Eating Protein at Breakfast is the Key to Increasing Energy and Reducing Belly Fat
I know what you are thinking, that sure is a bold title! I don’t usually use such bold titles, but these are the results I see time and time again from my patients when they make this one simple switch.
How many of you don’t eat breakfast? Be honest, and no a cup of coffee doesn’t count as breakfast. Not eating breakfast, and having a cup of coffee is one of the worst ways you can start your day. Why? Because of blood sugar control. Your blood sugar increases significantly after you have a carbohydrate heavy meal. So you see, I am not anti-coffee, but I think you should have your coffee in a way that works for you, not against. What kind of carb heavy meal am I talking about? The typical North American breakfast of either a bagel, cereal, muffin, just a coffee and orange juice, you get the idea. After this type of breakfast, your blood sugar will significantly increase as your body burns through these foods quickly, converting them to sugar and in turn increasing your blood sugar. This helps you to feel full and satisfied for a short period of time (1-2 hours) but then your blood sugar crashes. What happens when it crashes? You feel ravenously hungry, shaky, anxious, irritable, and unable to focus. To make these feelings go away, you reach for the next quick energy source, which is usually a piece of fruit, chocolate bar or another cup of coffee.
This pattern of spiking and crashing your blood sugar all day zaps your energy. My patients are always shocked at how much better their energy gets from simply adding protein to their breakfast. Having protein at breakfast, regardless of how much carbs and sugar you have for the rest of the day, is the best way to help stabilize your blood sugar all day long.
Another undesired effect of big fluctuations in your blood sugar is that it causes the body to release more insulin deal with the excess sugar. Over time, this could cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Diabetes. When your body has to release excess insulin, it also releases excess cortisol, our main stress hormone. Cortisol is the main hormone responsible for fat gain in the abdominal region. If you are the type of person who tends to gain weight in your stomach first, you should definitely take a look at your blood sugar patterns over the day and add more protein in the morning.
Ok so now you know why you should be eating protein in the morning
- Reduces cravings for sugar and carbohydrates all day
- Reduces irritability and shakiness
- Helps combat brain fog and anxiety
- You will be less HANGRY
- Helps reduce insulin, which lowers your risk of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Diabetes
- Helps to lower your stress hormone cortisol, reducing abdominal weight gain
Now here is how to make that happen!
Good sources of protein for breakfast
- Smoothie- Containing berries, avocado and a non-dairy milk with a scoop of non-whey, non-soy protein. Ones I like (no affiliation) pumpkin seed protein, Iron Vegan Athlete’s Blend, Sun Warrior, Pea Protein and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein
- Chia Seed Pudding- Chia seed pudding is a great breakfast as it is high in good fats and fibre. You can increase its protein content by adding, nuts, pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds
- Eggs- Eggs got a bad rap in the 90’s but newer guidelines state that for most people it is ok to consume up to 2 eggs/day. Eggs are a great source of protein and fat. You can have eggs on their own or in a veggie scramble, with avocado or smoked salmon. The options are endless here
- Meat- Save a piece of chicken or beef from the night before and have in a morning, as a quick and easy source of protein
- Homemade Granola- Great for breakfast on the run. You can mix together nuts and seed and even throw in some chocolate chips
- Power Balls- Made from nut butters, seeds and cocoa powder, these are easy, convenient and designed to keep you full until lunch
Here are some of my favorite websites for healthy breakfast ideas
I advise my patients to aim for 20-25 grams of protein at breakfast.
You may be wondering why I have emphasized “non-dairy” milks and protein powders. New research has shown that even dairy that contains a lot of protein, for example Greek yogurt, causes a large spike in blood sugar, which then increases insulin and cortisol. It is best to avoid and/or reduce dairy. For more on dairy, check out my blog post “Is Dairy Really The Devil”
Does this sound like an easy switch you can make to your daily routine?
Protein at breakfast has been one of the major keys to increased energy, feeling less stressed and of course weight loss for my patients.
Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.