BREAKFAST: Is it the most important meal of the day… or should you skip it?
Let’s explore the 2 sides of the coin… and why I have recently changed my opinion about this a little bit!!
If you google ‘breakfast’, you will find all sorts of interesting ‘facts’ like:
- Teenagers who skip breakfast are significantly more likely to suffer from bad breath
- Women who want to have baby boys should never skip breakfast
- Women who skip breakfast are often cranky
- Students who eat breakfast have better grades
I must admit that until recently (I’ll tell you what changed my mind in a minute), I was a firm believer that a good breakfast was key to feeling good and energised all day long.
In fact, I’ve had great success with numerous clients in reducing fatigue and improving mood by swapping their high carb breakfast of toast or cereals with a protein-rich breakfast.
Here is why:
It’s all about blood sugar balance, and healthy adrenals (we talk about these in detail in our Happy Gut At-Home Program).
For people who have weak adrenals and poor blood sugar control (they tend to go hand in hand), I still believe that a good hearty breakfast is key, until these improve. However, the quality of the breakfast is of the utmost importance.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EAT CARBS FOR BREAKFAST
If you eat nothing but carbs for breakfast, your blood sugar increases quickly, you feel great for an hour or 2, until your blood sugar drops too low at around 10 am (because of the insulin spike at breakfast). That’s when you reach for coffee and something sweet to keep you going….and here you have the blood sugar roller coaster, which is very detrimental and probably one of the worst things for your health!!
On the other hand, proteins and fat will give you more sustained energy and avoid the blood sugar crash. But that’s not all… something quite magical happens when you reduce your sugar consumption, balance your blood sugar and extend the period of time between meals… your body will learn to use fat for fuel!
I said at the beginning of this article that I’ve recently changed my mind a little bit about breakfast… and after being a big proponent of the old adage ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’
I’ve actually recently started to skip breakfast!!
First of all, here is a little confession: I let myself loose during the holidays and ate a lot more junk food than usual. It was fun for some time, but I must admit I felt pretty ordinary after a few weeks of indulgence. My energy was low, my gut felt yuck and sluggish and my mood was off. I was pretty desperate to start feeling like my old self again.
So I decided to stop eating breakfast and lunch for a day, thinking it would ‘reset’ my system a bit faster.
Well, the results were pretty amazing. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt after just skipping breakfast and lunch for 1 day.
I was so impressed that I continued for 4 days, eating nothing until dinner every day, and then having a normal dinner.
My gut felt so much better, I had more energy and my mood lifted. As an added bonus, I lost the few extra kilos I had gained over Christmas!
This practice is known as INTERMITTENT FASTING.
There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting, the most popular being the 16:8, where you fast for 16 hours and have an 8 hours eating window. So let’s say you finish eating at 8 pm, and then eat nothing until 12pm the next day… which is pretty much simply SKIPPING BREAKFAST!
I was doing a more extreme version, for fast results, where I was fasting for nearly 24 hours each day.
One of the great benefits of fasting is that it gives your digestive system a rest, allowing for much faster healing.
What grabbed my attention since I started intermittent fasting is that I seem to be able to tolerate food that previously didn’t agree with me.
As a gut health expert, I am constantly on the lookout for anything that can help my clients feel better, quickly!
In fact, as part of our Happy Gut At-Home Program, we’ve been walking our clients through a form of simple fasting, where they eat nothing but easy to digest broths and soups for a week. We call it the Reset Diet. We’ve have always been impressed by the results of doing this and many clients report feeling so much better after it, with better digestion, improved energy, less pain, etc.
However, I have never looked at extending these benefits further… until now!
I’ve been researching the benefits of intermittent fasting and extended water fasts for weeks with great interest… the innate intelligence of the human body is something that always fascinates me.
The body was designed to heal itself.
I must admit… I love food so much and never thought I’d ever consider doing something like this… but I got strangely excited about it!
I ended up doing a 5 day water fast and the results were so astounding that we now share a lot of the benefits of fasting, tips and tricks to get you through it, etc in our signature program… The Happy Gut At-Home Program.
HAVE YOU TRIED INTERMITTENT FASTING BEFORE?
Maybe you have tried intermittent fasting before and thought it wasn’t for you? I can totally relate to this as it’s been my experience in the past. I tried intermittent fasting a few years ago when the 5:2 diet was popularised by British journalist Michael Mosley. However, I didn’t know as much as I know now about blood sugar balance, the adrenals, etc… so it didn’t go that well and I quit pretty quickly because I felt terrible.
Why do I feel so good now when I don’t eat for extended periods, as opposed to when I tried something similar a few years ago? My blood sugar is balanced, my adrenals are healthy, and my body is what’s called FAT ADAPTED, which simply means that my body can use fat for fuel, instead of relying entirely on glucose.
The problem in our society is that most of us have lost this ability to use fat for fuel. So what happens if you skip breakfast? You literally have no energy, and nothing to fuel your brain.
But when you are fat-adapted, which happens after you train your body to go longer and longer without food, or simply without sugar, is that your body can use your unlimited amount of fat reserves (even very skinny people have plenty of reserves) to make ketones, which becomes an exceptional fuel for the body, especially the brain. In fact, numerous studies have now shown the benefits of ketones for the brain.
SHOULD EVERYBODY START SKIPPING BREAKFAST?
There are some caveats… as I said above, if your adrenals are suffering and your blood sugar is all over the place, you might need to do some work first before benefiting from intermittent fasting.
In the Happy Gut At-Home Program we teach you all you need to know!
People with diabetes need to be very cautious and should only perform fasting under the care of a health practitioner. Pregnant women should not fast.
There are lots of tricks as well to make the whole process easier and more enjoyable, which we share as part of our Happy Gut At-Home Program (View Program Curriculum).