Adelle Davis, an American author and nutritionist, said it well “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. According to the annual report of the International Food Information Council, while 90% of Americans know having breakfast is important for health and function, only 49% admit to eating breakfast every day.1 Research has shown the many benefits of including breakfast in your daily routine that include weight loss, improved energy and concentration, improved physical endurance, and overall improvement of a quality diet.
After sleeping for eight hours, and being without food during the night, our brain and muscles need energy and fuel to function. Breaking this fast with consumption of a healthy meal including proteins and fats instead of a high carbohydrate meal has been shown to have the most benefit.
A study published by the International Journal of Obesity, examined the influence of the type of foods and specific timing of intake on the development of abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, insulin resistance and other cardiovascular disease-risk factors. These risk factors that occur together are known as “Metabolic Syndrome”. This research revealed that a carbohydrate-rich diet in the morning led to consuming a high-fat meal at the end of the day and saw increased weight gain, and other markers of the metabolic syndrome. On the contrary, fat intake at the time of waking seems to turn on fat metabolism very efficiently and also turns on the ability to respond to different types of food later in the day2. The research concluded that the first meal you have appears to program your metabolism for the rest of the day. And, that a meal higher in fat content in the morning is best for your body’s ability to efficiently breakdown and utilize the components of a mixed diet, including carbohydrates, fats, and protein, throughout the day.
Sources of fat which you would benefit most from come from plant sources such as olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and avocados. These types of fat are known to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, increase energy, improve depression, and decrease inflammation. Eating more protein and fat helps keep the metabolic rate high, and the omega-3 fatty acids can actually help the body burn visceral abdominal fat.4
Eggs are a great source of protein and fat for a morning breakfast choice. But, many people have the misconception regarding the egg and cholesterol connection. Numerous studies have supported that eggs have virtually nothing to do with raising your cholesterol. Some egg studies showed that eating 3 eggs a day for 30 days did increase the cholesterol but by producing HDL (good) cholesterol and bigger sized particles of LDL (bad) cholesterol. The larger sized LDL particles had no effect on the ratio between LDL and HDL, which suggests no major change in coronary risk.3
Foods high in sugars and starch, such as breakfast cereals, pancakes, French toast, and other common breakfast foods are not ideal for starting your day. These foods do not provide the nutrition, protein, or healthy fats needed to prime your metabolism or fuel your brain. Additionally, processed meats such as breakfast sausages and bacon are also not ideal. These types of meat have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, weight gain, and the development of cancer.
If you are not able to eat much in the morning or cringe at the thought of eggs, you can start your day with a nutrient packed smoothie. Fresh or frozen fruit, plant-based milk such as almond, coconut, or hemp milk, with a healthy protein powder such as pea or hemp protein, a teaspoon of MCT or coconut oil added for brain fuel, and any “superfood” powders you may want to add, is a wonderful alternative to a more dense and hardy meal for breakfast.
To learn more about how to optimize the foods you eat for brain power, metabolic function, and overall health, you can schedule an appointment with our doctor of Functional Medicine and Clinical Nutrition.