Some natural health advocates are promoting skipping breakfast as a way to improve your health. Dr. Joseph Mercola in a recent article claims several benefits of what he calls intermittent fasting of which skipping breakfast can be a part: more efficient fat burning; normalizing insulin, leptin & ghrelin sensitivity; lowering triglyceride levels; and increasing growth hormone (HGH) production.
The medical staff of the company that developed the weight loss program I use in my clinic strongly disagree. During the weight loss phases of the program breakfast is essential and mandatory. During the lifetime maintenance phase, they have found that skipping breakfast can cause people to regain weight faster. By this time the dieter has eliminated insulin resistance and “reset” the pancreas to produce the appropriate amount of insulin for whatever meal has been eaten.
A healthy breakfast includes all three macronutrient groups – protein, healthy fats & oils, and a healthy carb. Three healthy between-meal snacks are also encouraged. The theory is that as long as the meals are regular the calories will be burned for energy but if one is missed the body goes into “famine mode” and the next meal will be stored as fat instead.
A recent study with school children in the UK discovered another important benefit of breakfast – a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Over 4,000 ethnically-diverse 9 to 10 year old children from 200 schools in England participated in the study. About 74% reported eating breakfast daily; 6% rarely, and the rest either most or some days. The infrequent breakfast eaters had higher fasting insulin levels and higher insulin resistance, both risk markers for Type 2 Diabetes. Those who ate a high fiber breakfast had even lower insulin resistance than those eating a breakfast of more simple carbs. The correlation of diabetes risk factors and eating breakfast remained after allowances for socioeconomic status, physical activity, and amount of body fat.
Perhaps if your typical breakfast is high in simple carbs like a Danish pastry, pancakes & syrup, or toast & jam, with sugared coffee or orange juice, you would be better off without it. However I believe that a more substantial breakfast of oatmeal or whole grain cereal, eggs & ham or bacon, cheese or yogurt and an orange or bowl of berries is a great way to start the day and maintain your weight.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.