If you watched a lot of television in the early 90’s you probably picked up on an ongoing trend. More and more commercials were being devoted to the instant breakfast. This was featured by two parents rushing around frantically in the morning, trying to gather the kids for school, and grabbing their instant shake mix/bar right before heading out the door. So, advertisers were implying that breakfast was important, but not too important: you should simply grab a small snack while dealing with your morning commute.
If you want optimal health then throwing some cereal bar in your briefcase won’t cut it. For one, cereal bars are heavily processed, so you may be eating something but you’ll end up hungry an hour later. Furthermore, eating is something that needs to be done in a comfortable state: research shows that eating in a stressed state can alter the function of your digestive system (1). You need to make time for eating, otherwise your stomach will become your worst enemy later on in the afternoon. You don’t need to prepare a seven course meal, just wake up 10 minutes earlier than you normally would.
Remember when I mentioned processed foods? Avoid them at all costs, especially when eating breakfast. If you’re going to work or school, whole foods will help keep stable blood sugar levels, allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand while feeling full (2). On the other hand, that bar you quickly engulf on your morning drive is loaded with preservatives and syrups that will send your blood sugar on a roller coaster; you’ll be at the coffee machine in no time. Stick with a whole food breakfast, not only for optimal cognitive function but simply for the taste (a lot of those bars are just gross).
Above all else, eat breakfast if you want to lose weight. Getting the day started with a meal is the best way to give your metabolism something to work off of. With no food in place, the metabolism really does have work to do, so it will actually go a find work by tearing down your own body in order to get energy. This is turn, actually slows your metabolism down. A research study was done where 10 year old children were divided into two groups: those who ate breakfast and those who did not. The subjects who ate breakfast reportedly ate 362 more calories throughout the day (3). Sounds like a bad thing at first, but a level of physical activity along with nutrient intake stimulants appetite because the body wants more energy. If you eat breakfast, are physically active, and find yourself having an appetite, consider that a good response. Just eat whole foods, as it’s easy to overeat on processed foods.
There’s plenty of weight loss gimmicks out there, and most of them do not work. You would be surprised what basic things, like eating breakfast, will do for shrinking your waistline.
Marc Pogorzelski, Nexus Fitness
1. Chek, Paul. How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy. San Diego: Chek Institute Publishing. 2004, page 194
2. Poliqiun, Charles. “Poliquin Principles.” 2nd Ed. Rhode Island; Poliquin Performance. 2013; pp 106
3. Kral, V.E., Whiteford, L.M., et al. “Effects of Eating Breakfast Compared with Skipping Breakfast on Ratings of Appetite and Intake at Subsequent Meals in 8 to 10 year olds.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 93:2 (2011):284-291