The breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We have all heard that dozens of times. Wake up early and get sh*t done, is another one that has surfaced a lot lately. Yet, how many do it? Not enough is my answer. Whenever a new client comes to see me for his nutrition the first and only meal I change with them is breakfast. Because it has the biggest impact on the rest of the day. It has the biggest impact on how much energy one has. And how well one feels. Which is technically what everyone wants. Have energy and feel good. The same counts for waking up early. It's also technically the easiest way to reset your hormonal system. Go to bed early. Wake up early. Feel great and be productive. It works.
On a recent trip I have been introduced to the work of clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. Peterson has recently risen to be a popular public figure primarily by making clear statements on the "equality of outcome" and "gender neutrality" topics. Beyond those two topics there are a lot of great points he makes. From his analysis of religion in his book "maps of meaning" to why its important to clean up your own house before you attack the world. Out of many bits and pieces that I took away, one stuck especially as it touches my realm of work. Whenever Dr Peterson sees a patient with depression, the first two recommendations he gives is to wake up early and eat a protein-fat breakfast with no carbohydrates and sugars (1). His reasoning is simple.
Wake up early
First, he recommends his patients to wake up in the morning at about the same time every day. The reason is that the system that mediates negative emotion is tightly tied to a proper cyclical circadian rhythm. So having a set daily rhythm and waking up early is crucial to improve wellbeing and overcome anxiety and depression.
Eat a no-carb protein-fat breakfast
Second, he recommends to change the breakfast to having protein and fats right after waking up. And clearly advises to avoid all carbohydrates and sugars as they are digested rapidly and lead to blood sugar fluctuations and therefore energy and mood swings. As anxious and depressed people are already stressed, they are even more vulnerable to these swings which are often accompanied by hypersecreting insulin when eating carbohydrates and hypersecreting cortisol when under further stress. So by having a fluctuating blood sugar they become hypoglycemic and physiologically unstable (2). That way a protein and fat breakfast is ideal to stabilize the blood sugar. And this way stabilize their mood and well-being.
Peterson states that he has many clients whose anxiety reduced and wellbeing improved to subclinical levels just by changed these two habits first. Moving from managing anxiety and depression to the other end of the continuum where maximizing energy and wellbeing is the goal, the same tools are important. And the same tools work. So:
Wake up early and have a good breakfast to feel better
(1) Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, 1st edition, January 2018
Picture: Not the most common yet excellent breakfast choice: salmon sashimi.