Despite the headline, I’m not going to tell you not to eat carbs for breakfast. After all, I probably know nothing about your current health status, your nutrition history, job, sleep, stress levels and so on. However, I’ve eaten this way for almost two years now. Its helped me get stronger, lose weight and feel so much better for it. And I can safely say I won’t be going back to having mainly carbs as part of my first meal of the day for as long as I can help it. But why? Could this work for you? In this article, I’ll give you a number of reasons to help you think about changing your own daily routine.
Kellogg’s were recently banned from using adverts which claimed their Special K cereal was ‘full of goodness’ and ‘nutritious’. If you read in to the story, it was based on an advertising technicality but goes to show that there is growing momentum towards challenging traditional breakfasts and what much of the Western world has been eating over recent decades.
I’ve become a big fan of ‘doing the opposite’ to what I’ve done in the past which has failed so consistently, and this can be applied to food, training and all sorts of things in life. So having always eaten high carb breakfasts during my early years and twenties and then becoming so interested in nutrition, I started on the protein and fat path and haven’t looked back.
So here are some benefits of switching up your first meal of the day: -
- Keeps you fuller for longer - Imagine a world of reduced carb crashes halfway through the morning as the protein/fat combo creates a slow and steady rise in blood sugar. And even better, it also helps control your appetite all day long so afternoon and night time munchies can become a thing of the past. That's the power of protein and healthy fats!
- Additional fat burning - Spending a chunk of time during the day with an absence of carbs helps me to continue using excess fat as a fuel source. And avoiding carbs before going to the gym in the morning helps me have higher energy during my training sessions. Carbs have been proven to increase serotonin and relaxation which is why you may often hear experts nowadays recommending complex carbs before bedtime to aid sleep and recovery.
- Higher energy expenditure - The human body uses more energy to break down protein than it does for fat and carbs. If your body is using more energy, its easier to create a calorie deficit for fat loss.
- Aids recovery - With so much of the body made up of protein (every cell contains the building blocks of protein, called amino acids) its important to have sufficient intake. I recommend that nutrition coaching clients should aim for 2g of protein per kg of body weight as a rough guide to start with - so why not start the day with a healthy sized portion.
- Improves insulin sensitivity - If someone has been consuming excess carbohydrates for a long period of time and they are overweight, chances are they are resistant to the essential transportation role of insulin in the body. Changing up your diet to create a calorie deficit and also reducing your overall carb intake should tempt your body in to using stored fat as an energy source and also reduce insulin resistance. Quick tip - daily consumption of a good quality fish oil supplement will also assist with improving insulin sensitivity to aid fat loss.
So if you’ve been eating the same way for years and suddenly expect to start burning fat for fun just by going to the gym a few times a week, maybe its time to try doing the opposite for breakfast and do something new. What have you got to lose? Give it a go, try it every day for two weeks (to give your body time to adjust) and see how you feel at various points during the day. Review. Make more small changes. Just be consistent in everything you do from now on!
Written by Ben Lawrence, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach
The Guardian. 2016. Kellogg's Special K ads banned over 'full of goodness' and 'nutritious' claims. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/20/kelloggs-special-k-ads-banned-health-claims.
Svend Erik Møller. 1991. Carbohydrates, serotonin, and atypical depression. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/08039489109101986.
Charles Poliquin. 2016. The Meat and Nuts Breakfast. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.strengthsensei.com/the-meat-and-nuts-breakfast/.
Simpopoulos, A.P. 2002. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine and Pharmacotheraphy.