Why You Need to Eat Breakfast!

Posted September 23, 2010 by

You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is absolutely true! For some reason, even when growing up with our mothers telling us to eat our breakfast, many Americans still adopt the unhealthy habit of skipping breakfast. Whether its because they erroneously believe that doing so will help them lose weight or they just aren’t hungry in the morning, the bottom line is that skipping breakfast lays waste to one’s metabolism.

As I have discussed previously in my Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss series, maximizing one’s metabolism is the key to fat loss. One of the best ways to do this is to eat frequent, small meals. Clearly, skipping the first meal of the day is NOT the best way to go about this! The fact is you’ve been fasting the entire time you’ve been sleeping, so when you wake up, your body is completely depleted of nutrients and energy. The best thing to do is to eat some protein and complex carbohydrates as soon as possible after waking up.  This will end your fast, re-rev your metabolism, give you some early morning energy and give you the amino acids your body needs to halt any catabolism that began during the night.

Eating breakfast is even more critical if you perform exercise in the morning hours, such as cardio or a bootcamp. Let’s talk a little bit about how exactly your body produces energy. During any exercise lasting beyond about 50 seconds, your body is going to begin generating a very high majority of its energy output from glucose, which is the chemical name for blood sugar. It will also pull a small portion of its energy needs from your fat stores, but this is nearly insignificant as far as we are concerned (the concept of burning fat during exercise directly from your fat storage is a disproven myth—there is NO fat-burning zone!). Our body stores each macronutrient in a different fashion and breaks each down into a different preferred energy form: fat is obviously stored as body fat and broken down to be used as ketones, protein is stored as muscle and is broken down to be used as amino acids (or as glucose, as we will discuss below), and carbohydrates are stored as glycogen within the liver and muscle cells which is broken down to be used as glucose.

Since our body cannot store glucose directly, it is important that our glycogen stores are filled in order to provide the blood sugar needed for our workouts. Unfortunately, if you haven’t eaten anything yet that day, then the glycogen stores have been completely depleted during your sleep. In this case, your body will use it’s alternative energy stores to create the glycogen. Since glycogen cannot be produced from fatty acids, this only leaves only one macronutrient from which to produce glycogen: protein (your muscle mass). As I mentioned above, in absence of sufficient glycogen within the liver and muscles, the body will undergo a process called gluconeogenesis, in which protein is broken down into the amino acids and converted into glucose. If you have eaten a portion of fast-digesting protein, then this isn’t too much of an issue, but if you haven’t then your body will literally dissolve your muscle mass to create the amino acids needed. In other words, you will be burning through your muscle to fuel your workouts.

As we know, the more muscle on our bodies, the higher our metabolism will be, and since metabolism is the key to fat-loss, the last thing we want to do is waste away our muscle, thereby decreasing our metabolism… that would be a pretty counter-productive workout wouldn’t it?! Finally, eating something will give you energy so that your workouts are more intense, allowing you to burn through more calories. So, every day you should be eating something right when you wake up, and if you’re going to work out in the morning, wait about 30-45 minutes after eating before you begin your exercise.

Comments on Why You Need to Eat Breakfast! »

  1. SImon

    nice website!