Thursday, May 3, 2012

Skipping Breakfast? Bad Idea

A simple breakfast will get you going for the day.  Many people skip this important meal, or worse yet, binge on high-carbohydrate jumbo breakfasts.

Breakfast is the best meal of the day, in my opinion.   You don't have to eat a lot - just a few hundred calories - 400 or so.   But since you haven't eaten in 12 hours or more, the food seems so much better.

And yet, many folks "skip breakfast" - waking up late for work, angry and tired, and since they skip this important meal, they will be angry and tired all the way through to lunch.   Is this a way to live?

One big mistake that ambitious dieters make is to think that not eating at all is a sure way to lose weight. Unfortunately, this technique rarely, if ever, works.

The overly-ambitious dieter looks at the calorie tables and thinks, "Well, if I just stop eating breakfast, that will save me hundreds of calories a day, and the pounds will just melt off!"

The problem with this approach is multifold. First, this is not healthy, and the whole goal here is not cosmetic, but health.  If you are trying to lose weight to look sexier, forget about it.  Chances are, you are a mesomorph anyway (more on that later) and you'll never look like a supermodel or a gym rat.  On the other hand, if you want to feel better, mentally and physically, and live life in less pain, then you have some realistic goals.

And to live healthier, starving yourself is a really bad idea.  To begin with, you will end up having low blood sugar levels, which will make you dizzy and argumentative within a few hours.  Long-term starvation diets can cause organ damage and other problems.  Taking things to extremes is never a good idea.  The idea here is health, and not eating is not healthy.

A second problem with this technique is that as your blood sugar plummets, not only will slowly start to lose your mind, but you will start to become ravenously hungry.  When you do decide to eat, you will be far more likely to binge eat or over-eat and then over-consume calories.   This of course, feeds the low-self-esteem engine, which in turn chugs along with depression, leading to another cycle of over-eating.

Most websites, such as this one, suggest that a "sensible goal" to losing weight is to lose about a pound or two a week.  The idea is to make small changes in your diet, create a small deficit in your calorie balance (intake versus expenditure) so that you will slowly lose weight.  Over time, the habits of eating will change, and it will be easier to maintain a lower body weight.   But don't kid yourself, it will be a never ending struggle.

The Yo-Yo dieter tries to lose weight quickly, using starvation, skipping meals, caffeine-laced supplements, diuretics, regurgitation, or other fad techniques. While it may be possible to lose weight using such techniques (most is merely weight loss through dehydration) rarely do such diets keep off the weight.  Again, losing weight requires a permanent, lifetime change in eating habits.  As I noted in my "eating like a teenager" post, you have to become a "grown up" about your eating.

And saying your are going to skip meals is not a grown-up approach toward dieting, but rather a teenage girl's approach to weight loss.

So forget about "skipping a meal" - not only is it bad for you, it just won't work.   You'll just be tired, have headaches, be grumpy, and end up eating more at the next meal - and then feeling bad about yourself.

And don't do the opposite extreme (which is also popular in America) and gorge yourself on a carbo-centric meal like pancakes, waffles, bagels, or jumbo bowels of cereal.   It seems to Americans, it is all or nothing, quite literally, when it comes to eating.   High-carb meals will not only make you fat, they will send your blood sugar on a roller-coaster from high to low.  And like a Chinese dinner, make you hungry an hour later.

Instead, plan out a meal in advance, count those calories, and then take a nice walk.  It may take longer to lose weight this way, but the overall effects will be more sustainable in the long run.