If we have breakfast, we shouldn’t feel hungry until lunchtime, right?

Yet, millions of breakfast eaters feel hungry before lunch.

I remember this from the cereal repasts of my youth. My mother thought this was healthful and weight-stabilising. Dad and I had to join in the regimen of Special K with sliced banana and semi-skimmed milk. Errgh. By 10 a.m., I was hungry.

Is it any wonder that I came to share this journalist’s opinion of breakfast:

Breakfast is a nag. Breakfast saddles up against the loser wall with “flossing” and “401k” and “thank you notes.”

But I digress.

As I have now seen for myself, part of mid-morning hunger depends on what one eats in the morning.

Dr Mercola has a good page on breakfast, hunger and fat loss. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Why carbs increase hunger

Mercola explains:

Typically, you will find that eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast will tend to make you hungry again far sooner than a low-carb, high-fat breakfast will. The reason for this is because if your body is using sugar as its primary fuel, it will need a “refill” at regular intervals, as sugar is a very fast-burning fuel.

Fatty bacon and eggs with no carbs or fruit might be a better option for these reasons:

Fat, on the other hand, is a slow-burning fuel, allowing you to feel satiated longer, and the more important fact is that you have loads more fat available than sugar stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver.

Also:

If you’re healthy, your blood sugar level won’t drop dangerously low (such as can occur with hypoglycemia) but they can drop low enough to make you feel hungry again, even though you recently ate. This effect is amplified when eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, such as pancakes, muffins, cereal, or bread, with a large glass of juice for example.

When I’m on holiday I enjoy looking at what other hotel guests select from the breakfast buffet. Nearly everyone has a high-carb breakfast, whether that is toast, pastry or ‘healthy’ cereal. Last summer, one overweight man piled his plate with cereal, fruit salad and five slices of various whole-grain breads slathered with jam. No doubt he thought he was doing the right thing. Maybe he was by eating what he wanted. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was famished by mid-morning.

The ‘fat switch’

There may well be a connection between what we eat for breakfast and our ability to gain and lose weight.

Carbohydrates might flip the ‘fat switch’:

The term “fat switch” was coined by Dr. Richard Johnson, chief of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at the University of Colorado, and author of the books The Sugar Fix, and The Fat Switch; the latter of which presents a groundbreaking approach to preventing and reversing obesity. As explained by Dr. Johnson, any time we discuss sugar, we’re talking about ALL forms of sugar, including grain-carbohydrates, but some types are clearly more hazardous than others, in terms of their effect on your biochemistry.

Fructose — the sugar found in fruit:

activates a key enzyme, fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes your cells to accumulate fat and resist letting any of it go. This is especially true if you are overweight, but far less of an issue if you aren’t.

Carbohydrates — including grains — hinder weight loss because they break down as sugar:

thereby promoting insulin and leptin resistance just like other sugars, which in turn promotes obesity and makes losing weight a real struggleThere are also circumstances in which carbohydrates can be converted to fructose in your body even when there’s no fructose in the carbs. The underlying mechanism for this is still unclear, but Dr. Johnson believes that insulin/leptin resistance may be one of the conditions that allows for this odd conversion to occur.

Therefore, not only can carbohydrates and fruits increase late-morning hunger, they might also inhibit the body’s metabolism and its handling of insulin.

For overweight people this increases the risk of weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.

Anyone in that situation would do well to consider a low carb high fat breakfast, the old fashioned kind: fatty meats or fish (e.g. smoked salmon) and eggs.

I know a lot of overweight people who really should be on this type of eating plan. I’ve tried explaining the principle and the subsequent weight loss, but they just can’t get their heads around the notion of fighting fat with fat. Carbs have become an iconic, ‘necessary’ part of their diet. ‘How can someone live without carbs?’ they ask. ‘You need them!’

We do not. We need only a small amount, the best source of which is the fibre in green vegetables.

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