Nutrition plays a major role in exercise performance. After all, where will you get all of that energy needed to help you run several miles at a time, lift weights several pounds heavier than your friend, or even touching your toes without bending at the knee? Science has shown that the timing of daily meals is important. Among the 3 basic daily meals, breakfast has been shown to be the most important.
The Science behind the Breakfast-is-Best Theory
Nutrient timing is all about the delivery of the correct nutrients at a certain point of the day when the body is fully primed. When talking about priming the body, one essentially talks about getting the muscles all warmed up and ready to perform a variety of its functions, having the cardiovascular system at its optimum levels of performance, and ensuring that all the metabolic processes of the body are ready to go. As expected, these only occur in the morning, usually after getting a good night’s rest.
Science has shown that breakfast is the most important meal for the simple fact that it influences every aspect of human existence. It provides the body with the energy it needs to last the day as well as restores the levels of blood sugar back to normal after fasting overnight. Breakfast also raises the level of glycogen stored in the muscle and liver providing a readily available energy source for the brain and skeletal muscles.
Breakfast also reduces the level of circulating cortisol in the body. Cortisol is normally released in response to a decline in the levels of glucose, human growth hormone, and insulin which is typically seen towards the end of the sleep cycle. Cortisol increases the breakdown of both fat and muscle protein to supply the energy requirements of the body as it begins to wake up. That is why, by the time we wake up, the level of cortisol is already at its peak. Eating a healthy breakfast can supply the body with the glucose it needs to create a negative feedback mechanism to the adrenal glands, reducing the level of cortisol.
Breakfast has also been shown to have a satiating effect. This is closely related to its effects on cortisol as well as other hormones present in the gut. The overall effect is that you also decrease appetite which can lead to a reduction in calorie consumption for the day.
Eating a healthy breakfast can also have a positive effect on cognitive functioning. This is related to what we already said about glucose being the preferred energy source of the cells of the nervous system. This is why we tend to be able to concentrate a lot better with a healthy breakfast in our tummies.
Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Last a Whole Week
Given that breakfast provides us the energy to last the whole day, suppress our hunger pangs, enable us to better manage our stresses, and improve our cognitive functioning, you might be wondering what a healthy breakfast for a fit body looks like. Here’s an example of what you can have early in the morning before you head to work.
- Monday – banana, nut butter, and chia seed toast or savory oatmeal with poached egg
- Tuesday – quinoa with fresh fruit salad or toasted bread with toasted tomatoes and macadamia ricotta
- Wednesday – chia and quinoa porridge or avocado toast with poached egg
- Thursday – zucchini bread oatmeal or egg breakfast muffins
- Friday – black bean and sweet potato breakfast burrito or chocolate pumpkin oatmeal
- Saturday – cheddar and spinach quiche or avocado, dill, and mustard on whole wheat muffin
- Sunday – scrambled eggs with tomatoes, beans, and pesto or toasted pistachio muesli with fig and apple
Exercise and Breakfast for a Fit Body
Exercise performance is directly proportional to the consumption of a healthy breakfast. After all, breakfast is what gives you the energy and focus to perform various exercises. That being said, if you do not exercise, then your healthy breakfast can easily turn into extra pounds since the glucose provided by such a meal will only be stored as glycogen and fat. It is for this reason that exercise and sensible nutrition go hand in hand in ensuring a healthier and fitter body. Exercise helps you burn calories, develop and strengthen muscles, enhance flexibility of the joints, and improve cardiovascular functioning. This remains the key to a fit body.