Which Is Worse: Eating Something Sugary For Breakfast Or Skipping It Altogether? We Found Out…
Neither is great, but which is the lesser of two evils, and how you can make sure you opt for a better choice instead?
We are guilty of one of two things when we’re rushing out the door in the morning. We either a) reach for the quickest, most convenient food we can find, which is usually something like a sugar-loaded cereal bar, a bowl of granola or a cheeky danish from our local bakery, or b) we run off into the day with an empty tummy and eat nothing at all.
Neither are great options, but which is worse for your health, and more importantly, what can you do to make sure you’re properly fueled up in the morning, even when you’re in a major rush?
We asked nutritional coach Lyda Borgsteijn to find out.
Scenario one: Eating a sugary breakfast
“Eating typical breakfast foods, most of which are highly processed and loaded with sugars is a really common mistake,” Lyda explains. “They may fill the hunger but they also set you up for metabolic disasters and fuel excess body fat and obesity-related diseases.
Over time, as we continue to eat high carbohydrate diets and exercise less, the problems start to creep in.
“After you eat a high-carbohydrate meal, your insulin spikes and your blood sugar plummets — making you crave even more glucose again shortly after your meal. This creates an endless rollercoaster for the day of blood sugar peaks and troughs.”
In other words, if you reach for something sugary first thing in the AM, expect to be grabbing sugary snacks throughout the day.
“Over time, as we continue to eat high carbohydrate diets and exercise less, the problems start to creep in,” says Lyda. “You crave more carbs and refined food for energy and create an overabundance of glucose. Your body can only handle so much at a time so eventually, the insulin has no choice but to shift the glucose to be stored as fat.”
Scenario two: Skipping Breakfast altogether
“Intermittent fasting is a diet method that is gathering speed and when used correctly it can have beneficial effects on the body,” Lyda explains. “However, it is a more advanced diet technique and definitely not right for everyone, especially if you rely on carbohydrates for energy.”
It takes about six to eight hours of not eating before your body begins to metabolise your glycogen stores and shift to burning fat
The thing to remember? “When you fast or skip a meal, you do not cut calories but rather you just shorten your eating window.,” says Lyda. “The idea is that fasting kicks your body into fat burning mode, but in reality it takes about six to eight hours of not eating before your body begins to metabolise your glycogen stores and shift to burning fat.”
That means if you’re skipping breakfast as a way to lose weight, it’ll likely be ineffective. Add to that, “skipping meals boosts your levels of stress hormone cortisol,” points out Lyda. That means if you’re hungry and grumpy by the mid-morning, you’ll likely be reaching for something gluttonous and unhealthy to fuel you through the rest of the day.
“The long and short of it, there is no right answer,” says Lyda. “At the end of the day, if you’re eating sugary foods for breakfast, or skipping it all together, the poison is in the dose so if it is a one off, you’ll get away with either option.”
The big difference between the two? Choosing sugary foods in the morning sets you up to make bad choices throughout the day, whereas, if you can aim to grab a healthy snack mid-morning after you’ve missed your breakfast, you may find it easier to stay on track.
So what should you eat in the morning if you’re in a rush? “Grab a greek yogurt and a bag of flaxseeds and/or hemp seeds to add in along with chopped apple,” suggests Lyda. “You could also prep some boiled eggs and chopped carrots or celery to munch on, or prepare apple slices and a small dollop of nut butter to dip into.” Your best bet is to aim for a mixture of carbs and protein to keep you satisfied throughout the day.
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