I can remember my morning breakfast routine like it was yesterday. I’d get into the office around 8am, go right to the kitchen and load up a small to-go coffee cup with 2 packets of Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal, of course the brown sugar flavor.
I’d fill the cup half way with boiling water and slowly walk over to my desk and let it sit for a minute. I’d then proceed to scarf it down in a matter a minutes, most of the times before any of my co-workers came by for the morning office small talk.
I thought I was being so healthy eating oatmeal for breakfast, c’mon everyone knows oatmeal is healthy, right?
Well, sorta. But not really.
The problem was that once 10am rolled around, I was starving.
I used to think to myself, what the heck, I had 2 packets of oatmeal plus a large coffee, why am I so ravenous right now?
Little did I know that I was completely throwing my whole metabolism out of whack first thing in the morning with that supposedly “healthy” oatmeal. The truth is that my portion of instant oatmeal had over 50 grams of carbs and almost 24 grams of sugar. I might as well be drinking a small can of soda!
Food Is Information
Remember that food is information. What you eat directly affects your hunger later on in the day. I didn’t understand what was going on at the time, but now I understand why I was starving at 10am. I was triggering a hormonal effect by eating such a high carbohydrate meal first thing in the morning that set my body up for increased hunger throughout the day.
For any office worker, one of the worst things you can do first thing in the morning is to eat a carb rich meal without protein.
It’s so vital that our #1 rule for success with many coaching clients is exactly this:
Limit carbs in the morning.
If you don’t trigger this hormone response first thing in the morning and instead eat protein and fat, you will release hormones that keep you full so you’re not thinking about food later in the day. You shouldn’t sacrifice crucial mental energy thinking about hunger. You have more important decisions to make.
4 Common Breakfast Foods That Will Destroy Productivity
Here are 4 common breakfast foods that I advise people to stay away from first thing in the morning. Again, there is nothing that is bad or good with the below foods. It’s simply about understanding what these foods will do to your metabolism and how these foods directly affect your hunger levels later in the day. If you want to know what to eat instead, check out this article describing 3 powerhouse foods to start your day off on the right foot.
1) Instant Oatmeal – Take a look at the nutritional information on these packets next time you’re in the grocery store. You’ll notice the extremely high sugar content and very little protein, which is the perfect combo for making you hungry shortly after you eat.
Better Option – Choose plain oatmeal or steel cut oats.
2) Most Breakfast Cereals – We’ve been duped into thinking that cereal is healthy. It’s been a brilliant ad campaign from the dairy and grain lobby. Unfortunately, eating most breakfast cereals are simply high sugar, low protein meals that only make us hungrier 1 hour later. Take a look at the nutrition labels of your favorite breakfast cereal and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Even the supposedly “heathy” cereals are still loaded with sugar, void of any fiber, and have very little protein.
Better Option – Look for cereals with high fiber and protein to keep you fuller longer.
3) Bagels – Growing up a New Yorker, bagels were a staple in my household. A hot, fresh bagel with a nice spread of cream cheese was freakin’ awesome. However, now that I know what I know, I don’t eat bagels very often. Not because they are any less delicious, but because I’m aware of what happens to my hunger a few hours after I have that bagel. And the fact that a large bagel with a good portion of cream cheese can be easily over 600 calories and almost 70 grams of carbs!
Better Option – Scoop the bagel. Most places will scoop the bagel for you by removing part of the inside of the bagel. This can cut the calories in half.
4) Yogurt / Fruit bowls – This is the most deceiving of the bunch because of the associated healthiness of these dishes. We have a local café that promotes one of these breakfast bowls. It looks beautiful. Mango, kiwi, banana, yogurt, honey, topped with granola. Only problem, the whole bowl has about 75 grams of sugar! Yes, that’s 2 sodas worth. You are absolutely getting healthy vitamins and minerals from the fruit, but again, the extremely high sugar content will wreck havoc on your hunger levels, especially because there is very little protein.
Better Option – Choose Greek yogurt (higher protein) and opt for lower sugar fruits like berries or apples instead of higher sugar fruits like like bananas, mangos, and pineapples.
You’ll notice that all foods listed above have a similar characteristic of high carbohydrates combined with low protein and very little fat. If you get nothing else from this post, remember to simply reduce carbs in the morning and focus on proteins and fat.
Pay Attention After You Eat
The major point with this article to simply point out what these foods are made up of and how that affects how you feel, look, and think.
Simply ask yourself 2 hours after you eat breakfast the 2 questions:
How do I feel? How hungry am I?
The point isn’t to never have cereal again or avoid all fruit, or swear off bagels for the rest of your life. If you’re in NYC, get a damn bagel, they are amazing, just don’t start every morning off with one.
Thinking about food will drain your mental energy. You can’t allow this to get in the way of what you need to do.
Over time you’ll develop the skill of listening to your body and making the right choices because you know that choice will give you the best chance to do the work you need to do. And again, If you want a few ideas of foods to eat for breakfast, check out these 3 powerful foods that will give you energy and increase productivity.
Also, check out our Meal Prep guide below that will set you up for success by showing you easy meal prep that you can do without any skills in the kitchen. Drop your email below and we’ll send it to you right away!