Why Skipping Breakfast Cannot Help Lose Weight?
By Soon Chai
I used to believe skipping breakfast can help me lose weight. I tried. And I was wrong. You'll only gain more weight by skipping breakfast, actually. But why?
Show you a scenario to help you understand better...
Let's say your dinner ends at 8 PM and you go to bed at 11 PM without eating anything else. Next morning you wake up at 7 AM, you skip breakfast on purpose and plan to eat at lunchtime. You practically leave your body without fuel for more than 12 hours.
Look, if your body doesn't behave erratically, your stomach should growl soon after you wake up. The sensation gets more intense especially after a bowel movement. And if you intentionally skip breakfast for weight loss, you'll have to endure hunger until you start to eat for the day.
You may feel hungry to a point where the sensation subsides. That's not a good news. It simply means, your body gears down its metabolism to conserve energy. At the same time, it'll go to its reserve such as glycogen (stored carbohydrate), fat stores and muscle tissues (stored protein) to "borrow" energy in order to keep you going.
It's just like you have some savings in bank. You won't touch this cash reserve unless your income is not able to provide for your daily needs or you simply have no income anymore due to a retrenchment.
Back to your body.
Yes, at this juncture, your body is burning the fat deposit to keep you alive, but fat burning constitutes to only a small percentage. Don't forget that it also burns your stored protein and stored carb (this will burn first and the most as it's the easiest and fastest to convert to glucose).
You may nonetheless wind up with some fat loss, but don't be too happy yet. As your metabolism turns sluggish, when you start eating your lunch after prolonged starving, you tend to over-indulge and your body will try to "vacuum in" as much calories as possible to fill back its reserve. This holds true only when you skip breakfast occasionally.
Given the misconception about weight loss, what if you keep skipping breakfast and taking your lunch at irregular hours over time?
When this happens, your body will go into a functional disorder and it'll always start to wonder when the next meal will be coming. And as soon as you start eating after prolonged hunger, it no longer simply just fills back the reserve, but it'll stock up even more calories (most of the times) for fear of suffering hunger again.
You end up overloading too much calories than you need for the day, which eventually turns into excess body fat.
Have you ever suffered from an economic downturn and struggled to survive as your reserve went low over a period? What did you do after the crisis ended when your income returned once again? You'll save up more money than before, right? This is the exact way our body behaves to stay afloat too.
To make matter worse, our brain only receives a conservative amount of glucose for functioning in starvation mode. The glucose is feeding at a relatively slower rate too. Such low and slow glucose supply makes us feel not only light-headed, moody and irritable, but also causes us to lose our concentration and willpower, and thus, fail to think rationally and become desperate, which explains why we tend to make unhealthy food choices during starving.
So, now you know why people grow fatter and gain more weight when they skip meals especially breakfast.
Okay, sometimes you may not really feel hungry upon wakeup in the morning. That could be due to either you are having a metabolic disorder, a digestive disorder, or you've had a late and heavy dinner the last night which still leaves some food in the stomach even after a night's sleep.
This gives you a good reason to skip breakfast. But if it happens frequently, then it's not something that you should overlook. Your health is at risk.
Anyway, I don't encourage you to skip breakfast even though you may not feel hungry at all. Perhaps, you can wait a little while longer for the first rumbling of hunger but definitely not till your lunch time comes. If you do feel hungry but have no appetite, I suggest that you take in a small portion, rather than skipping the meal altogether.
And make sure your breakfast comprises healthy food and tastes delicious so you'll look forward to taking your breakfast at the thought of it every morning.
To back it up, numerous studies have proven that people who eat a healthy breakfast control their weight better by choosing healthier food and keeping up their metabolism, gain better concentration and become more productive throughout the day.
So, What Makes Up a Healthy Breakfast?
Well, a healthy breakfast should provide about 1/4 (25%) of your daily needs, consisting of essential nutrients like complex carbohydrate, protein, a little fat, fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Complex carb — Whole grains such as a bowl of wholegrain cereals or oatmeal, brown rice or brown rice porridge, whole-grain rolls or bagels, low-fat bran muffins, crackers or whole wheat toast.
Protein — Peanut butter (pure), soy milk, tofu, black beans, lentils, quinoa, protein powder etc.
Vitamins and minerals — fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. Once you manage to eat one or two servings at breakfast, you'll find it easier to fulfill your recommended intake for the rest of the day. Avoid vitamin / mineral tablets or pills as they may contain traces of other unknown chemicals in the manufacturing process.
Fiber — Milled flaxseeds, fruits and vegetables provide plenty of fiber.
You might ask, "Why breakfast only provides 1/4, not 1/3 since our daily meals consists of breakfast, lunch and dinner?"
Good question. A common daily meal composes of breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we should "scratch" some portions off these main meals for snacks. In other words, instead of a 500 Cals each for breakfast, lunch and dinner to make up 1500 Cals for an average woman per day, we should make the 3 meals each holding only about 350 Cals. And then we insert 2 snacks (each about 200 - 250 Cals) in between the main meals.
For guys, instead of about 700 Cals for breakfast, drop it to about 500 Cals (likewise for lunch and dinner). Each snack also holds roughly 200 - 250 Cals.
Spreading your meals in this manner helps to improve digestion, keep energy flowing, lift up spirits and thus, rejuvenate you for the entire day. It boosts metabolism too, so you'll burn fat much easier. Get it?
Good. Now, let me share with you one of my favorite breakfasts to give you a sense of how a healthy breakfast should look like:
Healthy Green Smoothie:
[Calorie 344, Carb 63.7g, Protein 8.7g, Fat 9.2g, Fiber 11g]
- 2 cups Spinach
- 1 medium Banana
- 1 cup Fresh Coconut Water
- 1 cup Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Protein Powder
I love drinking green smoothie in the morning as it really powers up my day. Also, it tastes great and it's the easiest to prepare. Just dump everything into the blender and spin for 1 - 2 minutes, and a healthy breakfast is born!
This recipe caters to ladies. For guys, simply increase the quantity of ingredients or add in other foods as you wish to achieve about 500 Cals.
By the way, did you notice that it contains pretty high carb? High-carb intake generally causes insulin disorder and leads to diabetes. But that's only when you do not couple your high-carb intake with enough vegetables and healthy oils. Fiber in vegetables and healthy fat in oil helps to slow down the conversion of carb to glucose, thus making your glucose level more constant, avoiding the "roller coaster" effect.
Remember to make your breakfast interesting by trying out a variety of foods within each food group.
Running out of ideas? Check out Green Smoothie Girl's whole food breakfast recipes where you'll get 18 delicious yet nutritious, high-energy meals for your breakfast so you won't feel bored having to eat the same stuff every morning. More importantly, you'll start to lose weight and get more energy to jumpstart your day when you stop skipping breakfast.
If You Don't Eat Immediately...
Will you have lots of gas produced in your stomach?
Some people have this problem if they don't eat as soon as their stomach rumbles. It hurts when you touch it with any pressure at all.
What's even worse is that you can't easily burp or pass out the gas when it happens. Rather, it takes a few hours for the bloating to subside on its own.
This is the end result of skipping meals often or having irregular meals over time. That's why try not to skip meals as far as possible.
You can remedy such "gassy stomach" condition by learning to eat at regular timings. Make sure you fill your stomach to 70% for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don't eat too full. And if you ever snack out, keep your satiety level to 30 - 40%.
Keep up this good habit and you'll bid farewell to bloated tummy for good.