Dear Dr. Mo: How important is breakfast for my health? Should I skip it if I want to lose some weight? I see some of my friends do this.
Dear reader: To answer simply – breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you should never skip it.
That said; let me quickly give a few important reasons for this.
Fist and foremost, if you want to lose some weight or just maintain the one you have (especially if it is a healthy one and feels good to you) eating breakfast every morning is the way to go.
I’ve spoken to people whose strategy was to skip breakfast thinking they would reduce their daily amount of calories – you are guessing already – they have failed at that. The reason such a strategy doesn’t work is because without a proper breakfast, you become very hungry by lunch time and not only that but you drive your body into energy conservation mode in which calories are being conserved and stored rather than spent and where your metabolism slows down – all of which is bad news for weight loss. And so come lunch time, you overeat or have poor food choices and this trend goes on into the afternoon and evening packing much more calories than you’d actually need. Research have undoubtedly shown that those eating breakfast regularly tend to be much more successful in losing weight and controlling their weight over long periods of time.
Another reason not to skip breakfast lies in a simple analogy: you don’t start a journey with an empty gas tank in your car simply because you wouldn’t get too far. We know this very well but somehow we forget it when it comes to us and the same goes for our bodies – we need fuel to run and that fuel comes from food.
Now, we are more efficient systems than that of cars so if you start your day with an empty tank, you won’t shut down (at least not immediately) but you will become more tired more quickly, you will become nervous and edgy and you will not be focused enough and your brain will not be able to function properly. All this happens because the blood sugar drops when we don’t eat enough and sugar is the main source of energy for our cells – particularly for the brain.
If I skip breakfast, which does happen from time to time albeit unintentionally, I become nervous and agitated and I can really feel the effects of hypoglycaemia in my performance and mental focus.
I know many people nowadays don’t eat anything in the morning justifying this with lack of time, lack of appetite, inconvenience, the need to lose weight and choosing to sleep longer rather than getting up to eat. Remember, this practice will get you more weight over time or at least will not help you lose it.
Parents should make an effort to give their children a good example of a healthy eating habit – you can turn breakfast into a small family ritual you do together to help children understand the importance of this meal; something they would likely carry into their adult lives and lives of their own children.
So, what to eat in the morning?
Naturally, high carbohydrate/high sugar breakfast is not the best way to go (now you are thinking: “I knew there was a catch” and you are right).
A bagel sandwich would not be what I’d recommend. Go for whole grain breads instead and try to eat more fiber and lean protein. Fiber-protein combination for breakfast is the best option. Protein reduces hunger for longer and is more satiating type of food. Contrary to popular belief, an egg is a wonderful and a healthy source of lean protein and healthy individuals without known cholesterol or heart/circulatory issues can safely eat an egg a day according to the latest data from research.
A cup of green tea is a nice coffee replacement and it is a healthy way to add some energy to your day.
If you must be on the run, there are cereal bars you can chew on the go or you can prepare/buy a fruit salad or a fruit smoothie.
What ever you choose, there are many options to explore and combine.
Just remember – breakfast is very important and make sure you don’t skip it. Ever!
Yours in health,