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Are you eating something for breakfast each day?

How many of you don’t eat anything at all for breakfast?

It still surprises me how many people do skip breakfast, and it’s even more surprising the number of those who skip breakfast that are aiming to lose body fat. Believe it or not, skipping breakfast makes it harder to lose body fat!

Many athletes do not eat a breakfast, commonly due to a range of reasons, including lack of time, not feeling like eating in the morning, the misconception that this is a good way to lose body fat, or simply due to habit. Skipping breakfast is associated with many adverse health effects including increasing body fat levels (Kapantais et al., 2010) and it has even been linked to increased chances of cardiovascular disease (Nolaet al., 2010). Many athletes feel that a cup of coffee is a sufficient breakfast and that they can eat a proper breakfast once they have finished their morning training (Close & Morton, 2010).

Generally, if you are getting a good night’s sleep, you are not eating (fasting) for around 8 hours. If you then skip breakfast, you aren’t eating any food for a good 12 hours. This goes against all of the theory I highlighted in the first part of this nutrition series about eating something every 2-3 hours. By fasting for such a long period of time you are slowing your metabolism right down.

If, in this fasted state, you are particularly active (i.e. you are competing or training) your performance will suffer a lot. This is due to inducing a state of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level), which can have the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of motor control
  • Inability to concentrate

Additionally, the body can become catabolic as it aims to restore the blood sugar levels. This results is lean muscle mass being broken down, thus reducing your metabolism.

To overcome this, it is fairly simple. Make sure you have something for breakfast. Ideally your breakfast should be made up of low Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates and moderate protein (e.g. oats and milk etc…).

If body fat reduction is your main goal, your carbohydrate:protein ratio should be more protein dominate by eating things such as eggs or yoghurt. This will prevent the loss of lean body mass but still promote fatty acid oxidation and thus, a decrease in body fat (Mettler et al., 2010).

These points are the gold standard in my opinion when it comes to breakfast nutrition. However, always remember something is better than nothing. If you are currently not having anything for breakfast, get into the habit of having something, even if it is not of the perfect GI or carbohydrate:protein ratio. Nutrition has to start somewhere. Small changes will lead to big results.

Joe Bullen

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