Breakfast…Eat It!

Eat it!  Mostly protein, minimal carbs.  Make time for it, it is the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast literally means to “break-the-fast”, after not eating overnight and often for up to 12 hours.  Overnight our bodies are in healing and repair mode and have been doing a lot of work while we are sleeping.  It is crucial to replenish the lost energy during this work within an hour of waking.

Breakfast is the first chance the body has to refuel its blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels. Glucose is essential for the brain and is the main energy source. Blood glucose also helps fuel the muscles needed for physical activity throughout the day.  We need to awaken our body internally well…not too fast though…so we don’t want to berate it with glucose from carbs.

“Think of your meals in terms of Meal #1, Meal #2 and Meal #3 vs breakfast, lunch and dinner…that will give you the freedom to not feel as though you need to be stuck with “breakfast” foods for breakfast or that you can’t have eggs for dinner!”*

Despite the healthful benefits, breakfast may be the meal that is most often neglected or skipped. Eating breakfast not only aids in weight loss and weight management, it fuels the body to help provide energy, better concentration and problem-solving ability throughout the day.  It also helps curb hunger and prevent binge-eating later in the day…providing you eat a well rounded first meal.  Starting your day with a good breakfast boosts your energy, increases your attention span, and heightens your sense of well-being. You’ll be in better control of your emotions.  A good breakfast is one that provides about one third of the day’s calories.

Don’t put it off for too long, even if you’re not hungry.  If you’re not hungry first thing in the morning, that tells me that your hormones are off.  And one of the best ways to get those hormones back in line is to eat something in the morning…make it habit until it sticks and feels good.

Ideally eat this first meal within one hour of waking…whether you wake up at 5am or 3pm…get into a habit or “wake then eat”.  As you will soon learn, leptin (a vital energy balance hormone) has a daily rhythm tied to your eating schedule.  “Which means that if you start eating too late in the day, your entire leptin pattern can be thrown off.  Which means that at night, when leptin should be high, it won’t be and cortisol correlated with leptin dysfunction, will tend to make you crave more food at this time.  Usually not the good kind either.  Which means you’ll be prowling thru your pantry or freezer after dinner looking for a snack. Which leads to more hormone disruption”. *

Most people give a variety of reasons for not eating breakfast. A common reason is that they are not hungry in the morning, which is often a result of eating a full meal late in the evening, late snacking or routine…stemming from a disruption of hormones…just the kind of disruption we are trying to fix.  When they go to bed, the body is still busy digesting all that food. Digestion then goes into a slower gear during the hours of sleep and there is still food in the stomach in the morning. The wrong hormones are thus made to work at the wrong time.  The stomach needs a rest too. A tired stomach does not feel like digesting a big breakfast. When you get up in the morning, your glucose or blood sugar level is at its lowest point in the day. Glucose is the basic fuel for the brain and central nervous system. A good breakfast will keep you from being tired and irritable by mid-morning and will help to reset your crucial hormonal rhythm.

People who eat breakfast eat less throughout the day. You may be saying to yourself, “But breakfast actually makes me hungrier!” This is true, if it is unbalanced or too high in carbs.  A good first meal (breakfast) focused on protein and fat as well as nutrient dense veggies (and not overloaded with fruit or other carbs) sets you up for less hunger, more consistent energy levels, and fewer sugar cravings.   This combination makes you feel full for longer than a straight carbohydrate breakfast will (such as sugary cereal/bagel etc).   Most people can sustain themselves for at least a few hours on a breakfast of 300-400 calories coming from proteins and fats. But skipping that small amount entirely could be the biggest mistake of your day!

It is okay to feel hungry between breakfast and lunch. Prepare yourself for this situation by packing a snack with less than 250 calories. If you feel guilty about eating so often, keep this in mind: A healthy small breakfast and a healthy small snack in order to get you to a healthy small lunch is a much better option than a gigantic early lunch you attacked because of morning food deprivation.  After awhile of getting into a rhythm of eating overall fewer carbs and more healthy fats…you may find you do not even need 2 snacks a day in addition to 3 meals.  The “eat 5-6 mini meals throughout the day” mantra just came about b/c we were eating too many carbs and dieticians figured that would be a good way to balance blood sugar….good thought, but if you are not eating excess carbs, this is not such a concern.  So as you become more adept at using healthy fat for fuel you may find you do not need those snacks and do just fine with 3 great meals a day.

To make eating breakfast a habit or to give your breakfast a nutrition makeover, rethink your meal. “Breakfast just means breaking the fast; it doesn’t mean you have to eat specific foods. Breakfast food alternatives just don’t come to mind because they weren’t taught to you,” says Susan Kraus, MS RD.

The key to this is- Planning! It’s hard to eat a balanced breakfast if you don’t have the proper raw materials, so planning ahead is crucial.

What’s your excuse for not eating breakfast?

•  “No time?” How much time does it take cook an egg?  Making time for breakfast is making time to be healthy.

•  “Not hungry?” To get started, don’t eat anything after an early supper. Finish supper by 7:00 p.m.  Once you get into a rhythm with breakfast you will become hungry in the morning…a good sign of balancing hormones.

•  “Might gain weight?” Eating breakfast will actually help you reach and maintain your healthy weight. Your appetite will be satisfied longer. You’ll be eating food when you can best burn the calories. You won’t be as tempted to gorge later on when you find yourself “starving” b/c you haven’t eaten breakfast. You’ll feel great. Eat breakfast (mostly proteins and healthy fats)

•  You “don’t like breakfast foods?” You don’t have to eat traditional breakfast foods. You can eat leftovers of any kind. Any healthy food with protein is fine. Caffeine may mask hunger, so eat first then have your coffee.

•  You “don’t like eating breakfast?” It is in your best interest to eat breakfast. Take the step. Do the right thing. Eat breakfast. Change habits.

Simple, easy ways to add Breakfast:

•  Start Small. If your not a breakfast eater, begin with greek yogurt and/or one egg.  In a few days, add more food.

– Eggs, eggs, eggs… favorite for protein, fiber and healthy fat in the am:  2-3 over easy eggs over a bed of baby spinach, steamed kale or broccoli and topped with avocado slices, sea salt and hot sauce….and kimchi for good digestive functioning throughout the day!

– Check out the recipe page for a great recipe for egg muffins

– Greek Yogurt with nuts, seeds, shredded coconut and a few berries

– Smoothie with berries, plain greek yogurt, almond milk or coconut milk for the liquid part, flaxseed meal, almond butter peanut butter or a protein powder

•  Add Some Fruit for Breakfast if you plan on working out earlier in the day.  Fruit gives you fiber and glucose for energy for that workout. Fresh fruit is the best choice. Avoid fruit juices at all costs. There are many to choose from: berries are best….oranges, grapefruits, apples, pear.  But don’t forget your protein..

•  The sky’s the limit. The only limitation is your imagination. Make it a priority. Eat breakfast.

It’s time to Give These Things Up for Breakfast:

  • Cereal  (I don’t care how much fiber etc it supposedly has)
  • Granola (one of the hardest foods to digest)
  • Oatmeal everyday
  • Toast
  • Just fruit
  • Skipping breakfast

Fiber is an important addition to any meal.  It is a natural appetite suppressant that curbs the appetite and keeps your cholesterol and blood sugar at optimal levels and your bowels functioning smoothly.  I will do a complete write up about fiber but in the meantime, add extra to your breakfast with a tablespoon or two of flaxseed meal, veggies esp leafy greens or some berries.

Breakfast is especially important for women:

Going for long periods without eating, as in fasting, or skipping breakfast, increases the risk of gallstones particularly in women.  Without the stimulation of food, the gallbladder does not put out enough “solubilizing” bile acids that keep cholesterol dissolved and unable to form gallstones.  Women who skipped breakfast have been found to have the highest incidence of gallstones and those least likely to have gallstones are those who ate breakfast within an hour of waking.  To help prevent gallstone formation and cholesterol buildup, eat breakfast and be aware of long periods of fasting or not eating.


*  Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

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