Do you know the reason why you eat breakfast?
There is a good reason, but there is also a real reason.
(You probably know this guy. Are his cereals that great?)
Let’s look at some good reasons:
You’ve heard it dozens of times: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
But who even said that? You’re going to find out.
It’s supposed to give you energy so you can survive the day.
But have you ever heard of Intermittent Fasting? Skipping breakfast, while having more energy and more time?
Sounds tempting, right? Read on to find out more about that as well.
So why do you eat breakfast?
Isn’t the real reason simply: You’ve done it for decades, for all of your life, so it must be good.
But what about the time before „your life“?
After a really short recap of the „Brief History of Breakfast“, I will try to answer the question whether you should eat breakfast and if you do, what you should eat.
Along with this post, I’ve created a bunch of bonuses for you to get started on upgrading your breakfast. They include 3 intermittent fasting PDF guides, 5 easy and high quality recipes from top authorities in the health, fitness and productivity industry, as well as 10 ideas on how to upgrade your breakfast.
You can download these in the bonus section below.
A Brief History of Breakfast
Starting with the Greeks, who ate some form of breakfast (called Ariston), but it was different from what we eat today.
It included often barley, eggs, grapes, and berries.
Moving on to the Roman Empire. Some historians say people often ate one meal a day, usually in the evening.
Most people thought eating more than that was gluttony.
Others say they did eat breakfast (called ientaculum), but it was still different from today and similar to the Greek’s breakfast, including bread, cheese, olives or cold meat from the night before.
In the Medieval Times customs changed. At the beginning eating breakfast was basically non-existent, but then slowly established in the lower classes – approximately in the 17th century – until almost all people ate some form of breakfast.
During this time the word „breakfast“ was introduced to the English language, meaning literally: „breaking the night’s fast“.
When the industrial age arrived, society basically forced everybody to eat breakfast. Workers had to eat it to sustain energy levels during their hard work.
This brief summary should not lead to comparisons, but it should rather give you an idea on how breakfast evolved.
How breakfast became the most important meal of the day
– over night
Breakfast, as we know it today, has its origins in the late Medieval Times, but when did it become the so-called „most important meal of the day“?
This was first mentioned in what is supposed to be the „oldest health magazine of the world“ named „Good Health“. There, Lenna F. Cooper, B.S. wrote: „[I]n many ways, the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is the meal that gets the day started“
Surprisingly the magazine was edited by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, co-inventor of many of the breakfast cereal brands you love today.
Could anybody have been more interested in promoting breakfast as the most important meal of the day, than the co-inventor of breakfast cereal?
In 2013 the cereal industry alone had $10 billion in sales, so Dr. Kellogg did something right with introducing breakfast as the „most important meal of the day“.
After reviewing the brief history of breakfast and how it got its reputation, let’s take a look at our breakfast today.
Ideally breakfast should:
- be healthy & nutritious.
- give you energy & focus.
- increase your productivity.
But breakfast often is:
- making you full.
- leaving you hungry a few hours later when you should be productive.
- giving you blood sugar spikes, reducing your focus.
Do you see the contradiction?
Instead of being beneficial, breakfast is often the opposite.
But was has changed?
We eat breakfast at approximately the same time, but under other circumstances, other foods or lower quality.
Today’s quality of breakfast has decreased tremendously.
Just look at the following breakfast items & sources and check for yourself:
- Breakfast cereal having more sugar than cereal
- Yoghurt, with tons of sugar & additives
- Fast-food chains offering breakfast
- Eating breakfast „on the go“ or in cars & alone
All of these developments not only reduce the quality of breakfast, but also the quality of your whole day.
The two most important questions you can ask about breakfast
Considering the development of breakfast, especially regarding the quality, there are two important questions:
- Is it beneficial for you to skip breakfast?
- If you don’t skip breakfast, what should you eat?
(This is the way to go!)
Should you skip or eat breakfast?
Today nobody can tell for sure if we should eat breakfast or skip it and, unfortunately, the few studies on this topic are ambiguous.
Typical „study paradox“ what I like to call it.
There are several movements (diet regimes) who consider skipping breakfast beneficial.
The most popular one is Intermittent Fasting.
It basically says to divide your day in a fasting period of approximately 16 hours and an eating period of roughly 8 hours.
You should also focus on high protein intake every day and alternating high carb & high fat intake with training & non-training days.
If you want more information on Intermittent Fasting (IF) check out the guides in the bonus section below.
The benefits of IF include:
- Weight loss
- Increased fat burning, while maintaining muscle mass
- Probable prevention of illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc
- Rejuvenation, reparation and increased health of the human body.
- It isn’t a diet (they often don’t work, remember?), but more of an eating pattern. While diets are easy in the beginning, but hard to maintain, intermittent fasting is just the opposite: hard to start, but easier to maintain.
The downsides of IF include:
- It might be hard for some people to follow, because of their job, etc.
- It isn’t a magic pill on its own, meaning, if you still eat low quality food, which is making you sick, Intermittent Fasting won’t make you healthy without changing the quality of foods you eat.
James Clear wrote about his experience on Intermittent Fasting on his blog. His top reason for it is simplicity. Reducing the decision regarding breakfast will result in less decision fatigue, therefore increasing your ability to make other good decisions instead.
Skipping breakfast is beneficial for some people, but not for others. Those people should rather focus on what they should eat.
The high-quality breakfast club
How do you start our day with a high-quality breakfast, laying the ground for a high-quality day?
If skipping breakfast is not an option for you, you can focus on shifting your breakfast items from low quality (as seen above) to high quality.
I checked the breakfast choices of several health and productivity authorities from all different areas:
Tim Ferriss recommends 30 grams of protein first thing after waking up. This supports weight loss as studies & examples in his book show.
Dave Asprey advises a bulletproof coffee, for weight loss and focus.
Ben Greenfield is advising to include unprocessed and unrefined carbohydrates, a source of protein and a healthy source of fat. An example would be his hot cereal, which you can get as a PDF in the bonus section.
Blue Zone People eat various high-quality foods. Since there are blue zones in different regions of the world the ingredients they use for their breakfast vary, but, all in all, they are eating natural & unprocessed, high-quality foods.
Another person that might be a bit of a surprise on this list is James Altucher.
He once wrote an article how to increase the oxytocin levels in the body.
Oxytocin is an incredibly powerful and beneficial hormone, as it can reduce stress levels and blood pressure. Foods that increase oxytocin are eggs, bananas, cottage cheese, nuts, and pepper.
Check the bonus for a recipe based on James’s recommendations!
What they all have in common: If they are eating breakfast, they are eating a high-quality breakfast!
They don’t share the same ingredients, but they all aim for the highest quality possible.
Whether it is Dave Asprey with his premium coffee and grass-fed butter, or Ben Greenfield with high-quality grains, fruit and protein powder or the people in the blue zones eating high-quality regional foods.
What they all don’t eat is low-quality food, junk food or highly processed food.
They also don’t stress themselves while having breakfast, either by simplifying their choices or taking their time.
What’s the takeaway here?
Don’t eat breakfast just because you’re supposed to.
Ask yourself whether it is beneficial for you.
If you decide to have breakfast, aim for a high quality.
Let nobody tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat. It’s up to you.
Eat a high-quality breakfast.
Which one will it be?
Whatever you decide, I want to help you out, so I’ve compiled a bunch of bonuses to get you started in both directions. Get them below.