Breakfast is not the Most Important Meal of the Day

The breakfast debate rumbles on but no one can argue that eating when you are not hungry makes any sense.

I have found that most mornings when I stop to think about it, I am not actually very hungry — dehydration and habit seem to be the main reasons I used to consume breakfast every morning. Now, if I kick off the day with a big glug of water and intersperse my morning with a couple of coffees I can easily get through until lunch.

In his book “Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal”, Terence Kealey, a Biochemist and himself a Type II Diabetic, explains how the hormone cortisol helps to control our sleep cycles and its level is correspondingly high in the morning as it rouses us from our sleep.

He goes on to explain that blood glucose levels are also comparatively high when we wake up and the effects of insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar is stifled by the presence of the cortisol which as Kealey explains “effectively promotes insulin resistance”. A consequence of this is that if we eat carbohydrates soon after we wake up, this insulin resistance can lead to very high spikes in blood glucose. Not good for anyone but particularly perilous if you are diabetic.

As a culture we have come to use breakfast as an excuse to over-indulge in carbs — giant bowls of cereals, thick slabs of white bread slathered in jam, stacks of pancakes saturated in syrup, pastries coated with icing or filled with custard. Even breakfast items that people regard as healthy such as granola and muesli are often loaded with sugar and eaten in portion sizes that are totally inappropriate. None of these foods would pass as a meal at any other time of the day and are quickly digested into glucose sending blood sugar levels through the roof — potentially exacerbated by the circumstances outlined by Terence in his book.

This is not just an issue for diabetics, as continued high blood sugar will cause insulin resistance in everyone over the course of their lifetimes and almost certainly increase the risk of developing metabolic illnesses such as obesity and Type II Diabetes.

There may be studies that show breakfasting in a good light but what you eat must be more important than when you eat it. I am not hungry in the mornings so breakfast makes no sense to me. As such I can give little credence to the expressions “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” or “you need a good breakfast to set yourself up for the day.” The truth is it may be better for your health (and also your weight) to only eat breakfast when you are hungry and if you do to keep it a low carb affair.

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