The Truth About Breakfast
A bowl of muesli, a slice of toast, a muffin, and a tall glass of fresh orange juice.
Sound like a healthy breakfast? Unfortunately, not.
Truth is, breakfast can be confusing. You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Through TV ads, in-store placements, and large marketing campaigns, you may believe that many breakfast products are healthy. In some cases, these are true while in others they are false.
Beyond the myths and marketing, here’s what you need to know about breakfast.
The difference between breakfasts
The problem behind many breakfast products is that they contain a lot of sugar and simple carbohydrates. After an entire night of fasting, the simple carbs are digested quickly, causing your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise quickly. Your body stops burning fat and begins storing the simple carbohydrates, often as fat. Even worse, after the simple carbs are digested, you experience an energy crash and then begin craving food in just a few hours.
In contrast, complex carbohydrates, like whole grains or plain oatmeal, provide lasting energy. Their absorption takes longer, preventing large swings in your blood sugar. Adding protein and fat to your meal will also help level out your blood sugar. With a healthy combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat, you’ll feel full for longer and get power out of the complex nutrients.
It’s all making good choices
The habit of breakfast has been manufactured by the modern food industry. Food companies have invested millions to convince us that their breakfast products are the best. “Healthy” products are marketed to us as manufacturers try to convince us that sugar-coated cereal or pastries are the best choice — they are not!
It may take more effort on your part, but it is important to ignore the advertising and make your own decisions. The easiest way to do this is to read nutritional labels. On each food product, you’ll find the real breakdown of carbs, protein, and fat. With this information, you can make your own decisions about what is healthy and what isn’t.
Avoid the fruit juice
Did you know that a glass of orange juice contains more sugar than a glass of Coke?
If you look at the nutritional labels, you’ll find this to be true. This doesn’t mean that Coke is the better choice, but drinking lots of juice isn’t the right option either. Juice contains a lot of the simple sugar fructose, which has been associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and type II diabetes in many studies. We suggest that you avoid the fruit juice as well as the Coke, and drink water instead.
You may not need breakfast if…
Whether you regularly eat one, two, or three meals a day, it’s important to eat enough calories and keep a routine. By sticking to a routine, your body will learn when it can burn fat.
Some people skip breakfast their whole lives while staying healthy and maintaining their weight. This is perfectly fine. It means that their bodies have adapted to their routine and learned to function without breakfast. If these people changed up their routine and began sporadically eating breakfast, they would probably confuse their bodies and begin to put on weight.
Many people tend to eat irregularly. They have breakfast one day, but then skip it the next day. In these cases, the body becomes confused and unsure of when the next meal may be. To compensate, the body stores more fat in order to “survive” the next fasting phase. If you eat breakfast irregularly, we suggest staying consistent with a good breakfast each day.
The bottom line
- Steer clear of sugary foods and go for whole, natural foods with a mix of fat, carbs, and protein to keep you satisfied.
- Adding protein can help you stay full for longer, and keep constant energy during the day.
- Try new recipes combining eggs, spinach, mushrooms, vegetables, ham or cottage cheese with complex carbs.
- If you have lived a healthy life without breakfast, it is fine to continue.
- If you sporadically eat breakfast, it may help to make it a regular habit. Try it for a week and decide for yourself.