Burnout: How your Breakfast is Making it Worse
When you’re starting to burn out or have been burnt out for a while your nutrition generally starts to suffer because it is one of the easiest things to let slip. Breakfast is the first meal of the day and also the most important meal of the day. Yet the large majority of you are eating breakfast incorrectly when battling burnout and I can see why. You wake up and you feel exhausted. You’re already looking forward to going back to bed tonight but you can’t. You’ve hit snooze 4 times and each time your alarm goes off you trade something else for that magical 7 more minutes of sleep. (Which is not sleep, by the way, you’re much better off just getting up out of bed the first time). At this point, you have traded most of your time and you are left with either grabbing a quick shower and running out the door or forgoing breakfast and instead of taking that shower since you find it takes a shower to really feel awake anymore.
It is so easy to skip on having a proper breakfast. Society makes it easy to skip breakfast. Look at all the breakfast sandwiches now available at fast food chains which come loaded with sodium and carbs paired with a deep-fried hash brown loaded with more carbs and sodium plus fried oils. This is one of the worst breakfasts for someone battling burnout. Here are the worst breakfasts for burnout:
- Boxed cereal of almost any kind
- Oatmeal, quick-oats or homemade
- Breakfast sandwich at any fast food chain
- A heavily loaded fruit smoothie
The reason these meals are so bad for someone battling burnout is that they all contain plenty of carbohydrates. Now, I’m not saying carbohydrates are bad, not at all. I’m saying that the timing of carbohydrates in your diet is extremely important. When you consume carbohydrates it causes your cortisol level to drop. Now if you remember in Burnout part II, it is due to low cortisol levels in the morning which leads to taking forever to truly feel awake. Therefore, if you have a high carbohydrate breakfast you make this problem worse by lowering your already low level of cortisol. This causes your cortisol to drop even more which leads to less energy, less motivation, less “get up and go”. It also wreaks havoc on your blood sugar for the rest of the day.
A breakfast loaded with simple carbohydrates such as boxed cereals quickly spikes your blood sugar. Now in 90 to 120 minutes that blood sugar spike is going to come crashing down which generally is mid-morning, which is when you start looking for more sugar, normally in the form of a bagel, doughnut or other baked good, chocolate bar, latte or favourite iced drink. This causes your blood sugar to once again spike and then crash just before lunch. This continues on throughout the day causing that all too common “hangry” feeling. All this because you ate the wrong breakfast.
When I treat burnout I don’t often start with a ton of nutrition changes as that takes a lot of energy and time. Instead, I only ask that you change your breakfast. Start your day off with a moderate protein, high fat and low carbohydrate breakfast. This will allow you to keep your cortisol level where it needs to be instead of artificially suppressing it more with sugar. Here are a few examples:
¾ cup of Skyr yoghurt with chia seeds, hemp hearts and ¼ cup of your favourite nuts.
2-3 egg omelette with onions, mushrooms, peppers, a big handful of spinach, olives and feta cheese
Chia seed pudding loaded with coconut chips, vanilla extract, cinnamon, hemp hearts, walnuts and pecans topped with a small amount of maple syrup.
Stay tuned for how you need to dose your carbohydrates through the rest of the day.