After reading the recent article entitled “Start with Breakfast,” I felt compelled to set the record straight. It stated that secret of energetic people is that they eat breakfast. I’m an energetic seventy-four year old who can work a twelve hour day digging out grass, hoeing and pulling weeds, raking sticks and loading them into my truck with only coffee and water. I have not eaten breakfast regularly since high school.
I started listening to my body. It told me I was not hungry and did not need breakfast. There is a very good reason for this. You are NOT running on empty as the article stated. Any food you eat at breakfast must first be digested and absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose (which is the fuel our cells burn for energy). According to the Mayo Clinic, this process takes anywhere from six to eight hours. So if you eat breakfast at 8 a.m., that meal would not be able to provide energy until 2 p.m. at the earliest.
Additionally, the digestive process requires a great deal of energy; eating breakfast actually slows you down. So where does our morning energy come from? You probably have heard of the hormone, insulin, and may also know that it is produced in the pancreas (by beta cells.) Its role is to tell the liver to remove excess glucose from the bloodstream after ingesting/digesting a meal. The liver converts the glucose into glycogen, also known as animal starch, which is a storage molecule.
When the body needs energy, another hormone, glucagon, also produced in the pancreas (by alpha cells), is sent to the liver telling it to break the glycogen back down into glucose. We have enough glycogen stored in the liver to sustain us for well over a day. After that, the body will break down fats into glucose.
As a last resort, the muscles will be broken down for energy, as seen in Holocaust victims. Anyway, we can go without food for quite a while. The truth of the matter is that withholding food is very healthy; fasting has for centuries been practiced for its many health benefits. Obesity is currently an epidemic worldwide, and many factors are at fault.
Obesity is often accompanied by Type 2 diabetes. Eating often, snacking, sugar and processed foods, which quickly break down into sugar, keep your insulin level high and are the main causes. Sadly, breads and pasta are made from highly processed grain. Natural fats such as olive oil and butter do not make you fat. People started getting fat decades ago after the push for low fat diets, and now here we are.
By the way, I discovered that the push for eating breakfast was actually begun by the cereal companies.
biologist at large,