Let’s start with breakfast, to eat or not to eat first thing in the morning? Protein, breakfast, protein! Very popular headline topics that we should most definitely dive into as a part of our April blog! Through my clinical practice as a Registered Dietitian, a lot of my clients often ask whether or not they should be eating breakfast, or if they should consider Intermittent Fasting as a part of their health journey. In addition to this question, another very common one is, how much protein should I be eating throughout the day, and what are the best food sources of protein? After a lot of research on this topic, and over 14 years of clinic experience, I am excited to share my thoughtful, evidence-based response in more detail below. Before I begin, ask yourself, did you have breakfast this morning? And, how much protein was included in your breakfast?
My very short and simple answer is YES to breakfast! For everyone. Here are a couple of reasons why breakfast is beneficial to our overall health:
1. A study conducted by Komaroff el al identified that delayed eating times (i.e. starting your first meal at 1:00PM) resulted in changes in gene expression related to cellular circadian rhythm and burning of fatty acids. These changes led to decreased levels of leptin, an appetite-reducing hormone; greatly increased hunger; increased storage of fatty acids; decreased burning of fatty acids in adipocytes; and decreased waketime energy expenditure (slower metabolic in the morning). Subjects who had an “early-meal” period (i.e. starting your first meal around 9:00 AM) did NOT experience these potentially negative physiological changes.
2. Our bodies very much prefer a consistent and balanced circadian system. This system is signaled in part, by dietary intake, and therefore, eating at consistent times is important for robust circadian rhythms. When you have a more robust circadian system, it prepares our body to be more efficient at digesting, absorbing, and metabolizing food earlier in the day (aka “active phase”). Dramatic changes in mealtimes from day-to-day can alter this physiology (i.e. intermittent fasting likely does not support this optimal circadian system). Dramatic changes to our eating schedule is comparable to a disturbed sleep patterns after abrupt change in time zone from travel.