As a Personal Trainer I try to sit through a few health, diet and fitness programmes to see what's going on and being revealed to the general public. Whilst having the dubious pleasure of watching an entire episode of "Obese: One Year to Save My Life" on Sunday I heard breakfast described as the 'most important meal of the day' which you must eat as it 'kick fires your metabolism'. Some statements leave me scratching my head a bit so I thought I'd do some digging.
The 'most important meal' message is probably something we've all heard and grown up with being told. Being an inquisitive Personal Trainer I realised that I don't really know where that information comes from and it got me to thinking - is there actually any basis to it? Is it a fundamental truth that everyone believes but without any basis? And kick firing your metabolism...... how does that work?
The Importance of Having Breakfast
Thought I'd throw an interesting study your way....
This message appears to have been developed from observational studies that showed that people who ate breakfast generally have lower body weights than those that don't. Food manufacturers jumped on this bandwagon somewhat and started to publicise that, therefore, this must be the most important meal of the day and it has since been ingrained into our collective psyche.
In fact, Kellogs sponsored a study to 'prove' exactly this. One group of individuals were given 600kcals for breakfast and another group 0kcals and were then given access to an unlimited lunch. Those who had 'skipped' lunch ate 15% more kcals than those who had eaten breakfast! This evidence was presented as fact that if you skip breakfast you are more likely to over eat during the rest of the day, which strictly speaking is true as they had indeed 'overeaten' in comparison to the other group.
However, when you dig deeper into the stats sitting behind that report is showed that those who had skipped breakfast had consumed 1,550kcals and those that had eaten breakfast.... 1,600kcals. So whilst the presented results were true - the non-breakfast people had 'overeaten' in their other meals - the actual total calore intake was less!
These observational studies are inevitably flawed in so much as they don't take into consideration other factors such as whether people who regularly eat breakfast do more exercise or make better choices during the day.
The Metabolism Myth
Probably the briefest paragraph I'll write today.....
There is no physiological mechanism that means breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There's no data to support this and actually, it doesn't really make any sense! Yes, your metabolism will increase when you eat but not because it's breakfast, lunch, dinner or elevenses.... it increases because you eat, not when you eat. Your metabolism is not a constant fire regardless of what you may have read.
Choice... that's what it comes down to.....
What are you used to? Do you eat/not eat breakfast? If you feel you perform better by eating as soon as you get up, my advice would be... continue to eat breakfast! If you feel nauseous at the prospect of eating so soon after waking, then don't! However, when you do eat make sure you make a positive and healthy choice. Don't buy that sugary croissant or fatty sausage roll for instance, go for a healthy porridge or some eggs & salmon!
If you're eating a really sugary, crappy breakfast then is there a better choice you could make? You could reduce your portion and add some nuts and seeds to it or include some whole milk. Is there any way you could include some protein to increase satiety and reduce your chances of making some poor snacking choices during the day?
If you have any questions, comments, need some dietary advice and tips or are interested in Personal Training then drop me a line and I'll be more than happy to discuss further with you.