I recently published an article on Elite Daily about why cutting out breakfast is one of the healthiest things you can do, and it’s fair to say that it received some violent opposition.
Here’s one of the nicer comments people left:
“The “author” of this article is so fucking uneducated it’s ridiculous. If you knew anything about god damn nutrition and the human body you would know that eating a proper breakfast allows you to function like a normal human being, even if you wake up super early in the morning. For fucks sake, stop writing articles that solely satisfy your own opinion on what you should do first thing in the morning. I myself am living proof that eating breakfast is a valuable and practical thing to do.”
Two days after publishing the article, over 5,000 people had shared it, and the consensus was that skipping breakfast was a bad idea and, more importantly, that the author (me) was a fucking idiot.
Let’s get address the first part of this conversation.
There’s been a boatload of studies published on both sides of the fence; people can experience significant weight loss whether they choose to skip breakfast entirely or if they’re an avid breakfast eater. My buddy, John Berardi points this out in a recent article.1 He highlights three studies that show if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s best to eat your largest meal for breakfast, two studies that say you should eat your largest meal for dinner, and two other studies that show no significant difference between eating your largest meal earlier in the day vs. later in day.
Overall, if we’re looking at the massive body of observational research that exists, it seems that only one clear conclusion can be made: malnourished children should not skip breakfast. And that’s it.
The US government and media have created strong cognitive biases surrounding the importance of breakfast. Over the past 20 years, how many commercials have you heard that called it The Most Important Meal of the Day?2
A lot. A lot of commercials with really happy people who are surrounded by cute, animated animals as they eat breakfast and expound upon its virtues.
Breakfast became my favorite meal of the day when I was younger, solely because I got a toy in my breakfast cereal.
Beyond media, we’ve had the government telling us that we’re at risk of heart disease and excess weight gain if we skip breakfast3, but have no fear. A couple weeks back, the US government released a brand new set of dietary guidelines 4 that stated that skipping breakfast is no longer considered a health hazard.
It’s a lot of flip-flopping, but they finally got it right, so you can let it go.
Let go of the belief that skipping breakfast is a threat to your core identity, because not only is skipping breakfast not going to have any adverse health effects, there are a slew of reasons why you should skip it, starting with convenience.
Note: I’m omitting the most significant reason in my opinion, which is the potential to help you burn a lot more fat (with a lot less effort) by allowing you to extend your fasting window. John has written plenty about how skipping breakfast aids in fat loss, and even which forms of IF are most effective. As I mentioned above, there is research on both sides of the conversation, but just know that you will in no way start gaining weight due to your decision to start skipping breakfast.
More meals equate to more time spent preparing to eat, as well as eating.
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of stuff I want to learn and accomplish in life, so if I can save time every day skipping the entire breakfast routine AND see an increase in fat loss, I’m going to do it. Imagine adding time to your day.
It’s something young people don’t think about often, but there’s a lot of research point to fasting as one of the best things you can do to avoid Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.5
Beyond the benefits in the future, fasting’s been shown to have cognitive benefits that can help you think more clearly now. This may sound counterintuitive if you’ve been eating breakfast for years, but after a few weeks of skipping it, you’ll notice an increased sense of clarity and focus when you’re in your fasted state.
The key to my creative space is a fasted morning and a double Americano. Talk about a flow state. Without having to worry about where your first meal’s coming from each morning, you get to jump into accomplishing things on your to-do list without interruption.
There is a lot of research circulating around the idea that fasting during a portion of your day can lead to an increased lifespan.6 During periods of fasting, your body spends less energy digesting food and more energy repairing and regenerating new healthy cells.
This point really seems to piss people off for whatever reason, but it’s simple: buying one less meal a day means you’re spending less money.
Most people don’t really know what real hunger feels like. Instead of waiting until hunger starts to really set in, we’ve been systematically trained to eat in the morning because it’s just what you do. This type of forced eating does jump start your metabolism, but it also jump starts your ghrelin production, meaning you’re going to feel much hungrier for the rest of the day. This puts you at risk of eating more and potentially overeating throughout the day.
Getting into a routine where you skip breakfast teaches your body to understand what it feels like when you’re actually hungry, and on top of that, it allows you to feast when you get hungry instead of having to control your portions.
When I’m hungry, I don’t want to graze, I want to feast. This allows for that. If you can relate to this, you’re going to love removing breakfast from your daily routine.
Now that you’re ready to take the plunge, here are 7 strategies to help you get started.
This is a big one. Understand that unless you’re someone who never gets hungry early in the day, the first 3-6 weeks are going to suck. You’ll experience hunger pangs during this initial periods, and your main tool to get through it is going to be grit.
Consider it a personal challenge that you’re taking on.
You’ll notice that as the weeks go by, your body will adapt and you’ll slowly begin to only experience hunger later in the day. Your body is incredibly intelligent. As long as you give it the time to adapt, you’ll easily reset your homeostatic rhythm (the body’s natural rhythm) to eating later in the day.
To get the benefits of skipping breakfast, you don’t need to skip out on your morning coffee. Coffee acts as an appetite suppressant and will make your morning a lot less difficult when you’re first getting started.
Take this newfound chunk of time and put it to good use; completely immerse yourself in something. That immersion and potential flow you enter into is going to divert your attention away from any cravings you experience. This is more important than you may imagine. Don’t let yourself get bored. Stay engaged and use your mornings to complete your most energy-intensive tasks.
A lot of what we perceive to be hunger can actually be attributed to dehydration. Use this window of time where you’re not eating to get uber hydrated for the day. I recommend drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day (at minimum). Try to get in as much water as possible during the AM.
And so fucking what? You’re working towards becoming the best version of yourself. Skipping breakfast is a minor choice that doesn’t affect anyone else. If someone has a problem with it and continues to express it, then it’s due to a deeper insecurity on their end, not yours.
From time to time, you might go out to brunch with friends, and you’re welcome to take a day every week or two to have breakfast and indulge your eggs benedict cravings. Diverging from the no breakfast club 10% of the time isn’t going to offset all the benefits you’re receiving from the others days of skipping breakfast.
I can list all the benefits to why skipping breakfast is going to make your life better, but at the end of the day, whether or not you’re successful in the first few weeks will come down to willpower.
Humans are ten times more likely to take action in order to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. It’s just how we’re hardwired.
Use this to your advantage; tell yourself that if you break your fast more than once a week, then something awful is going to happen.
I use leverage for everything in my life when I want to create healthy habits and get rid of unhealthy ones. I recommend you think of something that will motivate you substantially, be it an awful exercise or burning a stack of money, and use that as leverage to get yourself to follow through. Make yourself do 300 burpees or make a donation to a cause that you don’t support.
These strategies will see you through the first few weeks of not having breakfast. After that, you’re home free, my friend.