You guys know I’m ALL about the healthy morning habits. AM workout, meditation, supplements? Sign me up. But when it came to what many would consider the most important habit of them all (breakfast), I just wasn’t a believer. And I’m not alone: those who promote the health benefits of intermittent fasting frequently advise going for as long a stretch as possible between dinner the night before and the first meal of the day, and to be honest, I’m not really that hungry in the morning. In fact, I typically have a lot of energy during the morning hours when I have nothing but coffee.

Occasionally, I’d blend up a smoothie after a workout, but my reasoning for skipping breakfast most days really boiled down to the fact that I figured I could skimp on calories in the morning, “saving” them for later in the day when my body felt much hungrier.

And for all of you who are rolling your eyes right now, I HEAR YOU, but this is honestly just the way my mind works, you guys. Anyway, it seemed to be working fine… until it wasn’t anymore.

I started noticing that around 11am, especially if I was at work or trying to accomplish a task that required a lot of focus, I couldn’t pay attention. I also felt irritable (which I now recognize was just me being hangry) and then when I actually sat down to lunch, I felt so famished that I could eat a huge salad and still be starving. So I’d graze later in the afternoon… then be really hungry at dinner… and then graze a little more before bedtime. When I really took a good hard look at what I was consuming over the course of the day, my big lunches and dinners plus “bites” in between usually added up to more food than I would have eaten had I just gone ahead and enjoyed 3 large balanced meals.

I also realized that by skipping breakfast and just having my morning coffee with almond milk, I’d sent my blood sugar on a morning roller coaster that resulted in a moody and draining pre-lunch crash that I never quite recovered from in the afternoon. So, even though it was tough to break routine, I decided to do an experiment. Inspired by nutritionist Kelly Leveque’s “Fab 4” philosophy (that says we should be consuming fat, protein, fiber, and greens at every meal for a balanced blood sugar curve), I began starting every single day with a green smoothie with protein, an egg & avocado breakfast taco, or chia pudding.

Sometimes I feel like eating breakfast “awakens my hunger” (does that happen to anyone else?) but I’ve also noticed that by the time lunch rolls around, I’m less ravenous and not desperately reaching for pretzels at the office, or the bread basket if I’m out to lunch at a restaurant. Most importantly, I feel like I’m treating my body well — fueling it up with an abundant source of energy, instead of approaching food with a scarcity mindset that’s afraid of consuming more calories than I usually do. And I should mention that since I started my little experiment, I’m also at my target weight.

photo by Ashleigh Amoroso

So to recap, here are the benefits of eating breakfast, according to me:

Keeps blood sugar levels even (this has been the biggest effect I’ve seen.)

Helps me to not overeat later in the afternoon (because calorie deprivation equals extreme hunger.)

Encourages smarter food choices at lunch – since I’m not famished and wildly reaching for the first thing I see.

For all you breakfast skippers out there, have I convinced you to give brekkie a try? Dip your toe in the waters with something that requires zero prep: even a handful of almonds or half an avocado with sea salt will give your body and brain some good fat, which equals fuel and focus for your morning. And don’t think you have to make it happen right when you wake up: I still get some of the benefits of nighttime intermittent fasting by waiting until 9 or 9:30am (after my workout) to have breakfast, then find I’m able to comfortably wait until 1 or so for lunch.

A happy side effect of this whole eating breakfast thing is that I feel like I’m being gentler on myself and listening to what my body really needs, instead of depriving it out of an overly rigid “eating plan.” It sets me up for an entire day of feeling more balanced and in tune with my body, which carries over into other healthy habits like staying calm in the face of stressful situations. Hmm, maybe breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day…

I’d love to get your thoughts! Are you a die-hard breakfast fan, or do you think a case can be made for skipping it? I’d also love any ideas for squeezing some extra protein into breakfast — that’s the toughest part for me. xo

Also check out: 12 Healthy Breakfasts That’ll Help You Get Out the Door Fast! 

10 comments
  1. 1
    Olivia | March 22, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Hey Camille! Great post- I’ve recently discovered your blog and I thoroughly enjoy it!

    I’m currently dealing with this breakfast dilemma. I am not a breakfast person at all, and if I do have breakfast it’s only some apple or bell peppers. (I would even go Japanese style with a bit of fish, rice, and miso soup) I think it’s good to at least eat something to get your metabolism going. I feel very slowed down if I eat more than that for breakfast, and it in turn makes me hungrier throughout the day. Since December I’ve lost 15 solid pounds just by running 3-4 times a week and controlling my portions. Having a light breakfast makes my body not crave food constantly;I’ve kind of trained myself to not want to overeat. My lunches are nicely sized, yet my dinners are much smaller. If I eat a normal portion before bed, I wake up starving with a headache! I also make sure to drink a big glass of water with every meal. All in all, you’re right when you say it’s all about listening to what your body needs. If I do get hungry, I will not deprive myself. (I also ask myself if I am really hungry or just bored!)

    Reply
    • Camille Styles | March 22, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      This is such great feedback. I am totally with you when it comes to feeling more energetic with a breakfast on the lighter side. Last time I ate a big breakfast (waffles with syrup and a side of fruit) it felt like a sugar bomb that spiked me up and then left me wanting to take a nap the rest of the day! I need to get better about not eating when I’m bored… 😉 Thank you for sharing, Olivia – and congrats on your weight loss, that’s amazing!

      Reply
  2. 2
    Emma | March 22, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I am a breakfast skipper too, for all the reasons you said above. And I find myself starving at around 11 also, so maybe this is something I’ll have to try 🙂

    Reply
  3. 3
    Susanna | March 23, 2018 at 4:21 am

    I totally see myself reflected in these words! I was not a breakfast person myself, no due to calories or anything, I was just not hungary in the morning and I’d leave the house just with a glass of fresh squeezed OJ or a latte. And that’s it. Some months ago I started feeling tired all the time and felt my body was not responding at all and a nutricionist adviced to start having a nice balanced breakfast to see how my body would respond to that. That meant sitting down and savouring the moment, to start the day full of energy. It has worked wonders and now I wake up and magically I realized I have enough time to sit down with my family to enjoy the first meal of the day. I prepare a veggie & fruit smoothie with bee polen (try to change the fruits and veggies everyday so we get different nutrients and also colors!), then some toasts made with homemade rye bread and here’s where the fun begins, to think of different combinations to put in our toasts. Sometimes is avocado, salmon, cream cheese and fresh fruits, nut butters, baby greens with whatever we find in the fridge, turkey, roasted veggies….. A winner combination these days has been: toasted bread with fresh ricotta cheese and slices of the sweetest papaya fruit ever! I assure you that the combiation is amazing!
    I also like to put a bowl with diffrent nuts on the table so we can munch on the, while we eat. And Coffee, you cannot skip coffee, of course!
    On really cold mornings I’d prepare a nice warm oatmeal with nuts, seeds, home made jam and fresh fruits, but now with warmer days we are back to the toast mood 😉
    I have to say that sitting for breakfast has been a game changer in our house and we are all enjoying it so much!
    My husband would sit down and eat whatever cereal or plain toast wth butter he would grab, and now he also feels sooo much better and energized.
    I totally recommend it!

    Reply
  4. 4
    Alyssa Bernier | March 24, 2018 at 11:49 am

    It wasn’t until I started regularly working out before work that I realized I needed to be eating breakfast. It’s hard because like you said, I don’t feel hungry and think my coffee will sustain me. But it makes a huge difference in how the rest of my day goes!

    Reply
  5. 5
    Gill Fell | March 12, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Great blog, after trying to skip breakfast – I really got into it and found it easy, but I didn’t benefit at all and felt weaker in the mornings. Now I have some protein and fat and enjoy it. I have porridge with some lacto free milk and a good sprinkling of pumpkin seeds – I don’t event think about food again, until about 2pm which is amazing for me. Also if I want some toast I’ll have some, I’m 58 this year and probably only 7lbs over my best weight. Eating nutritious meals gives us energy and breakfast is like a morning gift to my body.

    Reply
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Kristen Kilpatrick