13 Feb The Great Breakfast Myth
The great breakfast myth is a more recent phenomenon as fasting has been promoted and practised worldwide from antiquity, by physicians, by the founders and followers of many religions, by culturally designated individuals, and by individuals or groups as an expression of protest against what they believe are violations of social, ethical, or political principles. In recent years, fasting has made its mark in the health and fitness world, and not only as a way to lose weight and build muscle. New research is emerging every day that supports fasting as a way to help manage or prevent certain diseases and conditions.
Breakfast wasn’t always about a healthy start. Historically if you had a hard day ahead of you doing manual labour on the farm, it made sense to fuel your body with a good breakfast. The idea of health wasn’t a consideration; it focused on fuelling for the day ahead on a labour-intensive farm.
Then came the Industrial Revolution and our days became less physical and the need for refuelling less obvious. It was around the turn of the last century when Dr. John Harvey Kellogg popped up with his cereal, which revolutionised the idea of breakfast as being healthy. Dr. Kellogg, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, invented his cornflakes because he thought that eating pure, wholesome food would stop people from masturbating.
I’m not kidding.
This guy was really something. Apparently, he never had sex with his wife. They adopted all of their kids since he thought sex was a thing of the devil. He wanted to come up with something that would keep people from masturbating, so he came up with a lie to market to the public promoting fibre as a way to decrease masturbation. Here’s an excerpt I read from the News Scientist Journal.
“As a doctor, he also believed that the common health concerns of the day, like digestion and regularity, could be improved by consuming his fibrous cornflakes. Kellogg managed to take these free-floating health anxieties and embody them in a product. Both the product and the concept were well received. People hadn’t had health food marketed to them before. Women, who traditionally cooked a large breakfast for their family, thought it was a godsend. Convinced this new cereal was ‘healthier’ for their families took the guilt away from buying breakfast in a box. It was such a successful marketing vehicle that others piggybacked onto it. Other staples of our breakfast routine, including orange juice and coffee, then followed. The popularity of bacon for breakfast was allegedly the brainchild of Edward Bernays, the self-styled grandfather of public relations. In the 1920s, he was commissioned by the U.S. pork industry to boost bacon sales. Bernays surveyed medical doctors and asked them one question: Is a hearty breakfast preferable? It had nothing to do with health. He just asked if it was preferable. The resounding answer of course was yes. Presumably as a relic of the ideas of breakfast and refueling from a bygone agricultural days, Bernays used this fact in marketing campaigns and the popularity of bacon and eggs went through the roof. I’m not trying to trash the benefits of breakfast all together, but it’s safe to say the idea that it is healthy in on its own was laid on a plate for us by a marketing company and by large we’ve gobbled it up ever since.”
The Kellogg’s company today, like most companies, relies on us buying its products. If we all stopped eating breakfast, they’d go out of business. They’re there for profits, not for our health.
When you look at a lot of the research that’s gone into our eating habits and our health benefits, a lot of it is funded by the food companies. The government then publishes its recommended daily intakes for what we should be doing, based on many of these findings.
Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Some company will fund research that says eating their product is better for you, but actually, they’re just saying that so they stay in business. I’m a big sceptic when I see something advertised on TV but in more recent times you see such adverts on social media. Companies use platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, and approach people who have a huge following—10,000 to 100 million followers—and ask them to endorse one of their products, paying top dollar if they say yes. I am dead against this. There are many fitness influencers these days who are paid $1,000 or more per post by companies to promote their products—products they probably don’t even use or believe in, but they don’t care. Why should they? They’re being paid. In my opinion, it’s dirty marketing. In most cases, they’re not doing it because they want to help us; they’re doing it because they are being paid. I know I joked earlier about wanting companies to sponsor me, but I have never—and I will never—push a product in exchange for money. If I like something, I’ll tell you I like it because I actually like it, not because I have been paid to tell you so. Products I do showcase on my social media platforms are products I find valuable and use every day.
That’s why I have a big gripe with the breakfast industry as well. There is little evidence suggesting eating breakfast is good for your health. It was purely a marketing ploy and we’ve stuck with it ever since. No one’s ever questioned it because it is so ingrained into us. So many doctors sit on it, too, and when doctors are telling to you to do something, you’re obviously going to do it since doctors are usually highly regarded and you trust them.
The truth of the matter is that we are better off not eating breakfast because most of them are full of sugar anyway. And it’s not like I’m advocating never eating a sugary breakfast cereal again. If you can’t live without your favourite breakfast cereals, just eat them after your 16-hour fast. If you love cornflakes, have them for lunch. I’ll be the first to admit, I LOVE FRUIT LOOPS! For me, it reminds me of when I was a little kid. For my birthday, my mum used to let me choose whatever cereal I wanted and I always went for Fruit Loops—and it brings up good memories. Nowadays, I use cereal for when I’m in a bulking phase. I need quite a lot of carbohydrates per day on training days, and to get that amount of carbohydrates from “clean sources” like potatoes, vegetables, and fruit is near impossible. You’d have to eat kilos and kilos of them to get enough in, whereas I can get a huge amount of carbohydrates from a bowl of cereal because it’s just full of sugar. One bowl of Fruit Loops nets me 80 to 100 grams of carbohydrates fairly easily, whereas I would have to eat more than half a kilo of potatoes to reach the same level. Just know that having sugary breakfast foods in the morning certainly isn’t the place to enjoy them.
After only a few days of skipping breakfast, people have reported an increase in energy, an increase in focus, and no mid-morning or afternoon crashes. I tend to book all my clients in the morning, I work out at lunchtime, and then go home (or stay in the office) for a bite to eat. This has been my routine for years. Since skipping breakfast, I’ve found I feel much more energised to do my afternoon workout than I used to.
There are studies that seem to suggest subjects also cognitively perform better. They’ll give you a task of remembering 20 items in the morning and if you’re the non-breakfast eater and I’m the breakfast eater, and we get re-tested at lunchtime, turns out my level of remembering those things would be worse than yours. These cognitive studies showed people who skipped breakfast were more alert, more switched on, and performed better during exercise.
It makes sense if you think about. Looking back to our caveman DNA and genetics again, a caveman wouldn’t kill a deer and then bring it back to the cave every night for his wife to cook him a nice big feast. They only ever ate when they caught their food, which definitely wasn’t an everyday occurrence. More often than not, their bodies were in fasted states for quite some time until they successfully did find, hunt, and kill an animal. It doesn’t make sense for our body to start shutting down and being less effective or less efficient at hunting and gathering because if that were the case, we’d probably all have died out. The body doesn’t want to die so instead, it thinks, “I’d better be more heightened and more alert.” In a state of stress, especially when it ignites the fight-or-flight response, your body kicks into high gear with sharper hearing, better vision, and more focus and energy in order to survive. Scientists credit the higher energy level after fasting because it’s been built into us.
I’ve also found that I sleep better after concentrating my meals toward the end of the day as we are suited to sleep with a full belly. It suits our genetics because in caveman days, we would’ve gone a day or days without food and when we would have finally killed something, put it on the fire, and ate a huge feast, our digestive system would be at work and we would sleep well, no longer needing to be alert to hunt. I sleep much better after big meals rather than eating smaller portions throughout the day.
When I used to eat breakfast, I would experience a mid-morning crash where I felt I needed some sort of pick me up. Perhaps you fall into this category as well. You’re at work and come mid-morning, you can’t keep your eyes open. After skipping breakfast, I don’t experience crashes anymore and a lot of my clients report the same thing, explaining they have a much more stable energy level throughout the day. If you have a big meal in the morning, your glucose levels go through the roof and insulin is released. Once your body uses that as energy, your body feels tired and your brain sends you signals that you need a pick me up again.
My message is simple… wake up tomorrow as you usually would and instead of reaching for your regular breakfast, simply skip it and see how you go. You might hit some bumps in the road in the beginning, but after only a few days, your body will accept your changes and you will immediately see some exciting changes.
Welcome to the no breakfast life and now it is time to share your story so this great breakfast myth can begin to slowly die out and my wish to see Kellogg’s out of business can be realised!!!