Common Mistake #3: Skipping Breakfast

2 06 2010

We’ve all heard it – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This saying holds true because of the length of time that you go without eating prior to breakfast.  It is called breakfast because you are “breaking a fast”.  Assuming that you get the 7-8 hours of sleep that you need, you will most likely go 10-11 hours without eating.  Your body is still burning calories while you are sleeping.  So, where are these calories coming from?  Most come from carbohydrate stores in your liver and muscle.  You will also get calories from the breakdown of muscle and a little fat.  When you wake up, you start burning more calories.  You will have used all of the carbohydrates from your liver by this point, so the process of breaking down muscle speeds up.  Eating breakfast will stop this process and start refueling and repairing muscles. But skipping breakfast sets you up for losing muscle.  In addition, by skipping breakfast, you are more likely to be overly hungry later. And thus, you are more likely to overeat at lunch and/or dinner.  “Backloading” or eating more at the end of the day than the beginning is associated with less muscle mass and higher amounts of body fat.

Another benefit of eating breakfast is increased mental awareness.  Numerous studies have examined students who regularly eat breakfast vs. those that regularly skipped this meal.  Those who ate breakfast consistently outperformed those who skipped.  These results are explained by the fact that breakfast provides fuel for the brain.  Your brain runs on glucose.  All carbohydrates that you eat are converted to glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream.  This provides the energy your brain needs.  It allows your brain to function optimally, making it easier to concentrate, comprehend, and remember what was discussed in class.

Bottom Line:  Eat breakfast daily.  Include carbohydrates (fruit, cereal, or bread) to fuel your brain and refuel your muscles.  Also include protein (eggs, milk, yogurt) to repair muscle.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.

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