GOLDEN RULE #2: Breakfast
Any rule which includes food has got to be a good thing, especially eating more 😉 .
This rule is truly golden… Eat breakfast.
Whatever time your day starts, within an hour of being awake…eat. As someone who used to work crazy shift patterns, I know how tough this can sometimes be, but even if it meant half a banana at 5am, and then something more substantial an hour later when my eyes were fully open 😉 so be it.
Our bodies are awesome Ferrari’s. You cannot expect to get the car out of the garage and run it without fuel. Sure, it may potter along on fumes for a while, but does it perform well? Nope. Are you harming its engine? Yup.
The same applies to us, our brain, organs and cells which literally cannot work to their full potential without fuel, and (hopefully) you’ve fasted for the last eight hours or so whilst you’ve been asleep, so when it’s time to wake up, it’s time to break-the-fast… See what I did there? 🙂 The damage we do by skipping the most important meal of the day is to our metabolism and general health…limiting our intake of nutrients.
I have to be really careful when taking about metabolism. Interestingly (in the geekiest way) scientific studies are all over the place when testing and trialling if skipping brekkie impacts our metabolism. The dozen or so studies I’ve read leave me a tad cynical as many of the trials were pretty extreme or very specific… Huge breakfasts of 700kcal, very specific groups of people (so not general population analysis) or they focus on weight loss… So let’s look at this logically.
When we eat our body works hard (burning energy along the way) to convert the lovely grub to energy, drawing nutrients out to aid the bodies processes. This activity is metabolic… So if we skip this activity for 12-20 hours, is our metabolism going to be less active than if we ate after 8 hours? Hell yes.
One things that was consistent across the studies was that brekkie eaters had all around better health…cholesterol levels, body fat percentage, and nutrient profiles (vitamin and mineral levels) which does a great job of highlighting if we skip breakfast, we skip an opportunity to improve our health.
In the western world we don’t have a problem with getting our fair share of energy from macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) with scary obesity statistics headline news almost daily, but micronutrient deficiency is a major issue…vitamins and minerals that many of us are low on because of poor quality fruit and veg (or maybe just lack of it altogether!). Breakfast is a great opportunity to get an injection of nutrients to allow the body to repair and grow.
It’s also scientifically proven to effect how we behave throughout the rest of the day. It’s a pretty common (bad, BAD) weight loss strategy to abstain from eating as much as possible through the morning…lasting as long as possible without eating (“hey if I’m not eating…I must be losing weight…”). What happens? We overeat later. And make poorer food choices because we’ve gone too long without food.
We’ve all been there… It’s much easier to pick a healthy lunch if you have a few belly-rumbles, but if you’re wild-lion hungry…. I’m going to eat the first thing put in front of me, no matter how many times it’s been deep fried. I then eat like that lion… Pretty much inhaling the food, so portion control goes out the window.
“But I’m not hungry in the morning”. Break the cycle. Eat less for dinner… You’ll soon wake hungry. And if breakfast is a whole new thing for you, start small. Yogurt with berries and nuts, or a smoothy. Don’t scare yourself with a full-English on day one! And prepare. Prepare breakfast the night before, so you can grab and go.
In an ideal world, it’s something with:
A kick of complex carbs (so we know we’re ticking the fibre box too) … We’re talking toast (whole grain, spelt, rye, sourdough, Ezekiel), porridge, sweet potato (don’t laugh… amazing with scrambled eggs on)
Some protein…eggs, low fat yogurt (make sure the ingredients do not list sugar), chicken, mackerel, salmon
Healthy fat… coconut oil, avocado, nuts… or it could already be in our 3% fat yogurt or in our oily fish.
Carbs = energy
Protein = repair and satiety
Fats and fibre = health and satiety
And don’t forget the long list of vitamins and minerals we’re taking in along the way…
Get a beautiful combo of the three and not only are you seriously fuelling the Ferrari, but you’ll be full for 3-4 hours, by which time, guess what… It’s lunch time! 🙂
Final word. Unhealthy, overprocessed breakfast or no breakfast?
Forgive me for contradicting the last ten minutes of your life… But if the only option you are faced with is a fast food “everything in it” wrap, a sugary muffin, or an almond croissant, and there’s not a plain old banana in sight, skip it. A junk filled, sugar laden breakfast is going to give you zero nutrients… But will give you a sugar spike, slumping you to your desk an hour later, where you’re likely to start snacking until dinner time 😉