So much of our health, our happiness, our success and our relationships come down to how well our bodies work. How well the body works depends on three big factors:
(1) what we eat
(2) how we move
(3) what goes on between our ears – our thoughts, dreams and aspirations.
I want to talk about the most important facet of what we eat and when we should eat it.
I’m talking about breakfast. Breakfast has been a source of controversy and debate. There are ideas about intermittent fasting, such as not eating throughout the day and having a big dinner. There are ideas about just skipping breakfast and starting with lunch, if one is not hungry. However, there is just so much data showing our whole day’s energy production is based upon the first fuel that hits the tank. If we are not getting food, our body expects to be in a state of famine. In a famine state, we slow our metabolism. If we eat a lot of starchy food, our body expects to be buried in starch all day, so it makes us resistant to both starch and insulin. Breakfast is critical, so let’s talk about some breakfast tips.
First, you want to have breakfast within an hour of waking up. That first hour is the time to get a good, solid meal. The main elements of the meal will be protein and fiber. What type of protein? A lot of foods have protein, but not many foods have just protein.
You want foods that are just protein foods during that first hour of the day. Many mixed protein foods like beans, nuts, or seeds may have their place, but they are not pure, protein foods.
The sources of pure, non-allergenic protein food are as follows: protein powders, lean meat, fish and poultry. That’s it. There are not too many of them, but I did not make the rules, so don’t blame me! For those that are vegetarian, fermented soy or tempeh can be options, as well. You want to eat this pure, protein food per your age, size and gender. That will be at least 25 to 35 grams.
The second big element of breakfast is fiber. We have three kinds of fiber. We have the type that dissolve in water, the type that do not and the type that feeds the good bacteria of our colon. We call these three fibers soluble, insoluble and resistant.
Resistant fiber is a really cool one to have for breakfast. That fiber makes your body burn fuel the whole day. More energy equals more fat burned. The other versions of fiber (the soluble and insoluble) are also important. Most foods that have the resistant fiber have the other fibers, as well. Beans are not a complete, pure protein, but they are a good source of resistant fiber. If you have them, you want to have pure protein with them. They are also high in the other types of fiber. Berries are also good foods, and it’s nice to have small amounts of them early in the day.
Third, let’s talk about the things you do not want for breakfast. The first one is kind of a double negative, but you do not want nothing. You do want to eat breakfast, and we covered that. You also do not want sugar. This is the worst time in the day to have a sugar bomb. So many people are conscious of their health. They’re thoughtful and are trying to avoid bad foods, but they end up having so much sugar for breakfast. We have sweetened yogurt, sweetened cereals, juices and even smoothies. You can make really healthy smoothies with a ton of fruit and maybe, some almond milk, and guess what? You have more sugar in that smoothie then a coke and a donut would have! You can get a big sugar bomb over an allegedly healthy breakfast.
You also do not want high carbs, and you do not want to overdue the good carbs. For instance, you don’t want to have oatmeal, plus some berries, plus almond milk, plus some more fruit. Unfortunately, this is all carbs and will make your body insulin-resistant for the whole day. So, we have to not only think about good foods, but also about good food ratios. Another thing you don’t want is a high fat breakfast, like the sausage, the bacon and the scrambled eggs. That is going to make your food come into your bloodstream so slowly that you will be tired pretty quickly. You will run out of fuel by about mid-morning or early afternoon, and then you are going to crave some sweet stuff. So, you want a little bit of good carbs and lots of good, quality protein. This is super critical, as a good breakfast (more than anything else) can cause you to have more energy throughout the day. It enables you to burn fat more effectively and have good, mental alertness. Many papers have shown that breakfast is the trick to being mentally sharp for long periods of time throughout the day.
The cool thing is, as hard as it is to shake bad habits, I have some good news: It is also really hard to shake good habits. So, once you work out what proteins you like, what fibers are your favorites and how to prepare them easily, it will become a good habit and go a long way toward improving your health and wellness.