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Clubbed Breakfast?

When A. Bartlett Giamatti, then Commissioner of Baseball, died of a heart attack, a picture appeared in every newspaper across the country showing that his hands had “clubbed” fingers.  Immediately, the medical profession issued statement after statement about how if you see your fingers clubbing, you’re at serious risk of a traumatic cardiac event.  Turns out that those fingers belonged to one of Mr. Giammati’s associates who had laid his hand upon the Commissioner’s shoulders.  That associate is still very much alive, clubbed fingers and all.  Having jumped on the bandwagon, the medical community, instead of apologizing to the public for what might have been a gaffe and possibly because of its inflated self-image, just let the idea fade away into anonymity, but the clubbed finger paradigm (or is it parody?) remains part of the memory of those old enough to remember.

I can’t help but think that we have a new clubbed finger phenomenon happening as regards the world of dieting, weight management, and the like.  Specifically, it is the ridiculous notion that one should have breakfast in the morning to jump start metabolism, that one’s metabolism is idling until food enters from the mouth into the stomach.  It’s an outright lie, and they should be ashamed of themselves (unless some cereal company is paying them scads of money to deceive the public, in which case it’s forgiven).  The “experts” have even gone on to say that breakfast is really essential because the body is in “starvation” mode prior to the meal since it hasn’t been nourished during the night while sleeping.  Starvation mode; are they serious?  Before entering starvation mode, the body first consumes its glycogen stores and then goes on to consume its fat reserves.  That’s the response to short-term deprivation of energy: fat consumption!  Oh… by the way, isn’t that what dieting is all about anyway?  Isn’t the consumption of excess fat a good thing?  Isn’t excess fat the undisputed cause of obesity; its very definition, even?

When the body is deprived of sufficient intake over an extended period of time, then it goes into starvation mode.   In starvation mode, brain function diminishes and the desire to sleep is overwhelming because the body is looking to conserve as much energy as it can, lean muscle and tissue (and eventually even the organs themselves) are consumed as the brain tries to keep itself functioning on whatever fuel it can muster.  The results are often catastrophic and irreversible for those who survive.  It is so far removed from a no-breakfast morning as to leave one confounded why health professionals would use such terminology so irresponsibly.

In order to attain sustainable weight loss, a balanced diet is clearly important.  Even after achieving a healthy weight goal, a balanced diet is necessary for continued maintenance of good health.  One way to achieve this is to sustain a consistent blood glucose level throughout the day.  In this regard, breakfast is a good idea, but no more than that.  Breakfast is a choice and not a requisite.

The most important element for this sustainable weight loss/maintenance is the inclusion of only fiber-rich whole grain carbohydrates because – as one of many benefits – fiber keeps the blood sugar steady for a longer time, abating hunger.  This cuts down on snacking, and that’s just another way of saying that it controls the ingestion of calories.  A balanced diet, one that keeps a good ratio of protein, carbohydrate, and fat consumption is also really important to good health and weight control:  20% – 25% of calories ingested should be proteins, 45% – 55% should be carbohydrates, and 30% should be fats (or lipids).   This balance will help keep cravings in check as the body is receiving what it needs.  It isn’t magic; it’s science.

Many diet and fitness gurus will say that this ratio isn’t accurate, but they’re only being self-serving for saying so.  Sustainable weight loss and healthy weight management – the operative term being sustainable­ –has no other option.  Quick weight loss will cut down on carbohydrates but that only increases consumption of proteins and lipids, and carbohydrates are essential for a myriad of processes in the human body including proper brain function.  So, who to believe?  The Internet is at everybody’s disposal these days; look it up, but go to reliable medical sites like WebMD or the Mayo Clinic, and not something like Luigi’s Weight Loss Secret. *

*disclaimer: if Luigi’s Weight Loss Secret actually exists, the author meant no slight to Luigi, his family, or his secret.  The name was randomly construed by the author to convey a yang to the WebMD and Mayo Clinic yin (if such a metaphor can be correctly used in such context).

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