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Why you shouldn't eat cereal and toast for breakfast? 29/02/2012

A brand new paper entitled “Activation of Central Orexin/Hypocretin Neurons by Dietary Amino Acids” has demonstrated that you should probably be having a protein shake or steak and eggs for breakfast rather than a bowl of cereal if you want to be alert and “metabolically primed” for the day.

The authors of the paper have demonstrated that amino acids (protein) can stimulate particular cells in the brain which send signals to the body which encourage wakefulness and energy expenditure (metabolic rate).

Being more alert during the day is a benefit everyone can enjoy, but the increased energy expenditure will be a huge bonus for those of us looking to shed a few kilos.

The authors of the paper acknowledge that it is already understood that glucose (carbohydrates) will reduce the activity of those same cells, effectively making you sleepy and encouraging metabolic rate reduction (not something you want first thing in the morning).

To quote the authors:

Hypothalamic orexin/hypocretin (orx/hcrt) neurons regulate energy balance, wakefulness, and reward; their loss produces narcolepsy and weight gain. Glucose can lower the activity of orx/hcrt cells, but whether other dietary macronutrients have similar effects is unclear. We show that orx/hcrt cells are stimulated by nutritionally relevant mixtures of amino
acids
(AAs)….

Serious Supplements suspects that cereal and toast are popular choices for breakfast because they are easily prepared in a time where most people are in a rush. A protein shake can be a quick alternative to kick start protein synthesis for the day, as well as wakefulness and energy expenditure it seems.

This study is the latest addition to a growing body of evidence that suggests that humans need to be eating in line with our biological clock, or circadian rhythm.

Another study of interest looked at the effect of carbohydrate ingestion timing on the fat loss of dieting Israeli police officers. The officers were divided into two groups. One group consumed the bulk of their daily carbohydrates in the morning. The other group in the evening (prior to bed). The results of the study have stunned many. The group consuming the bulk of their carbohydrates before bed experienced significantly better fat loss, were less hungry, had better insulin sensitivity (good), improved blood glucose control and had lower inflammatory markers.

The Serious Supplements recommendation for improved body composition, alertness and overall health:

Feedings during the early part of the day should be predominantly protein, healthy fats and low carb vegetables; this will help with wakefulness, will encourage metabolic efficiency and help to encourage fat oxidation.

If you find yourself getting tired during the day it is worth considering swapping that 3pm “sugar rush” with a protein shake….

The bulk of your daily carbohydrates should be consumed post workout (assuming you work out in the evening) and closer to bed. This will help spike a hormone called leptin (which is good for fat burning while you sleep) and will also help with getting deep and restful sleep.

It seems that the myth of avoiding carbs before bed has finally been busted.