People say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Then again, you probably get confused because you hear about people who don’t eat breakfast and do intermittent fasting… and they seem like they’re doing perfectly fine.
So, who do you believe? What do you do? What’s the best thing for you? And most importantly, what’s the best thing for your blood sugars?
At the end of the day, we want to make sure our blood sugar levels are in the best possible place, and breakfast, should you choose to eat it, does play a massive role in that, as it sets the tone for the entire day. So, let’s make sure you’re crushing it at breakfast.
Here are three important considerations that you need to be thinking about when it comes to eating breakfast:
1. Insulin Resistance in the Morning
You might have noticed over time that no matter what you do, you eat something for breakfast that has plenty of carbs in it, and your blood sugar skyrockets. You could be eating cereal, you could be eating some toast–no matter what you eat, your blood sugar just goes to the moon, and it is super frustrating. “Why?” you wonder. “This makes no sense.”
However, here’s the situation: Your body produces a hormone called cortisol, which is not the friendliest hormone in your body. Why? Cortisol induces insulin resistance…and it peaks around 7:00 am. What else happens around 7:00 am? Breakfast.
What do many people eat for breakfast? High-glycemic carbs like cereal. So, if the time of day where you’re most insulin resistant coincides with the time of day where you may be eating the most carbs, that might explain why your blood sugars spike so much.
What is one thing that you can do to reduce the frequency of that? It’s simple. Consider a lower-carb breakfast option. Now, I’m not saying you have to get rid of all of your carbs at breakfast–I’m just advocating to consider decreasing the amount of carbs you eat at breakfast if you notice you are perpetually having high blood sugars afterwards.
What is one of the staples in most people’s early morning meal? Coffee.
Why is that significant to you and your blood sugar? Caffeine can cause the liver to release glycogen, aka stored glucose, into the bloodstream. When that happens, your blood sugar starts to go up, despite coffee not having any carbs on its own (unless you add things to it).
If you’ve been drinking coffee for a while without taking any sort of consideration as to your blood sugars, and suddenly you’re noticing it’s trending up slowly but surely every single time you have it, the coffee could be the culprit and may need to be considered when calculating your breakfast insulin dose.
As a dietitian, I am supposed to tell you to always have a “balanced meal.” You know what that means (*yawn*). Have your carb source, your veggie or fruit, and your protein!
At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you choose to eat. We’ve already covered the carb sources in part #1.
One of the other major components we haven’t talked about yet? Protein, which can actually raise your blood sugar, especially depending on the type of protein that is consumed. Different proteins may affect your blood sugar in different ways.
And if you’re someone who decides to go lower-carb at breakfast because of reason number one, don’t forget this: protein can impact your blood sugar by causing glucose release from the liver.
Think of it like in The Hunger Games, when the Katnis says, “I offer myself as tribute.”
That is what carbs are doing when protein is consumed with it. Carbs protect protein, but especially without the carbs, protein is more likely to trigger higher blood glucose levels. Just another consideration for you to make sure you are having awesome blood sugars early in the day. Isn’t diabetes and metabolism fun?
Read more about how to account for protein in your diet here: How to Calculate Bolus Insulin Dosing for Protein.
With all this information you’re probably thinking, “Well, why even bother eating breakfast at all?” And that’s the greatest thing: you have the choice. You don’t have to eat breakfast if you don’t want to. But, many people do, since it gives them a good boost to start off their day.
So, with these three handy tips, you can hopefully dial in on your blood sugars a little bit more, which will then allow you to be able to have an easier rest of your day. Because remember: the beginning of the day is going to have a major impact over how the rest is going to go.