Do you REALLY need to eat breakfast?
Debunking the myth
Experts have long warned us against the dangers of skipping breakfast, citing side effects like poor concentration, weight gain, increased appetite and other health no-nos. While the very notion of sitting down to a bowl of Cornflakes is rumoured to have been created by American cereal companies, we're not disputing the notion that many of us wake hungry and need to 'break the fast'.
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But, considering the world can easily be divided into two types - those who eat brekkie and those who don't - there's just as many who can't stomach the thought of food in the morning, choosing to skip it on a daily basis. And, unlike the warnings, they're not falling asleep at their desks or gaining weight. So, is skipping breakfast really as bad as everyone says?
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When you ask a nutritionist, the answers aren't exactly black and white. "I agree with some food by 8am but not necessarily large," says dietician Susie Burrell, creator of the Shape Me 30-day plan. "It depends on energy requirements and how often you eat. Often people have a latte and forget that counts as a small breakfast."
Right. But would she ever recommend the no-breakfast rule to a client? "Anything is possible and there are some people who have worked out [that not eating breakfast] works for them," concedes Burrell. "But for the clients I see, in more cases than not, having something to eat first thing in the morning helps them to lose and control their weight."
For nutritionist Louise Cavanough, "the main issue with skipping breakfast is the effect it has on our blood sugar - it's important to keep blood sugar stabilised by consuming regular meals." But what if, like many non-brekkie eaters, you're simply not hungry when you wake? "I don't believe that it does our digestion any good to eat when we're not truly hungry," says Cavanough.
She suggests trying a smoothie or simply waiting until your tummy starts to rumble. Unlike Burrell though - she's not a fan of coffee on an empty stomach - "caffeine without food to slow down its absorption has disastrous effects on blood sugar and adrenal health," she explains.
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While Cavanough doesn't disagree with starting the day running empty, she points out that it places more pressure on you to eat properly for the rest of the day. "A balanced diet will have ample protein, fats, carbohydrates, fibre, antioxidants - and breakfast is our first opportunity to start getting these nutrients in."
Confused? Don't be - as with all health and nutrition debates, what works for some won't work for others. While skipping breakfast isn't necessarily a fast track to fat camp, eating before noon might help you regulate your appetite. That said, you can certainly forget the cereal ads and focus on what works for you.
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