Breakfast: some of us love it and some us can’t stand the sight of food first thing in the morning.
The question is: is breakfast really all that important?
Do I need to eat breakfast?
Studies have been conflicting as to whether breakfast is an important meal.
Intermittent fasting (fasting for a period of time and consuming all meals between a specific amount of hours) has taken off hugely in the last few years, and many people have found great success with this method of eating, which can involve skipping breakfast.
It works very well for many people who wish to consume the bulk of their calories later in the day, and perhaps eat one or two larger meals rather than dividing their calories into a few smaller ones.
Again, this is a personal preference, but it is not necessarily the optimal option for those hoping to build the maximum amount of lean muscle possible due to the fact they may not distribute their protein intake for optimal use by the body for growth.
In a study in 2013, it was illustrated that breakfast eaters had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, the same was found in another study regarding a lowered risk of heart disease.
Breakfast eaters tend to report feeling less hungry through the day than their non-breakfast eating counterparts.
Really, it is not ideal to skip any meal if the meal then is replaced with unhealthy snacking that will have a knock on effect on the meal after that.
Breakfast eaters in many studies in fact tend to consume more calories overall, but also had lower levels of hunger hormones through the day. Similar results could possibly be found if other meals considered important in the day were studied as being skipped or eaten, breakfast simply gets more attention in research.
Breakfast in itself does not increase the metabolism significantly as many people are led to believe, it has no more effect than other meals consumed through the day.
Is training fasted better than training after a breakfast?
In short, no. Studies have not found fasted cardio to be superior to fed cardio when it comes to fat loss.
That said, each to their own, and many people cannot train to full capacity with a full stomach! In this case, consider eating something light pre-training that is rich in protein. This will help spare muscle breakdown and protect your muscle gains!
If you prefer training totally fasted, that is simply a preference. However, if you are training fasted with your stomach growling and miserable simply in hope of better results than if you ate a meal, you may be disappointed!
Ideally, consider adding H.I.I.T into your routine if your goal is fat loss. This training has been shown to be superior to steady state cardio as it preserves lean muscle mass and burns more calories overall due to its intense nature. However, for this reason it may not be suitable for everyone as it is tough on the body.
Protein distribution counts
Although skipping breakfast in itself may not be as big an issue as others may have implied, there are still some implications for protein distribution and getting in the optimal dose of it through the day if your goal is to build lean muscle mass.>
Studies have shown that you cannot compensate not eating enough protein frequently enough through the day by consuming one large meal that has a large amount of protein in it.
To put this into perspective, ideally it may benefit you to aim for roughly four meals a day with a space of about four to four and a half hours in between containing protein at each meal.
This may be an issue for timing if you skip breakfast as if you go to bed relatively early it may be tough to fit in your meals through the day.
Take home message
It may not be such a big deal as was previously thought if you skip breakfast.
With that said, there are some serious benefits to consuming a meal before training if you are an early bird at the gym, and breakfast is a great opportunity to get in some quality nutrition into your body to help you perform and feel better through the day – especially if you are trying to fit in training early in the morning!