'Breaker, Breaker.' Examining the Potential Benefits of Skipping Breakfast

Back in the day – like high school back in the day – I tried to be the cool guy who listened to music that everyone else wasn’t listening to. While my classmates listened to the latest rap and pop tunes of the early 2000s, I thought I was the man by cranking up tunes by rock & roll also-rans that had seen their primes decades before.

One tune that comes to mind is a little ditty called ‘Breaker, Breaker,’ which after listening to it today sounds like 17 cats dying all at the same time. I was totally unfamiliar with the truckers’ lingo and never understood what in the H breaker, breaker actually meant.

The same can be said for people when it comes to breakfast. Quite literally, most peoples’ first meal of the day is breaking a fast, or eating after the eight-plus hours your body went without food when you were sleeping.

Fasting for people in this country seems about as logical as listening to something like ‘Breaker, Breaker’ – like, you just don’t do it. But, a conversation with a client got me thinking the other day about a few things.

First and foremost, the regimented three-meals-per-day structure has been around for as long as anyone can remember. It’s always been pretty well documented about the importance of eating the first meal of the day – breakfast. This post isn’t meant to blast the unquestioned benefits of eating after you wake up.  Instead, we’re looking at the potential benefits of what could happen if you continue fasting after you wake up.

Said client and I had an interesting chat about a fast that she and a group were doing over a 24-hour period. The only thing she could consume was water to help her stay hydrated. Other than that, she was supposed to fight all urges and leave the food on the table.

Is this logical? Is it healthy? Aren’t we keeping money out of the deserving small businesses’ hands that keep us satiated on a daily basis?

Before you grab the pitchforks and torches, let’s first understand what exactly we’re talking about here. Intermittent fasting is becoming popular in many circles as a way to shift the bodies’ method of burning fat instead of sugar/carbs. When your body gets to this state it’s called ketosis, with other popular trends like cleanses and detoxes also achieving the similar desired affects.

Skipping breakfast would give you somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 to 15 hours of fast time if you went to bed at 10 p.m.  Your first meal – lunch - would launch your ‘window’ of eating that would end at around 8 that night.  Now the important caveat here is if after you’ve fasted for the allotted 11 to 15 hours and then stuffed your face with fast food and sugar-filled beverages until you go to bed, you’ve basically made the fast completely meaningless. By pouring blood sugar spiking, inflammation-inducing foods down the hatch, you’re essentially reversing the trend that we talked about above and thrusting your body back to burning carbs and sugar.

Some research has suggested that not eating is actually a detriment to the ‘normal’ American diet, instead shifting the body into survival mode that sees the body trying to hold onto its fat stores. So while both scenarios – one in which the body is in ketosis and one in which it is not – operate with the body ingesting either a normal or slightly less than normal caloric intake, it’s the entire body of work that matters most.

Unless you’re a child, elderly person or an athlete (especially younger), fasting sounds like a perfectly acceptable means of trying to regulate your daily caloric intake while also providing you a very specific schedule of when you should be eating. The current three-tiered breakfast, lunch, dinner approach is so wide open and random; people never seem to actually have a plan of exactly when they’re going to eat.

Poll a number of different doctors, dieticians and nutritionists, and you’re bound to get a bunch of different answers on what they suggest when it comes to fasting. Unless you have known health conditions or take medication (or are the three persons mentioned above – kids, elderly, athletes), what do you have to lose?

For the next month, I’m going to skip breakfast and document my findings by trying to eat as clean and healthy as I can during the ‘window’ of opportunity. I’ll document my findings and report back with a full assessment.

How about you? Is this something you’d be willing to try?