When it comes to skipping meals, breakfast is the easiest one to forego. And because it is such a prevalent habit, there’s been considerable controversy over whether or not skipping breakfast is bad for your health…including your bone health.
In today’s post, we’re going to analyze the data on this interesting topic. And to make it easier for you to have a bone-smart breakfast, you’ll find two brand-new, delicious, pH-balanced muffin recipes as well.
Let’s start with a review of how skipping breakfast affects your body and your bones.
What Happens When You Skip Breakfast
There is a reason why we call the first meal of the day “breakfast” – it’s breaking a fast that began the night before. If you do not eat after dinner, then by the time you get up in the morning, you will have gone a good 12-14 hours without food.
Of course, your metabolism slows down while you sleep, so you aren’t burning the same amount of calories as you would if you’d spent those 12 hours awake.
And this has biological and lifestyle implications if you skip breakfast, as you’ll learn next.
1. It’s Harder To Maintain A Healthy Weight
It’s a lot harder to resist dietary temptations if you have not eaten breakfast. If you’re running on empty, and your 10am meeting features doughnuts, it’s going to be harder to resist them. The same could be said at home – it’s hard to pass through the kitchen without grabbing a sweet snack. And you’re likely to eat more than one naughty treat, too, since you’ve gone so long without eating.
This is true regardless of age. Studies involving children as young as four on up to adolescents have shown that eating breakfast is associated with a healthy body weight, whereas skipping breakfast is not.1,2
The reason seems to lie with the distribution of calories through the day. The study on preschoolers showed greater incidence of obesity in breakfast-skippers, even though their “total daily energy intakes were not significantly different from those of pre-school children who ate breakfast every day.”1
Interestingly enough, the researchers noted that:
“…overweight/obesity in breakfast-skippers was related to the dinner-time consumption of approximately 3000kJ (700kcal) or more for energy intake, approximately 100g or more of carbohydrates, or approximately 3 servings or more of grain products.”1
So not only what you eat matters, but when you eat it matters as well.
Another important word on weight – as Savers surely know, being overweight does not help build bones. In fact, the research clearly shows that the opposite is true: too much body fat, especially deep, visceral fat concentrated in the belly, is associated with low bone density. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re doing you’re helping your bones by gaining weight in the form of fat.
2. Energy Loss
Your body makes energy by “burning” calories. If there’s nothing there to burn, it turns to breaking down the glycogen reserves, stored for “emergency starvation” situations. You see, your body’s biology doesn’t know the difference between a starvation/famine scenario and voluntary caloric restriction.
So because your body tries to conserve energy in as many ways as possible, you begin to feel very sluggish. And as the morning wears on, you may find yourself in a slump, which can bring on a craving for bone-damaging, sugary foods or prompt you to turn to caffeine. In addition, less energy means less motivation to exercise, which is a vital component to bone health.
In contrast, consuming a healthful breakfast turns off your brain’s “starvation alarm” and sets the stage for more even energy and calorie consumption throughout the day.
3. Your Metabolism And Blood Sugar Drop
Eating breakfast helps keep blood sugar stable, which is an important aspect of bone health. Mainstream medicine does not address the fact that blood glucose levels have a profound effect on your bones. However, there’s evidence-backed data that high blood sugar depletes the body of vital nutrients like calcium and magnesium, and it promotes the formation of excess Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), which directly damage the collagen of the bone matrix.
The other end of the spectrum is low blood sugar, which occurs when you skip breakfast. This can produce cravings for sugar, as mentioned earlier. If you indulge your craving, then your body produces lots of insulin to metabolize the sugar, which is converted into glucose; then the glucose is metabolized and your insulin is still elevated for a time. That can cause another drop in blood sugar, and the cycle starts again. This helps explain, in part, why the study participants mentioned earlier were more likely to indulge in carbs later in the day after skipping breakfast.
4. You Cheat Yourself Out Of Bone-Building Nutrients
This is one of the most important aspects of all with regard to breakfast-skipping. The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is nutrition-based, and you can’t build bones with key nutrients if you aren’t eating them. Breakfast is an excellent opportunity to start the day with bone-smart vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that nourish and build your bones.
An interesting study published in 2014 analyzed nutrient intake in breakfast eaters vs. non-breakfast eaters. Various types of breakfasts were compared, from sugary cereal to whole grains and fruits. The results were quite surprising: all breakfast eaters, even those who ate a breakfast consisting of sweetened cereal and fruit juice, had lower body mass indexes and waist circumferences than those who skipped breakfast altogether.3
Additionally, and more importantly, “Results suggest dietary and weight advantages of consuming breakfast,” especially ones that include whole foods and low animal fat, “in contrast to the potential adverse effects of skipping breakfast.”3
We’re going to take a look at more of those “adverse effects” in a moment, but first I want to point out that carbohydrate-rich nature of the breakfasts that were studied. This should be taken into consideration, as more and more research points to the deleterious health effects of cutting out carbs. Also, complex carbohydrates are crucial for building bone, and have far more health benefits than was previously thought.
Last but certainly not least, one of the most drastic and little-known ill effects of skipping breakfast is heart disease.
5. You Raise Your Risk Of Heart Disease
A study from the Harvard School of Health is centered on the eating habits of 26,902 men, ranging in age from 45 to 82. Researchers followed the dietary habits of these men – including whether or not they ate breakfast – for 16 years. At the start of the study, the men were free of cardiovascular disease.
After adjusting for risk factors for CHD (coronary heart disease), such as demographic, lifestyle, etc., the researchers found that:
“Men who skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of CHD compared with men who did not,” and “Eating breakfast was associated with significantly lower CHD risk in this cohort of male health professionals.”4
Lead study author Leah Cahill believes that skipping breakfast presents a specific group of risk factors that lead to heart disease. She also points out that fasting at other parts of the day is not particularly a problem, and further explains that:
“As we sleep all night we are fasting, and so if we regularly do not ‘break fast’ in the morning, it puts a strain on our bodies that over time can lead to insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia and blood pressure problems, which can then lead to heart disease.”4
A healthy heart matters a great deal when it comes to bone health. A poorly functioning cardiovascular has many negative health implications. In fact, an unhealthy heart saps your energy and makes it difficult to take up bone-healthy exercise.
Skipping Breakfast: My Take
In light of these data, my take on skipping breakfast is this: breakfast is an opportunity to consume bone-building nutrients and to balance the plasma pH. It also prevents multiple health issues that can arise when breakfast is skipped, such as obesity and heart disease.
So What’s A Saver To Eat For Breakfast?
Now that we’ve established how important breakfast is for your bones and overall health, you’re probably wondering what foods are best for breakfast. Fresh fruits, nuts, and whole grains are a great place to start.
That brings me to the following pH-balanced muffin recipes. They are chock-full of bone-nourishing nutrients, healthful fiber, and they are delicious, too.
Berry Surprise Muffins
These fruity-sweet muffins contain no added sugar, and they have the additional benefit of being gluten-free.
- 3-4 medium ripe bananas, mashed
- 12 to 24 strawberries (you'll use 1 or 2 per muffin, depending on their size), washed and tops trimmed
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup almond milk
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup almond butter
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 ounces dark chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
- Preheat oven to 350 F and line a 12-muffin pan with paper liners or oil them.
- In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas, eggs, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla extract and almond butter until fully combined.
- Add the coconut flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips (or chunks).
- Add 1 tablespoon of batter to the bottom of each muffin paper liner, place 1 large strawberry (or 2 small ones) in each, and then cover with batter almost to the top.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until a fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Sweet’n Tart Muffins
Full of sweet apples and dates, these muffins will appeal to apple cake lovers. This recipe also has no added sugar.
- 3 cups chopped apple (preferably tart varieties, such as Pink Lady)
- 1 cup dates
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 3 cups almond flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 375 F and grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan.
- In a blender, puree 2 cups of the chopped apple, dates, and the yogurt until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix in the remaining 1 cup of chopped apple.
- Beat the egg and add to the flour mixture. Then fold in the apple and date puree. Gently fold the mixture together until all of ingredients are well combined.
- Spoon the muffin batter onto the 12 muffin cups, filled to the top.
- Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick or fork inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Breakfast Is An Important Part Of The Save Our Bones Nutritional Plan
At the Save Institute, we’ve always recognized the importance of breakfast when it comes to bone health. That’s why the companion cookbook to the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, Bone Appétit, includes more than 30 scrumptious breakfast recipes that build your bones and taste fantastic. Rich with antioxidants and full of flavor, dishes like Chocolicious Waffles (page 12), Tasty Taters (page 14), and South of the Border Burritos (page 19) make a delicious, bone-healthy start to your day.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Running short on time? Like the lunch, dinner, and vegetarian sections, Bone Appétit’s breakfast section includes Quick Picks, recipes that take 20 minutes or less to prepare. Here you’ll find decadent (but bone-smart) dishes like the banana-split inspired Good Morning Sunshine and Tahitian Dream (page 25), which is full of sweet tropical fruits and crunchy granola.
It’s easy to start the day the bone-smart way with Bone Appétit!
Till next time,
1 Dubois, L., et al. “Breakfast skipping is associated with differences in meal patterns, macronutrient intakes and overweight among pre-school children.” Public Health Nutr. 12.1. (2009): 19-28. Doi: 10.1017/S168980008001894. Web. May 11, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18346309
2 Deshmukh-Taskar, P.R., et al. “The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumption with nutrient intake and weight status in children and adolescents: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2006.” J Am Diet Assoc. 110. 6. (2010): 869-78. Doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.023. Web. May 11, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20497776
3 O’Neil, C.E., Nicklas, T.A., and Fulgoni, V.L. 3rd. “Nutrient intake, diet quality, and weight/adiposity parameters in breakfast patterns compared with no breakfast in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008.” J Acad Nutr Diet. 114.12. (2014): S27-43. Doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.08.021. Web. May 11, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25458992
4 Cahill, Leah E., et al. “Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals.” Circulation. 128.4. (2013): 337-43. Doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.001474. Web. May 11, 2016. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/128/4/337.abstract?sid=6c59e2d9-c6a9-44be-bd09-79d7ec32595b