It’s true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When I start working with clients it is always the first meal which we change or place a focus on, so that we can prioritise its effects on us throughout the day.
Before we delve into it, there are some terms which you’ll see below. I want to define these for you here so that you can really understand this article as much as possible while you read it:
- Precursor – a substance from which another is formed.
- Neurotransmitter – this is a chemical substance which is released from a nerve and affects the impulse to other nerves, muscles or other structures in the brain. These can have drastic effects on us and our actions.
- Macronutrients – these are a food group and, when used in context, usually refer to one of either protein, fat or carbohydrate.
- Insulin – a hormone produced in the body which regulates blood sugar levels. Building up a resistance to this, via constant over production, can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
Getting set for the day
Firstly, let’s start with setting ourselves up for the day ahead. The two key neurotransmitters which help to give us motivation and focus are dopamine and acetylcholine. Meat and/or eggs will provide us with the precursors for dopamine, and nuts will help us to build acetylcholine (nuts are always my accompaniment at breakfast instead of carbs but, more about this later). These two neurotransmitters will also boost memory and speed up our thinking processes. It is hopefully easy to see that, as well as this being a brilliant way to start your day, it can be an excellent way to prep yourself for a workout!
From personal experiences with my own diet and observing my own clients actions, having a high intake of protein in the first meal of the day aids us in being consistent in making better food choices throughout the day. This is usually due to the satiating effect (that is, the feeling of fullness) that comes from protein rich foods; which also tends to make people less likely to choose carbohydrate rich foods later on in the day. These observations make it easy for me to say that a high protein (and fat) based breakfast can aid those who are trying to lose body fat.
Fullness, blood sugar and better food choices
Continuing from the above, the increased fullness and potential for better food choices throughout the day make this type of breakfast my go-to for any one of my clients who is trying to drop weight or body fat. It is also important to mention and worth noting that protein has the highest thermogenic effect of any of the food groups, this means that it takes more calories to digest them and they raise the bodies temperature higher than the other macronutrients; meaning you’ll burn more calories throughout that coming day.
Now, many of you will be thinking “why is this better than having something easy which contains carbs?”. It’s real simple – because of blood sugar levels and what that does to us.
The consumption of meat or eggs provides a slow rise of blood sugar throughout the morning which helps us to avoid sharp spikes in insulin. If you do go for the easier option of say toast, cereal or fruit for example, you are likely to be left with a quick and high insulin response. This insulin response will shortly drop, leading us to hunger, a cortisol (the stress hormone) spike, a sugar craving and therefore a shorter attention span. I bet you all know someone who will get to around 10am and crave a coffee with a sugary snack which just gives them another kick of quick insulin and leads them onto an endless cycle- and now you know why that is.
Hopefully you can see how the last point I made can lead to unhealthy eating habits as well as weight gain, tiredness and a lack of productivity.
Finally I just want to mention the fats side of this and why they are also important to this. As said previously my go-to to source of fats is nuts, they are highly satiating and provide a great source of energy as well as aiding in vitamin absorption and improving our memory. If you’re allergic to nuts, eggs, avocados and olives are excellent alternatives.
Thanks as always for reading and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or if you have anything you’d like me to write about.