Intermittent fasting is all the buzz right now, promising weight loss, heart health, and improved cognition. But here’s the catch: many studies singing intermittent fasting praises are flawed, especially because they focus on men, ignoring the unique physiology of women (because we are not the same). Plus, in the long run, it can actually lead to problems – including a slowdown of your metabolism.
In my opinion, breakfast is a must. You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I 100% agree. It’s a simple yet powerful way to fuel your metabolism (learn more about metabolism here) and boost your energy levels. Not to mention, regular breakfast consumption has been associated with a lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So, keep reading to discover how breakfast can increase your energy and why it should be an essential part of your routine!
How Eating Breakfast Can Increase Your Energy
Provides You with Glucose
Glucose is a form of sugar. When we hear “sugar,” our first instinct is to think, “Oh, that’s bad. we don’t want that!”
But here’s something I recently had to unlearn and relearn. Sugar is crucial to your survival. I actually wrote a blog post about reducing sugar and kind of vilified sugar in that post. But I’ve changed my tune on sugar and carbs over the past few years. I now recognize that our bodies need sugar to function well.
Yes, you heard it right! Glucose is the magical ingredient that is needed to make energy in your cells.
If we boil how energy is made in your body down to the most simple idea, it’s turning sugar into energy (or the molecule ATP). Sure, your body can use fat and protein as alternative fuel sources, but guess what? Glucose is its preferred and easiest option.
Now, I’m not suggesting you go on a white table sugar spree. Just because we need it to function well, doesn’t mean we should go all out having bowls of sugar for breakfast.
But I am suggesting that we change our thinking and view natural carbohydrates as what they are – the best fuel source for our bodies. Don’t be afraid to embrace natural sugars and carbs.
So since glucose is the key to energy production, it’s a big deal to kickstart your mornings with a breakfast that includes wholesome carbs. Think fruit, 100% fruit juice, root vegetables, sprouted oats, and real, fermented sourdough bread. Trust me, that will give you more of an energy boost than a cup of coffee ever could.
Glucose also plays a crucial role in your liver. It helps convert the inactive thyroid hormone T4 into its active form, T3.
And you know what happens when T3 is inadequate? Your cells struggle to produce energy efficiently. So, by having a nourishing breakfast and providing your liver with the glucose it needs, you’re not only kickstarting your metabolism but also helping your body rev up in a whole new way.
Glucose is also hugely important for brain function. It’s the main source of energy for our brains, helping us to think clearly and stay focused throughout the day.
In fact, studies have shown that people who skip breakfast or have a breakfast high in fat and protein but low in carbohydrates tend to have reduced cognitive function compared to those who have a balanced breakfast with carbohydrates included.
Let’s put an end to the misconception that all carbs and sugars are bad for us. Our bodies need glucose for optimal functioning, and by properly fueling ourselves with natural sources of carbohydrates, we can experience increased energy, improved metabolism, and better brain function.
So as you see, starting your day with breakfast can increase your energy by providing your body with the essential glucose it needs to function optimally.
Balances Your Blood Sugar
While we sleep, we abstain from eating, which is essentially a fast.
But eating is crucial for various reasons, one being that it helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. And don’t dismiss this just because you don’t have diabetes – blood sugar balance is vital for everyone, not just diabetics.
Ideally, your blood should have a consistent level of glucose. When your blood sugar drops too low, you may experience signs like:
- Brain Fog
- Low motivation
- Food cravings
- Weight gain
- Low libido
Skipping breakfast means missing out on glucose, which can lead to these low blood sugar signs.
Eating a balanced breakfast (meaning a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat) helps to break this fast and stabilizes your blood sugar levels, preventing any drastic spikes or drops that can leave you feeling tired and sluggish.
Skipping breakfast can also lead to overeating later in the day, as your body tries to compensate for the missed meal. And more than likely, when you’re hangry, you’re not going to reach for a healthy balanced snack – you’re going straight to the pure carbs. This can cause a rollercoaster effect on your blood sugar levels, leading to mood swings, fatigue, and cravings for sweets and caffeine.
As I mentioned, carbohydrates, or glucose, are vital for energy production, but here’s the caveat – we need to balance them out with protein and fat.
Protein and fat help slow down the absorption of carbs, providing sustained energy release instead of a quick spike followed by a crash and burn. They also help keep us feeling full and satisfied, which can prevent mindless snacking or overindulging in unhealthy foods.
In summary, by stabilizing your blood sugar and providing a steady release of energy, breakfast can increase your energy levels, helping you start your day on a vibrant note and sustain mental and physical vivacity throughout the day.
Maintaining good blood sugar levels is crucial for your body. It’s one of the main tasks it tirelessly performs throughout the day. Without your body’s continuous effort to keep your blood sugar stable, it could potentially lead to dire consequences, even death.
So, your body has some help from hormones, including cortisol, to maintain homeostasis and ensure consistent glucose levels in the blood.
Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, plays a vital role in keeping you energized and alive during times of stress. One way it does this is by raising your blood sugar when it dips too low.
It does so by first tapping into the stored glucose, or glycogen, in your liver. However, if your liver doesn’t have enough stored glycogen (which is very common for those with hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function), cortisol turns to muscle glycogen storage. It extracts glucose from the muscles and releases it into the blood to restore good blood sugar levels.
That’s great, but the prolonged rise of cortisol is not good long-term. We all deal with enough stress in our lives, and chances are you probably have elevated cortisol as it is.
Raising cortisol even more can lead to slow metabolism and fatigue, among many other problems.
You see, when your cortisol stays high, it signals to your brain to slow the thyroid down. The thyroid gets that message, and it slows its production of T4 and T3. And that, in turn, causes your metabolism to slow down.
So, to keep cortisol from rising and rising and to maintain a healthy metabolism, it’s important to prioritize breakfast.
It’s called “breakfast” because it literally “breaks the fast.” Providing your body with nourishment shortly after you wake up in the morning (ideally within 60 minutes of waking) allows your blood sugar to rise without relying on cortisol. So, your cortisol levels can decrease as it’s no longer needed to maintain stable blood sugar.
Eating a balanced meal is literally a form of stress relief. Pretty cool, huh?
So eating breakfast can increase your energy by reducing your stress hormone cortisol and allowing your thyroid to produce enough of those vital hormones needed to regulate metabolism.
Provides You with Micronutrients
Glucose isn’t the only essential player in energy production. Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals also have a crucial role to play. They help turn that glucose into energy, one more reason why breakfast can increase your energy. You can’t make energy without the micronutrients there.
When you skip breakfast, you miss out on these micronutrients and it puts a halt on your metabolism.
The whole idea of intermittent fasting is to eat all of the calories you would normally eat within a shorter window of time. However, most people who skip breakfast end up eating fewer calories during the day, along with a decreased intake of vitamins & minerals.
That can lead to low energy and a host of other problems.
So, eating breakfast, and eating it soon after you wake up, is a big deal. It’s one small thing that can have a huge effect on your health and your energy level.
What If You’re Not Hungry In the Morning?
You’re probably thinking, “Okay, so eating breakfast is important, but how can I eat breakfast if I’m not even hungry when I wake up?”
Well, let me tell you, that lack of hunger in the morning might actually be a sign that your metabolism is sluggish. It’s a sign your body is giving you that it actually needs more fuel to restore your metabolism.
Here’s the thing – when you don’t eat enough or frequently enough, your metabolism compensates for that low amount of fuel. It starts to slow down and your energy slows down as well.
Even your hormone called ghrelin, in charge of giving you that hunger feeling, lowers its output. It’s like your body’s way of saying, “Hey brain, we don’t need as much fuel right now because our metabolism is running at a slower speed.”
But don’t worry! There is a way to fix things. There is a way to get that metabolism of yours revving again.
You’ve got to fuel it up, even when you’re not feeling super hungry at first. Now, I’m not saying you need to have a massive breakfast right off the bat, especially if you’re just getting back into the breakfast game. Take it easy, start with something small and simple, like an egg with half a banana. Then, little by little, increase your breakfast portion.
Here’s the plan: start adding breakfast to your routine beginning tomorrow. By doing so, you can prevent your body from going into starvation mode and conserving energy. You’ll be fueling your metabolism and watch how adding in a good balanced breakfast can increase your energy drastically!
Here are some steps to gradually integrate breakfast into your routine:
- Start small: Begin with a manageable meal like a piece of fruit or a hard-boiled egg. You don’t have to dive right into a full meal, especially if you’re not used to eating in the morning.
- Gradually increase portions: Once you’re comfortable with a small amount, gradually increase the portion. Add in a slice of sourdough toast or a scoop of Greek yogurt.
- Plan ahead: If mornings are rushed for you, plan your breakfast the night before. Overnight oats, for example, only require a few minutes of prep the night before and can be a nutritious and filling breakfast.
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body reacts to different foods in the morning. You may find that certain foods give you more energy or keep you feeling full longer.
- Stay consistent: Try to have your breakfast around the same time every day. This consistency will help regulate your body’s hunger signals and reset your metabolism.
If you’re ready to embrace breakfast again but need ideas on what exactly to eat, I’ve got you covered. Check out my cookbook Real Food Made Easy for tasty, healthy breakfast recipes (and all your other meals) that can help bring healing to your metabolism and boost your energy levels throughout the day.
So go ahead. Embrace the power of a nourishing breakfast and feel the positive changes in your energy, mood, and really your whole life (is that a little too dramatic?). With a little planning and consistency, you can make breakfast a regular and beneficial part of your daily routine. Stay healthy mama!