Life Style

Is skipping breakfast bad for you? Experts weigh in

Whether it’s failing to get enough rest or indulging in unhealthy foods, Americans are deeply resistant to what’s good for us.

Case in point — we’ve long been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a metabolic boost that provides the cornerstone of nutrition. Yet, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a quarter of us skip our morning meal.

There are plenty of reasons why people pass up a nourishing breakfast — including scheduling conflicts and lack of access. But some experts suggest that when you begin the day with low blood sugar, you’re priming yourself for symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and emotional reactivity.

Ideally, our sleeping and eating schedules should mirror nature’s clock.

“Initiating your day at 6 a.m. and concluding activity by 10 p.m. aligns with the body’s natural circadian rhythm,” Dr. Naheed Ali recently told Britain’s GB News. “Incorporating this approach into meal timing can further enhance the body’s ability to burn belly fat. Breakfast should ideally be consumed within an hour of waking up, around 7 a.m. to jumpstart the metabolism.”

One reason some people might pass on brekkie is that their ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone,” doesn’t hit with a pang until later in the day.

Greek yogurt parfaits are an amazingly healthy way to kick off breakfast. elenavah –

But, as Dr. Emily Cooper, medical director for the Cooper Center for Metabolism in Seattle, tells HuffPost, a bite of breakfast, even if you’re not feeling hungry, and even if it’s not entirely healthy, is essential.

“If you don’t get enough to eat early in the day, ghrelin levels rise later,” she explained Thursday. “Your body is trying to make up for all the stuff you’ve missed.”

For Cooper, the absence of breakfast leads to desperate dietary decisions later in the day, a pattern of poor choices that can cause obesity.

Intermittent fasting

How iffy is intermittent fasting? Experts are divided on the benefits. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The most famous batch of breakfast skippers might be those who practice intermittent fasting (IF). The research surrounding the restrictive practice, wherein calorie intake is limited to certain time intervals, is mixed.

Proponents say IF helps folks reduce inflammation, shed weight, and regulate their gut biomes while decreasing the risk of major diseases, including diabetes.

But a study from March claimed that those who restricted themselves to eating only for eight hours each day had a 91% higher risk of dying from heart disease.

Cooper is among the professionals at odds with IF. “I’ve never been a fan,” she noted. “All these kinds of trends people get into — nothing good comes of it. It doesn’t make metabolic sense.”

What, not when

The Med diet derives from the traditional diets of 21 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey and Monaco — where fresh greens, fruits, fish, nuts, and olives are abundant. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Some docs argue that what you eat is more important than when you eat.

Dr. Jonathan Rosand, co-founder of Massachusetts General’s McCance Brain Care Center and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, stresses to HuffPost that a diet rich in vegetables, leafy greens, and omega 3s is key to staving off depression, stroke, and dementia.

Rosand’s recommendation echoes research that suggests a Mediterranean diet supports healthy cognition as we age.

To breakfast or not to breakfast?

What’s at stake if you skip the pancakes? Getty Images

Deciding what and when you eat is ultimately about obeying the needs of your body — there is no one-size-fits-all equation for care.

Rosand imparts, “The goal is to feel comfortable, take better care of ourselves. Let’s give ourselves a break.”

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