Or should you fast? We panic a bit at the thought of missing a meal or the potential to feel hungry. We are told eating frequent meals can “rev up” our metabolism. It doesn’t.
We are told breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For primary school aged children; absolutely. A balanced plate of complex carbohydrates, protein and fats will sustain and nourish them through their school day.
We are told fasting is good for us and then feel even more confused about all this contradictory information. Fasting is fantastic for the 99%.
The fast option: skipping breakfast in favour of a black coffee, herbal tea or water has gained in popularity due to its well researched and clearly demonstrated benefits on focus and productivity as well as weight loss.
If you experience daily stress, are female and want to keep your hormones in good condition, then a coffee diet is not a good plan but we will come back to that. Fasting will lead to:
- greater levels of alertness and concentration
- higher performance in cognitive based tasks
- a chance for cells, hormones and your digestive system to undergo natural and beneficial cycles
As a weight loss option?
Insulin the hormone that is released when you consume food (mostly in response to carbohydrates. Fats and proteins have a lesser affect) will inhibit the oxidation of fat. That is how fat is ‘burnt’ by the body, first it is mobilised as a fuel source when needed and then it is oxidised or ‘burnt’ in response to energy demands. So simply, eating will mean less of your fat stores can be burnt up and used.
Therefore, choosing a fasting window of say 12-16 hours a day can be beneficial for helping you to loose weight.
To enhance focus and productivity?
Fasting works two ways. One; it is less of a distraction, if you don’t have to worry about fitting your breakfast into your morning routine you can be in a better flow or exercising, getting cold exposure and then getting to task. This is especially true for people who start work early and so may have less time to fit it in.
The second is food’s effect on your ability to stay focused. Carbohydrate consumption will encourage your body to produce serotonin, a hormone that gives you feelings of contentment, relaxation and drowsiness. So, a perfect option for dinner, not so when you need to feel alert and motivated. Whilst being in a fasted state will encourage greater levels of coritisol (a hormone that puts the body into a state of alertness)
Who does not benefit from fasting? Who should have breakfast?
As mentioned above, children thrive eating a balanced breakfast. Woman who are trying to fall pregnant or are coming back from adrenal fatigue and other hormonal issues (more on this in the link at the bottom) should be eating a serve of carbohydrates a couple hours after waking. Athletes with high energy demands who train to the point were they deplete their muscle glycogen (energy stored in muscles) need to replenish after exercise to maintain their physic and keep performing well. If you fall into this category, read on for more information on the best breakfasts. If you are not sure what will serve you best. Reach out to book your nutrition consult.
How do I know what is best for me?
This will take time to work out because your body takes time to adjust. The first time you try fasting you may feel moody and irritable, the second day you may feel better, by the end of the week it will feel fine and from there it would feel ‘not right’ to go back to eating breakfast because you will be loving the clarity and energy.
Keeping a diary is the best way to keep track of what is and is not working for you. The things you want to look out for are: Sleep quality, energy levels, sex drive, mood and cognition (how well you can focus, learn and remember things).
So, let’s talk the tastiest, healthiest breakfasts (or simply, the first meal you have in the day) that will see you through to your goals.
- Protein is best synthesised before earlier in the day so breakfast is a great opportunity to try and get that in via eggs, salmon, tempeh or other high quality protein sources
- The second important element (for athletes and woman) is carbohydrates. These will work to keep hormones in optimal condition as well as your maintain energy levels. Complex carbs like rice, potatoes, legumes and oats are better options than toast, cereals or things out of a packet.
- Fats are needed in smaller amounts (or larger depending on your own energy needs) to ensure healthy cell production, the absorption of vitamins and minerals and for sustained energy.
- Play around with your micronutrients. This is the fun part! What’s in season at the local grocers? What’s the veg patch doing? How many colours can you get in? This is why I love salads as you can get super creative! Dress a bowl of oats with berries, cinnamon and a tsp of seeds or nut butters!
If that was helpful…
- Smart carb shopping lists
- Breakfast/lunch options under 300
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