English biochemist Terence Kealey is currently filling the headlines with a steep thesis. According to his book “Breakfast is a dangerous meal”, breakfast heats up blood sugar and is as harmful as cigarettes.
An autodidact against diabetes
The book is based on his own experience. Kealey has Diabetes 2 and wanted to avoid dying from a heart attack or stroke.
So he wrote down his sugar level meticulously and noticed that it reached peak levels after breakfast. He didn't eat breakfast and, he says, was able to lower his blood sugar.
“Breakfast hurts like smoking”
Kealey claims that even non-diabetics are harmed with the early meal. After breakfast, people developed insulin resistance - the arterial vessels would become ill, people would become fat, suffer from high blood pressure and ultimately develop diabetes. Breakfast has the same effect on the vessels as smoking.
Is there breakfast for everyone?
The British scientist Amelia Freer does not consider Kealey's thesis to be general, precisely because all people are different: "There is no concept that fits alone."
According to Freer, everyone should decide for themselves whether they eat breakfast or not. If you feel better with breakfast and are overall healthy, you should eat it. However, if you are not hungry in the morning, you should not eat either.
“Breakfast is not breakfast”
The food researcher Dagmar von Cramm draws the line by what and not by whether. What matters is what you eat for breakfast. High-calorie breakfast, not breakfast in general, promotes obesity.
On the other hand, whole grain muesli with fruit and nuts, for example, would not have any negative consequences, in contrast to white bread rolls with jam. They actually raised blood sugar quickly.
It even warns pregnant women, breastfeeding women, the sick and people with eating disorders against deliberately skipping any meal.
Myth of breakfast
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, is a modern invention. Historically, people in most cultures have put little emphasis on a plentiful meal after getting up.
Agricultural workers in Germany usually only ate a plate of porridge before starting to work in the fields. They only ate the first real meal after they had worked for a few hours.
The Bavarian snack can also only be described as breakfast to a limited extent. Strictly speaking, it is more of a brunch because the custom is particularly common among artisans who fortify themselves with wheat beer and pretzels when they take the first long break at work.
Fish soup and mare's milk
The Japanese usually only ate hot fish or seaweed soup in the morning, the Mexicans tortillas, the Tibetans salty tea with yak butter, the Mongols drank mare's milk.
Italians and French still prefer a light breakfast, which mainly consists of coffee, with crossant or sweet pastries, in Iran there is tea and flatbread.
The ancient Egyptians, however, finished for breakfast. In particular, they started the day with lots of beer and bread.
Lush in the north
An abundant breakfast was particularly widespread in northern countries, in Great Britain and Scandinavia. There people ate a lot in the morning, hardly at noon and again properly in the evening.
The British “lunch” still has a subordinate meaning compared to the “breakfast” and often consists of a cold sandwich.
In the early 19th century, the English bourgeoisie established the “full English breakfast” with scrambled or fried eggs, fried bacon, blood and fried sausages, but also fried kidneys and smoked fish.
The British immigrants brought this opulent meal to America, where peanut butter, pancakes with maple syrup, and later cornflakes, donuts and sweetened orange juice were added.
A service for tourists
Travel destinations for Central and Northern Europeans, where it is hot and the sun is shining, had to adapt to the customs of tourists: Indian hotels are trying to prepare "English Breakfast", while the Indians themselves drink tea with milk.
A perennial favorite
The role of breakfast for a healthy diet is a perennial favorite among real and supposed experts. Some diet guides recommend skipping breakfast to save calories. Others consider breakfast to be necessary because otherwise the body will develop cravings.
Healthy whole grain
The most common thesis focuses on whole grains: those who consume them in the morning stay fit in the morning because long-chain carbohydrates release their energy only slowly.
Others advise not to leave carbohydrates for breakfast, but generally, and to eat more fruits and vegetables instead.
Do we need energy in the morning?
Proponents of the carbohydrate thesis argue as follows: The body needs the energy boost in the morning to have enough energy that it can consume. Consequently, carbohydrates are bad before going to bed because the body puts them on, but good in the morning because we consume them. In a way, they are the gasoline that the engine needs.
What about salt and water?
It is not logical. The human body has energy reserves for almost six weeks. If you have to survive on your own in the wilderness, you can easily draw the energy from your fat reserves - but not salt and water.
Liquid and minerals
Traditional cultures in an inhospitable climate place little value on an opulent meal to start the day. What they do not do without is water and nutrients: Tibetans supply themselves with salty tea and yak butter with fat, water and salt; Berbers in Morocco with fresh mint tea with water and vitamins, indigenous people in the Andes provide water and tannins with mate tea, Indians use water and fat and minerals with tea and milk.
A British peculiarity?
Is Kealey's thesis determined by his experiences in Britain? The British and Scots are among the most unhealthy people in western industrialized countries.
The classic "English Breakfast" with an excess of fat and simple carbohydrates or the normal English breakfast with jam, sweetened coffee or sweetened tea, nutrient-poor white bread recommends no nutritionist as healthy.
However, this is not necessarily due to the fact that it is breakfast. Widespread alcohol abuse is also a factor that causes life expectancy in Scotland to be far lower than in comparable industrialized countries.
Too much fat and sugar is never healthy
British nutritionists have been raising the alarm for years and school canteens are trying to offer a balanced diet. This is not very successful, however, because many students prefer to go to the next snack bar instead to buy “roll and chips” for a pound, ie fried bread rolls made from white flour with fried chips, ketchup and majo.
Food and energy consumption
There is no such thing as “breakfast” for everyone. The locals invented the Nordic breakfast, rich in calories, carbohydrates and fat, not because they like to eat unhealthily, but because it met their needs.
Whoever did the hardest physical work as a fisherman or farmer in cold and rain, consumed calories far more than today's computer potatoes. And it made more sense to get these calories before work than afterwards.
Also in the Harz there is, for example, the so-called lumberjack sausage, which consists almost of pure fat, because that's exactly what someone needed who converted several thousand calories every day.
A flexible stomach
The human organism proved to be very flexible in evolution. One reason for our success is that we can use almost any food source - in prepared form.
Our ancestors, the hunters and gatherers, hardly knew any fixed meal times. Meals were based on what was there, and this also changed with the seasons.
American bison hunters swallowed offal, like heart and liver, immediately after the hunt with a craving that amazed European witnesses.
Eat when you're hungry
In the industrialized countries, we hardly know the feeling of being hungry. Most people consume more energy than they consume through physical activity. This situation is historically unique for the majority of people.
The body is the best indicator
Even within this abundance, our body is still the best indicator of what we need. When we get used to eating only when we are hungry and do not constantly overload our physical needs with an excess of sugar, fat and simple carbohydrates, the organism not only tells us whether we need food but also what we need is good for you.
Carrot juice instead of Red Bull
As a house rule, this means that if we drink a glass of freshly squeezed carrot juice in the morning, eat nuts and a whole-grain bread roll and then have the need to get on our bikes because the body wants to move, the risk of an increased blood sugar level is not too great.
Anyone who drinks a Red Bull for breakfast, eats a baby milk slice and a chocolate crossant, and ends the morning meal with a Nutella toast should take Kealey’s warning seriously. For him it is probably really better to avoid breakfast altogether.
Studies are missing
Kealey's thesis that breakfast leads to insulin resistance spices the debate with a new aspect. However, there are no reliable studies to support or refute them. Without questioning his seriousness, Kealey's own experience is scientifically worthless.
Extensive studies have to prove whether his experiences can be formulated as a general rule or whether his own blood sugar level even dropped because he didn't eat breakfast.
To do this, the research would need a group of test subjects with different ages, origins and genders and different breakfasts, who completely refrained from breakfast over a period of several months, and whose blood sugar levels were measured before breakfast and continued to be measured during the study without breakfast Only then would there be results that could be worked with.
The smoker's breakfast
A "Belmondo breakfast" with chewing gum, filterless cigarette and black coffee also contradicts a healthy lifestyle. Kealey is right: if breakfast consists of a cigarette, it is as dangerous as smoking. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)