The Power of Breakfast

I’m a notorious breakfast skipper.

It was always a slimming club mantra (at a number of groups I attended) that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and “breakfast skippers wear bigger knickers”. I’ve never been a big one for breakfast, it takes my stomach a while to wake up and by the time I feel like I might be able to tolerate some food I’ve started my day and I just run through until lunch.

Is this the key to my over weightness? Would I be slimmer if I ate a meal as soon as I wake?

A study quoted in a Time article from 2017 claimed to have found no difference in weight between people who ate breakfast and those who didn’t*. (I remember reading this in New Scientist at the time but can’t find a link to that piece.)

And, then there’s people who fast intermittently with a small afternoon ‘feed window’ who successfully lose weight and keep it off. And those who believe fasted exercise gives better weight loss.

It’s all so confusing, is it better to eat breakfast or not?

And (sorry for all the ‘ands’ and ‘buts’), should I exercise on an empty stomach or is fuelling more important?

Until it got absolutely flipping freezing at the start of January I would cycle about 30km, three times a week, in the morning, setting off around 9:30. Most days I did this having skipped breakfast. Looking at my training time, speed and distance and how I felt at the end of each ride, I can’t say that I noticed any difference between days I ate first and days I didn’t. So is it only relevant to elite athletes?

Total gridlock – having a little rest on my regular training route.

I think the simple answer is that for the distance and intensity that I am exercising, fuelling makes little impact on performance but maybe it’s impacting my fat burning ability. If I increase training distance or time then I need to consider what and when I eat (I know for a fact I cannot ride for two hours plus on an empty stomach) but for this discussion I’m just going to consider these shorter training rides. So, the next question would be, does fasted exercise work? Was this why I was losing fat so nicely in the run up to Christmas or was it simply the combination of regular exercise and improved diet?

A quick google search brings up dozens of articles and blog posts debunking the fasted cardio myth. It appears that although some studies have shown that fasted cardio can increase fat burning during exercise this only occurs at very low levels of training intensity. Most of my cycling takes me into the moderate intensity zone (high intensity on the hills) so being in a fasted state probably isn’t going to help me. And, I’m planning some more focused training so probably need to look at pre-training meals properly.

So, where does this leave me? To breakfast or not?

I’m going to give this morning meal thing a whirl. I guess I’ve got nothing to lose and I will gain a whole new eating opportunity. So, if you’ve got any wonderfully exciting (preferably pescatarian) breakfast ideas, hit me up.

* – that Time article in full.

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