Fitness trainers discuss the importance of breakfast, and the myths in the fitness industry with Husain Rizvi
Back in the 1960s, American nutritionist Adelle Davis said, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” That, and several other studies, have contributed to coining breakfast the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast literally means to break the fast, your first meal after a period of not eating anything during your sleep.
But how much of it is true? Is breakfast truly the most important meal of the day? Should it be unskippable? Well, while some studies suggest that it is okay to skip breakfast, or a heavy breakfast, other studies suggest otherwise.
On one hand, there are studies that suggest a healthy breakfast can help promote fat loss as well as maintain metabolism rate, and keep blood sugar and blood pressure steady.
On the other hand, a prominent eating practice intermittent fasting discourages breakfast meals. Its most common method is observing a 16-hour overnight fast, and an 8-hour eating window.
So, does that make breakfast the most important meal of the day? We get more insight by talking to fitness personalities who tell us their stance on the same, what they have for breakfast, and some common fitness myths.
Note: All bodies react differently, to nutrition, to workouts, and to most things. What might work for one, may not necessarily work for the other. [email protected]
George Gersky, cabin crew/model/fitness trainer
What George has for breakfast:
I usually have two options for my breakfast which usually consists of:
Breakfast option 1: 60g of oats, one banana, 10g of chia seed, 10g of pumpkin seeds, 10g of sunflower seeds (one scoop of chocolate whey protein) and 20g of raspberries.
Breakfast option 2: Omelette of 8 eggs (6 egg whites and 2 full eggs), 3 rice cakes with a thin layer of low fat cream cheese.
The options depend on my daily schedule, the time available, and personal preference.
You need to take into consideration that these options are in line with my personal needs and preferences. We cannot apply same measures of ingredients for everyone.
George’s take on breakfast being the most important meal of the day:
I think breakfast is as important as any other meal of the day. Some people might feel very hungry first thing in the morning due to the “fasting” period during sleep, some people prefer to skip it, but I personally think that you should pay equal attention to all of your meals as they are an opportunity to take in all necessary nutrients throughout the day and fuel up your body for any activity (mental or physical) you might be engaging. To sum it up, I think breakfast should not be neglected, but should not be treated as the most important meal of the day.
Fitness myth George doesn’t believe in:
You need to have your meal at a certain time of the day. Whether you are working on losing weight, or putting some muscle mass on, having meal at the certain time won’t affect the outcome. The important thing is that you should be in caloric deficit to lose weight or in caloric surplus to gain some muscle mass. Yes, it is true that your body needs nutrients after workout, but there is no need to stress out if your day schedule does not allow you to have your meal straight after the workout. But, it would be good to have it within 45 minutes of the workout. The more important thing that I would focus my energy on is to take in all the necessary nutrients (right amount of proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals). If you are consistent with that, followed by consistent workouts you will definitely see the difference.
Chiara, personal trainer, online coach & amateur bikini athlete
What Chiara has for breakfast:
My breakfast can vary depending on if I am on competition prep or not, however one thing remains consistent , protein levels. During both competition prep and improvement phase, my protein levels remain high to prevent catabolism (breaking down of the muscle fibres) and enable hypertrophy (muscle building). My main sources of morning protein are always a lean source, white fish, tuna, lean turkey or chicken breast. Then depending on what phase I’m in, either a carbohydrate and fat source like rice cakes, oats and nut butter or just simply green veggies. No matter what, I will always consume at least 1.5litres of water around breakfast (half of the recommended daily intake).
Chiara’s take on breakfast being the most important meal of the day:
Breakfast is, along with pre and post workout meals, one of the most important meals of the day. Why? Eating breakfast replenishes your glucose levels, vitamins and minerals lost during your sleep, boosting your alertness and energy levels making you more productive. Eating breakfast can also help mange your weight by kick starting your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day.
Fitness myth Chiara doesn’t believe in:
“If women lift weights they’re going to look manly.” This couldn’t be so far from the truth, there’s such a big misconception about women and weightlifting. One of the main reasons why us ladies are afraid to step into the free weight section is because we don’t want to look too muscular and manly. FACT – it takes an awful lot for a woman to look muscular mainly due to the high levels of oestrogen (female hormone) and low levels of testosterone (male hormone) in the body, so you really shouldn’t worry and should 100% start incorporating weights into your workouts. I lift heavy weights and do I look like a man? I’d say no! I compete as a bikini bodybuilder. Yes that’s right, a BODYBUILDER! I am not overly muscular but surely strong. You don’t have to be muscular to be strong. I help a lot of ladies change their body compositions by weightlifting and they all love it!
I think for women in particular the gym can be a scary, very male dominated place which is usually why we tend to stick to group classes and the “oh so familiar” cardio machines. I make a point of taking all my female clients into the deep end to prove it’s not that intimidating and the weights area should be a woman’s place as much as a man’s.
Ben, personal trainer, chronic bowel disease fighter
What Ben has for breakfast:
My breakfast is simple but nutrient dense, I like to keep it light, calorie dense and easy to digest due to two main reasons. One, after battling with IBD/Colitis (a chronic bowel disease) I am missing my entire large bowel & colon. I have an internal illiostomi/J pouch. I like to keep my insulin level low by not having carbohydrates unless I need to, this helps my body burn more fat as insulin blunts fat burning. So my breakfast is moderate fat and high protein. I almost always have whole eggs paired with a meat source like salmon, fillet steak, beef mince, chicken breast or turkey ham. Whether I boil the eggs or add the meat in as an omelette, it takes a small amount of time to cook. I add mixed or grill vegetables in for micronutrient and digestion benefits. I consume this meal first thing as part of my morning routine of probiotics and multivitamins and it usually keeps me fed for at least 2.5- to 3.5 hours.
Ben’s take on breakfast being the most important meal of the day:
Breakfast is important, what’s the alternative? Not eating, and why is not eating bad? Not eating doesn’t provide nutrients for your body which is why most people who do not eat feel sluggish in the morning. Not eating is normally out of convenience and laziness due to lack of preparation.
Fitness myth Ben doesn’t believe in:
“Carbohydrates make you fat, or are bad for you.” It’s all about in moderation when it comes to macro nutrients that total towards your daily calorific intake. Most people aren’t necessarily over eating on carbs, they are under working and are “under muscled.” Carbohydrates come in many forms and once broken down they are converted into glycogen which if left unused by the body will cause fat gain.
A few ways to make more use of your carbohydrates is to up the intensity of your training and switch out cardio and start incorporating forms of resistance, free weights, machines etc. You’ll deplete and use more glycogen during these sort of workouts and on the days you are recovering from previous residence workouts (that nice soreness you get a day or so after training) on those days your body will chew through carbohydrates even more while recovering, especially if you have a fairly active day. Even if you are training late at night, consuming carbohydrates before and after is something I’d recommend to fuel your workout and recover.
The more effectively you can recover, the quicker you can get back into the gym with more energy to do it all over again.
The other main thing is choosing the right type of carbohydrates at the right time. I would firstly advise anyone looking to lose body fat or trying to limit fat gain, try and keep carbs heavier 1-2 hours prior and post training. For example, if you train at 9am, then consume a carb-dense breakfast with protein and a small amount of fat at 7.30/8am. An example would be several eggs with maybe some brown toast with a small amount of jam and honey; brown bread being a slow release carb for the entire workout and honey to get into your system quickly. Post workout, you could have slow release carbohydrates like brown wraps, brown rice, basmati rice, or sweet potato as part of your meals with a lean meat source.
Karime Morales, indoor cycling & functional training instructor
What Karime has for breakfast:
I am very active in the morning, so I try to include the 3 macro nutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fats). My daily breakfast is simple; greek yogurt, berries and granola, and I love it.
Karime’s take on breakfast being the most important meal of the day:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me because I start my day very early, and I am very active during my mornings due to all the classes, for which I need a lot of energy. And, having quality breakfast, helps me keep that energy.
Fitness myth Karime doesn’t believe in:
“You can’t eat junk food to be skinny or that you need to be hours and hours at the gym to be in shape.” I believe that the only thing that will help you is the consistence and what you do during the 80 per cent of your day.