What’s for Breakfast?
Very often I am asked, “What do you eat for breakfast?” Or more specifically, “What do you eat early in the morning if you start your workday at 6 a.m. or if you train yourself early in the morning?”
I wrote about this in a previous post that I wrote two years ago in March 2012, “Eat to Train and Train to Eat for the Game that is LIFE!”, but I have changed a few things in my diet since then.
At that time I was still eating Greek yogurt, taking goat’s milk in my coffee, and eating sprouted grain bread and sprouted grain cereal. I cut all of that out of my diet in August 2012 and now I no longer eat any processed grains, sprouted or otherwise (unless it falls into my 10-20% – read more about the 90/10 or 80/20 rule in “Unsexy Training Methods Produces Sexy Results”), and the only dairy I eat is cheese at either one or two meals over the course of the day. I replaced the goat’s milk in my coffee with almond milk – I like to warm up the almond milk and have a latte… and if I am going to have a protein shake I will use coconut milk.
SO, what do I eat for breakfast now? I usually have a few breakfast “events” over the course of the morning depending on how my day is scheduled. Here are two typical scenarios:
- Wake up between 4:15 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.
- Drink Two 16 ounce glasses of room temperature water with 2000 IU of Vitamin D as prescribed by my physician. Room temperature water aids in digestion and Vitamin D affects mood, sleep, and energy levels. I take Vitamin D year round to maintain proper levels of Vitamin D. I’ve found that maintaining proper levels of Vitamin D helps me get through the rough, cold, dark Boston winters. I noticed a significant difference this past winter. Usually I feel like crawling into a hole and hibernating for the month of January. This past January was the first time since moving back to Boston in 2009 that I did not feel that way. A Vitamin D supplement was the only change that I made to my diet. If you plan to take Vitamin D, make sure to check with your physician for his or her recommended dosage, as everyone is different and you may not be deficient. Bryan Walsh from Precision Nutrition explores Vitamin D deficiency and supplementation in his post Vitamin D Supplements: Are yours hurting you or helping you?
- Pack my daily food bag for the day and warm up almond milk for my coffee.
- Drink one cup of coffee, which is really 1/2 cup coffee and 1/2 almond milk. Pour a second almond milk latte into a to-go mug to take with me.
- 5:30 a.m. – 5:45 a.m. Eat a Dale’s Raw Food Bar or a Lara Bar You may be thinking,“That is way too early to eat something!”, however,
- I’ve been awake for more than an hour at this point;
- I’ve experimented with not eating or “fasting” for breakfast before and it does not work for me; at all. My energy level and body temperature drop and my mood diminishes. I wrote more about my opinion on Intermittent Fasting in my post “Unsexy Training Methods Produce Sexy Results”.
- Given my job where I am on my feet all day teaching classes and training clients, I need nutrients. I also usually have a very tight schedule between classes and clients or other work related tasks and I need to make sure I eat something, anything, whenever I can, no matter how early it is or else, I don’t have the opportunity to eat.
Satiated + Warm = “Happy Artemis”
Hungry + Cold = Angry Artemis or “Hangry Artemis”
- Teach Class or Train Client at 6:00 a.m.
- Train Client sometime between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
- 8:30 a.m. Catch up on emails, and other administrative tasks and eat my second breakfast. For my second breakfast I eat a salad of baby spinach or a mix of baby spinach and either romaine or red leaf lettuce with tomatoes, ¼ avocado, a slice of cheese (usually muenster or cheddar), a few slices of ham or salami, and two hard boiled or fried eggs. That may sound like a lot to you, but it’s jam packed with nutrients and healthy fats that my body burns up like a furnace. I do not count calories, but I do pay attention to portions (e.g. 1/4 avocado), eat slowly, and pay attention to when I feel full. I write more about this in my post “Unsexy Training Methods Produce Sexy Results”.
I’ve found that since I started to have a salad with protein for breakfast rather than something like Ezekiel bread and almond butter, I have more energy, I am not bloated, and the combination of the protein and the healthy fats keeps me satiated longer and I’m not ravenously hungry for my next meal. In addition, remember that I start my workday at 6:00 a.m. If you compare my daily time clock to someone who starts their work day at 9:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m. is really 11:30 a.m. to me which is almost lunch time! The world is a much happier place if I am not hangry.
Still convinced that you need to count calories and/or eat a calorie restricted diet? Sophia Herbst busts this myth in her hilarious and straightforward post 1200 Calories and Tony Gentilcore has a very informative post on Recovering Your Metabolism, Part I and Part II that may help to shed some light on calorie restrictive diets.
- Teach Class or Train Client sometime between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
- Train myself sometime between 11:00 a.m. and 12 noon. The meal that I ate at 8:30 a.m. is usually enough for me to have enough energy to train myself at this time. Sometimes I will have a piece of fruit, usually an orange or a few clementines if I feel like I could have a snack to help me through my training session.
- Post training I will have a protein shake, either Garden of Life Raw Protein or Dale’s Raw Protein, with coconut milk and a banana with almond butter (or as I eat my almond butter – almond butter with a little banana, haha!). I don’t obsess about getting too specific about post training nutrients. I’ve found that the protein shake and almond butter and banana help me to feel satiated with energy until I am able to eat lunch. Brian St. Pierre from Precision Nutrition wrote a fantastic post about nutrient timing, Is Nutrient Timing Dead? And Does “When” You Eat Really Matter? and he included this very helpful chart in his post:
Scenario Two is exactly the same up until 7:00 a.m. when I am able to train between my 6:00 a.m. class or client and 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. class or client. This is a very RARE occurrence and may only happen once per week. However, it does happen.
After I train myself sometime between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., if I have a 9:00 a.m. client I will have a protein shake and sometimes a banana with almond butter if I am hungry enough and/or have time. At a minimum I have the protein shake and then usually have time to eat my normal protein and healthy fats filled breakfast salad between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. If I do not have a class or client until 9:30 a.m. then I will go straight for my breakfast salad. This usually keeps me feeling satiated and energized until about 11:30 a.m./Noontime.
Learning what fuels me best, and what helps to keep me feeling satiated with energy took a lot of trial and error. It took me a lot of experimenting with different snacks and meal combinations, and timing of snacks and meals. I also believe that finding what suits one nutritionally is an ever-evolving process; what works for you today, may not work for you two years from now.
If you’re still not sure where to begin to learn what is the best diet for you, then a program like our Iron Body Restore program is a great way to learn what foods nourish and fuel your body best. Our Iron Body Restore program is a 28-day online nutritional coaching program administered by yours truly. It includes a 14-day food elimination phase and a 14-day food re-introduction phase. Unlike other food elimination programs available, Iron Body Restore includes a guided re-introduction phase, where I am available to guide you step by step and answer any questions that you may have as you re-introduce foods. Most elimination programs are just the food elimination phase and then you are on your own for the re-introduction phase. The re-introduction phase is the most important part because it helps you to truly learn what foods fuel you best and what foods you should avoid. You can read more about the Iron Body Restore program HERE and you can read Iron Body Restore Program testimonials HERE. The April 1, 2014 group is forming now and slots are filling up! Complete the contact form at the end of this post if you are interested in signing up.
In the meantime, here are some tools that can help you to find what works best for you and will help you to stay on track for your nutritional goals:
- Keep a food journal. Write absolutely every little thing down that you eat even if it’s embarrassing like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream or a jumbo/Halloween size bag of M&M’s (yes I once had a client confess to eating this size bag of M&M’s at work because she was stressed). Also write down how you FEEL after eating certain foods. If you eat yogurt and feel bloated and lethargic, then write that down. If you eat steak and broccoli and feel satiated and NOT bloated then write that down. Which leads me to my next point…
- Find a diet that works for YOU. Just because your best friend is vegan does not mean that going vegan is right for your body type. You may be fueled best by a more animal protein and healthy fat (e.g. avocadoes, coconut oil) based diet. The only way you can determine what works best for you is by trial and error and by keeping track of what you eat and how you feel when you eat these foods. (See previous point, keep a food journal or sign up for the Iron Body Restore program with me!)
- Go grocery shopping and prepare all of your own meals. YES, have control over what you are eating! This is the only way.
- Prepare meals in advance. Whatever works for you, e.g. some people prepare meals at the beginning of the week for the whole week. Others take extra time daily in the morning or the evening in order to prepare their foods for that day or the next day. You need to find what works for you.
I wrote more tips related to both nutrition in fitness in my post from January 2012 Staying on Track for Your Fitness & Nutritional Goals this Year.
Now go lift something heavy and eat real food!
Request information about the Iron Body Restore Program by completing the Contact Form Below…