I used to wake up, drink coffee and eat nothing until noon. I had nausea's from having breakfast so I skipped it until I was about 14.
But this changed when I began going to school by bike. I always got sick cycling on an empty stomach: cold sweat broke out by the time I arrived at school and I threw up my coffee several times.
I thought skipping breakfast was the cause because everybody told me I should eat breakfast, it's healthier. So I started to eat like an animal on waking up. And indeed: I no longer got sick when I went by bike to school.
15 years later, I've trained on an empty stomach many times without problems. I no longer get sick from training in a fasted state, although I train at higher intensities than I did at age 14. What happened?
I now believe my bad eating habits and being out of shape as a teenager were the causes. Because it turns out eating on waking up is not healthier. Here are 7 reasons why you should not have breakfast.
1. Breakfast Doesn't Increase Your Metabolism. Studies show that fasting or less frequent meals don't decrease your metabolism. And eating every 3 hours, including breakfast, doesn't increase your metabolism neither.
2. Breakfast Doesn't Stop Muscle Breakdown. Starvation mode is a myth: you won't lose muscle if you don't eat every 3 hours — like when sleeping — and as long as you do regular exercise.
Your muscles also don't need protein every 3 hours. Getting protein around your training seems to be more important than your total protein intake. Read Brad Pilon's How Much Protein for solid research on topic.
3. Breakfast Doesn't Manage Blood Sugar Well. The common advice is to have breakfast to raise your blood sugar and control your insulin levels. Insulin is key for muscle growth but is also responsible for fat storage.
Fasting reduces your insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity dramatically more than eating small frequent meals do. People with diabetes have reported they managed their blood sugar better using Intermittent Fasting.
4. Breakfast Increases Hunger. Many people — including me — feel hungrier during the day after eating breakfast. This could be a benefit or a drawback, depending on whether you want to gain weight or lose fat.
- Great for Weight Gain. If you're a skinny guy who struggles to eat a lot, eating breakfast will make it easier to reach your caloric needs.
- Not So Great for Fat Loss. Especially since more frequent meals don't increase your metabolism. You'll have to control your food choice, like starchy carb intake, to avoid fat gains. Follow the 8 nutrition rules.
5. Breakfast Is Not Healthier. People who don't eat breakfast are usually the ones who don't exercise and who grab a donut on their way to work, eat junk food at noon and a big dinner in front of the TV.
Breakfast doesn't benefit your health directly, but helps building healthy eating habits. Studies claiming that breakfast is healthy are correlational.
- Breakfast does not manage blood sugar well.
- Breakfast does not increase your metabolism.
- Breakfast does not prevent muscle breakdown.
- Breakfast makes you hungrier the rest of the day.
A lot of people, especially students, skip breakfast because they know they'll be more productive, concentrated and motivated during the rest of the day as a result. I've experienced the same thing.
7. Breakfast Is Unnatural. Our ancestors probably didn't eat large breakfasts: they'd have to hunt it first (unless we're talking left-overs). Hunter-gather meal patterns with large dinners and little during the day seem more natural.
This could be why many people's instinct is to skip breakfast. Some say cereal companies pushed the idea that breakfast is healthy for their own benefits.
No More Breakfast? Am I saying you should stop eating breakfast? Not if you struggle to eat whole foods 90% of the time. In this case you should learn to eat breakfast as it will help you build healthy eating habits.
But once you've been eating healthy 90% of the time for at least 1 year and depending on what your goal is, you could experiment with approaches like Intermittent Fasting. See how that works out for you.