If you’re committed to health and fitness, you probably take breakfast pretty seriously. You wake up early each day, shuffle into the kitchen and make yourself a bowl of oatmeal, covered in fresh fruit, seeds and nuts, washed down with a protein shake or a fruit smoothie.
You feel positive after each breakfast, because you know you’re doing everything you can to ensure that today’s workout is the best it can be.
I have bad news. You’re doing it wrong.
Breakfast is far from the most important meal of the day – and by skipping breakfast, you can actually improve your health and fitness. Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of fasting for short but regular periods of time – commonly 16 hours, often from the evening, through the night, through breakfast, and into midday.
By skipping breakfast and practicing IF, you can improve all aspects of your health – from your cholesterol levels to your muscle gain; as these 6 health benefits prove. It’s time to rethink breakfast!
1. Boost your brain power and brain health
Contrary to popular belief, fasting actually increases the responsiveness and sharpness of your brain. It makes sense – times of famine and starvation require the most brain power in order to locate food and successfully hunt.
Diets of all types have been found to have a beneficial effect on the brain’s ability to respond to the world around us, and have been shown to increase the creation of new brain cells. Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have the greatest effect of all analyzed diets.
Instead of becoming slow and confused after skipping your daily oatmeal, you’re actually encouraging your brain to wake-up and respond faster and more efficiently.
2. Make dieting easier
At some point in our lives, we all look in the mirror and decide that a diet is on the cards. Whether it’s the result of a mammoth 50lbs winter bulk, or just a desire to look better at the beach, we can improve the effects of our dieting by skipping breakfast.
Assume we’re on a calorie controlled diet – eating 2000kcals a day, instead of the 2500 we need to maintain our weight. If we eat a square 3-meals a day, we could divide our daily allowance into 666kcals per meal.
Eating like this, there’s a good chance that each meal is going to leave us unsatisfied, and looking to snack – and doing just that can reduce the efficacy of your diet. By skipping breakfast, we reduce the amount of daily meals to 2 – and that allows us a full thousand calories per meal.
You’ll feel fuller after each meal, and less likely to ruin your diet with a candy bar or bag of chips. The only issue is managing your ravaging early-morning hunger, right?
3. Stop feeling hungry in the morning
Why is it we feel hungry in the mornings? It’s not because our body desperately needs food – it’s because of hormonal entrainment.
Ghrelin release is affected by meal frequency, and our body trains itself to release the hormone at the times we usually eat. By eating breakfast every day, we’re actually encouraging the release of ghrelin, and causing our own feelings of hunger.
Skipping breakfast breaks this habit, and eventually stops the body from releasing ghrelin each morning – preventing your killer hunger pangs.
4. Reduce your cholesterol
Cholesterol is one of the most serious, damaging and all-too-common health issues facing the Western world. High-calorie, high-fat diets cause massive increases in blood lipid levels – which in turn increase your risks of heart attacks, mini-strokes and full-blow strokes.
Intermittent fasting helps to ‘reprogram’ the way the body uses this fat – increasing the breakdown of fat cells for energy, and using it as a primary energy source instead of glucose.
Skipping breakfast and committing to intermittent fasting helps to regulate blood lipid levels without medical intervention or crash dieting – and offers a sustainable and health way to reduce your cholesterol levels.
5. Boost your natural muscle growth
Growth hormone plays a significant role in human anabolism and muscle growth. Natural levels of growth hormone within our bodies help to trigger the adaptive mechanisms that cause muscle cells to repair and grow.
Increased levels of the hormone are associated with a significant increase in muscle growth, especially in conjunction with weightlifting – which has lead to endemic abuse amongst the bodybuilding community.
Whilst chronic abuse of artificial growth hormone isn’t something to be recommended, intermittent fasting has been shown to increase natural levels of growth hormone.
Short-term fasting, such as skipping breakfast on a regular basis, has been shown to increase the body’s own production and secretion of growth hormone – offering the benefits of increased muscles growth without the damaging side-effects.
6. Stay fit and healthy into old age
Endogenous growth hormone levels also decline as we age, and contributes to some of the unwanted side-effects of growing old – like reduced muscle mass, poor bone density and weak connective tissue.
The increase in natural growth hormone production caused by intermittent fasting has the potential to improve long-term health and quality of life. Skipping breakfast will boost your natural hormone levels – and may allow you to continue being active and healthy well into old age
The health and fitness community is full of inaccurate and misinformed information – and the importance of breakfast may be another classic case.
Not only can you enjoy all of these significant health benefits by skipping breakfast – intermittent fasting also has no effect on your training ability. In other words, if you’re interested in getting the most out of your diet and exercise, it might be worth skipping breakfast tomorrow!