Let´s talk about breakfast
I didn’t want to open a can of glow worms on a somewhat controversial topic but when HaPP says jump I say yay.
SO the 3 biggest reasons why a balanced Breakfast wins:
# 1 It makes you a nicer person
Ever cursed some pretty impressive obscenities at harmless objects and/or innocent people ‘for no real reason’? Do you sometimes find it super hard to concentrate on the most simple tasks? Ever felt like you had the patience and emotional intelligence of a tired 3-year old? I feel ya. It’s because our blood sugar took a nose dive. And if your glucose tank runs on empty, your brain struggles for fuel and stalls and jerks. Pissed-off brain equals hungry hulk form hell.
While you were sleeping you weren’t eating (except if you were dreaming of that crepe –a-sucre at West Country Girl in Paris). So that’s about 6-8 hours of fasting. No problemo. But then you wake up from rest & digest mode and your brain starts going at the speed of light for you to safely shower and cross the street and politely order your coffee and make adult life decisions all day until tonight when you hit your pillow again. Here’s a way fun fact: our brains use up to 60% of our whole body’s energy supply, when we’re at rest (that’s a lot of calories spent on thinking) And here’s more: your brain lacks its own fuel stores, so it needs a constant supply of glucose to be coming in at a nice steady pace. The liver and muscles are generous when we sleep, sharing their unused glucose with the brain but if you stretch out the fasting mode for too long once awake, you increase your chances of messing with your mood and making shitty decisions (grabbing high-processed-carby baked ‘goods’ or a quick-fix sugar rush solution that comes in a wrapper). Don’t blame you, it’s almost an involuntary reflex to low blood sugar. But what goes up must come down, and come down you will. Enter the all day blood-sugar rollercoaster of fasting-followed-by-overeating-followed-by-overexcercing-follwed-by-late-night-snacking.
#2 to wake-and-BREAK: It can help you effortlessly manage, or find, your ideal weight
Starting the day with a balanced meal (a good ratio of protein vs. low GI carbs) gently wakes up your metabolism and says “Hi. We’re starting the engine here, this kind of fuel will be coming in all day so worry not, burn away! Run all pistons! Hoot hoot!” Eating fills your stomach and makes you happy (something about evolution) allowing you to get on with life. Protein and fats in your brekkie slow down the digestion and release of glucose in the bloodstream, allowing for that desirable steady glucose delivery to the brain (see reason 1 above). Happy brain equals clever healthy food choices and a good mood for acts of self-care.
# 3 Hold on tight for this one: We need food
You are made up thousands of trillions of nutrients. Your muscles and heart are all protein, your eyes have a LOT of antioxidants in them, your hormones are cholesterol-based (you heard me!), your bones are made up of intricate matrices of minerals and every single one of your cells have a layer of fat in their walls that allow for effective cell communication and longevity. Where do you get these building blocks from? You eat them. So logic tells me that I can’t afford to be skipping meals and depriving my organs of the essential ingredients they need to be their best selves?! I see breakfast as a legit opportunity to optimise my short and longterm health – a calm nutritious head start before the storm. How many vitamins and minerals and protein and fibre can I squeeze into this momentous breaking-of-the-fast?
Now for some fine-print:
There is an additional reason why I like breakfast: I’ve relatively recently started mediating and being more mindful and then had a very successful 2 week trial period of quietly easing into my day (as opposed to grabbing my not-so-smart-phone for senseless scrolling and then rushing frantically into a day that already started without me). So preparing and eating my delicious breakfasts became my 20min daily me-time. Needless to say, I very highly suggest everyone with a brain and a life try it, or a similar low-tech, high-nutrient version of it.
Coffee alone is not breakfast. Nor is just a croissant. When I say ‘breakfast’ Im referring to a meal that has a good amount of protein (eggs, nuts, beans, milk, dairy or non-dairy yoghurt, quinoa, lentils, tofu), some fat (ghee, olive oil, nut butter, chia seeds, any nuts or seeds) and a bit of complex, not-processed carbs (steel-cut non-instant oats, high-fibre fruit, brown rice, sweet potato) and some power nutrients like super-healthy berries, greens and super foods.
Some people feel worse after breakfast, which is possible because: they may be overdoing it or eating something that they’re intolerant too (e.g gluten, dairy, soy, preservatives).
Don’t ever force-feed yourself. If the thought of chewing first thing in the morning gives you a gag-reflex then, please for g’s sake don’t make a cheese-omelette and force feed your face with it. Have a few sips of a smoothie. Or 5 walnuts and some slices of apple. Or leftover steak. Just have something!
There is some research to back the benefits of doing your early-morning workout on an empty stomach but replenishing within an hour of exercise is essential if you want to reap the benefits of your sweat-session.
This blog was written by Klara. She is in a heated love affair with real food and all things well-not-dull. A functional medicine nutritionist and yoga instructor born and raised in the Namibia desert of southern Africa, Klara is passionate about integrative mind-body health and just completed a 3-year Nutrition Science degree in the UK with a thesis on the effects of psychological stress on blood sugar balance. Klara is currently in New York and on a fervent quest to heal the modern manic world one puzzled, overwhelmed urbanite at a time. Subscribe to her blog Both Sides Buttered, Instagram account and Facebook page to stay in the scoop!