What should I eat for breakfast and does it help you with losing fat or gaining muscle?
Breakfast the most important meal of the day. This mantra has been stuffed into our head as a universal truth. People who skip breakfast are fatter! You won’t be able to concentrate without it!
There are so many stories that talk about breakfast, and the innumerable benefits that it gives you. So what is the truth? Let’s address some of the myths, and how breakfast can fit into your fitness goals. Is it essential? No. Breakfast is not essential. There are many people who swear by breakfast, and many people who swear by skipping breakfast. But is breakfast special in itself? It all depends on your goals.
Scenario 1. Fat Loss
The reason breakfast is accompanied by talks of feeding your body for the days ahead is the period of starvation that you have just experienced. During sleep, your body begins to make its way through the glycogen stored in your liver, using it as fuel while you dream. Upon waking, it is natural to want to replenish that glycogen to give you the energy to get on with the day. However, there is an opportunity in this fasted state to lose weight.
Many bodybuilders and physique athletes know that in this state, your body can easily tap into your fat stores to feed itself. To utilize this, go for a walk for around 40+ mins. Don’t be too strenuous, as an average, try to keep your heartbeat below 120 beats per minute. This is because if it is too strenuous your body will turn on your muscles, and devouring them for energy. A short walk in the morning in this fasted state can help you shed a good amount of unwanted fat. Then you can eat all the breakfast you like! (Exaggeration, not a suggestion)
Scenario 2. Gaining muscle
In this scenario, often times keeping your body in an “anabolic” state can lead people to emphasize a hearty breakfast to compensate for all that time you wasted sleeping and not eating. This is a tried and tested method, used by bodybuilders for decades. And if your sole goal is to bulk up, then the only way to do this is to seriously eat. So skipping breakfast wouldn’t be the most advisable suggestion. However, as mentioned, if fasted cardio is performed at a rate of low intensity, muscle mass can be preserved (you might need to drink BCAAs while you walk) and fat can be lost.
Breakfast improves your concentration.
This study is usually told to parents on the importance of feeding their children breakfast before school. Often times these breakfasts consist of a bowl of sugar coated wheat and some toast. This spike and eventually fall in blood sugar can be attributed to the loss of concentration after around 10am, and unfortunately, children aren’t yet addled with coffee addiction to help out. This is the case for adults, if your breakfast is poorly chosen, you will have a dip in your energy after your insulin surges to counteract the huge carb intake you had for breakfast, and you will be reliant on caffeine to keep you awake. Not a good combination.
Instead, why don’t you try to have a more protein based breakfast, and if opting for carbs try oats, they will release their energy slowly, and not just dump into your system all at once.
Skipping breakfast makes you fat.
There are studies that show that on average, people who skip breakfast are generally heavier than those who eat it regularly. However, don’t be fooled by statistics too easily. This study was appropriated by junk food cereal companies, and used to market their boxes of sugar, making us think we were getting thinner.
The statistic is true, people who skip breakfast are fatter, but not for that reason. Take person A, he wakes up late (he was drinking the night before) he has 10 minutes to leave the house. He has to choose, do I wear clothes to work, or eat breakfast? He thankfully chooses clothes. Runs into the car, gets his tie stuck in the door, makes it to work 3 minutes late, heads straight for his desk. An hour or two later he indulges in a snack, maybe a doughnut and some coffee, and by the time lunch rolls around he is ready for a huge plate of grease and carbs.
Now, let’s look at person B, she wakes up early to do yoga and meditation, she reads a Tony Robbins book and becomes one with the universe. Now, she plans time for breakfast, she eats something fairly healthy, prepares her lunch, and arrives 30 minutes early for work. Goes for a run after work, and cooks a low GI, gluten free, vegan masterpiece for dinner.
Who is in better shape, person A or person B?
This is clearly an exaggeration, however, overall lifestyle is not taken into consideration in these studies. People who are prepared enough for life to make themselves breakfast, most likely have other aspects of their time figured out too, which isn’t always the case for last breakfast skippers.
So as we have seen, skipping breakfast won’t make you fat. Your lifestyle will keep those lovehandles attached to your side. You must choose and see how breakfast suits your physique goals, and lifestyle. It is a toolbox to use for your aims. To rely on hope that magically skipping it or not will get you nowhere whether your aim is fat loss of building muscle. Neither will happen.
Some other interesting facts about breakfast.
Skipping breakfast has been show to increase insulin sensitivity and your body’s use of leptin. This is generally associated with a “fasting” diet. So perhaps used within this context, skipping breakfast could help out.
A study has shown that a high protein breakfast can help satiety, and prevent unhealthy snacking later on that day. New research shows that eating breakfast doesn’t increase your metabolism. Rather, what you eat and how much effects your metabolism far more. Traditional carbohydrate based breakfasts are far less beneficial than a protein rich breakfast. It may take some changing, but your body will thank you.