Here’s the thing about breakfast, it really, truly is the most important meal of the day.
There are so many nutrition clichés flying around, it’s hard to know which ones to believe. Believe this one :)
Here’s the deal:
After an overnight fast, i.e. 7+ hours of sleep, your muscles are deprived of glucose. Uh oh! Your brain needs glucose to function and fat takes too long to convert to glucose. Solution: your body breaks down muscles to convert amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into glucose for fuel.
This is your body entering starvation mode.
Although your body is very smart, it doesn’t know that the fridge is full and there’s fast food on every corner. What your body does register is that blood sugar and muscle glucose stores are too low. Your highly intelligent body knows just what to do. It reroutes metabolic pathways to conserve energy (i.e. slow down your metabolism) and hold on for dear life to those precious fat stores.
Sounds scary, huh?
Thankfully, the solution is so simple, and so delicious. It’s called breakfast!
What’s more, study after study has shown that a protein-packed breakfast steadies your metabolism and appetite throughout the day. This means that if you start your day right, you’re less likely to come home from work and have an uncontrollable snack attack. It also means eating a hearty breakfast makes it easier to control your weight.
What’s a girl to do? Eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking up.
And we mean a real breakfast. Not a, “trying not to eat too much, I’ll just have a piece of fruit or a little yogurt” breakfast.
Breakfast should include about 20g of protein (i.e. 8 oz of Greek yogurt or 3 eggs) + fiber from whole grains, fruits & veggies. Heck, eat dinner for breakfast and have a big plate of veggies with chicken! We’re not stopping you.
But, I’m just not hungry in the morning!
Yup, we’ve heard it before. Here are some tips to stimulate your morning appetite:
- Eat less in the evening. No need to be stuffed when you hit the pillow – it’s no good for your digestion and can make it harder to get sound sleep. See what it feels like to just get 80% full at dinner rather than totally stuffed. Or stop eating 2-3 hours before shutting out the lights.
- Caffeinate! We said eat within 1 hour of waking up; we didn’t say you can’t have a cup a’ joe first! For some, aka me, caffeine makes me a ravenous beast. It just takes a few sips of coffee and I’m ready to eat a cow. When you wake up, first chug a glass of water, then caffeinate and see if doesn't wake up your appetite. If you know coffee has the opposite effect on you by taking away your appetite, then hold off until after you eat.
- Drink your nutrition. For many who can’t stomach the idea of a solid breakfast, drinking is more palatable. Make yourself a delicious smoothie. Another great option is Kefir. It’s like yogurt, but thinner and tangier, and still a great source of protein. It's also a super source of gut healing probiotics. Drink a cup of kefir with a banana and you’re good. Check our Pumpkin Pie Smoothie or Probiotic Green Smoothie, made with kefir!
- Do it anyway! Really. We’re telling you to eat delicious, nourishing food. We're sure you've survived worse. As your body gets used to eating in the morning, you’ll eventually start to wake up hungry. That smart body again, always adapting.
But, I work out in the morning and eating breakfast will make me sick.
Yeah, that’s fair. No one wants to jump around with a full belly. In this case, you can save your 20g of protein until after the workout. However, you still need to eat something. Otherwise, that workout will be fueled by breaking down muscle for energy and preserving your fat stores, which is probably not why you’re getting up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym.
Go for something light, with a focus on carbs, like a banana, applesauce, a cup of yogurt or kefir, or a few sips of smoothie.
Experiment with different foods to find what works best for you. Keep in mind that high fat foods are slower to digest, so save the nut butters or avocado until after the workout.
As our favorite Sports Dietitian likes to say, “Fuel Like A Queen for Breakfast”!
Love & Zest,