Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day (Not)

pancakes_10710886Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. you’ve officially heard it a million times. But never once was it absolutely true.

Do you eat breakfast cause you want to or do you only eat breakfast because the  media and the “experts” told you that if you didn’t you would never lose weight?

Let’s revisit the basic principal behind any successful weight loss program, reduction of total daily calories. The importance is not when you eat but how much you eat. Think about the amount of calories you could save if you didn’t force yourself to eat breakfast first thing in the morning.

Also, delaying breakfast can actually help you to fight off craving so that you can eat less calories in a day. Think of how hungry you get shortly after you eat a conventional breakfast, you know the "healthy" (aka carb heavy)ones you see on TV with the cereal, and toast, and orange juice. After your sugar high wears off you end up hungrier than a dog when he sees food.

Another thing you might not expect is that delaying your first meal can actually HELP your metabolism and not destroy it like we’ve been told. Lets think about why we store fat...we store extra body fat in case we don’t have access to food. If you spend every waking minute with food in your system why would your body want to live off of your extra body fat? It has food in your stomach, and that’s easier to break down into energy than stored fat is so you'll burn the food and not the fat.

There is research out there that says breakfast is important because it boosts your metabolism. But your metabolism actually raises proportionately to the amount of food you eat. So its not that it raises because you ate breakfast, it raising because you ate. It’s not because you ate it first thing in the morning.

Breakfast foods are tasty. You can eat them anytime, not just at "Breakfast time".
Breakfast foods are tasty. You can eat them anytime, not just at "Breakfast time".

What most studies didn’t look at was when breakfast was eaten. If you delay your first meal you’re still going to get that raise in metabolism, and if you save the calories from your first meal and combine them with your second, you’re metabolism will raise that much more (if that’s how you want to look at it). So breakfast is important, but not at the time you think, it’s important later.

There was a study done at Vanderbilt University that found that the people in the study who delayed their first meal lost more weight than those who ate breakfast at their usual time.

When you first begin delaying your breakfast you will probably feel really hungry. This is because of the hormones in your body, specifically the hormone Ghrelin which gets used to your meal timing and actually predicts when you are “supposed” to eat.

If you’re used to eating first thing in the morning or every certain amount of hours, Ghrelin is going to spike at those times. After a few weeks (at the most) you will be able to re-train the release of your Ghrelin and have more control over when you can eat. If you can maintain the willpower to stick to the new eating pattern, you will be able to retrain your hormones to allow you to delay breakfast (and other meals). If you are able to delay breakfast you will be able to reduce your daily calories.

A benefit of allowing yourself to be hungry and produce Ghrelin is that when that hormone is present you are also producing more growth hormone. Growth hormone helps you to build muscles and burn fat. So you don’t have to visit your local "gym pharmacist" to get extra growth hormone, you just gotta deal with a little bit of hunger.

Another benefit to delaying breakfast is that when you are hungry and producing Ghrelin, you are also producing the “feel good” hormone: dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone that is at it’s height when you are most happy. Like when you’re reading this article.

Not only will you produce more happy hormones, you’ll also be more alert and be able to get more done. Think about how you feel shortly after a meal. You’re probably lackadaisical and in need of a nap. Now think about how alert you are when you’re in search of food. When you’re hungry and/or looking forward to food you’re able to get more done because you’re more alert. Also because getting stuff done is a good way to get your mind off of being hungry.

To be successful with this strategy you need to be dedicated to it and not compromise with yourself. It will take time to train your mind and your body to delay your first meal. But it’s totally worth it.

When you successfully change your eating pattern to delay breakfast you will start losing fat cause you’ll be producing the right hormones, eating less total calories, and giving your body a chance to live off of its stored fat.