelihood of overeating during the day.

What is very clear to me though is that you need to ensure that what you eat does set up for the day and isn’t full of sugar that leads to a spike in energy and then a big slump, which sets off a cycle of craving and snacking. The best kind of breakfast is one that is full of protein. So, for example, scrambled eggs or an omelette with mushrooms and spinach or a smoothie with some protein powder mixed in which will keep you fuller for longer.

Camp 2: feast and famine

Those that recommend intermittent fasting – advocates such as the very well respected Dr Joseph Mercola.  They believe that limiting eating in a small window every day, for example between 11am to 7pm gives the body a chance to recover and repair, sending it into fat burning mode, which can be beneficial for the body and even lead to lower risk of chronic disease. This theory is based on the fact that our ancestors didn’t eat as regularly as we do; they hunted and then went through period of feast and famine – and they would say that our bodies are not  designed to constantly eat 3 large meals every day.

Camp 3: go without

Those that don’t do breakfast at all – they don’t feel hungry or the thought of food in the morning makes them feel quite queasy.

I believe it is a case of finding out what works for you and that this may even change on a daily basis. In my own case, some mornings I wake up ravenous and have to have something to eat before I can function – usually if I’ve not slept well or are jetlagged. Other days I’m happy with the glass of hot water and a couple of lemon oil drops in it and will go off and exercise –a run or a yoga or HIT workout – and then I will come back and eat.

Other times, especially on weekdays when I’m working I might not have anything to eat until 10 or 10.30 and then I find that keeps me going until lunchtime.

I must say that I find this mini version of intermittent fasting really does keep my weight in check. So if I’m feeling a few pounds heavier this is something that I’ll aim to do for a week and see the effect it has on the scales and more importantly how my clothes feel.

The one thing I’ve learnt from it too is that hunger goes in waves and I don’t always need to give into the urge to have something to eat. Having a glass of water can sometime fill me up or the hunger wave will just naturally pass.

At the end of the day I believe you should listen to what your body is telling you and tune in to what you need and that may change from day to day.

Have you figured out what works for you?

See my blog posts on healthy breakfast options.

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