When you're busy and on the go, it’s easy to make the excuse that it’s okay to skip breakfast.
A skipped meal every now and then is totally understandable --everybody gets a little overwhelmed with scheduling from time to time. What is dangerous however, is when skipping meals becomes a regular habit.
Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, has been proven to negatively affect health in a myriad of ways. From mental focus becoming more and more difficult to your body switching into starvation mode because it doesn't get its first meal until nearly 3 o'clock in the afternoon (a regular occurrence for workaholics hopping from one task-and-meeting to another).
It’s not groundbreaking news that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day,’ but a recent study has shown that consistently skipping breakfast can actually have a new-found health risk --atherosclerosis.
Skipping Meals as a Sign of Poor Self-Care
It is not hard to imagine that individuals who skip breakfast tend to have unhealthy habits that extend past the decision to opt out of their first meal.
"People who regularly skip breakfast likely have an overall unhealthy lifestyle.This study provides evidence that this is one bad habit people can proactively change to reduce their risk for heart disease." reports Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai Heart.
It’s a difficult operation to execute -- planning time to make your breakfast for the next day. For some, it’s such a simple step that occurs with little to no planning, but for others who prefer to wake up, shower, dress and hit the road -- stopping to throw together some quick nourishment is tough to pull off. Those same people tend to have that ‘unplanned’ spirit with the rest of their health too.
Business first, self second is the mindset here. Work and tasks and overall busyness keeps these individuals from slowing down to focus on their bodies and what they need. By the time they do slow down and focus on their own bodies, it’s often far too late, as all the alarms in their bodies already began to go off --headaches, churning stomach, and probably dizziness --all natural occurrences of not properly feeding yourself throughout the day.
Not exercising regularly, having an altogether poor diet, and not properly de-stressing are other characteristics common to individuals who opted out of breakfast. Deciding to eat breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day to be mindful, and when opted out, the tone is set to focus on all else but the body.
Poor Diet and Eating Schedule Increases Risk of Atherosclerosis
At its core, atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries. This thickening and toughening of the blood pathways due to plaque buildup makes it increasingly more and more difficult for your blood to move about your body, which forces your heart to work much harder than it needs to do its job. After a few short years of your heart over-working, the possibility for heart disease or other serious cardiac issues spike.
“Atherosclerosis was observed more frequently among participants who skipped breakfast and was also higher in participants who consumed low-energy breakfasts compared to breakfast consumers” says the American College of Cardiology. “Participants who skipped breakfast had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood lipids and fasting glucose levels.”
The reason as to all of the negative health characteristics is due to the mindfulness that follows starting your day with a thought-out meal. Breakfast --which often conjures up time-consuming images of bacon, eggs, pancakes, and juice, is something that can be as simple or as elaborate as you have time for.
What Kinds of Breakfasts are Recommended?
From a slice of toast with a banana and nuts to a heated-up breakfast burrito that you prepared the night before, breakfast is a must for those who wake up starving and who wake up having to convince themselves to eat.
According to a 2011 study on what kinds of breakfasts were best for the average body, items that were higher in protein proved to provide the strongest burst of long-lasting energy.
“Three groups were identified,” reports the study on breakfast habits. “Those consuming less than 5% of their total energy intake in the morning (skipped breakfast and only had coffee, juice or other non-alcoholic beverages); those consuming more than 20%of their total energy intake in the morning (breakfast consumers); and those consuming between 5% and 20% percent (low-energy breakfast consumers).”
Of those three groups, a very small percentage actually went out of their way to make a complete breakfast apart of their daily routine.“Of the 4,052 participants,” the study continues, “...2.9 percent skipped breakfast, 69.4 percent were low-energy breakfast consumers and 27.7 percent were breakfast consumers.”
What Happens to Our Bodies When We Skip Meals?
When we skip meals and virtually starve our bodies for the day, our brains go into starvation mode.
When in starvation mode, your body assumes that it is not going to be getting any food soon, so rather than burn food into useable energy, it begins to collect any and all food that enters into the body and convert it to fat. Your brain collects fat because it believes something is wrong and to defend you from starvation it goes into hoarder mode and starts stockpiling energy to burn later. Your brain doesn't understand why you are preventing food from entering your body even though it needs it, so it switches into pack-rat mode.
Your brain doesn't understand why you are preventing food from entering your body even though it needs it, so it switches into pack-rat mode.
It’s a defence mechanism that you are accidentally forcing your brain to activate, and it’s more than likely why you are gaining weight even though you are trying to “eat less”.
It’s alright if a day or two goes by that you are forced to skip breakfast, but for those who make it a point to settle for just a cup of coffee, or a very low energy breakfast (like a single toaster pastry), consider switching to a protein packed snack as you start the day. Even if you aren't hungry, you can train your body to begin accepting food earlier in the day, and in doing so --your arteries will thank you.
"Skipping Breakfast Associated With Hardening Of The Arteries” American College of Cardiology. 2017.
Kamada, Ikuko et al. “The Impact of Breakfast in Metabolic and Digestive Health.” Gastroenterology and Hepatology From Bed to Bench. 2011.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.