Breakfast: Take it Or Leave It? A Doctor Rants… Part I
So I was watching this video in which a doctor rants (pretty much) about how people give him grief for not having breakfast. He declares “Don’t judge when it comes to what others eat.” And I (mostly) agree with that sentiment. I mean, it’s incredibly annoying when people have no idea what my health needs are – or what my diet is like – and start policing my meals because I have diabetes.
But I was a little perplexed by the rest of his rant… Far be it from me to judge what people do with their personal habits, but it did seem to come off as more of a personal justification for his not eating breakfast, than any kind of solid argument. So I will be examining his claims in a two part blog post… (Check back soon for Part II)
Let’s Examine the Claims…
1. The idea of breakfast being the most important meal of the day is a myth and if you’re not that hungry in the mornings and you don’t want food, you should just not have it. He goes on to suggest that if you skip a meal you don’t want, you’ll most likely lose weight, and not gain it (as others claim). He goes on to roll his eyes at claims of a person ‘screwing up’ their metabolism, or having more time to burn calories throughout the day (but he does not offer an argument debunking them.)
What are the facts: The fact is that your body constantly needs glucose. Your body needs glucose so much so, that it has evolved a way to store the glucose your body metabolizes from your meals into your liver for things like: a sudden burst of energy, like when you need to run from danger; an illness, like when you’re not digesting food properly; and yes… a large period of fasting, like when you’ve been sleeping for 6-8 hours. After rising, a person may not feel their hunger signals right away because of this constant glucose supply, the slowing down of organ functions, and also because of the slowing down of metabolism caused by the overnight dehydration. (Which is why you should have some water when you first wake up.) This whole fact alone could indeed make breakfast THE most important meal of the day.
[It’s important to note that many a person with diabetes knows just how important it is to eat something because if they don’t the liver will KEEP ON dumping glucose into the bloodstream until they do, and often even after having injected insulin.]
It’s important to note, though, that Dr. Carroll doesn’t exactly have an empty stomach in the mornings. As he claims in the beginning of his video, he has coffee, which contains caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant which can get the liver to release even more glucose. (Like many of us people with diabetes have already figured out, when our bodies treat coffee just as if we’ve had a meal.) In short, Dr. Carroll may not feel he needs his breakfast because he’s having a burst of energy being given to him by that coffee to carry him all the way to lunch.
2. Correlation is not causation (which is correct), and he shares an example of a study, whose poor design could have led to the overestimation of effect — which is quite possible.
What are the facts: Dr. Carroll shared only one flawed study. The study isn’t just flawed because of the poor way in which the researchers pooled together their data – it is also flawed because a.) the data on BMI (considering newfound information regarding actual weight and health) may not be very telling; and b.) because the study did not distinguish between different types of breakfast.
The BMI aspect of the study is something that has always been debated. While I am far from an expert on BMI, this is by no means, a subject that has wide expert agreement. And I’ll give him that much.
But the fact that the study did not distinguish between different types of breakfast is important – and that is because it is well known and documented that a well balanced breakfast (one which also contains protein and fat, and not just a cereal or a grain), will indeed result in longer lasting satiety signals, because it will take longer to digest. This is basic nutrition science and the key for any person with diabetes (or without) to healthily maintain glucose levels throughout the day. So yes – if you have a balanced breakfast, you will indeed eat less throughout your day then if you didn’t because you won’t get as frequent hunger signals. So yes… 2 + 2 does indeed add up to 4.