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Have you ever noticed that health experts contradict each other all the time?
“Eat low fat,” says one. The next will say, “fat is good for you.”
“Paleo is the only way.”
“Nope, Keto will solve your problems.”
“No, actually, to be healthy, eat vegan.”
The problem is that all the experts are right. Each one of them bases their recommendations on research, data, and successful trials.
So how can they say the direct opposites of each other?
That comes down to your uniqueness. Each person is different. (In fact, there is a very cool new area of study called “nutrigenomics.”) But for right now, it is helpful to know that what works for your best friend might NOT work for you—even though you are both following the guidance of experts.
[Sidenote: This is one reason hiring a health coach is so important. She can help you figure out what will work for you.]
Fasting and intermittent fasting has been receiving a lot of press lately. Some of the top functional medicine doctors and gut-health researchers have had good things to say about it. And of course, fasting has been a part of religious ceremonies and prayer for centuries.
Quite honestly, I have been hesitant to try this. All the data suggests it’s good “for everyone,” but as someone who has struggled with disordered eating, I wasn’t sure that focusing on not eating would be healthy for my emotional or spiritual health.
Then I read more about intermittent fasting. It looked perfect. One doesn’t need to change what she eats, just when. Instead of eating during any waking hours, all food consumption is done within a six to ten-hour window. The body fasts the rest of the time.
You can do this two ways. The first is to start your “feeding window” when you wake up. The second is to start eating later in the day at an appointed time. In both scenarios, you give your body a break while you sleep plus a few hours either before or after that.
Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Everyone?
I tried it.
My family normally eats supper around 6:00 pm, finishing up around 7:00 pm. I did the math and decided that rather than not participate in family mealtime, I would push back my breakfast to 9:00 am to give myself a 14-hour window of fasting.
I tried this for a month. My other eating habits did not change. Only that window of time was different. Instead of my typical routine of a big glass of water upon sitting up in bed and then breakfast as soon as I go downstairs, I had only water until mid-morning.
According to the research and pretty infographics, I was supposed to see weight loss.
I gained weight.
Talk about a let-down! I was doing what all the experts recommended as healthy and beneficial for everyone. And I didn’t see the expected results. I saw the opposite.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve been hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In my nutrition classes, I was taught that breakfast is the way to start your metabolism out on a great note.
I believe this is why intermittent fasting did not work for me.
Breakfast is vital. And even though I still ate my regular breakfast, I pushed it back until snack-time.
Breakfast Provides Many Benefits to Our Health and Wellbeing
If you think about it properly, when you wake up in the morning, your body has had no fuel since your evening meal the night before (potentially 12 hours beforehand) so your body is in starvation. This means it initially wants to store fat and slow your metabolism down.
Think about the words “break” and “fast.” Breakfast is literally the meal which breaks the fast you have been on while sleeping. You need the energy to kick-start your system and get your body ready for the day ahead.
According to nutritionists, a healthy breakfast should give you around 30% of your daily calorie requirements. It provides us with energy, protein, calcium, iron, fiber and B vitamins which are all needed to get you through the day. If your body doesn’t receive these first thing, studies have shown your body is less effective at taking them on during the rest of the day.
How Eating Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight
If you skip breakfast you are not providing your body with what it needs for energy and you will soon get hungry and are more likely to then reach for high sugar, high-fat snacks, to compensate. People who skip breakfast tend to reach for snacks around 10 am which doesn’t help if you are trying to lose weight.
In terms of time, breakfast really needs to be eaten between 45 minutes and two hours of waking up. This timing gives you the chance to put the needed fuel into your body to make sure your metabolism is balanced throughout the day. It is also the premium time for your body to absorb any of the carbohydrates you consume, which helps balance out your insulin levels. All of these aspects mean breakfast really sets your body up for the day and can help curb those mid-morning sugar cravings.
In a study published in the research journal “Obesity,” it was revealed that people who made breakfast their largest meal, lost almost 18 pounds over a three-month period. The other people who took part in the study, eating the same calories during the day but most of these for their evening meal, lost only around seven pounds.
Other Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
Breakfast brings a large number of health benefits besides weight loss—providing more reasons why it really is important not to skip this particular meal.
Breakfast is the first supply of energy your body receives when you wake up, making it part of your daily required calorie intake. A good nutritious breakfast will give you all the energy you need to take you through to lunchtime. As a general rule, this should fall around 300 calories. If you think about the energy you burn, you need the most in the morning and you need the least in the evening when you are more likely to be sat on the sofa relaxing. Make breakfast your energy priority.
Studies have proven that children who eat breakfast do better at school as they are better able to concentrate and behave well. If it has this benefit for our children, then it will do the same for us. Breakfast helps to restore the levels of glucose which help with our brain function. This helps to improve memory, concentration, and mood and also lowers stress levels. We all know that feeling of irritability or anger that rises up through being hungry. Breakfast can help us avoid this hangry state.
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a published study revealed that not eating breakfast could actually increase the risk of diabetes for women. The study showed that women who did eat breakfast between zero and six times a week were at far higher risk of developing the disease than those who ate breakfast daily.
[Tip: adding cinnamon to your breakfast has many benefits including stabilizing blood sugar and minimizing cravings.]
Fab Ideas for Quick and Nutritious Breakfasts for Busy Women
Back to those contradicting experts… there will always be research and studies that say the opposite of what another one said. But in the realms of breakfast, most of the research shows how important it is for everyone. While some people can push back their breakfast consumption for intermittent fasting, the rest of us need to prioritize this meal. We need to break our fast within a couple hours of waking.
So it’s all very well telling you as a busy woman, why you should eat breakfast, and why it’s good for you, but realistically you probably knew most of those things already and yet, you were still skipping? Knowing you need to eat breakfast, doesn’t mean you suddenly gain time in the morning to start preparing and making amazing morning meals does it? Browse my breakfast Pinterest board and come back to the blog next week for some (simple) must-eat breakfast foods.
Photo Credits: Unsplash