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Why You Should Skip Breakfast to Lose Weight

By Edited Sep 25, 2016 13 20
Why You Should Skip Breakfast to Lose Weight
Credit: Opensource

How the Body Burns Fuel

Consuming large amounts of carbs raises your blood sugar which causes a spike in insulin to bring your blood sugar levels back to a normal rate. This is great if you have just worked out because the insulin will transmit the calories from the carbs you have just consumed to the depleted muscle cells and the rebuilding process begins.

However, at any other time in the day the insulin that is not used up will simply be stored in fat cells.[4]

You probably have already heard that you should eat a low carb, high protein diet to get in shape. That is sound advice for athletes but for those interested in decreasing body fat, the key to obtaining a strong, lean look is to learn how to manipulate the body’s natural processes and one of the most effective ways to lose the fat is with a process called carb backloading.

What is Backloading?

Carb backloading is the process of training your body to use fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates and there is a specific method to get your body to do this.  

First there is the setup which lasts for about 10 days, then there is the carb repletion day followed by a low carb routine for several days, followed by a carb repletion day.[3]

Eventually you make it to a maintenance phase where you can have several carb heavy nights, especially after hard weight training workouts which breaks the muscles down.

But understand, this is not simply an excuse to eat macaroni and donuts all the time. There is a specific process by which the body turns food into energy  so you must follow a specific process to get your body into optimal carb burning mode.

First, let’s talk about why this works.

Why Does Carb Backloading Work?

When you wake up in the morning, you have a natural stress and anabolic reaction that if left alone, will allow your body to use a lot of your body fat for energy and keep it away from fat stores.

As you wake from a long night’s sleep, your body is primed to do this on its own. In the morning, cortisol and growth hormone are high, and insulin is low and these combinations of hormones keep the body on a fat burning mission without storing it in the fat cells.[3]

Cortisol is a stress hormone and it will break down fat through the morning if you do not mess with it by raising insulin levels in the blood. What you want to do is to simply get out of the way and let your body do what it has been doing for 10,000 years. Through the night, the cells in your body switch from fat storage to fat release so the morning is the perfect time to get rid of some body fat.

Additionally, when you wake up in the morning, you are insulin sensitive so when insulin is released in large doses into the blood to remove the sugar from carbohydrates, your fat cells are going to try to fill up instead of release fat for energy.[3]

So by avoiding a high fat, high carb breakfast during this first part of the day, you are not going to be storing the calories as body fat.

This response can last for hours even well into the afternoon if you do not interrupt the process by eating carbohydrates first thing in the morning.

Your best option for breakfast would be to skip it altogether, or eat a high fat breakfast such as eggs and bacon with some butter or coconut oil. That probably goes against everything you have heard during the past three decades but it makes sense if you think about it. Stop searching for healthy breakfast foods to lose weight because it is counterproductive.

Why You Should Skip Breakfast to Lose Weight

So to summarize, if your body is naturally insulin sensitive in the morning, eating grains, bread and cereal for breakfast is the worst thing you can do for your body in terms of losing fat cells.[3]

Those types of foods are going to cause an insulin spike, which will be more readily stored in fat cells because your body is really sensitive to it when you first wake up. As soon as you eat carbohydrates in the morning, it stops all of the natural processes within the body that prevent storing of fat and the body switches over to burning carbs.

If you do not eat carbs all day, you can keep your body primed to mobilize body fat for use and not store it in fat cells, by keeping it in the ketogenic phase.[1]

Your fat cells become less insulin sensitivity during the day allowing for carb backloading at night because your muscles are given priority over fat cells to burn that.

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How to Carb Backload

Carb Backloading
Credit: mjpyro

First Stage: Carb depletion

For 10 days, eat no more than 30 grams of carbs to prep the body for the switch. This will prime the body to use fat for energy.[2] Typically skip breakfast or eat no carbs for breakfast or lunch. The longer you keep these natural processes going, the more your body will use the fat cells instead of storing calories from carbs in them.

Second Stage: Carb Night on the 10th day 

  1. At the end of the 10th day, eat whatever carbs you want, including pizza, ice cream, whatever. What is happening here? Well, studies have shown that this will not make you fat. It is taking advantage of a change in enzyme production that occurs in your body throughout your carb depletion days. So you are actually turning those normal fatty foods into fat burning foods because of the process your body is now employing to get energy.
  2. The next day, go back to 30 grams of a day five to six days a week.
  3. On day six or seven, do another carb feast at the end of the day to take advantage of your body’s weekly hormonal rhythms.

Third Stage: Maintenance

  1. After a month, you can start two to three carb nights a week.
  2. Simply skip carbs throughout the day.
  3. Workout in the early to mid-afternoon.
  4. Eat carbs at night when your body is less insulin sensitive.
  5. Continue the process the next day.
  6. On days you do not workout, keep the carbs to less than 30 grams.

This is not an all carb diet and most of your carb intake must come in the evening. If you do a weight-training workout right before you eat the carbs, you will maximize your body's ability to break them down for use in your muscle cells. Studies have shown that heavy workouts allow muscles to use and store sugar for several hours post-training, which means those carbs that your body is now primed to burn will be absorbed quickly by the muscles you have just trained.[2]

Why Carb Backloading Works

Final Thoughts

Carb Backloading Strategy
Credit: mjpyro

Here is some good news for people that are not very active or hate exercise and cannot give up the carb heavy diet. Once you make the switch to carb backloading, normally inactive people, even sedentary types, tend to lose their intense nightly cravings for carbs within a few weeks.

However, this is not the case with very active, athletic types which require a lot of energy and will continue to crave nutrition for lean muscle.

But again, eating this type of carb diet is not an excuse to pig out every time you want. You have

Best Ways to Lose Weight
to do the process correctly to make it work. It is not magic, it is simply taking advantage of the way your body processes calories and uses energy and stores fat by entering ketosis.[1]

So the next time someone tells you that you should eat a well rounded breakfast complete with whole grain toast and all of the normal stuff nutritionists and doctors have been telling us for decades, now you have a basis of knowledge to question that advice. Stop wondering what is the best cereal for breakfast. There is no right answer. The best breakfast food for weight loss does not exist so it is best to take advantage of your natural processes in the body.

Focus on low carb snacks when the cravings hit and backload your carbs in the method described above. Do it right and it will lead to more weight loss and better health.

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Comments

Feb 27, 2014 9:50pm
Larah
I love your article, yes it's true for the past 30 - 40 years we have been told by the breakfast cereals industry that having a bowl of cereal for breakfast was healthy, fortunately and hopefully not too late we are now learning how our body works. Well done.
Mar 26, 2014 8:55pm
nazrahim
That's interesting. I always thought breakfast was an essential meal to jump start your metabolism right out of bed and not having breakfast would slow it down the rest of the day!
Mar 27, 2014 7:21am
BoomerBill
Good info, thanks!
Mar 27, 2014 7:37am
Viking
It's true that we are far too dependent on grains and carbohydrates. In fact some of the "healthy" (non sugary) breakfast cereals spike blood sugar faster than pure glucose. We should all avoid cereal for breakfast, no question about it. I'm sure it's possible to lose weight with the method described in this article, but what happens when people skip breakfast on the morning and then gorge themselves at lunch (because that's what people do when they get too hungry)? It just seems like a complicated way to get frustrated with weight loss. Replacing calorie-dense carbohydrates with nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, and healthy proteins will stop you from being hungry and still avoid issues with carb overloading and eating too many calories.
Mar 27, 2014 12:29pm
KCAllen
Very thought-provoking article. I never felt it was a good idea to eat so much for breakfast as an a adult; it's always made me nauseous to eat anything sugary or carby in the morning . But if I don't eat a small bite of something, I do start to feel faint. Having something in the stomach in the morning makes it much easier to stick to a healthy lunch. If you're running on empty, the greasy pizza and burgers are too hard to resist.
Mar 27, 2014 1:21pm
Moina-Arcee
This really goes against conventional wisdom. But I guess I do too because I usually don't eat breakfast. I'm on an athletic schedule, with strength workouts four days a week and cardio five days a week. I SO crave carbs and energy rich food at night, just can't resist it right now. Anyway, thanks for the article.
Mar 28, 2014 12:18pm
DionSmith
I actually did this diet around nine years ago and it does work (lost 40 lbs.) Strangely enough the most difficult part of it was not restricting carbs on the low-carb days, it was eating the bad stuff on the "blow out day" (that's what I called it)

You're really not skipping breakfast, you're just skipping many of the traditional carb-loaded breakfast foods. Meats, cheese, and eggs are still in play if I remember correctly. Great article!
Mar 28, 2014 6:17pm
mjpyro
I tend to stick with the intermittent fasting from around 7 or 8 pm to around 11 am the next day. In any case, it is best to cycle various eating regiments. I refuse to call them diets.
Mar 28, 2014 6:34pm
RoseWrites
This is interesting - and it reminds me of a discussion I had with one of my college profs years ago. She felt eating "anything" was better than nothing. However, I argued the angle about the insulin cycle and said, "it's far better to have a protein rich breakfast or nothing at all than to have refined cereal (and similar carbs)." Well, seems fairly true (and I think is in tune with your findings). For children, esp. active ones (my daughter has gym some mornings) I think complex carbohydrates (oatmeal) is ideal - more than skipping breakfast, though. Adult brains are fully formed, but I still feel kids (and teens) need protein, complex carbs, and fat in every meal. Great page, thumbing and pinning.
Mar 29, 2014 7:41am
EradifyerAO
Me too. I have actually cut out carbs after dinner as the body's metabolism seems to generally slow down... Of course, a lot of the results are very different from a sedentary person and an active person... And also the type of active person (whether it be aerobic, or anaerobic)...
Apr 18, 2014 7:58am
AncaBabu
I shared it on my facebook account. I hope it's ok. Great info for those who have some weight to lose by summer (and by some I mean a lot) :)
thank you!
May 8, 2014 11:21am
ashleyseville
Awesome, I'll try this
May 29, 2014 2:40pm
marshalldanman
I've been doing this for about 4-5 months now. I don't really exercise and sit at the computer all day at work. I typically drink a cup of coffee or two in the morning hours, but no breakfast. I've had more energy and lost ALL my extra weight. Sometimes I even keep going until dinner if I feel like I can make it just fine. My dinners and late-night snack eating have lots of carbs. But I can eat all I want to without gaining any weight. Thanks!
Aug 12, 2014 1:14am
Trevor
Even easier, don't eat grains. Check out Grain Brain, and Wheat Belly, great books. After a while your body metabolizes fat efficiently as an energy source. Used this for an Iron Man triathlon, it works!
Aug 12, 2014 1:14am
Trevor
Even easier, don't eat grains. Check out Grain Brain, and Wheat Belly, great books. After a while your body metabolizes fat efficiently as an energy source. Used this for an Iron Man triathlon, it works!
Aug 20, 2014 3:22pm
CoachChrispect
Mjpyro, Interesting article. I've always said, the best time to train is in the morning before you eat breakfast. That statement was a statement I lived my early 20's by. My life has changed since the mid 90's to 05's. 2013, I was diagnosed with diabetes. So skipping breakfast has become a sin and alltime big no no.

At the end of the day, what has to happen before anyone adheres the the advise of the title is a consultation with an expert.

Throughout my training years, I have found what does and does not work for me. What works for me may not work for someone else in the same way, but I know that the human biology is a machine that will do what you tell it to or ask of it.

Love this article.

Eat your Vegetables,

#CoachChrispect
Dec 29, 2014 2:58am
mycini
Thumbs up
Jan 13, 2015 10:49am
HLesley
Fascinating. Your article definitely challenges the conventional wisdom that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day".
Feb 24, 2015 3:58am
pashii
I saw an article recently in the New York Times on this very subject. Thanks
Nov 22, 2015 2:47pm
LavenderRose
It drives me nuts when people continuously insist that you have to eat breakfast and that 5 or 6 meals a day is better for us. There's no support for that biologically. Never heard of this in terms of "carb backloading." I come from the "refeed" generation, lol.
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Bibliography

  1. "What is Ketosis?." Medical News Today. 18/11/2014 <Web >
  2. "3 Carb Depleting Tricks You Can Use to Double You’re Fat-Loss after a Weekend Binge." Blue Steel Fitness. 18/11/2014 <Web >
  3. "Carb Backloading: Eating Carbohydrates to Get Lean, Muscular and Strong ." Men's Health. 18/11/2014 <Web >
  4. "The importance of insulin." My Wellness Center. 29/01/2015 <Web >

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