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    Fitness Myths#1: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

    In a previous post I discussed human physical function. A significant inhibiting factor to proper function is excess weight/obesity. So what is the mechanism of fat storage and why over the past few decades have so many become so fat?

    Excess sugar in our diets is the number 1 issue. The underlying mechanism at work with sugar is the hormone insulin. The pancreas releases insulin when we eat sugar (carbohydrates) and it goes about moving the sugar, now in the form of glucose to the liver where it is stored as glycogen and into your blood as circulating glucose.

    Once glycogen/glucose levels in the liver and blood are full insulin will store remaining glucose as fat. This is THE single most important part of the weight gain process, insulin storing sugar.

    The issue is modern diets are so full of processed foods which contain more and more sugar. We hope/trust most reputable companies work within the nutritional guidelines created by regulatory authorities. There are 2 proviso’s to this. One is there is a wide degree of latitude afforded to food companies and the nutrition labels they create – for instance the US FDA allows a 20% higher amount of sugar than stated on the label! You read that right, check it out here. So a food may have a label saying it is 30 grams of sugar when in actual fact it is 36 grams…..the FDA randomly checks claims but the budget, frequency and enforcement of this scrutiny is not disclosed, of course! So there’s fairly significant latitude in labelling that you would assume is fully exploited by the industry.

    If ANYONE is eating 20% more than they realise, especially sugar, of course there will be a problem!!

    The second proviso is that like a lot industries, the regulatory authorities in many countries have a revolving door situation between governance and industry – this seriously clouds impartiality.

    Sugar we know is highly addictive there is much science around this so daily we can be easily trapped into an eating pattern that is highly habitual. We KNOW we shouldn’t eat it but we can’t help ourselves and denial then makes the binging worse. We are eating too frequently, eating to much each time and the foods we eat have too much sugar.

    One of the biggest challenges is breakfast. Modern breakfast cereals are highly processed and contain extraordinary amounts of sugar. I grew up in New Zealand and moved to Australia in my 20’s – I had never heard of Nutragrain cereal but it was a dominant player in the breakfast cereal “war” in Oz. It was basically made up of a third sugar, 33% (possibly 40% with our new found knowledge above) and then 5 or 6 years ago they reformulated it to “less sugar” by changing it to 27% sugar which is still probably 33 based on the knowledge we have on labelling, hmmmm……interesting.

    Our eating habits are creating excess circulating glucose meaning insulin is always produced and the fat-storing process is ever-present. The more sedentary you are the less you are using up glucose and with each new meal more insulin is released and the fat storing process simply continues. The old idea of 6 small meals a day can create more probelms than it solves!

    Based on the information I have shared it’s reasonable to make the assumption that a LOT of people are in continuous fat-storage mode. Sleep and therefore not eating obviously interrupts this process but how many of you know that son or daughter or partner that will wake up hungry in the night? And go an eat!

    What makes us hungry and even wakes some people up is the hormone ghrelin and for some people it’s in absolute beast-mode! Ghrelin tells us we’re hungry and it is ferocious in how it drives us to eat. It’s almost as ferocious as insulin is in packing away those fat stores in readiness for the next famine – I am serious about this.

    Human wiring is as old as our species so that makes it very old and a lot of inbuilt biological mechanisms are as hard at work today as they were thousands of years ago.

    We store fat as this is our primary fuel and our body knows this. By continuous storage we are creating a tank of fuel that the body fully expects to one day utilise.

    Modern diets literally wreck our finely tuned endocrinal system and hormonal balance leading to a number of health issues! A human body being fed a continuous supply of sugar is a recipe for disaster!

    So, breakfast! The most important meal of the day………this would be true if you wanted to continue or restart the fat-storing process (that’s a joke). But if you have pounds/kilo’s to lose then actually it’s probably the reason you’re not losing weight!

    Breakfast, if your goal is weight management, is the LEAST important meal of the day and in a lot of cases completely unnecessary. Why? Because we want to interrupt the fat storage process, in fact we must interrupt it and then and only then can we force the body to start using fat as a fuel. I am afraid the fat-burn zone so often promoted as a solution is an unwise and unproven concept – many studies indicate the body has a preference for glucose even at lower exercise intensities. Likewise the concept of eating to maintain your metabolism – think that one through a bit, you’re eating more calories to increase your metabolism that in turn burns these calories? No sense to this at all.

    What is the solution? Mini-fasts have been proven to reduce fat stores in humans a good article is here. The article is good but it suggests the regular mini-fast or intermittent fast (IF) is 16 hours of not eating and 8 hours eating window (described as 16:8). In fact the better solution is 18:6 and even 20:4 and many of my clients alternate between these 2.

    IF works because as much as our bodies in an evolutionary sense learned to store fat it also learned to use it. Our ancestors did not have the availability to food that we have and they had to work much harder to get it all the while keeping secure spaces for the family/community from predators and other tribes. Our bodies therefore evolved with an almost daily or longer feast/famine cycle with a daily hunt and gather followed by a feast.

    The easiest way to adopt an IF protocol is to wake up and not eat breakfast! Drink water and black coffee or tea with no sugar of course but eat no calories. If you didn’t eat 2 hours before you slept and slept for 8 hours that’s only another 8 hours to go! You will feel some odd sensations, ghrelin will be nasty and after a day or 2 you will feel the effects of having no circulating glucose and move from carb-dependent to fat-adapted. In this period you may experience headaches, drowsiness/lethargy and other short term issues but keep water levels up and you will be fine. Remember to eat enough in your 4, 6 or 8 hour window, this usually being the number 1 problem people face – initially you may not feel like eating as much as you normally would. We do tend to over-consume so this is not a bad thing but over time you need to work on what amount works best for you.

    I have personally and by way of my fitness businesses helped thousands of people lose literally tonnes of fat. I have done this by staying true to our human evolution and hormonal make-up. It is a process that anyone can engage in, it works and it continues to work because you learn the mental game PLUS your body adjusts and plays its part by resetting hormonal balances of insulin and ghrelin.

    Botton line is we don’t need breakfast and as for the claim of it being the most important meal of the day –

    NO WAY!!

    Email me at darren@3TRUTHSFitness.com or check out our media locations below –

    #Building Better Humans

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      Fitness Myths#1: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

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