In my last post I proposed a that a change in lifestyle habits as the new paradigm in weight management. Using the scale and measuring tape as the sole means of measuring progress usually results in short term results and a lifetime commitment to modern “dieting mentality”. Behavioral change, not unjustified restriction, is the new way, and the only sustainable way to lose weight and be healthy.
I also challenged you to implement some of the behavior modifications I recommend into your own lifestyle. Since this is the first day of habit change let’s take a look at getting off to a great start with a nourishing breakfast!
Kick-Start Your Body With Breakfast
Getting off to a good start goes a long way towards building energy and enthusiasm for the day’s events. It’s been well documented that having breakfast within one hour of waking helps increase alertness, improves function at school and work, and improves overall human performance. Despite these benefits, many people still fail to meet this basic need, which consequently sets off a cascade of poor decisions that negatively impacts their health.
“I don’t have time for breakfast” or “I’m just not hungry in the morning” are the common reasons that people give for skipping breakfast. Many people don’t realize that if they eat breakfast they will, after a couple of weeks, start waking up hungry and anticipating their morning meal. This in turn will cause them to become hungry more often, increasing the opportunity to nourish the body throughout the day. If you aren’t hungry in the morning, perhaps it’s because you ate late the night before. I’ll bet it was a large meal too? Research shows that “late-eaters” lose less weight (on a diet) and typically consume fewer calories at breakfast, or skip it all together.
It’s generally good practice to keep 12-13 hours between your last meal and breakfast. The body can use its energy stores during this period and you will most likely wake up hungry. If you eat too late, you’ll likely blow off breakfast, or eat less than you need to get you through until lunch. To fill the gap, you’ll snack on convenience food, drink coffee or smoke cigarettes, then when you finally consume your first meal, your ravenous cravings will negatively influence your choice of foods.
This is how the energy roller coaster starts (energy spikes followed by prolonged lethargy with no way off until the routine is broken). Correcting this starts at breakfast, where your main objective is to get your “engine” revving to support peak performance throughout the day.
Skipping breakfast causes the body to become attuned to not being hungry until close to dinner time. This usually results in overeating at dinner and late night snacking on high calorie foods. Both of which can impair your sleep quality/quantity and your natural hunger signals the following day.
If you believe that you don’t have time to eat breakfast, know that you’ll get that time back (and then some) in improved productivity. I understand that some people have been skipping breakfast most of their lives and that the habit is deeply entrenched. This makes change more challenging but no less rewarding if you alter the routine.
If your breakfast doesn’t deliver the sustained energy you expect, you may need to look at the quality of the meal. A balanced meal consists of 1/3 protein and 2/3 carbohydrates. Traditional breakfasts of cereal and milk with a tall glass of OJ is not balanced and lacks many of the key nutrients for sustained energy production, namely fiber, fats and protein. In fact, most people will crash as 1-2 hours from a meal like this. The key is to experiment until you find a meal combination that keeps you satisfied for 4-5 hours. By that time, you should be hungry and ready for your next meal.
How To Bring Breakfast Back To Your Routine
I’ve always said I only preach what I practice, and my breakfast ritual is no different. I usually wake up reasonably hungry as I promptly sprint to the fridge to get things started. My breakfast setup even precedes the washroom duties. You really needed to know that part didn’t you. My job requires sustained energy and focus (to motivate those who routinely skip breakfast), so I’m pretty thorough. Here’s how it goes:
- Freshly squeezed lemon in hot water. This provides a robust shot of Vitamin C, hydration and creates an alkaline digestive environment for what’s to come.
- Shower time
- Glass of green tea. I add a little lemon and some pomegranate herbal tea for taste. This is prepared the night before and is a great source of anti-oxidants and hydration.
- Stinging nettle root extract. For circulation and maybe to grow some hair too!
- Ginkgo Biloba. For improved circulation and brain function.
- Homemade spelt and multi-seed bread with Manuka honey. For energy.
- Fruit of the day. For energy.
- Handful of nuts. For fiber and to build meal density. I prefer almonds.
- Greek Yogurt with whey protein. To repair my muscles from schlepping weights around for clients all day.
- 3-5 fish oil caps. For radiant skin.
That’s it. If it seems like a lot, it really isn’t and it only takes 2 minutes to prep and 5 minutes to eat. This gives me about 4-5 hours of sustained energy until I get hungry again and need lunch. I have taken the time to experiment with many food combinations to find what works for me and encourage you to do the same.
If you are someone who routinely skips breakfast, or grabs breakfast on the go, you should try to implement this habit for the next 21 days. This alone can go along way to getting your energy levels on track. It won’t necessarily cause weight loss, but in combination with the habits I’m going to divulge in the coming weeks, you’ll start to feel and see the results that a healthy lifestyle creates.