Is skipping breakfast the best way to lose weight?
Growing up in the 80’s, it was drilled into my head never to skip breakfast.
Breakfast was the way to fuel yourself for the day. Eating breakfast made you live longer. It was healthier for your body. It improved your performance during the day.
It was considered the most important meal of the day, it is literally breaking the fast of the night before.
That’s why it’s called break-fast. (Duh.)
Yet, the trend right now is what the younger generation calls “intermittent fasting”. I just call it skipping breakfast.
With the 24/7 food access in our culture, it seems we’ve become a society that constantly snacks throughout the day, rather than eating our steady three meals a day without snacking in-between. Intermittent fasting has been the rave created to combat this grazing lifestyle.
“…skipping breakfast may not be the healthiest thing to do to our bodies.”
Intermittent fasting is the idea that you have a window of eating for the day, and you are not to consume any calories outside that window. One of the most popular type of intermittent fasting is the 16/8, or the 18/6; fasting for 16–18 hours, and then eating in a period of 6–8 hours during your waking moments, and it’s encouraged to eat as healthy as possible during that time; a low-carb, nutritionally dense diet is mostly encouraged.
(There are other types of fasting: the 5:2, Warrior Diet, Eat-Stop-Eat, Alternate Day Fasting, and Spontaneous Meal Fasting. But we can discuss these in another blog)
This type of intermittent fasting is simple. Pick your window, don’t eat anything after dinner (or at the tail-end of your eating time), and hold off eating as long as possible after you wake up.
The eating window looks something like 10am–6pm, 12pm-6pm, or 10am-4pm, or even 2pm-10pm. The concept doesn’t encourage eating right after you wake up, because you can gain that extra time to kick over from burning glycogen to burning fat stores. If you wake up early, as I do (5am if I’m lucky to sleep in), that means going as long as 5–7 hours without food after waking.
In our social life, we meet up after work for dinner and drinks, revolving our socializing around meals in the evening. Something has to give, so breakfast has become the casualty of this strict eating window of intermittent fasting. But skipping breakfast may not be the healthiest thing to do to our bodies.
I have tried most every diet, and failed. I’ve tried intermittent fasting, but with the popular concept of skipping breakfast.
I’ve found I can’t skip breakfast. My body needs food within a couple hours of waking. I need my fuel for the day or else I’m listless, cranky, unable to concentrate, and get migraines.
So, regardless of all the touting that skipping breakfast is good for your body, my body tells me an emphatic “NO!”
But, all of my personal searching has shown that intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight, and it can actually be good for our bodies. Short term fasting rests the the gut, and the body uses stores for fuel, which contributes to weight loss.
This is so much more beneficial over grazing for our entire waking period.
I’m a grazer, and looking back on my eating habits, my eating window is more like 12 hours or more.
No wonder I don’t lose weight.
But, this intermittent fasting includes skipping breakfast, and it’s not healthy.
Time and time again, it’s been proven that breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day. There’s plenty of research that shows eating breakfast is healthier than going without.
According to one study from NCBI:
“Regular consumption of breakfast is associated with a range of benefits in children and adolescents including more adequate intakes of macro and micronutrients; lower body mass index (BMI); higher cognitive performance; and better levels of well-being, and quality of life.
Another study from The Journal of American College of Cardiology (JACC) concluded that:
“Skipping breakfast could serve as a marker of unhealthy dietary and lifestyle behavior and is associated with the presence of noncoronary and generalized atherosclerosis independent of conventional CVD risk factors in a sample of middle-aged asymptomatic individuals. Our findings highlight the message of the importance of healthy eating, including an energetic breakfast.”
I could continue to reference more research articles to prove my point, however, that would be boring. What I’ve found is that skipping breakfast is not as nutritionally beneficial as eating a healthy meal first thing in the morning. At least they got one thing right back in the 70’s.
I resist the intermittent fasting. I can’t get on the skipping breakfast bandwagon.
Then I realized something…
Skipping breakfast doesn’t have to be exclusive to intermittent fasting.
You can actually marry the two ideas together, eating in a 6–8 hour window, and start off with a healthy breakfast.
Instead of skipping breakfast, eat a very light dinner, and eat it early. Keep a 6–8 hour window, even skip a meal (like lunch) if you’re not hungry. Keep calories down, and eat paleo, mediterranean, or low-carb. Stay away from highly processed, high carb, and sugary foods.
This is the concept that I’m going to start using. It’s a combination of multiple weight loss ideas used together to create a more personal plan, something I can get on board with and strive for my weight loss.