If I hear “breakfast is the most important
meal of the day” one more time, I’ll scream. I get it.
But here’s the thing: Knowing when to
eat that all-important meal is really tricky. Is it bad if I don’t eat
breakfast until I get to work, because the idea of eating right when I wake up
makes me queasy? If I sleep in on Saturday, have I somehow missed out on the
optimal breakfast time? And if I’m a morning workout person, when the hell do I
eat? (I don’t really want to have eggs and bacon before I hit the treadmill.)
I have so many questions.
So… does it actually matter what time you
Yup. “When you eat is just as important as
what you are eating,” says Philadelphia-based registered dietitian Theresa
Shank. She recommends eating within two hours of when you wake up.
“Eating within this window sets the pace
for a healthy appetite and stabilised blood sugars throughout the day,”
explains Shank. When your blood sugar gets out of whack, it often triggers
hanger, cravings and over-eating – a.k.a avoid at all costs.
And breakfast does actually jump-start your
metabolism. “Once we’re awake, our bodies need to speed up and break out of a
fasted state,” she adds.
The two-hour breakfast window is mostly
true for everyone. However, if you have a health condition like diabetes,
having stable blood sugar levels is even more important. In that case, you’ll
want to make the window between waking and breakfasting shorter – aim for
eating within an hour of waking up to keep glucose levels in balance, says Maya
Feller, of Maya Feller Nutrition in Brooklyn, New York.
Read more: Here’s
why you should stop skipping breakfast every morning
What if I’m going to the gym?
The question of whether to eat before you
go comes down to how your body reacts to exercising after eating. “If you plan
to workout in the morning, you need to identify if you perform better fed or
fasted,” says Feller.
For instance, if eating a simple
pre-workout piece of toast leaves you clenching your stomach midway through
Spin, then it’s probable best to wait until you’re done. If finishing your
weight workout on an empty stomach makes you dizzy and distracted, then you’re
going to need a bite before you go. (Some simple carbs from half a banana can
help power you through without feeling super-full.)
This can take some experimentation – but
don’t get too stressed about it. In general, it’s a good idea to eat within one
to two hours pre- or post-workout, says Shank.
Read more: This
formula will ensure your breakfast keeps you full until lunch every day
But I hate eating in the morning…
You should still eat something. (Sorry!)
Skipping breakfast is associated with an increased risk of type 2
diabetes. And skipping a meal in general can cause brain fog, lower
blood sugar levels and a slower metabolism.
No one’s asking you to sit down to eggs, bacon,
pancakes and a pot of coffee every day. Just a little something is important.
Drink a glass of water when you wake up to hydrate, says Shank, and then grab
something easy to take with you (like a Greek yoghurt cup, hard-boiled egg or a
piece of fruit). Eating something small will help your body adjust to the idea
of eating in the morning, Shank says – helping make daily breakfast a regular
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com
Image credit: iStock