We had a patient not too long ago who struggled to lose weight. A quick look at her food diary revealed why. To save calories, she skipped breakfast and simply sipped on coffee or one of those “skinny lattes” that actually contain a fair amount of sugar.
“I hate breakfast,” is a common phrase we hear from patients. It’s unfortunate, since studies show besides emotional resilience, eating breakfast consistently correlates with longevity and a healthy weight. Eating breakfast is just that, “breaking” the overnight “fast.”
Eating upon waking brings your blood sugar levels back to normal, kick-starts your metabolism, and sets you up to be on an even metabolic keel for the rest of the day. So break your fast every morning. It will make you healthier, give you more energy through the day, and help you lose weight.
The old proverb “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper” now has some scientific muscle behind it. Many of us think that if we skip breakfast we will reduce our overall calorie intake for the day and lose weight.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Not eating breakfast means you will eat more the rest of the day. A study among healthy lean women found skipping breakfast impairs insulin sensitivity and leads to weight gain.
When you skip breakfast, work through lunch, and finally return home in the evening: you eat everything in sight. You feel stuffed, sick and guilty. I see a definite pattern among patients who skip breakfast and then experience evening hunger and cravings.
Does skipping breakfast and eating a large meal just before sleep sound familiar?
We consume most of our daily calories shortly before bed. We rarely eat breakfast. We hardly make time to eat during the day, and by the time we get home we are literally starving, we often consume more than we need and then go to bed or sit in front of the television or computer while munching on more snacks. Then we do the one thing that guarantees to make us gain weight: we go to sleep.
Equally bad are those who make breakfast a dessert. If you eat empty calories from refined foods (such as high sugar breakfast cereals), you will tend to eat more overall. You would never eat ice cream for breakfast, but many bowls of cereal, toaster concoctions, muffins, and other things that pass as breakfast – even “healthy” choices – contain as much if not more sugar. You’re essentially eating dessert.
So eat breakfast, but do it correctly. Bypass the cereal aisle and whatever vitamin-fortified concoctions that carry a healthy halo and try to pass off as a smart breakfast.
Studies show protein-rich breakfasts can improve satiety and reduce evening snacking. Another showed a protein-rich breakfast helps reduce your hunger hormone ghrelin and increase Cholecystokinin, which signals your brain to stop eating. Protein-rich foods like eggs, peanut butter, good quality protein shakes, or whole grains with nuts steady blood sugar and reduce metabolic fluctuations later in the day.
Among the countless duties that confront us in the morning, many people struggle to have time for breakfast. That has always puzzled me since you can make a healthy omelette with plenty of colourful vegetables in minutes.
If even that seems too much, or you’re just not that hungry in the morning, try a breakfast smoothie. You can make one in less time than it takes to queue up and order your designer coffee.