You have probably read a few things (maybe a few of my posts?) on the benefits of IF or Intermittent Fasting. And if you have read about IF or fasting you’ve probably learned that the most popular meal to skip is breakfast.
However, like most things in life, there are no absolutes or clear rules that apply to all.
For some people, eating 3 meals per day, especially breakfast, can be very important. This might not be true for their whole lives, but under certain circumstances, I feel it is best to eat breakfast. Let’s find out when this is true, and why.
Breakfast – Why It’s Important for Busy Women Not to Skip
The alarm goes off and you are rushing around preparing for a busy day ahead, whether you have children to get ready for school, or papers to read for a morning meeting, by the time you’ve watched the news, brushed your teeth and sorted your make-up, you are already exhausted – sound familiar?
It’s no wonder so many busy women end up skipping breakfast and just grabbing an expensive coffee which is drunk in the car on the way. But there are many reasons why this habit is bad for our health.
First of all, eating in the car or when watching the news is really not good. In both cases, the stress that is happening at the level of your nervous system will interfere with digestion.
So one of the reason you need to eat is to take a time out and breathe. Sip, chew, breathe, chew, chew, relax, chew…its just a few moments, relax, you’ll live, I swear.
One of the other main benefits is to get real nutrients.
Although fasting can have benefits, and mimicking a fast with a bulletproof coffee or tea can keep us energized until noon, real breakfast with real food provides nutrition, and that’s what calms nerves and heals the body.
Grass-fed butter with eggs and greens or a bowl of hearty soup are great options for starting the day in a way that nourishes the adrenals, the glands responsible for keeping a stressed woman going.
For me, fasting is still something I aim but usually fail to do, as I still wake up hungry. I also deal with a lot of stress, so I listen to my body, and nourish it in the morning.
Breakfast – Why It’s Important for Sugar (and alcohol)-Sensitive people Not to Skip
The brain chemistry of people who are prone to getting addicted to (or who find themselves fighting not to be addicted to) sugar and alcohol, and even many street drugs, is different from other people. They have less serotonin, less beta-endorphin, and usually much more variable blood sugar. This is why they crave and get hooked on sugar, or alcohol, or whatever spikes their hormones – they need this to feel okay.
It is therefore not fair to expect such a body and brain to deal with the mild abuse a stronger, less sensitive body can take. Mild abuse, like say, nutritionally empty foods, or blood sugar-spiking foods, or even, no food at all. You will not get ‘normal’ moods and performance out of a sugar-sensitive body, and should not expect it, under these poor circumstances.
If you think about it properly, when you wake up in the morning, your body has had no fuel since your evening meal the night before – potentially 12 hours beforehand – so your body is in starvation. Think about the words – “break” “fast” – literally the meal which breaks the fast you have been on while sleeping.
If you are sugar sensitive, do not skip meals, including breakfast, and take care not to eat a breakfast that is mainly sugar, or mainly simply carbs, as they break down to sugar. You’ll notice a HUGE difference.
Breakfast Provides Many Benefits to Our Health and Wellbeing
You need the energy to kick-start your system and get your body ready for the day ahead. According to some other nutritionists, a healthy breakfast should give you around 30% of your daily calorie requirements. It provides us with energy, protein, calcium, iron, fiber and B vitamins which are all needed to get you through the day. If your body doesn’t receive these first thing, studies have shown your body is less effective at taking them on during the rest of the day.
In terms of our circadian clocks, our bodies are best primed for food between 9 and 5 at most latitudes, but food also helps set your body’s sense of awakeness – the longer you wait to eat, the harder it might be to wake early. In terms of time, breakfast really needs to be eaten by most people between 45 minutes and two hours of waking up.
This timing gives you the chance to put the needed fuel into your body to make sure your metabolism is balanced throughout the day.
How Eating Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight
If you skip breakfast (skipping is not the same as intentionally fasting) you are not providing your body with what it needs for energy and you will soon get hungry and are more likely to then reach for high sugar, high fat snacks, to compensate. People who skip breakfast tend to end up reaching for the snacks around 10am which doesn’t help if you are trying to lose weight.
This aspect means breakfast really sets your body up for the day and can help curb those mid-morning sugar cravings. In a study it was revealed that people who not only ate breakfast, but made it their largest meal, lost almost 18 pounds over a three month period.
The other people, who took part in the study, eating the same calories during the day but most of these for their evening meal, lost only around seven pounds. This study was published in Obesity.
Make breakfast your energy priority
A good nutritious breakfast will give the first supply of energy your body receives daily. For all the energy you need to take you through to lunchtime, it should be at least around 300 calories, as a general rule.
Other Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
Breakfast brings a large number of health benefits, besides weight loss.
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a published study revealed that not eating breakfast could actually increase the risk of diabetes for women. The study showed that women who did eat breakfast between no, and six times a week, were at far higher risk of developing the disease than those who ate it daily.
Brain Function Studies have proven that children who eat breakfast do better at school as they are better able to concentrate and behave well. Breakfast helps to restore the levels of glucose which help with our brain function, and helps balance out our insulin levels.
However, I still suggest they be paired with a fat and a protein! This helps to improve memory, concentration and mood and also lowers stress levels. We all know that feeling of anger that rises up through being hungry. Breakfast can help us avoid this.
In order to avoid the blood sugar roller coaster later, we need to eat a balanced breakfast. That’s why I do suggest proteins at breakfast, but since most people don’t want to cook on weekdays in my experience, I will make some other suggestions, other than cooking up bacon every day.
Ideas for Quick and Nutritious Breakfasts
So it’s all very well telling you why you should eat breakfast, and why it’s good for you, but realistically you probably knew most of those things already and yet, you were still skipping?
Knowing you need to eat breakfast, doesn’t mean you suddenly gain time in the morning to start preparing and making amazing morning meals does it? That’s why I have come up with some tips for improving the most common tasty breakfasts that are super quick to make and don’t require a frying pan.
Of course, you can always make a pot of soup or prep some mini frittatas in advance next Sunday, and that would be ideal!
In the main time, as you work on that habit, and schedule some time into your Sunday for shopping and cooking, here I will look at some common breakfasts and how to improve on them.
An Energy Bar and Fruit
The combination of a piece of fruit and energy bar does not always create a balanced breakfast, despite what you may hear elsewhere. While nothing is quicker than just peeling a wrapper and grabbing a piece of fruit and eating them straight away, doing this could be either a great thing or awful depending on what exactly you eat. Often it is too high in sugar and too processed to be good.
Ensure that the bars provide more provide fiber than sugar and a high ratio of protein to carbs. I like paleo bars with simple ingredients, and those with seeds, nut butters, nuts and dried fruit (as opposed to oats and sugar with chocolate-like topping).
The amount of sugar, fat, fibre and protein is what is going to make a big difference to your health. It takes real looking to find commercial bars that have a good ratio, so I suggest you eventually make your own, with enough fibre, fat and protein, and not just carbs. Make your OWN bars from scratch from real ingredients and held together with bananas/flax/chia, then freeze a huge batch.
There are many instant porridge sachets around now – all you need to do is add water and microwave for a few minutes and then you have a healthy breakfast – or do you?
Again, here it is imperative to avoid the ones with added sugar and flavours. Aim for a heartier oat flake, for a lower glycemic load, and go organic as well – oats are notorious for being well sprayed with glyphosate. If you have gluten sensitivity, avoid oats, they are contaminated with gluten.
In order to keep the calories from sugar down, buy a plain version, or lightly flavoured, and add your own toppings such as flax oil, grass-fed butter, berries and seeds to provide an easy breakfast virtually instantly.
Eventually, start making overnight oats or chia puddings, and just grab and go in the morning.
Go for natural plain Greek-style yoghurt or SKyr. If you cannot find a high-fat version, add in a source of fat (like avocado, oil, or nuts), and then add some protein (like collagen and hemp seeds), and fresh fruit, for a nutritious, quick and healthy breakfast on the run.
Do stick to unsweetened. Even if you add honey or maple syrup, it’s healthier than the sweetening they add for you.
Again, this only takes a minute or so to prepare and can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.
A lot of people love raisin bran. It’s tasty and helps to keep us regular, right?
While it can bring health benefits and help you feel full, opting for a high fiber cereal that is also very high in sugar is not a great long term plan. Make sure you avoid the traditional sugar filled cereals as these will spike your blood sugar while not necessarily helping provide what your body needs.
Go instead for the more natural organic cereals that have optimal ingredients and nutrition. Read the label. Look from whole grain, and ancient grains. (Whole wheat is not the same as whole grain.) Never consume more than 10 grams of sugar in a sitting, and always pair it with fat, fibre and protein, even if it’s from full fat milk.
The Take Away
For many people, a busy lifestyle means rushing in the morning and skipping breakfast is a common but bad habit to get into.
Breakfast can make a big difference to our health and weight, reaping the benefits for us. There are many options which are quick and easy to make, and also provide nutrition – from smoothies to energy bars, from cereal to scrambled eggs, so no more excuses people!