There is something very wrong about the idea of “canceling” a whole meal of the day, and it might not be why you think.
Earlier this year, Dr. Oz shared his belief that we should “ban” breakfast. He claims that it’s “an advertising ploy.”
The debate about whether or not you should eat breakfast has long raged among diet and nutrition experts (and more than a few quacks), but it’s time to set the record straight about why the question isn’t so easy to answer.
We’ve discussed earlier the fallacy of breakfast being the “most important meal” of the day. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be valuable — or even essential — for some people.
No matter what the research shows about intermittent fasting and its benefits for your health, the truth is that no one meal of the day is going to make or break your diet … but only if you pay close attention to some very important facts.
In this episode of That’s Healthy, Right? we get to the bottom of the debate about why arbitrarily removing any particular meal from your diet is junk science.
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We Have Been Asking the Wrong Question about Breakfast — That’s Healthy, Right? Podcast
Eating breakfast won’t help you lose weight, but skipping it might not either — Harvard Medical School
Breakfast Is Not the Most Important Meal — Born Fitness
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial — The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: A randomized controlled trial in lean adults — The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The Effects of Breakfast and Breakfast Composition on Cognition in Adults — Advances in Nutrition
Skipping breakfast associated with higher risk of cardiovascular death — University of Iowa College of Public Health
Adam Bornstein: America’s probably least favorite nutrition doctor, well, there’s no real such thing as a nutrition doctor. But, a doctor who likes to act like he knows things about nutrition, is back at it again.
So Dr. Oz says that his focus for 2020 is to ban breakfast … I’m trying to wrap my head around this, because there are so many issues with this, but the idea is that we need to ban breakfast because it’s just an advertising ploy to get you to eat bad foods.
I don’t even know where to begin tackling the ridiculousness of this statement because you can eat bad foods at almost any meal. Not almost any meal, you can eat bad foods at any meal, period.
We’re adults. If you want to walk into your fridge and take out some whipped cream and ice cream and do it in any meal, you can. But the idea behind this is representative of all that is broken with diet and nutrition and creating a mindset that pushes people towards bad behaviors that make it hard for them to eat healthier.
Research has shown over and over again that one meal within the day is not any more important than another.
So whether it’s breakfast, whether it’s lunch, whether it’s dinner, if you don’t eat perfectly at a meal, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great day of eating, because so much of what happens within our body is just dependent on the total number of calories that you eat within a day.
So if you are trying to lose weight, for instance, you just need to eat fewer calories than you burn, this idea of a caloric deficit. It’s the reason why people like Dr. Mark Haub at Kansas State could go on the Twinkie diet so many years ago, where he primarily ate Twinkies during the course of the day and lost 20 plus pounds. Why? Because he ate a lot of Twinkies, but not so many that he took in more calories than he was burning.
Breakfast is not bad. And this comes from a guy who wrote a book all about intermittent fasting.
The idea that any one meal is going to tip the scales one way or another just needs to be removed. Instead, we should be focusing on habits or behaviors that set people up for success.
So for you to force-feed yourself breakfast could be a mistake, if you’re eating when you’re not hungry, just as much as it is for you to ignore or avoid breakfast for really no good reason whatsoever, just because Dr. Oz said that it’s an advertising ploy.
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to understand the triggers that lead you to be hungry, to make healthier food choices, and then to go ahead and have enough flexibility for you to eat the foods that you like, so you don’t rebel against your diet.
One of the biggest flaws of an intermittent fasting protocol for some people is that if you skip one meal, for some, not for everyone, it causes you to eat significantly more at the next meal and the next meal and the next meal. And if that would describe you, then skipping breakfast wouldn’t be a good idea.
For some people, skipping breakfast does more harm than good because it causes you to eat more total calories over the course of a day. Whereas if they would have eaten a good breakfast that would fill them up, they’re less likely, say, to go out and overeat during lunchtime or snack time, which kind of sets off that “all or none” mentality.
So I don’t care if you skip breakfast. I don’t care if you eat breakfast. What I do care is if you build this mindset that one meal can make or break your day, because that’s how you develop a bad relationship with food, and that more than anything is why so many people struggle to control their weight or know what to eat, because of this demonizing dogmatic approach to any individual meal or any individual food.
And that’s just not how your body works. That’s not good nutrition, and it’s not something that any of you need to be healthy.
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.