By Sarah Jenks
We’ve all been told (repeatedly, we’re sure) that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that when we don’t take the time to eat breakfast in the morning, we are essentially setting ourselves up for a crappy (and unhealthy) day. But few of us know why.
The truth is, despite complex evolutionary adaptations, our bodies still operate like cavemen. And when cavemen didn’t eat when they first woke up in the morning, it meant that they wouldn’t be getting food for the rest of day. The result: a plummeting metabolism meant to conserve energy. And although food may be more plentiful nowadays (and the lack of a morning meal may not indicate the lack of food for the rest of the day), our bodies have yet to catch on.
Just like in centuries past, our bodies have a natural rise and fall of internal body temperature that correlates with the strength of our metabolism and regulates our energy levels throughout the day. When our body temperature is high, our metabolism and energy levels are similarly high. When we first wake up in the morning, our body temperature goes from low to high very rapidly in order to get our bodies prepped for the day. Our metabolism spikes. Eating during this spike signals to our bodies that food is plentiful and that our metabolisms can use food to burn for energy – instead of storing it for later (in less than desired places).
If, however, we decide to skip breakfast in the morning, it signals to our bodies that we won’t be getting any food for the whole day. Our metabolism shuts down so our bodies won’t burn off calories to ensure that we can store as much energy as possible for the impending “famine.” Then our bodies quickly get to work getting rid of muscle (because having muscle uses up too much energy) and storing fat. We will inevitably feel tired and sluggish as we attempt to stay awake by drinking cup after cup of coffee.
While eating breakfast is important, what you eat for breakfast is equally important. The better the fuel you put in the fire, the longer and stronger it is going to burn – and the more sustained energy you will have during the day. Breakfasts comprised of whole, high mileage foods, such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and organic protein (like a bowl of oatmeal with banana and cinnamon, a whole wheat English muffin with almond butter and an apple, a high protein smoothie, or scrambled eggs with brown rice) will start your morning off right.