Ahhh, Breakfast. Some of us love it, and some of us just aren’t hungry enough when we wake up in the morning. Theres a reason for that, but I’ll get to that in another post. In this post I’m going to tell you what your body wants you to eat to start your day off on the right foot.
It’s important to understand this simple truth: Bridging the gap between meals when your blood sugar is low should be with fat & protein dense food, especially between dinner and breakfast.
- To balance fasting blood glucose levels
- To support the adrenal glands and avoid fatigue
- To have a consistent, even flow of energy & avoid mood swings
- To remain satiated and avoid sugar cravings
- To avoid a blood sugar rollercoaster throughout the day
What exactly is blood glucose? Simply put, blood glucose is the amount of glucose (sugar) within your bloodstream. Fasting blood glucose levels should be below 100mg/dL, with an optimal range between 75-95mg/dL. One to two hours after a meal, your blood glucose levels should be around 120mg/dL.*
When you wake up in the morning your body is in a fasted state. Your pancreas, liver, and adrenal glands have been working hard over night to keep your blood sugar at an acceptable level to maintain homeostasis without food. They have maintained quite well since you ate nutrient dense meals throughout the day prior and now they need support with some good food to break the fast.
Lets say you wake up and drink a cup coffee with a little sugar, eat a bowl of oatmeal, and down it all with a glass of OJ. Lets break this down:
- Coffee- caffeine
- Sugar- glucose
- Oatmeal- soluble fiber & glucose
- Orange Juice- fructose & some vitamins
This sugar-heavy breakfast then causes your glucose levels to soar. In response, the pancreas pumps out insulin to pull the glucose molecules into the cells either for storage or energy. Since glucose is metabolized quickly, your blood glucose levels then plummet after insulins job is complete. Even though you were initially full and maybe even a bit bloated after your oatmeal and coffee, somehow two hours later you’re STARVING and your energy is crashing.
Because our body’s innate intelligence continually monitors the amount of glucose in our bloodstream to maintain balance, too much or too little glucose triggers the release of hormones to return the glucose levels to normal.
Continuing with our example, what do you do when your energy crashes between breakfast and lunch? Coffee round two!! You add another spoonful of sugar to your coffee and eat a Nature Valley oat bar to hold you over. But how does your body react to this?
When blood sugar levels drop below normal:
- The adrenals secrete a hormone called cortisol
- Cortisol tells the liver to produce and release glucose into the bloodstream
- The pancreas secretes glucagon, a storage form of glucose
Remember you also consumed caffeine and ate a carbohydrate rich snack bar, which contributes to elevating blood glucose levels as well. Now you’re back to where you were after your sugary breakfast: glucose levels soar, the pancreas pumps out insulin, insulin completes its job quickly, all of a sudden you’re hungry and crashing again. Then it’s lunch time. You eat something carb heavy like a sub and some chips, and the rollercoaster continues; the adrenals fire, the liver produces & releases glucose, the pancreas pumps out glucagon….
Do you see this vicious cycle? Can you visualize the roller coaster of poor blood sugar regulation? Does this sound familiar? How do you stop this?
A high protein & quality-fat breakfast can help you completely avoid this rollercoaster by balancing blood glucose levels first thing in the morning. The human body is designed to use a balance of unrefined carbs along with quality fats and proteins as our primary sources of fuel. Think of carbohydrates as the kindling of a fire, and the the fats as logs. We need both! There is interplay between these two macronutrients: quality fat slows down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream, providing satiation while also avoiding major insulin spikes.
Fat burning (using fat for energy) is the normal and preferred metabolic state of the human body. When we break our daily fast primarily with healthy fats and quality proteins, we are setting ourselves up for blood sugar balance, sustained energy between meals without fatigue and cravings, no blood sugar rollercoaster, no mood swings, and long lasting satiation. See below for sources of each:
My breakfast usually consists of a cup of bone broth and either leftovers from dinner the night before or a HUGE Breakfast Scramble. My largest meal of the day is a tie between breakfast and dinner, and I make sure to never skip breakfast- even when I’m not hungry. Why eat when I’m not hungry? Skipping breakfast can exacerbate poor blood sugar regulation, so I always make sure to eat within one hour of waking up.
Try consistently eating a larger breakfast full of protein and fat and make note of how your energy levels are strengthened throughout the day!
(*Information from ChrisKresser.com)