"Sigh... two scrambled eggs, ham, red peppers, lots of spinach, olives and feta cheese for breakfast, yet still starving at 10:00am. How long is breakfast supposed to last in your tummy?"
I received this question from my martial arts training buddy (we tested for black belt the same day) who flatters me by reading my blog - and on occasion sends a scathing comment! But she also asks great questions like the one above.
The answer is simple – it should last several hours if the breakfast is as high quality (high fat, moderate protein, and only quality carbs) as the one described above.
What’s going wrong for my friend? She is a self described carb junky. By eating many carbs all through the day she has presented her body with a problem to solve – rapid disposal of excess blood glucose – which is partially solved by prioritizing the use of sugar as fuel in most every cell in her body. Following the use it or lose it principle, her body – at the cellular level – has not maintained the capacity to produce high quantities of fat oxidizing enzymes. If she reduces her sugar intake, her body burns through what she has and then dutifully reports to her – by making her feel hungry – that it is out of fuel. Yes, even with something like a 2 month supply of fuel stored as fat, she can feel hungry because at the cellular level she’s starved!
How does one interrupt that pattern? First, you have to get off the high carb train to crazy town, by eating a breakfast like the one she described. There are much simpler ways to cut back on carbs and start the day with primarily fat and protein, but the breakfast she described is a fine one.
Second, you have to feed your hunger. When your body tells you it is out of sugar, eat more fat and a little protein. This does two things – one, you retrain yourself to reach for better foods, and two you don’t put yourself in the untenable position of not eating when hungry. Fighting hunger is a loser’s game.
Third, drink water and take a short stroll. Up your intake of electrolytes – your new, non-carb loaded body will shed fluids stored in your body’s cells as a result of chronically high insulin levels. You may lose as much as five pounds of water weight the first week of carb restriction – and thank goodness for that! However, as you cells dump excess fluid, the fluid takes electrolytes, and if you don’t replace them you will feel like a person low on electrolytes feels, which is not a desirable outcome. Add salt and potassium to your water and rock on with your life saving low carb ventures.
Fourth – in order to consistently “feed your hunger” you will have to plan ahead and keep high fat/moderate protein foods handy. Other good picks include almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hard cheeses, bacon, salami, eggs, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, avocadoes and real meat (IOW, leave that low fat chicken/turkey for the low fat fadders).
In time, usually a week but possibly up to three weeks if you are a hard case, your body learns to run itself on fat, all day long.
If you want to take your quest for feeling good by running on fat a bit farther, invest in a ketone blood tester and strips. Once you develop the ability to run on fat and make plenty of ketones, your need to eat sugar to quiet your hunger will vanish. You’ll find yourself forgetting to eat and feeling your finest.