Fuel Up In the Morning
So often, I hear excuses about why patients aren’t eating breakfast – they aren’t hungry when they wake up, they don’t have time, or they’re trying to lose weight via caloric restriction. Interestingly, evidence suggests that those who regularly eat breakfast consume less throughout the day, and also tend to have a lower body mass index.
In addition to eating breakfast as a general rule, it’s also important to ensure you’re consuming a balanced, protein dense meal. Protein increases satiety (your body’s way of knowing you’re full), and helps balance blood sugar. Eating a breakfast low in protein and high in carbohydrates, can cause an insulin spike and subsequent blood sugar crash mid-morning, creating a situation in which you require a mid-morning snack before lunch.
The reason for this mid-morning blood sugar dip can be described in reference to the glycemic index (GI), or the speed at which carbohydrates are broken down and released into the blood stream as pure glucose.
Pure glucose has a glycemic index of 100. Foods with a GI over 70 are considered high GI, those between 55 and 69 and considered to have an intermediate GI, and foods below 55 are considered to have a low GI.
Typically, refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index. Lean meats, fruits, vegetables and most nuts and seeds have lower glycemic indexes. This list (click here for link) from Harvard medical school is a good reference, and lists many common foods.
As a general rule, I like to tell patients that 50% of their plate should be composed of non-starchy vegetables, 25% should be protein, and 25% should be carbohydrates (ideally vegetable based) with a low glycemic index. Following this simple rule generally keeps your meal’s GI lower, thereby reducing the likelihood of causing a drop in blood glucose and the need for snack a few hours later.
Instead of reaching for a bagel and jam tomorrow morning, reach instead for an omelette stuffed with fresh vegetables (wake up 10 minutes earlier if necessary!) Your blood sugar and your waistline will thank you!
Enjoy your morning,
Dr. Kaleigh Anstett