Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?
You've heard it said many times that, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." But is it really?
It might be. But, even if breakfast is not the "most important" meal of the day, it's certainly at least as important as any other meal of the day.
Eating Early in the Day is Important
Research clearly supports that eating more earlier in the day is better than eating most of your food later in the day.
There are plenty of studies showing the benefits of eating earlier in the day including less fatigue, lower body weight, and lower risks of heart disease and diabetes. Here are links to some:
- Breakfast skipping was significantly related to fatigue and poor attention
- Consistent breakfast eaters were less likely to be obese
- Skipping breakfast may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes independent of lifestyles and baseline levels of BMI
- Late eaters had higher BMI, higher concentrations of triglycerides, and lower insulin sensitivity compared with early eaters
- Overweight and obese women who ate most of their calories at breakfast lost more weight...compared to those who ate most of their calories at dinner. Mind you, these research subjects at the SAME total number of calories!
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
If you snack until bedtime and then eat breakfast upon waking, you're likely fasting for around eight hours during the night. There's research to support a longer fasting time for improved health such as ten, twelve, and even sixteen hours.
Many folowers of IF aim to fast for 16 hours and eat only during a eight-hour period of time. Oftentimes they will skip breakfast and then start eating around noon or even later.
I do not fast for longer than 10-12 hours - and don't feel inclined to jump on the bandwagon. But if you did want to fast longer, I've always believed that it's still better to not put off eating until the afternoon, but rather to break the fast in the morning and stop eating earlier in the day. I wrote about the issues with late night eating in a previous blog.
This study supported eating fewer meals and having longer fasting times. Yet they still found that breakfast eaters experienced a "relative decrease in their BMI (body mass index) compared with breakfast skippers". And, "those whose largest meal was breakfast experienced the largest relative decrease in BMI compared with those who ate their largest meal at dinner."
So, if you do want to extend your fast beyond eight hours, I would still recommend eating breakfast. Again, I don't fast longer than 10-12 hours. I mostly avoid nighttime eating and then eat soon after awakening.
Yes, there may be benefits of a longer fast time, but keep in mind that there's also reasearch (mostly animal studies but some humans) to support living longer by eating 25% fewer calories than your body needs. No thanks!
Decisions about what and when to eat must always a balanced decision. Do you overeat when you restrict the times you can eat? Do you think more about food during these longer fasting times? How's your energy, mood, and concentration when you're fasting. Does this lifestyle fit into your lifestyle preferences?
Remember, it is still very possible to stay healthy and keep your weight in a normal range without these extra-extended fasting times.
So, what's your excuse for not eating breakfast? No time? Hate breakfast foods? Not hungry? Or find yourself hungrier IF you eat breakfast? Read THIS blog to find out how to find your way around all those excuses.
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