3 Reasons Why Breakfast Isn’t So Important

Everybody knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? I mean that’s what we’ve been told. Even if you aren’t hungry it’s probably best to eat something to fuel you for a busy day.

Where did this idea come from? After reading into the research that’s available, it’s quite hard to justify why breakfast is essential.

I think that we may have confused the name breakfast for something that it isn’t. People assume that breakfast is the meal that you have immediately after waking up.

The name breakfast is a combination of the words “break” and “fast”. It is the meal that will break the fast that you just went through while you were sleeping (potentially longer).

If we look at breakfast as the first meal after fasting, it’s clear that it is definitely the most important meal of the day. However, nobody said that it had to come immediately after sleep. In fact, there are countless benefits to continuing the morning without food.

Fasting Helps To Regenerate Damaged Cells

Let’s say that you ate your last meal of the day at around 9 pm. Waking up the next day and staying Calorie free until 1 pm would mean that you have fasted for 16 hours.

Often people are intimidated by the sound of “16 hour fast” but most of that time is actually spent sleeping.

16 hours is all that you need to start influencing your body positively. Research is beginning to show that this can actually be a long enough period of time to start removing damaged immune cells.

Researchers like Dr. Valter Longo at USC have shown how fasting can actually reduce the levels of a primary growth hormone called IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor 1). [1]

This effectively signals your body to conserve energy by breaking down damaged and defective immune cells. In his experiments with mice, he shows that during the fasting period, the total number of immune cells decreases.

What he also shows is that the meal that breaks a prolonged fast is what determines whether the body will stimulate stem cells regeneration of the lost cells.

You come out of an extended fast stronger!

Using Fat For Fuel

Let’s assume that breakfast is meant to be eaten immediately after sleep. Let’s look at what a typical breakfast encompasses…

Pancakes, oatmeal, waffles, syrup, cereal, low fat yogurt, toast, etc. All of these food items are packed with carbohydrates (mostly coming from flour or sugar).

There is a documentary called “That Sugar Film” in which the main character demonstrates how a typical bowl of low fat yogurt with cereal and a glass of apple juice contains 20 teaspoons of sugar!

Every carbohydrate that enters the body is converted into glucose to be used for fuel.

The presence of glucose in the blood signals the release of insulin. Insulin’s main function is to open up cells of organs to take in this glucose and use it for fuel. Any excess glucose that isn’t required for fuel is stored as fat.

To allow for the release of fat, insulin needs to be lowered. This is done through either fasting or eating less carbohydrates. Unfortunately, the standard American diet (SAD for short – it really is sad) is composed of over 60% of calories coming from carbohydrates.

Some people are equipped genetically to be able to handle a higher level of carbohydrates but it’s not ideal for everyone. And besides, even if there are people equipped to handle the carbs, it probably isn’t right to be eating sugar and refined carbohydrates for one’s well being and performance.

Fasting allows for your insulin levels to drop. The counter hormone to insulin, which is called glucagon, is then released. When this happens, glycogen (storage form of glucose) and fatty acids (stored fat) are released to provide fuel.

“If you don’t eat for 10-16 hours, your body will go to its fat stores for energy, and fatty acids called ketones will be released into the bloodstream.” [2]

As an added bonus, you will feel more focused during a morning fast. This is because you have reverted the energy, that would have been required for digestion, to your brain instead.

Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone (HGH) is a hormone that stimulates the growth of bone and cartilage in both children and adolescents. [3]

HGH also plays a role in: protein production, utilization of fat, regulation of blood sugar and many other processes.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase human growth hormone by as much as 1300% in women and 2000% in men. [4]

This magnitude of increase is considerable. Athletes are often caught doping with HGH in order to increase muscle mass and have more energy. To have a spike in HGH of 2000% naturally is ridiculous! That can be of great benefit to those who want to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously.

References

[1] USC News. “Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune cells.” [Online]. Available: https://news.usc.edu/63669/fasting-triggers-stem-cell-regeneration-of-damaged-old-immune-system/

[2] R. Collier. (2013, Jun 11). “Intermittent fasting: the science of going without.” [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680567/

[3] Harvard Health Publications. “Growth hormone, athletic performance, and aging.” [Online]. Available: http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/growth-hormone-athletic-performance-and-aging

[4] Dr. Axe. “The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.” [Online]. Available: https://draxe.com/intermittent-fasting-benefits/

 

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