You’ve likely heard this overused cliché or some variation: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I'm a health coach and I constantly hear this sentiment — usually as I watch a client scarf down a low-fat blueberry muffin and a huge latte.
The theory behind the cliché is this: You skip breakfast, your metabolic rate crashes, you lose muscle mass, and you become a raving lunatic nobody wants to be around. I’m here to tell you that those theories are complete nonsense.
That idea stemmed from many studies that do suggest breakfast eaters lose more weight and keep it off more easily, especially high-protein eaters. I have also found that many of my clients who eat breakfast lose more fat, perform better, and gain muscle better. But that's not the case for everyone.
That dogmatic everyone-have-breakfast-or-become-an-out-of-shape-fatty approach neglects biochemical individuality, an approach that underlies every nutrition and fitness expert worth his or her credentials. What works for you doesn’t necessarily work for someone else.
I have friends who eat a five-egg omelet for breakfast and thrive. Others do a simple grab-and-go protein shake. Become your own biohacker, give it some time, figure out what works for you, and make it fun. These six strategies can help you figure it out:
1. Stop messing it up.
You may feel serendipitous bliss as you chow down on a low-fat scone with your dark roast, but these choices set the stage for a midmorning sugar crash — with all of its miserable repercussions. Plus you’re not 12 years old, so stop eating sugary breakfast cereal. Most breakfast options have as much sugar as a dessert item.
2. Keep it simple.
You have enough hurdles to confront before 9 a.m. — breakfast shouldn’t become one of them. My go-to breakfast usually becomes a whey-based protein shake with unsweetened coconut milk, frozen berries, chia seeds, and my new creamy favorite: avocado. Alternately, I’ll hard-boil a dozen eggs that double as healthy grab-and-go snacks. Both are no-brainers so I can focus on the day ahead.
3. Make it unconventional.
You’ve heard about breakfast for dinner (a butt-kicking goat cheese/veggie omelet with a side salad is delicious and easy), but why not dinner for breakfast? Throw some wild salmon on a bed of lettuce or warm last night’s leftovers and you’ve got a super-healthy breakfast in minutes.
4. Skip smartly.
Blowing off breakfast and intermittent fasting (IF) are planets apart. The former you do impulsively and wind up nose-diving into the Krispy Kremes your co-worker brought in midmorning. The latter demands structure and discipline, but done correctly, it can actually be a legitimate fat-loss and muscle-building strategy.
5. You can try intermittent fasting without completely committing.
You can still create a 12-to-14-hour fasting window without skipping. Simply eat dinner, close down the kitchen, and then eat breakfast a little later the next morning. You’ll sleep for most of that time anyway.
6. Have your coffee with benefits.
Unless you’ve lived under a rock the past few years, you know about Bulletproof Coffee. It blends mycotoxin-free beans with grass-fed butter and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. Do this correctly and it can become a delicious, decadent breakfast, especially if you throw in a scoop of protein powder. Healthy fat keeps your appetite and cravings at bay for hours, shifting you into ketosis so you burn more fat (yes, fat can help you burn fat), plus it tastes pretty freaking delicious.
Breakfast will always be a controversial subject in the nutrition and fitness worlds. What’s your go-to choice? If you’ve ever blown it off, did you reclaim those calories later in the day?
Photo Credit: Getty Images