In this in depth article you will learn and understand how what you eat for breakfast impacts your hormones, your bodies ability to burn fat and your energy levels each day.
As well as figuring out the equation to maximize all these.
Do you really need carbs for breakfast? Solving the myth once and for all.
Nutrition and specifically breakfast is an institution to many people, it is a lot like politics and religion. Many believe fanatically in the choices they make of what they eat, with little wanting to change. One sacred cow of mainstream nutrition is the (silly) idea that you need to eat carbs at breakfast to fuel your day.
I have personally met many people who religiously think they need to eat carbs for breakfast, and lots of them at that. They claim they need it to fuel and give them energy for the day and man do people religiously stick to this belief without ever questioning why. I am going to question that in this article…
Have you ever stopped and looked at what most people eat for breakfast nowadays, or what so many parents are feeding their children? Even doing a simple google image search of “breakfast” this is all you will see.
Aside from the fact that there are minimal nutrients to be found in most of these types of foods, it is incredibly carb heavy , which is a problem if you are looking to optimize your energy levels for the day, optimize your body’s ability to stay lean and overall look and feel great, read on.
I used to be stuck in the fad that carbs were needed for breakfast. I would have my shakes every morning filled with bananas, fruits and some sort of oats thinking it was the best thing I could possibly do each morning. Now granted, this is an improvement over stuffing yourself with pastries and refined / processed items like bagels but is it optimal? Far from it, we can do better for ourselves.
I have noticed a great improvement in myself both in my energy levels and at maintaining a low body fat percent since I changed up my breakfast each morning (which we will soon dive into what I did). This holds true even on the days where I have a cheat meal at night and stuff myself full of carbs, pasta or pizza (I’m Italian, if we don’t get the occasional pasta meal in watch out!) Having an optimized breakfast really sets a solid ground for your body for the rest of the day. Modifying your breakfast to lose fat and increase energy is one of their first places I start with my clients. Let’s get into some science on why you don’t need carbs for breakfast and what you do need to get what I and many other have dubbed an optimized breakfast…
Carbs in the morning wreck your hormones for the day.
I think we can all agree that each morning we want to wake up full of life and ready to take on the world. How many people can honestly say they feel like this each morning for the first couple hours? A number of other factors largely impact this (sleep, sleep quality, overall nutrition etc) but the proper breakfast can activate the right hormones in your body to allow this to happen. Alternatively, the wrong breakfast can activate the hormones that make you want to crawl back into bed and watch Dr Phil. I strongly feel this is a contributing factor to why so many people drink multiple coffees over the course of the day.
What happens when we eat a carb heavy breakfast? One of the hormones / neurotransmitters we activate is Serotonin. This is basically the hormone associated with the chill out, “take it easy”, happy relaxing feeling. An increase in serotonin can then increase the body’s production of melatonin, which is a well know hormone known to induce and improve sleep (For more info check out this article). Now there are definitely positives toward inducing this, especially towards the end of the day when we get ready for sleep, but first thing in the morning?! We want to start the day with energy!
Two Hormones we WANT to activate in the morning:
This sounds more like what we want to activate. I will outline the best foods that stimulate these shortly.
Carbs in the morning promote fat storage for the day:
On top of the above neurotransmitters there are a few other main hormones at play in the morning.
This is paraphrased from an amazing book by Gary Taubes, called “Why we get fat and what to do about it” but he goes to say fat storing and fat burning in our body works in cycles. We tend to store fat during the day as most people will eat lots of carbohydrates, spiking insulin and we tend to go into fat burning mode at night and are still in it when we wake up. However, when most people reach for that breakfast of bagels, croissants, cereal, juices (orange juice) it immediately kicks insulin into action and effectively shuts down our body from fat burning mode for the rest of the day.
Why don’t we want to spike insulin in the morning with a carb heavy meal? The following is from John Keifer who has done a multitude of studies on different diet and eating habits and how it effects the body at different times. He goes into great detail on the process and is an expert on the subject.
In 6 Steps – What happens when we eat carbs in the morning?
The OPTIMAL Breakfast to perform and look your best:
Knowing all of the above, we have learned that we want to activate dopamine and acetyholine in the morning and limit serotonin and insulin in order to maximize energy, focus and lose fat.
The best blend for breakfast that I have found through my own personal use, that of others and based on the research above is to have a good blend of quality protein (ex. Grass Fed Ground Beef) and Healthy fats (ex. Avocados) with some green veggies – Also dubbed “The Meat and Nuts Breakfast.” Note that the carbs you get from green veggies (broccoli) are negligible and do not spike your insulin. Eating high quality protein and fat sources in the morning is also cited as keeping you fuller and more energized for the day and has also been studied to lower the amount of snacking done.
|Awesome Sources of:|
|Red Meat, Game Meat||Eggs|
|Poultry + Seafood||Poultry|
The above are meant to be used as a guideline, but you can easily play around with it.
Simple steps to start creating a powerfully productive and charged lifestyle.
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Grass Fed Beef Brisket + Avocado + Broccoli.
Do people look weird when they see you eating
this for breakfast? Hell ya. Do I care? Hell no.
This won’t show up under any “breakfast”
Search but for this looking to fuel their body for
optimal performance I encourage you to give it a
Other options include:
Turkey + Almonds Nuts
Chicken overtop avocado and eggs
Pretty much any combination you can come up with!
For Vegan / Vegetarian Options: