If there’s one thing you need to do before anything else each day, it’s eat. No one is stranger to the time old adage breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper—but for some reason we don’t always listen to what’s been said over and over.
According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. This first meal of the day provides you with the energy and nutrients that lead to increased concentration and ability to maintain a healthy body weight. Think about the origin of the word: breakfast, it’s an overnight fast – that’s where its name originates, breaking the fast. Without breakfast you are effectively running on empty.
Nutritionists advise: breakfast should be eaten within two hours of waking up in the morning. A healthy breakfast should provide calories in the range of 20-35% of your guideline daily allowance (GDA). Apart from providing us with energy, breakfast foods are good sources of important nutrients such as calcium, iron and B vitamins as well as protein and fiber. The body needs these essential nutrients and research shows that if these are missed at breakfast, they are less likely to be compensated for later in the day. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals so try to include a portion of your daily five at breakfast, whether that be a banana or glass of fruit juice. (Breakfast can be good for your waistline too. There’s research showing those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight and more likely to be within their ideal weight range compared with breakfast skippers.) If you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to reach for high sugar and fatty snacks mid-morning. So what do you eat then for breakfast? What you eat for breakfast depends on knowing what your body needs in the morning. And for the athlete, food choices also depend on external weather conditions, the number of daylight hours you have, the distance you need to hike that day, how much weight you are willing to carry, and whether you are addicted to caffeine or not. The one thing you need to keep in mind when eating breakfast or any other meal is that your body can only absorb about 400 calories of food an hour, so it really doesn’t matter how much food you consume for breakfast beyond a certain point (a process is called gastric emptying). This is why it’s important to snack during the day when playing for extended periods of time, otherwise you’ll fall behind on the number of calories you can turn into energy until after dinner. And during the winter time, those considerations need to include more fat and calories. Just because the bears are coming out of hibernation early doesn’t mean your body is ready to pair down its needs for moderate temps. The extremes of spring weather with winter afternoons and evenings mixed in only makes the training and maintenance of proper nourishment that much more important.
It’s not just breakfast—so many downshifts in mood and energy are due to a depleted system. Eat. It’s important to keep glucose levels up through out the day, even if you’re not in the backcountry. Cognitive function for problem solving at your desk is just as dependent on this essential carbohydrate as your body is for a workout. We don’t question a moody child as to anything else but being hungry or tired. But as adults, we want more complicated answers than eat good food and get a good night’s rest. And yet, it’s so simple. Eat good food that will service you and your mind. People’s energy needs vary depending on activity levels and which life stage he or she is in but typically men require more energy than women.
Busyness is no excuse for not eating. Nor is caffeine a good meal replacement. Balanced food, especially first thing in the morning. Food choices with Fiber, vitamin C and vitamin D are just a few of the many nutrients that will give you the energy boost needed to begin your day and jumpstart your metabolism after a night’s sleep.
None of this news. Basically, when you wait too long before fueling up after your last meal —and this excludes the midnight snacks which create dietary problems of their own – our bodies tend to hold on to fat as stored energy. This physiologic phenomenon is part of an evolutionary panic response that goes back to our prehistoric ancestors who were often dealing with feast and famine situations. So you can blame your inner caveman or cavewoman for the efficient fat storing units that we’ve become. Eating a meal within 30 minutes of waking will help increase the rate of our metabolism which has slowed down to conserve the stored energy. Simply put,breakfast jump starts the whole process. And the hungrier you get, the more likely you’ll choose a sugar-junk-choice of a selection.
The point is take care of you. Plan your nourishment. Enjoy your grocery shopping, prepare for long periods with pocket meals that have the right minerals and vitamins to keep your day moving at the speed you want. It’s a lifestyle choice to take care of your self. But once you discover how to excel with healthy choices like waking up early, eating breakfast, seeking out awe-inspiring moments, you can’t go back—you feel too good. So set your daily intention, by choosing yourself, and treating yourself right.