Breakfast is Still the Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast is Still the Most Important Meal of the Day

Ah, the joys of being a writer. Once your words are out there, they cannot be recalled. All those years ago you said this, when nearly a quarter-century later you now think that. Yet your book is still out there, teaching people your old understanding.

How I Gave Up my Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds

Dana's First Book

Dana Carpender's first book ablout living the Low-Carb Lifestyle.

This is a breezy, chatty, non-technical, fun-to-read explanation of low carbohydrate dieting -- why it works, the surprising health benefits, and most importantly, how to "do" the diet.

Thus it is about breakfast. In my first book, How I Gave Up My Low-Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, I repeated the common wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that you should eat three high-protein meals per day. I have written about a 1999 study published in The Journal of Pediatrics that showed a vast difference in appetite depending on whether the subjects – twelve obese adolescent boys – ate a breakfast with a high glycemic impact, a moderate glycemic impact, or a low glycemic impact. The boys who ate the breakfast with the high glycemic impact – if I recall correctly, instant oatmeal, milk treated with lactase to increase the speed with which the carbs would be absorbed, and fruit – ate 81% more calories during the rest of the day than the boys who ate a cheese omelet and fruit. I have urged breakfast on the grounds that we can’t afford to miss a trick like that.

Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting
Then here comes intermittent fasting. More and more studies are stacking up that fasting not only helps with weight loss – big surprise – but improves health as well. There are numerous approaches to intermittent fasting, but the most common is a 16/8 pattern – sixteen hours of fasting and an eight-hour “feeding window.” For many people, this means skipping or at least delaying the morning meal. Let’s say you finish supper at 7:00 pm and eat nothing else before going to bed. This means that if you arise at 7:00 am, you have already fasted for twelve hours, sleeping through eight hours of your fast. But you still need to delay eating for another four hours. So what about breakfast?

You could shift your fasting/feeding cycle, of course. Andrew, who runs this site, fasts from 4:00 pm until 8:00 am, then has coffee and breakfast (low carb, of course). But some of us like the ritual of eating dinner together. What do we do?

Breakfast is Still the Most Important Meal of the Day
Photo by Caroline Vass on Unsplash

The Word Breakfast Means to “Break Your Fast”

Simple. We look at the meaning of the word “breakfast.” It has come to mean food eaten first thing in the day. But as the word says, it really means breaking your fast. Technically, you cannot “skip breakfast,” because whatever you eat first in the day is breaking your fast, even, as I just did, you eat it at 1:00 pm (a turkey club wrap in an EggLife egg thin).

The important point remains that whatever you eat first in the day must be low-carb and a good source of protein. This sets you up for a dramatically reduced appetite for the rest of the day. If you are, indeed, intermittently fasting, this is even more important since a reduced appetite makes the fast far more comfortable.

As I said, there are many different patterns for intermittent fasting – 16/8, 18/6, 12/12, One Meal a Day (OMAD), Fast Five, alternating days of eating with days of total fasting, and more. If you’re thinking of trying it, you’ll need to experiment to find a pattern that works for you. For instance, my pattern might be a poor choice for someone who works in an office where there are always donuts and Danish in the breakroom; a full stomach is a strong defense against temptation. Those folks might do well to break their fast at the common time. Me, I’m an owl and rarely awake before 9:00 am, plus I work at home. Fasting until noon or 1:00 pm, while drinking plenty of unsweetened tea, is little hardship.

Breakfast is Still the Most Important Meal of the Day

So the advice remains: breakfast is the most important meal of the day, with the power to set you up for high energy and low hunger for the rest of the day. You just don’t have to eat it at any particular time, is all.

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