Breakfast is most important meal for improved focus. It sets the stage for how your mind and body are going to perform throughout the day. Most people eat some form of grain based breakfast with little protein and almost no quality fats. Many people skip breakfast all together. Others go straight to energy drinks or other stimulants without even having a glass of water first. People in all these groups are doing themselves a huge disservice.
Let’s look at our processed grains and flour folks first. Eating a bagel, bowl of processed cereal, or muffin does almost nothing to get your day started right. You may feel satiated in the short term, but will find very quickly that you are either hungry or sluggish a couple of hours later. This mainly happens, because you have spiked then crashed your blood sugar all before 10am. Processed grains with little protein and no quality fats will almost always cause this to happen. Sugar is a nightmare for our brains, period. Sugar triggers a release of dopamine, the same neurotransmitter at the heart of all drugs of addiction. The release is not as strong as cocaine or heroine, but the premise is essentially the same. Eating sugar leads to loss of control, sugar cravings and increased tolerance to sugar.
Now, let’s look at our breakfast skippers. Upon waking your body goes about completing the many important processes it has been working on overnight. Many of these processes require water and some nutrition to be completed. By jumping in the shower and rushing out the door with nothing in your stomach, not even a glass of water, you are really shooting yourself in the foot. If you don’t feel foggy and tired as a result, it is likely only due to your body being juiced on stress hormones from the lack of food and water intake and will only last a short time. When your body is in this state, it is in survival mode and will conserve resources like it is starving. Additionally, the cascade of stress hormones will be followed by a nasty craving for carbs and sluggish cognition.
Finally, the energy drink or stimulants for breakfast group. These folks may be temporarily awake, but they are going to be chasing their tale trying to get their energy back all day long. Stimulants like caffeine when taken without the right balance of nutrients and fluids cause a pop in energy, then a sharp drop off into mid morning exhaustion. Your nervous system runs on electrolytes and vitamins. When you flood your system with stimulants without nutrition, you strip your body of these critical building blocks of energy.
So, what to do? What constitutes a focus and energy producing breakfast? Well, opinions certainly vary, but some themes are common amongst all prominent theories around a healthy, focus improving, and energy producing breakfast. In the Learn to Thrive with Adult ADHD video series, I brought in registered dietician and nutrition researcher Jae Berman to outline what healthy eating really is and how meal timing can be a game changer for energy and focus.
Check out these simple tips to start optimizing your breakfast.
One: Get rid of sugar! Gone, bye, adios. Refined sugars in either a cereal, juice, soda, or toaster waffles are a nightmare. They do nothing but crash your energy and highjack your metabolism.
Two: Eat some healthy fat in the morning. This may be nuts, avocados, grass fed butter, or even high quality dietary supplements containing refined MCT oils.
Three: Get some protein. Protein is the building block of skin, muscles, blood, and cartilage. If you are eating nuts in the morning, you are getting some protein and healthy fats at the same time.
Four: Dial back or cut out flour and processed grains. Your body treats bagels, croissants, breads, etc. as a sugar and will lead to a crash and possibly an addictive cycle.
My daily breakfast tends to be comprised of a glass of water, then coffee with highly refined MCT oil in it (I prefer Brain Octane Oil by Bulletproof. You can find it here.), along side a shake made with spinach, blueberries, cashew butter, and a high quality protein powder. If I eat this breakfast, I have energy and focus. If I fall off and eat waffles, a bagel, or a bowl of refined cereal, I will be tired and almost shaking in about 1-2 hours.
I help people reach optimal focus and performance in their lives all day. In order to do so, I need to be on my game also. Shouldn’t you? Start with the right breakfast to turn up your focus and energy.