There is a reason why the first meal of the day is called ‘break’ ‘fast’. By the time we wake in the morning, we have used up the stores from foods eaten the day prior. Our body is ready to be replenished with healthy nutrients to support the regeneration process that has been happening during the night.
When we go to sleep at night we often don’t stop to think about what our body is actually doing. Somehow we assume it is sleeping too! Indeed the exact opposite is happening. There are two broad stages of sleep – non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). At different times during these stages many processes are taking place. Here are just a few:
- Brain cells are rewiring themselves enabling us to process, retain and organize information
- Muscles are being repaired from normal wear and tear
- Skin is being repaired and rejuvenated
- Your immune system is regulating and building itself up
- Growth hormones are being produced for cell reproduction and repair
Amongst the list above, the brain is one of the most active at various times in these stages. Its source of energy to function is glucose, the sugar broken down from food. Although needing less than during the day where it uses about 20% of the glucose broken down from our food, it is still requiring a great deal.
By the time we wake in the morning, we have used up the stores from foods eaten the day prior. Our body is ready to be replenished with healthy nutrients. If we don’t eat or feed it junk food, it is going to rebel. What would you expect?
In the US we tend to be a bit irreverent with our body. In many cultures the opposite is true. Things like a warm vegetable and protein soup is the norm for breakfast. Soup? Yuck you say! Well let me tell you it is quite delicious! I’ve had the opportunity to experience a soup breakfast both in Thailand and in Bhutan. Both amazing and nourishing! And now in the winter I often make a soup filled with vegetables and protein for my breakfast. I can’t think of anything nicer than warming up that way on a cold winter morning. As for this time of year we have so many beautiful fresh vegetables out there that ideas for breakfast are endless!
In addition to the ‘ick vegetables for breakfast!’ comments I also hear are ‘I don’t have that kind of time’. Well frankly it doesn’t take long at all. You can throw veggies in a pan and cook them while you’re showering. If you know you’ll have a particularly hairy day the next day, you can make a frittata the first morning and save the other half to eat tomorrow. The point is just do it! No excuses. Your body will feel so much better!
In addition to providing your body with healing foods, another component is blood sugar. If you give your body healthy protein in the morning it will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels for the entire day. Since your body levels are low in the morning, if you feed it sugar like a scone or a Kind bar, your sugar levels will raise too fast and the pancreas will produce insulin to bring it back down, usually dropping the blood sugar levels too low. Consequently mid-morning you will be starving again and grab something else sugary to give you a boost. The body will go through the same process and you’ve now set yourself up for a pattern of highs and lows for the day. Most often the tendency is to eat more throughout the day to involuntarily ‘manage’ this. Disaster!
Also eating some healthy protein in the morning will help to ramp up your metabolism a bit. Who doesn’t want that? Remember the higher the metabolism is the more calories you burn! So in addition to exercising early and building muscle, a healthy breakfast will naturally help you become a lean machine. Not bad, hey?
You will be amazed how much better you feel throughout the day.
My challenge to you is to give it a try for at least 3 months. I prefer to eat mine about an hour before I exercise. If this just isn’t doable for your body, exercise and then follow it with breakfast. Again just do it! I can almost guarantee you that your body and mind will feel so much better!