As far back as I can remember I was always told breakfast was the most important meal of the day and when I got into the fitness industry this certainly seemed to be the message.
“Eating breakfast will help keep your blood sugars level for the day” – “Eat like a king at breakfast, a pauper at lunch and a peasant in the evening” – “Eat breakfast or you won’t be able to concentrate at work” – “You must eat breakfast to ramp up your metabolism so you burn more calories for the rest of the day” these were all the things I heard.
Now as someone that was always battling my weight, the latter sentence about ‘ramping up metabolism’ was always at the forefront of my mind and for the reason I always tried to eat it.
However when I set up my bootcamps this made for some very early morning starts with a 5am alarm. Even when I was tired, in a rush and quite frankly not hungry I would always try and force breakfast down.
I’d cook up a 5-egg ommlette in coconut oil, steam some greens and wolf it down thinking it would magically help me burn more calories.
Now don’t get me wrong, the above was a healthy meal but still contains calories that quite frankly I didn’t need as I wasn’t hungry so early in the morning.
Now with the belief that I had to eat breakfast, even on days where I wasn’t starting that early, with my big appetite I could quite often end the day having over eaten.
How do I mean?
Well let me make it clear that weight loss occurs when you are in an energy deficit meaning you are burning more calories than you take in.
By always eating breakfast AND having a big appetite I could quite often end up in a calorie surplus which means I was gaining weight and not losing weight.
Now you may think how could he gain weight? His breakfast sounds healthy and yes it was but it is still calories!
My omelets in coconut oil with greens could be around 500 calories (not massive but why eat If I wasn’t hungry?) and combine that with more big meals and snacks throughout the day and depending on how small or great my movement was it might not always lead to a deficit.
Well I actually looked into just how much breakfast could ramp up your metabolism and let me tell you it’s a complete myth! Even if you had a high protein breakfast like I was having, the thermic effect of the meal (eating more protein actually makes us expend more calories in the digestion phase) would be nothing in comparison to the calories you had ingested that your body didn’t actually ask for!
Over recent times and with a greater understanding of calories in versus calories out, intermittent fasting and the like I began to understand that this whole breakfast being super important was a bit of a myth!
Now before you jump down my throat and tell me you can’t function without breakfast, then that is totally cool – we are all different, it’s not a one-size fits all approach.
What I’m telling you to consider is that if you are forcing down breakfast each day whilst in a rush to leave the house in the belief that it has some magical fat burning properties then it doesn’t!
Trust me this was a huge game-changer for me and started to save me a lot of calories that I could actually eat when I became hungry.
And guess what? This would actually help me create a calorie deficit because I wasn’t trying to wolf down a load of food at 530am!
These days I eat breakfast probably two days a week. Why? Well on these days I am up very early to coach (no I don’t eat when I get up) so my time awake is longer during the day.
I normally coach for a few hours and then eat around 9am-10am as I feel hungrier at this time on the days I am up earlier (probably something to do with the hunger hormone grehlin which you produce if you don’t get enough sleep, note I am up earlier on these two days).
For the rest of the week, if I get a good night’s sleep and am not tired I can cope just fine until about 12pm most days. I’m at work, I get hydrated, I’m busy coaching clients, maybe I will start to get a little hungry but it’s not a crazy hunger. Therefore I’ll break the fast, which essentially is what breakfast is, to break-a-fast.
Consider that you also won’t go into a ‘starvation’ mode if you don’t eat breakfast, each and everyone of us have body-fat, some more than others – this is stored energy so don’t worry if you don’t eat breakfast you won’t die!
Hope this gives you some food for thought lads.
Are you a breakfast person or can you without it?