- Are we being misled by the food industry
- why this common advice is wrong
- Skip breakfast for two weeks and see what happens
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
That’s what we’ve been told for years.
It’s been drummed into us relentlessly.
I was told this as a kid… and more often when I was a student by my mum who worried about my terrible lifestyle in which I’d eat maybe once a day when I could muster the motivation and the money!
“Whatever you do,” she said, “don’t skip breakfast!”
Well, we’re told that breakfast gets your metabolism going… it supplies you with essential energy for the morning’s work… it feeds your brain… it fills you up until lunchtime.
But does it?
As I first revealed last July, there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests an alternative view.
Now this is genuinely controversial stuff.
Whenever I mention this idea to friends or family there’s a huge intake of breath. In fact, despite being in my 40s now I had yet another argument with my mother over Christmas about breakfast and why I sometimes skip it.
This is because it goes against years of advice – and also against common sense.
Because surely you should eat a big amount of food when you wake up? It seems the natural way. Get yourself set up for the day!
Well, yes and no.
Our ancestors would not necessarily have woken up and immediately eaten a full hearty meal. What’s more, if they had it would mostly likely have been some fruit or nuts…. not a massive bowl of cornflakes or rounds of toast.
Which is why there’s a problem…
When breakfast becomes dangerous
There’s a new book out called Breakfast Is a Dangerous Meal. It’s by a British biochemist named Terence Kealey.
He argues that we’ve been misled by the food industry for decades.
There’s big money to be made from cereals, breads and morning goodies like croissants and Danish pastries.
So the food industry has used flawed studies to reinforce the idea that we should fill up for breakfast in order to live healthy lives. We’re told that any breakfast is healthier than no breakfast at all.
But the truth is that these carbohydrate-rich breakfasts are bad for us.
They lead to sharp blood sugar spikes and crashes that lead to diabetes and stronger food cravings later in the day.
Kealey insists that eating NOTHING for breakfast is often preferable to what we do eat.
And if we really need to eat in the morning?
In which case he suggests a bowl of fruit or even a modest fry up (without carbs like hash browns and toast) would be the best way, if you must.
However, his recommended strategy is to follow a 16 hour fasting plan.
This is where you skip breakfast, eat lunch between 12-1pm, then eat a meal in the early evening. You then don’t eat again for 16 hours.
His caveat is that you must make sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, white meat, fish and nuts.
He also suggests going vegan a couple of days a week.
So is this just a new fad?
I don’t think so…
I think we’re going to see more experts coming out with these kinds of revelations over the next few years. Look along the cereal aisle of the supermarket and you’ll see that breakfast has been hijacked by commercial interests who rely on our addiction to carbs and sugar.
And while fasting might be seen as the faddish new thing to do, there is science behind it.
As I mentioned in my original email about fasting last year…
• Fasting increases levels of catecholamines in the brain increasing a sense of well-being.
• Fasting helps your brain cells recycle waste materials and repair themselves.
• Fasting boosts levels of the protein BNF which interacts with parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
• Fasting rewires your brain so that NOT eating becomes as pleasurable as eating. This helps with self-control and dieting.
As well as fasting you can also help yourself by taking something that reduces those blood sugar spikes that make breakfast troublesome for your system. One that we recommend here can do the following:
• Boost your metabolism and lower blood pressure
• Neutralise the effects of fatty foods
• Avoid after-meal blood sugar crashes
• Lower food cravings between meals
So what about you?
Can you go without breakfast?
Or are you one of those people who absolutely needs to eat well first thing in the morning? Does this email fill you with irritation because you rely on breakfast? Or have you tried fasting and found it difficult?
Do let me know! It’s always good to get feedback and work some of your experiences into these letters.
As I pointed out last week, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to dieting, which means it’s often a case of trying things out and seeing how they work for you.
For more information you should check out the People’s Doctor website where I post all the latest research.
To make it easier, you can search through different categories – for instance all my advice on food can be found on the ‘diet’ page here.
Worth a look!
Until next time, then…