I’m getting ready to focus on intermittent fasting here at my blog during the month of August, and one of the things I’ll be touching on is meal frequency/timing. However, after reading this post from A Lady Goes West, I wanted to start a bit early and talk about breakfast and more specifically-the myth that you ‘must’ eat in the morning.
Rewind to 2012, back when I was overweight and a pre-diabetic. I followed the typical American meal schedule and always started my morning with breakfast. And I was ALWAYS hungry soon afterwards, which meant I ate a mid-morning snack (or two). And a large lunch. And a mid-afternoon snack. And a large supper. And then the night time snacking started at around 8pm and went strong until around 10pm, when I went to bed several hundred calories over my maintenance range. That eating schedule led to my weight gain and my worsening health.
When I started my active weight loss phase I knew I had to change things up, and after doing an IF protocol for several months I figured it out. Eating in the morning triggered hunger for me. If I ate in the morning I ate more throughout the day, without fail. However, if I didn’t eat in the morning I could easily go until 11am, noon or even later in the day without being hungry. Seriously-NO hunger. And I found myself less hungry throughout the rest of the day when I started eating later. When you’re trying to lose weight hunger is a big factor, so I stopped eating in the morning. It’s a habit I’ve since carried into maintenance and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve had such an easy time of it so far. I’ll go into this more over the next few weeks but for me, cutting out morning eating has led to a much better handle on my hunger.
But what about the conventional wisdom which states breakfast is the most important meal of the day? That it ‘jump starts’ your metabolism? That if you don’t eat breakfast your weight loss will stall? And what about the experts who say eating breakfast is a ‘must’?
For all of the research out there that says eating in the morning is important, there’s just as much out there that says the idea of having to eat in the morning is utter hogwash. Just hang out with the IF crowd for a while and you’ll hear story after story of people who started having success after they stopped eating in the morning. And it’s not just an IF thing either. More and more people are moving away from the idea that you have to eat breakfast. Start a post on My Fitness Pal about how eating breakfast is a ‘must’ and just see what happens (I double dare you). Also, if you read through some of the breakfast threads over on MFP you’ll notice that many of the people who don’t bother with eating in the morning are really successful at this whole thing.
While experts can spout off all sorts of things as the correct way to do something, I’m much more interested in real life experiences, especially my own. I’ve learned so much about how my body works these past few years and I have a very good idea of what works for me and what doesn’t. When I read a group of experts saying you ‘must’ eat breakfast every single day I have to roll my eyes a bit. Been there, done that and nothing magical happened when I ate in the morning, except it made me hungrier which led to the over-consumption of calories.
Meal timing and meal frequency is a preference thing, nothing more and nothing less. Some disagree strongly with this, but I’m proof that eating in the morning isn’t necessary for weight loss or for better health. And Martin Berkhan backs me up, with a lot of sciency stuff, if you want to read more about why eating in the morning causes some people to be hungrier throughout the day.
While I’m not a fan of eating in the morning for myself personally, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for others to do if that’s what works for them. One thing you’ll see over and over again on my blog is that you have to find what works best for you and then go with it. Just realize that there’s nothing wrong with going against what the mainstream says is the right way, or what the ‘experts’ say you must do. Figure out you, and let the rest fade into the background!