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Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Health & Nutrition | 0 comments

Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal of the Day?

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”
We have all heard this before, but is it true and why?

Which breakfast do you think is healthier?

1) cereal, glass of orange juice and toast or

2) eggs with sautéed spinach and bacon

Before you answer, think of it in terms of how each food affects insulin levels.

To review the glycemic index ranks foods 0-100; the higher the number, the more it spikes blood sugar.

1) cereal (Golden Grahams= 71, Shredded Wheat= 75, Fruit Loops= 69) + orange juice= 52 + toast= 71)

2) eggs + spinach + bacon are all considered foods that do not cause spikes in blood sugar

Take a look at this study, published in Pediatrics, 2003.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of 3 test breakfasts-low-GI, low-GI with 10% added sucrose, and high-GI-on ad libitum lunch intake, appetite, and satiety and to compare these with baseline values when habitual breakfast was consumed.

The type of breakfast eaten had a statistically significant effect on mean energy intake at lunchtime: lunch intake was lower after low-GI and low-GI with added sucrose breakfasts compared with lunch intake after high-GI and habitual breakfasts (which were high-GI).

Lunch intake after the high-GI breakfast was significantly higher than after the low-GI breakfast and low-GI breakfast with added sucrose

These results suggest that low-GI foods eaten at breakfast have a significant impact on food intake at lunch. This is the first study to observe such an effect in a group of normal and overweight children and adds to the growing body of evidence that low-GI foods may have an important role in weight control and obesity management.

Basically, those who ate low- GI foods at breakfast, ate LESS at lunch.
What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone. It makes our body’s cells absorb glucose from the blood. The glucose is stored in the liver and muscle as glycogen and stops the body from using fat as a source of energy.

Understanding this concept, may help naturally guide you to reduced appetite and reduced food intake, without that feeling that you are starving or that you are purposefully reducing calories, it will happen naturally.

Eating healthy fats, with moderate protein (or adequate protein based on your activity level) and non-starchy vegetables at every meal will keep you satiated, reduce your sugar and carb cravings and help shrink your waist! It is hard to over-eat on WHOLE foods.

Overnight, while you slept, to some degree, you were fasting; so when you wake, your body is geared to use stored fat as energy. By starting the morning with large amounts of carbs  and sugar, you are setting yourself at a deficit for the day. Spikes in blood sugar causes release of insulin, which directs glucose to be stored as glycogen in cells and muscles AND into fat cells. Insulin also inhibits fat breakdown. Want to lose weight (i.e. fat)? Insulin prevents you from this process.

So, breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but perhaps not how you previously believed it to be.

It is important because it is how you steer your body metabolically for the day.

It is your choice, in your control: You can raise blood sugar, raise insulin and begin to set your body up for storing the food you eat as fat… OR, you can start the day with healthy fats, a little protein and perhaps some non-starchy greens and fill your body with nutrients to fuel you and keep you fuller longer, give you more energy and give your body the chance NOT to store fat, and maybe even start to release some fat out of your fat cells! This process cannot occur IF insulin levels are too high.

A great template to start with would be:

High(er) healthy fats, moderate (adequate) protein and low(er) carbs.

What that exact ratio of macros will be will be entirely individual, but could range from 50-70% fat, 15-20% protein and 10-15% carbs.

Remember the teeter-totter analogy. As you increase your fat intake, you must lower your carb and (added) sugar intake.

Because your body can only burn glucose or fat, but not at the same time.

As Mark Sisson regularly asks- do you want to be a sugar burner or a fat burning beast?

Sugar burners are tied to 3-6+ meals/day, mainly because foods high in carbs and sugar create swings of high and low levels of blood sugar, which causes intense feelings of hungry.

Fat burners learn to keep their blood sugar at a more stable level, eliminating or reducing the high and low blood sugar swings. By doing this, insulin isn’t continually ramped up and down and allows fat breakdown to occur.

Common Mistakes:
Being Afraid of Fat: Eating low calorie and low fat OR Eating low carb and low fat

Limiting caloric intake slows down your metabolism and not incorporating healthy fats into your diet will keep you from being satiated and cause hungry. You may be able to “starve yourself” temporarily, but you won’t last and end up overeating and/or gaining more weight back than you lost. And this time around, the weight you gain back may result in MORE body fat because you may have lost muscle weight, but you have only gained back fat. Yikes. So, the scale says you are back where you started, but your body composition is worse (body fat percentage increased).

Low carb and low fat will typically result in low energy, fatigue and possibly mind fog and may also negatively affect your hormones. If you are no longer getting energy from carbs, you have to get it from fat, otherwise you most likely will not feel great. This could lead to giving up prematurely and going back to eating processed foods.

My new morning treat is french press (fair trade, organic) coffee with 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of organic coconut oil + 1/4 tablespoon of grass-fed heavy whipping cream. Taste SO good.

Eating too much protein

Thinking that a a low carb diet equates to high protein diet.

Too much protein can convert into glucose via glucogenesis (kind of defeats the point of reducing your carbs). Not to mention its effect on mTOR pathway and increased risk of cancer (mTOR stimulates cell proliferation= can lead to cancer). Remember the context, I am talking about excessive amounts of protein (the amounts old school body builders stick to).Yet, I say it as a reminder to not eat to0 much protein, as it is easier to replace carbs with protein; because of our past conditioning to avoid fat and/ or finding good sources of healthy fats. Chicken is not a good source of fat and contains a decent dose of protein in a serving. Choosing grass fed beef and cooking vegetables in grass-fed butter or ghee, or even bacon fat can boost your fat intake. Broccoli and brussle sprouts are super tasty cooked in left-over bacon fat.

This is a great podcast on cancer and diet. Personally, if I had cancer, I would adhere to a lower carb diet. Cancer cells thrive on glucose.

Some advise, depending on level of physical activity, to eat 0.6- 1g of protein per LEAN body mass, not total weight.

So, if you weigh 150 pounds, and have 30% body fat, your lean body mass= 105 (which means you have 45 pounds of fat). 105 x 0.6g= 63 grams of protein/ day, NOT 150 grams.

Eating too much polyunsaturated vegetables oils high in omega 6

Stick to healthy saturated fats (grass fed meat, butter and cream) coconut and coconut oil and monosaturated oil (olive oil) and omega 3. Dump and avoid vegetable oils such as soybean oil, sunflower oil and canola oil, high in omega 6 oils.

Eating Gluten- Free snacks too frequently and unrestricted because they are “gluten free”

If you recall from the previous post, it isn’t just about removing gluten, it is about keeping insulin levels low.

Many gluten free substitutes are made with brown rice or corn, which happens to raise blood sugar a decent amount.

Trust me, I know it is so hard to give up snacking, that was my biggest hurdle. But, once you commit to NOT eating processed foods (crackers don’t grow on trees) the cravings stop and you realize the munching on non-nutrient foods like pretzels and popcorn was habitual and tied up with your sugar cravings. Popcorn isn’t an ideal treat because corn is reletively high on GI (higher carb content) and the starch quickly turns to sugar once ingested. Corn may be low calorie and low fat, but it can cause you to become fat.

Skipping Meals BEFORE you have become a “fat burning beast”

I would say this is all too common, especially amongst women.  We think we are “being good” and skipping a meal, even if we are hungry in hopes of shedding a few pounds. If you chronically skipped meals you may lose WEIGHT (not necessarily FAT) but you become nutrient deficient and also leaning towards anorexia… also, if your body is not proficient in burning fat as energy and is expecting glucose, your body will demand food, you then either will overeat or make your body think it is in starvation mode and the triggered response may include but not limited to: slowing down metabolism, holding onto that next meal (as fat) to protect against the next famine, and messing up your hormones (thyroid).

So, although skipping meals in theory seems like it “works”, it doesn’t help or promote optimal health in the short, nor in the long run.

You know you are ready for intermittent fasting when you can go longer than 2-3 hours between a meal, and if you get busy and you missed lunch and at 1:30pm you realized you haven’t had it yet but you weren’t ready to kill someone, perhaps your body is getting more efficient at burning the glucose you do eat, as well as using fat (ketones) and maybe even tapping into the energy you have stored as fat around your middle. Your body doesn’t care where the energy (calories) comes from- Would you rather your body got some energy from your stored fat (on your butt or belly) or from the food you just ingested?

Not eating enough

As you become a fat burner, a side effect may be decreased appetite, mainly because you feel so satiated from healthy fats you are now ingesting; also, that your body has learned how to tap into your fat stores as a source of energy. BUT, that may mean you only eat 2 meals a day now and if you aren’t careful, you could become nutrient deficient. Your meals need to be nutrient dense at every meal.

Believing that “Eat foods in moderation” applies and makes sense for most of the population. 

Sure, eating a balanced meal and eating ALL foods in moderation sounds great. But, what you have to realize is- unless your diet is already based on 80-90% WHOLE FOODS, i.e. minimal processed foods, and you’ve lowered your sugar intake to less than 10%, you are already OVER the moderation curve. Does a small bowl of ice cream, or only eating ONE cookie after very meal equate to moderation because the portion is small? Or is moderation equate to occasionally having dessert after a meal?

And, if you are metabolically deranged in any way, does eating 60% grains (carbs) make sense then? What about for someone who is insulin resistant? Has a autoimmune disease?

Check out this great podcast. 10 year old Dave Dikeman seems to know more about how to keep his (type 1) diabetes under control than many doctors.

And if you feel like you are confused what to eat, just turn to anything that is WHOLE. Not in a box. And in times of travel and busy life, stay tuned for some of my favorite “treats” and on-the-go foods.

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