You’ve probably heard for years and years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And maybe you’re sick of hearing this because you’re not someone who is really a breakfast eater. If that’s the case then let me assure you; no, you don’t need to eat breakfast.
Let me explain.
Those in the pro-breakfast camp believe that by waking up and eating a good breakfast right away you “wake up” your metabolism and set yourself up for a healthy day.
But what makes a “good” breakfast anyways? Traditional breakfast foods such as cereal, toast, and bagels tend to be wickedly high in simple carbohydrates, which, when introduced to an empty stomach, can cause blood sugar to spike, then crash, resulting in out of control eating later in the day.
Liquid breakfasts such as smoothies are often much more loaded in sugar than we realize, and clear the stomach really quickly (up to four times faster than solid food does), often leaving us hungry again sooner than we’d expect. If you’re a fan of smoothies for breakfast be sure to add some protein and healthy fats to help slow digestion, moderate blood sugar, and increase satisfaction.
Breakfasts high in protein, such as eggs, are more likely to fill us up and keep us going until lunch time, helping to avoid blood sugar crashes and maintain satisfaction for longer. So if you’re a breakfast eater, go for some morning protein.
Those in the no-breakfast camp are typically skipping the “most important meal of the day” either because they’re trying to shorten their eating window, or because they’re plain old just not hungry yet.
In recent years, intermittent fasting has become popular, and advocates suggest that the longer your body goes without food the better it is for you. Indeed, digestion does take up an awful lot of resources, and giving your body a break from a constant onslaught of food can be a good thing. If you had an early dinner and then skipped breakfast, you’d be “fasting” for a good chunk of time, meanwhile your body would be going into ketosis, where fat stores are burned and your brain is fueled by triglycerides rather than the usual glucose. Some people feel really good eating this way; others do not.
Some people who are breakfast-skippers do so because they feel that once they “break the seal” with breakfast, they can’t stop eating for the rest of the day. By skipping breakfast they’re shortening their eating window and reducing the number of eating hours each day. This, for some people, becomes a form of moderation.
And then there are the folks who are simply just not hungry in the morning. I know plenty of people who don’t feel like eating for several hours after they wake up. There’s a lot of pressure to eat breakfast as a healthy way to start the day, but why cram food in when you’re not ready for it yet?
If you’re prone to skipping breakfast for one reason or another, yet constantly find yourself out of control with snacking later in the day, then you’d likely benefit from a nourishing, high-protein breakfast. But, if you’re choking down breakfast just because you think you should, give yourself a break. No, you don’t have to eat breakfast.
Practice listening to your body, and let your hunger be your guide.13