I’m sure you have heard of the phrase;
Eat breakfast like a king,
Lunch like a prince,
And dinner like a pauper.
Well, I’m a bit afraid to put this out there because I know that many Malaysians would take this a bit too literally, but only for the first line, and then, they will forget all about the prince and the pauper and assume that all meals eaten in a day should be fit for the King, yes, brunch and tea times included.
But it is a very good practise and I’d like to tell this to the other half of Malaysians out there who do the exact opposite and not have breakfast at all. I’ll give you many reasons why eating breakfast is the best thing you can do for your body, and the best way to kick start an active, fully energetic day.
1. Our body wants to survive
I have mentioned this many times and if you take away anything at all from the world of health and fitness, it should be this. Our body wants nothing more than to survive. To survive, it will forever try to keep all levels of everything at an optimum level. This includes our storage of fuel (gives us energy to do things), which are muscle glycogens, carbohydrates, fat and protein. I’ll explain more about how our body utilizes different fuels in another post, but for now, all you have to know is that because fat offers insulation against cold, a buffer to protect our vital organs from shock, and is a slow burning fuel with immense energy capacity, it is the first thing the body tries to store up and save whenever it gets into survival mode.
Now let’s say you last ate at about 9 pm at night. You go to bed, and get up by about 7 am. You rush to work, and jump straight into it, not feeling hungry just yet because you’re used to not eating breakfast. By the time you realised that you’re famished, your colleague’s are calling you to head out for lunch at 12 pm. Now that’s a good 15 hours of not eating. When our bodies send a hunger signal from the brain, and we don’t feed ourselves, it is going to believe that we are in fact in starvation i.e. no food around. Its natural instinct is to go into survival mode, which meeaannssss….we start storing fat for safekeeping! So, get this straight, starve yourself more = store more fat. Ok?
2. Sleep is when our metabolism is at its slowest
Remember, metabolism = burning of calories to provide energy for your body to do whatever.
SO…you finish up your dinner at about 9 pm. You chill out, watch some TV, surf some Facebook, all this while your metabolism is still doing pretty good, because you’re still awake. But it’s slowly slowing itself down as it gets you ready for sleep mode. Then you go to sleep at say midnight. You metabolism starts to descend drastically because right now the only energy you need is to maintain your vital organs and breathe. Everything else goes to standby till you wake up the next morning. This is to enable you to last that 7 or 8 hours without eating, so your body rations and saves up it’s fuel sources.
At 7 am the alarm blares and you’re up and ready to go to work. You’re still a little groggy, but that’s because everything in your system hasn’t quite started up yet. You drag yourself to work, and dive straight into it, without a bite, because, well obviously you’re somewhat late, or you have a mountain of work to do already. And the next time you eat is at lunch. 12 noon. You know what, right up till the next time you put something into your stomach, your sleep mode metabolism remains pretty much the same – which is much lower than your next cubicle colleague who has had some toast and Milo for starters. You have wasted about 5 hours of good caloric burn, just because you’re “not used to having breakfast”. And that can be as much as 200 kcals depending on your weight and size.
3. When you eat, you feel happier.
Do I really need to spell this out for you? I always tell my friends that a hungry Karen is an unhappy Karen. Oh, do they know it! And even though you may not admit it, you know that you cannot function at your best when you’re hungry. All Malaysians love eating, it is what we live for. So when we do not get to eat, we usually get disappointed and upset and it messes with our heads. Tell me I’m right. =)
So even though you may not feel hungry at 7 am or 8 am, you’ll most definitely feel a hunger pang at about 10 ish. But this is usually the time where you’re in a meeting and your boss is rattling away and all you can think about is what to have for lunch. Counter-productive, and counter-positive emotions! Eat in the morning so you don’t get into your cranky mid morning mood!
Ok! SO now that we know WHY we should eat, let me share with you the WHAT and WHEN we should eat.
There isn’t any scientific eat-within-27.876-minutes-of-waking-up thing, or maybe there is, but basically give yourself a simple time to achieve eating breakfast. It’ll make you achieve your goals better. My rule for most of the people I train is 45 minutes. Eat within 45 minutes of waking up or else you’re gonna store more fat and get more cranky. :)
Eat what? Anything that’s not too oily because that makes your body sleepier and move even slower. Bread or toasts are good. 1 cup of coffee with minimal sugar and milk is good. Half boiled eggs, cereal, oats, bananas, crackers, all pretty good stuff for breakfast. Nasi lemak? Dump it. Too greasy. If you’re not usually a breakfast eater, go for something light like bananas, toast or crackers. Try to take something that isn’t too sweet because these things make you hungry very fast. Peanut butter is usually the way to go, or nuts and oats-y cereal is good.
Ok? SO change your mindset and start LOOKING FORWARD to breakfast so you can start burning up more fuel and making the world (or office) a much happier place :)