Are you rushed in the morning? Is it hard to get out the door, let alone have a decent breakfast? It’s a struggle for many people, but when you take a look at the research you will find just how important that first meal is.
Let’s take a quick look at the research and then talk about what you should be eating for breakfast and why.
A Bigger Breakfast
A study from 2013 looked at the difference between those eating a high caloric breakfast vs. those eating a high caloric dinner.
Researchers split the women into 2 groups. Both groups were on a reduced calorie diet of about 1400 calories. The first group had 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 200 at dinner. The second ate 200 at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 700 calorie at dinner time.
The Big Breakfast Group
- Lost more weight
- Lost more inches at waist
- Had greater reductions in fasting glucose
- Had greater reductions in fasting insulin
- Greater decreases in triglycerides
- Had lower hunger scores and higher satiety scores
This study was on overweight and obese women.... BUT... another study had similar findings of better blood sugar and insulin control in lean women with PCOS. Effects of caloric intake timing on insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in lean women with polycystic ovary syndrome - PubMed (nih.gov)
When preparing your big breakfast, it is really important to focus on protein, a fat, and minimal (if any) carbs. An ideal breakfast will have about 25-30 grams of protein or a serving about the size of the palm of your hand. It will also have one serving of fat about the size of your thumb. If you do want some carbs, feel free to have some berries or non-starchy vegetables.
You see, when we eat too many carbs (and sugar) both our blood sugar and insulin have a sharp spike. This is followed by a sharp drop a few hours later. Protein and fat can help you get off of this rollercoaster of this rapid increase and decrease in blood sugar and insulin.
When you are on the blood sugar rollercoaster, your blood sugar drop triggers the brain to think there’s danger. Your body is flooded with cortisol and the amygdala is triggered. With the amygdala in control, you move out of the thinking part of your brain (prefrontal cortex) and move into the more primal lizard part of the brain. This cycle is where we get cravings as the body is calling out for more sugar.
A high protein breakfast will set you up for more stable level blood sugar levels throughout the day and help to decrease cravings. It may also help you lose weight if that is one of your goals.
If you aren’t eating breakfast, I encourage you to start. And those who are eating breakfast may want to tweak theirs to line up with the suggestions above.
Remember that you don’t need to eat traditional breakfast food for breakfast, leftovers from the night before work just fine. So lean away from the breads, cereal, and juice - and see how much better you feel!