Breaking the Fast
If you’ve ever had me as your coach or attended one of my wellness presentations, this may sound all too familiar. For everyone else, grab your to do list and make a slight addition… in big capital letters above all your tasks, write the word “BREAKFAST.”
We’ve heard it all of our lives; breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Yet how often do you find yourself running out the door only to chug down a coffee and have your first bite of real food at noon? Unfortunately this has turned out to be quite typical as I have discovered from the majority of my clients. Let me break it down for you as simply as possible.
In case you didn’t realize this yet, your body is pretty dang smart. When we get too hot, our body has a mechanism for cooling us off. When we hurt ourselves, our body’s natural pharmacy releases chemicals to relieve the pain. And when we starve our body, it clicks into “survival mode” and begins to store fat wherever it finds room.
Ever wondered why it’s called breakfast? Yes all of you that are saying it out loud… it is a meal to break the fast. You had dinner at 8 pm, went to bed at midnight, and woke up at 8 am. You’ve gone 12 hours without any fuel for your metabolic engine to effectively operate your body. Granted, you have been sleeping so your metabolic demands are significantly less than if you were running a race the entire 12 hours, but you get the point. 12 hours!
At this point, your body is pretty much begging you for something… anything! Yet you still skip breakfast because “you’re not hungry in the mornings.” Go another four hours until lunch and combine that for a grand total 16 hour fast! You can have the healthiest lunch in the world, a seared ahi spinach salad with fresh vegetables, and it won’t make any difference to your body. It needs fuel and it doesn’t like you very much right now. Being that it’s in survival mode, the entire meal you just ate gets converted into stored fat and finds a great place to hang out, typically the abdomen area in men and the gluteal/upper thigh area for women. We know our bodies adapt; do this long enough and it becomes increasingly difficult to turn our “metabolic switch” back to efficient mode.
You’ve heard the problem, now what’s the solution? Eat breakfast! It seems drastic but even an unhealthy breakfast is better than no breakfast at all. Remind your body when you wake up that it doesn’t need to be in starvation mode. A great book that I encourage everyone to read, The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, gives the recommendation to eat breakfast and drink a glass of cold water within 30 minutes of waking to increase metabolic engine activity. Not only will you see a decrease in stored fat (as your body no longer has a need for it), you will also find significantlyincreased energy levels throughout the day eventually eliminating any need for caffeine.
Keep the concept of fasting in mind not only for breakfast but also throughout the day. An upcoming blog will cover specific food recommendations for meals but for now just follow these 3 action steps:
- Eat breakfast! Eat breakfast! Eat breakfast!
- Make sure you’re putting something into your body every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolic engine running efficiently. You should be eating 4-6 meals/day.
- A little extra credit if you can keep up: Eat a complete, lean protein and vegetables with each of your 4-6 meals.
I would love to hear feedback about your experiences. If you are able to complete the 3×3 challenge (3 rules for 3 weeks) with proof in a food journal, breakfast on me at any location you choose. You can even opt to have me cook. Until then, stay healthy honoring your bodies and minds.
-Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow-
Mike Sherbakov, CSCS, CPT, RYT