Breakfast is probably not the most important meal of the day
For years, decades even, they said it’s important you never skip breakfast. Ever. It gets your metabolism going, they said. It helps you lose weight, they urged. You’ll die without it, they implied!
Truth is, the breakfast being a necessity for a good life myth is relatively new. Prior to the late 19th century in North America, breakfast wasn’t considered that important at all.
During the Industrial Revolution, heavy breakfasts were frowned upon because people found themselves sitting or standing in one place all day, and a heavy farm breakfast of eggs and leftovers from the night before were blamed for indigestion people started experiencing, so lighter early mornings meals became more common.
Enter breakfast cereals as a “lighter” breakfast option—specifically the well-known brand Kellogg’s, invented by John Harvey Kellogg, a preacher, who believed that bland, supposedly healthy foods like Corn Flakes would prevent people from wanting to masturbate—the greatest of all evils, according to the preacher.
This religious moralizing rhetoric was used in the 19th century to help sell people on the idea of eating cereal for breakfast and was carried into the 20th century: Eating a light, healthy breakfast would help make you more productive at work, they said. And then, in the 1940s—when we discovered vitamins as a way to boost health—cereal manufacturers started pumping cereals full of vitamins, making them apparently even more important to eat first thing in the morning.
The point is, there’s not a lot of real science behind the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” idea: Instead, indigestion during the industrial revolution, religious moralizing in the late 19th century, and clever marketing in the 20th century is what’s really behind the myth.
So, if breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day, then is it even important to eat before noon?
Proponents of intermittent fasting don’t think it necessarily is:
What exactly is intermittent fasting?
It basically includes everything from periodic multi-day fasts, to skipping a meal or two on certain days of the week. The verdict is still out for sure on exactly what is healthy and what is not, but there’s certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence, as well as some more legitimate science (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting#section2) that suggests that intermittent fasting can improve health in various ways.
Some of the claims include:
- It helps with muscle repair
- It helps with fat burning, because you eat fewer calories while boosting your metabolism.
- It helps decrease inflammation
- It decreases changes of developing Type II diabetes by reducing insulin resistance
- It’s good for the brain
When it comes to intermittent fasting, options are vast. There’s the “fast for 16 hours a day” method, and the “fast for two days each week” option. Or the “24-hour fast twice a week” idea, and the very popular “fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night” plan. (Read more about these options here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-do-intermittent-fasting#section8)
What is best for you depends on you! I suggest dabbling here and there just to see how you feel. Try working out on an empty stomach for a week. Try not eating before noon. Or try fasting once a week for a month. See what happens and listen to your body.
Why not? We have been mislead for decades about breakfast first thing in the morning being necessary for ideal function. It’s certainly not going to hurt you to try something new for a couple weeks to a month and decide for yourself how it makes you feel. If you feel terrible, go back to eating corn flakes every morning…