To Breakfast, or not to Breakfast?
- Created on Sunday, 29 October 2017 17:05
There is an old adage that a hearty breakfast is a must to start the day right, but the fact is that there are a lot of people who really aren't hungry in the morning. Should they make themselves eat anyway? That is seldom a good idea. The fact is that there is nothing about sleeping at night that should generate a big appetite. Many people have to move around some and be active before they are inclined to eat. Not only is it OK to skip breakfast, but there are distinct benefits to doing to.
First, it extends the evening fast. After all, that's how the word originated, that you are breaking a fast. And it's good to think about it in connection with sleep. We all know how refreshing and restorative sleep is, although the mystery of how sleep recharges our batteries is not completely resolved. But, that it does is understood by all. But, part of the process is that fact that you are not putting anything into your body during that length of time. Not food, and not even water most of the time. How often do you wake up thirsty at night? I never do. You are leaving your body alone. And the fasting is part of the restorative process. Imagine if every night you got up in the middle of the night and ate a hearty meal and then went back to bed? How would you likely feel in the morning? Not nearly as well as if you had just slept all night.
So, we all benefit from our evening fast. But, what if you were to extend it to mid-day? Then, assuming you ate at 6 PM the night before, and say finished eating at 7, and say you didn't eat until Noon the next day, that would amount to 17 hours of abstinence from food. 17 hours in which you weren't challenging your blood sugar. 17 hours in which you weren't diverting blood and energy to your gut to process food. 17 hours in which you were not burdening your body with the work of handling food. Research has proven that intermittent fasting is beneficial and life-extending in all kinds of animal species. So, why not humans? Indeed, why not.
And we are talking here about a painless fast. You don't suffer from hunger pangs while you're sleeping, do you? And, if you aren't hungry first thing in the morning and wait some hours to eat, you haven't missed anything. You haven't felt deprived. In fact, by waiting, you are more likely to enjoy your lunch with great gusto. So, we are talking about more food enjoyment, not less.
There is a medical doctor in Canada named Jason Fung who is an obesity and diabetes specialist, and he is a great believer in fasting. He puts his patients on long and short fasts. And he especially raves about the idea of a daily fast that is achieved by skipping breakfast. He raves about the long span in which insulin levels are kept down. That, he feels, is the key, as he believes that high insulin levels are the cause of obesity, and fasting lowers blood insulin. He urges all his patients not to eat before Noon, and he says he never does so himself. The title of his book is: The Obesity Code.
My attitude is that if you feel genuinely hungry in the morning, it's entirely OK to eat. But, make sure you aren't doing it just out of habit and routine or the mistaken belief that you have to in order to have energy to get through the day. That is ridiculous. I know people who wake up in the morning and without eating anything go for long runs or bike rides. Where are they getting the energy? From their stored reserves. They're in good shape, so their liver and muscles have stored plenty of glycogen. The body isn't THAT dependent on food. In Nature, wild animals often go long periods without eating, and the function just fine. They go about their business. So much of it is psychological. People think they are going to faint if they don't eat.
So, my advice to you is to be flexible. If you do wake up with a roaring appetite, then by all means, eat a healthy breakfast. But, if you, like a lot of people, have little or no appetite in the morning, then by all means, wait until later in the day to eat. You will be doing yourself a favor in so many ways.