Is your Breakfast Bad for your Health?
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As we all know breakfast is important. It is classed as the most important meal of the day and for good reason. But does this simply mean eating anything as long as it’s food is beneficial…? Should we be eating high carbohydrate food for breakfast?
Now before we get started, real plant-based carbohydrates should be an essential part of your diet. They are a vital part of your overall health and well being. They fuel the kidneys, brain, muscles, central nervous system, and heart. Fibre is a form of carbohydrate that is important for the digestive system and keeps blood cholesterol levels under control. So it is extremely important to have the right types of carbohydrates in your diet.
But let’s look at some bad carbohydrates choices for breakfast and why we need to avoid them first thing in the morning.
Bad forms of carbohydrates:
Cereals, Jam’s and Bread’s
All of the above contain high levels of carbohydrates that are usually high in simple sugars meaning they spike the blood sugar levels high and fast. The pancreas releases insulin to combat these high blood sugar levels as without insulin the blood will turn into a syrup-like substance. That can cause diabetes and other medical conditions. When insulin is released, glucose (sugar) from the blood is then pushed to be stored in the liver, muscles, and fat cells. It also increases cortisol levels and keeps them high throughout the day.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which means fatty acids, stored sugars (glycogen), and amino acids are oxidized for fuel. High levels of cortisol can increase muscle wastage as it is used for fuel. As muscle is important for movement and our metabolism, as one pound of muscle burns 64kcals per day. It is important to keep as much muscle as possible.
Breakfast is the right time to combat cortisol. As we wake cortisol is at its highest and lowers throughout the day with the right nutrient-dense foods.
Let’s take a look at why our bodies release cortisol. Cortisol is an important hormone as it gets the body into motion to start the day, regulates blood sugar levels, regulates stress, helps to reduce inflammation, and assists with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on the balance of water and salt in the body. It also helps control blood sugar levels. But high levels of cortisol increase’s muscle wastage, increase’s fat storage, decrease’s testosterone, and cause’s memory lapses, to name but a few.
They are highest in the morning as our bodies wake from sleep. The reason for this is that you haven’t eaten for 10 or more hours in most cases, so we all need this hormone to help regulate normal bodily processes. But as cortisol is also a stress hormone it is important to know how to deal with it the right way.
Cortisol lowers throughout the day as it is related to daily activity. Food affects the release of cortisol so that’s why it is important to pick the right breakfast to start the day. Consuming high carbs in the morning can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels which can cause the pancreas to release more insulin than normal to push sugar from the blood to be stored. Eating high sugary breakfasts such as cereals, bread, and jams can cause this spike. Skipping breakfast can cause hypoglycemia which is when your body goes from a high blood sugar level to a low blood sugar level, which in turn stresses your body and releases more cortisol keeping the levels of cortisol higher than it should be throughout the day.
Nutrient-dense foods help to reduce the cortisol levels in your blood, getting it back to its normal level. If you skip breakfast or eat high sugars your cortisol release will be much higher drowning your cells with this catabolic hormone.
So what should we consume in the morning?
Most breakfasts are built around the idea of high carbs and low protein, as carbs are the readiest source of energy. But as we have seen high levels of cortisol aggravated by early morning carbohydrates cause’s a continued state of fat storage throughout the day, low productivity, and more stress.
So what is best:
- Protein with healthy fats in your breakfast has been found the best to start the day.
- It doesn’t spike blood sugar levels keeping them at a normal level which reduces the amount of insulin released and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
- It reduces cortisol levels which lower normally throughout the day.
- Amino acids from the protein fuel the muscles cutting out any muscle wastage.
- It doesn’t have the serotonin release you get with carbohydrates reducing the feeling of sluggishness making for a more productive morning.
In conclusion, having a protein breakfast can:
- Increase insulin sensitivity.
- Reduce’s fat storage.
- Regulate’s blood sugar levels.
- Reduce’s the risk of muscle wastage.
- Increase productivity for the day.
- Reduces cortisol levels normally.
Side note: high cortisol levels are also related to overuse of phones, TV’s and laptops at night due to the blue light they produce. You can get glasses to reduce blue light intake from these devices.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me
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