- We’re often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but according to recent research, this may not always be the case.
- David Higgins, whose clients include Margot Robbie and Claudia Schiffer, believes breakfast is overrated.
- He’s a champion of intermittent fasting, which normally involves consuming fewer calories and reaping the benefits of fasting for 16 hours a day.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” most of us were told as we grew up. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper,” they told us.
These sayings go along with the thinking that you should consume most of your calories early in the day so your body has a chance to use up all that energy.
But plenty of health and fitness professionals find they hit their goals by ignoring this advice.
In fact, Hollywood personal trainer and physical therapist David Higgins believes breakfast is overrated.
- Andrew Burton
Higgins is the author of new book The Hollywood Body Plan, and has trained many of the top names in the world of showbiz – his starry client list includes Margot Robbie, Claudia Schiffer, Samuel L Jackson, Colin Firth, Rebecca Ferguson, and Naomi Campbell.
The fitness expert believes people shouldn’t force themselves to eat breakfast if they don’t actually want to.
“Sometimes you don’t need to have breakfast,” Higgins told INSIDER. “The whole ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ thing is a 1940s marketing campaign to sell eggs. That’s what we’ve all been raised to believe.”
Indeed, it was advertising for bacon and eggs that first started pushing the breakfast message that’s been so well ingrained in us all, according to the Guardian – it was created by a PR expert working for a food production company.
However, various studies have also reached the conclusion that breakfast-eaters are slimmer than those who skip the morning meal.
There are plenty of health and nutrition experts who believe in a big breakfast, too.
Rhiannon Lambert BSc MSc ANutr, a registered associate nutritionist and spokesperson for The Association for Nutrition, is an advocate of eating in the morning.
“Breakfast can be an excellent way to get a dose of nutrition for the day ahead, increasing intake of fibre (90% of the UK are not hitting the recommended 25g a day), protein, and vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin C, and in some cases vitamin D,” she told INSIDER.
“Depending on the individual a good breakfast can increase your energy by adding fuel to the tank and helping your brain for a productive morning ahead.”
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If neglecting to break your fast with a nutritious bowl of porridge or omelette leads to you giving into the mid-morning munchies and demolishing a packet of biscuits at 11 a.m., it’s not exactly going to be a healthy move.
However, a study by the University of Bath found that skipping breakfast did not result in people consuming larger lunches and dinners.
Higgins is in fact an advocate of intermittent fasting, an approach to eating that has gained much attention in recent years.
Intermittent fasting essentially means reducing your daily window of eating to around eight hours, which gives your body 16 hours of fasting every day. For many people, this essentially means skipping breakfast, eating lunch at noon, and then consuming your final food for the day at 8 p.m.
As Higgins explains, taking up intermittent fasting offers a two-pronged approach to improving your health – you consume fewer calories and also reap the health benefits of giving your digestive system a rest for 16 hours a day.
“If you normally eat within a 16 hour window daily, it’s very hard to get the same amount of food in if you halve the time in which you’re allowing yourself to eat,” he says.
“You’re not going to be consuming as much because you don’t have the time to consume it. But then you also do allow your body that time to recover and digest and not have to overwork with your metabolism. Giving the body a rest is essential.”
Higgins accepts that some people feel they need to eat in the morning, but he believes this means they should just shift their eating window and essentially skip dinner.
“You have the ability to ebb and flow that eating plan to suit your own lifestyle and personal habits,” he says.
- Tom Joy
Higgins is not the only person to champion intermittent fasting – personal trainer, former professional sprinter, and author of The 2 Meal Day Max Lowery advocates cutting out one meal a day, whether that be breakfast or dinner.
“It’s not that we shouldn’t eat breakfast per se, breakfast just means breaking your fast. However, you certainly do not need to be breaking your fast first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up,” he told INSIDER.
“By extending your overnight fast (everyone fasts overnight) you are allowing your body to tap into its stored energy reserves – body fat.”
Lowery said there are plenty of benefits associated with this, including weight loss, reduced overall hunger, and drastically improved energy levels.
“It essentially teaches you to understand what hunger actually is, and believe it or not, just because your stomach is empty, doesn’t necessarily mean you should eat,” he said.
“For me, this is where the power of intermittent fasting lies, you learn to listen to your body again and reset your hunger, something that is incredibly empowering.”