Many people haven’t heard of the dawn effect, also known as the dawn phenomenon, let alone understand why it means they should be skipping breakfast. It’s most often talked about in regard to people with diabetes, but more people should know about it! It affects all of us. Understanding the dawn phenomenon will help you understand why it’s not only okay to skip breakfast, it’s actually what your body was designed to do! Let’s talk about why skipping breakfast is good, but first we have to understand the dawn phenomenon.
If it wasn’t for the dawn phenomenon you would stay in your bed sleeping soundly. The dawn phenomenon is your body shifting gears from sleep mode, where you are resting and repairing, to get up and go mode. Basically, your body prepares you to tackle the day. With a normal circadian rhythm around 2 or 3 a.m. your body starts to release hormones like cortisol, growth hormone and adrenaline. The hormones tell the liver to increase blood sugar, so you have enough fuel to get going.
You don’t need to put gas in the car at this point. That’s why you don’t need breakfast. That is why what some people call intermittent fasting which can include delaying your first meal of the day is such a good idea. Many people find success with the 16 – 8 principle. This is where you do 16 hours of fasting and you have 8 hours where you eat your meals. An easy way to do that is to skip breakfast and your body will thank you for it.
Skipping Breakfast is Good
You may have been taught to eat breakfast, but your body doesn’t really need it if your body is healthy. How many of you actually wake up hungry or do you just think you need to eat breakfast? Listen to your body! If it’s not telling you to eat, then you don’t need to eat. Forcing your body to eat when it doesn’t need to can disrupt the body’s normal cycle.
If you’re all jittery and your blood sugar is all over the place, that’s a different scenario. If you roll out of bed with cravings for food and your body is telling you it’s time to eat right away, then you have some hormone dysregulation.
Your body is signaling to you that something is off. What can be off? It could be your cortisol, adrenals, insulin, growth hormone, and/or your pancreas. The more you feed into that by eating right away, the more they are going to go away from balance. Listen to your body and if it’s telling you that you’re hungry right away then there is a problem.
What kind of problem could it be? If your body is telling you it is time to eat right away, then there are issues with the metabolic hormones. That means you aren’t going to use that food properly so try to experiment with delaying that first meal. The further you push breakfast to later in the day the better your body can use the fuel. Overeating doesn’t cause obesity but your hormones being out of balance can. If your body isn’t properly using fuel it finds other ways to use it like storing it as fat. Your breakfast that you are forcing yourself to eat could be one of your roadblocks to weight loss!
Listen to Your Body
What is your body telling you in the morning? There are times you might be hungry earlier. Let’s say you work out first thing in the morning. That means you are putting more demand on the body and your body will need more fuel sooner. What else puts a demand on the body? Pregnancy. Expecting mamas need to eat to build another human. If your body doesn’t have these extra demands and you are having difficulty putting off meals, then it is time to get tested to see how your body is functioning. The sooner you find out, the faster you can reverse it.
The most important thing to know is to listen to your body – not a conditioned response that tells you it’s mealtime when it comes to deciding when it’s time to eat. If your body is telling you that it always needs to eat, then listen to that too as a sign to get tested. Your body wasn’t designed to get up and eat. It was designed to get up and go.
Written by Dr. Jason Nobles