Showing posts with label breakfast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label breakfast. Show all posts

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The picture above is what I ate this morning and is a very typical bacon and eggs breakfast with no bread (aka “air toast”). 

Here are some notes:

I usually only have one or two small slices of bacon here in the States as it is extremely fatty here. The fattiness is not a problem, per se, but because I can’t guarantee the health of the pig here and the industrial farms probably feed them a horrendous diet I err on the side of caution to avoid some potential toxins in the fat. It is however delicious and the rendered fat is perfect to cook the eggs and lightly sauté the spinach in. If I can buy bacon of the highest quality from a local farm that pasture-raises their pigs then this is not a concern.

Where possible I only buy eggs sourced from a local farmer that lets his hens roam free and doesn't feed them grain, or even better, doesn't feed them at all - just lets them scratch around for bugs and worms. I am fortunate to have a great farmer’s market in Union Square where I can buy a dozen real farm eggs for $4. 

This is the ideal (unless of course you can have your own chickens!) but if you don’t have access to a farmer then your only other option is to buy the best quality free range eggs from the supermarket that you can afford. The 'organic' and 'free-range' labels unfortunately do not mean a whole lot in this country. Organic eggs are preferable than non-organic, however it still does not guarantee the quality of the egg or the health of the hen.

Oddly, It is possible to get barn eggs from hens that have more space and access to the outdoors than 'free range' eggs - as the definition and enforcement of the term is lax at best. The quality of eggs ranges from farm to farm and it is hard to tell the much about the hens just from the label. Price is generally a pretty good guide though. I avoid cage eggs. I don't want to eat the product of an ill, stressed out, jail-bird for both health and ethical reasons.

Today I scrambled the eggs but usually I would poach or lightly fry them. It is best to have the yolks as raw and whole as possible. When you scramble egg yolks or cook them at high temperature they can become oxidized which may affect the fatty acids and potentially make the cholesterol in eggs less beneficial. It is pretty clear these days from the research that the dietary cholesterol in eggs actually raises HDL ("good cholesterol") and lowers LDL "bad cholesterol", which renders the whole cholesterol concern over eating eggs unfounded.

Amazing source of monounsaturated fat, fibre and nutrients. Delicious, satiating and one of those foods that no one can deny is healthy. GOOD FAT IS GOOD! Eat fat to burn fat.

Salt 'n' tomatoes
Tomatoes work well for me. I love them... provided they have salt on them! Don't use table salt. Spend a little extra on some quality sea salt, Pink Himalayan salt or other mineral-rich fancy variety. It's worth it. As a nightshade, tomatoes can be an issue for a minority of people with auto-immune issue. If this is you consider trying an uber strict auto-immune Paleo protocol which limits all nightshades. Good luck!

It's good to get organic spinach if possible - same goes for other salad leaves, broccoli, berries, apples, and all fruits and veggies whose exterior we consume. Think of it this way, if you sprayed paint on it, could you eat it without eating the paint? i.e. Avocado, banana, coconut, nuts - YES. Strawberry, grapes, spinach - NO. If YES, it's probably not worth buying organic in most cases. If NO, buy organic if you can afford it.

A breakfast like the above would contain roughly 20-25grams of protein, 40-50 grams of fat and basically 0 carbs and around 600 calories. This is a very Paleo macro-nutrient breakdown and keeps me satisfied and with good energy levels for 4-6 hours. This meal will definitely not spike insulin in a metabolically healthy person.

I used to eat something like this every single day but these days I rarely eat breakfast, instead going for a Bulletproof Coffee. When I do have breakfast though, this is it, or on the rare occasion I’ll have a banana coconut pancake.

“Form a habit. Forge a lifestyle.” - The Paleo Model

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I often don't eat breakfast, instead going for some of Dave Asprey's "Bulletproof Coffee" - black coffee blended with grass-fed butter and MCT oil (concentrated medium chain triglycerides derived from coconut). This is both for performance (mental clarity) and for convenience. When I do have breakfast though I usually stay away from carbs at least until midday.

Carb Backloading
Avoiding carbs in the morning actually goes against the current mainstream thinking whereby people assume it is best to eat carbs in the morning when you are more insulin sensitive. While this is indeed true - you are more insulin sensitive in the morning and therefore will tolerate carbs better - this does not necessarily mean you should eat carbs in the morning.

As John Kiefer argues in 'Carb Backloading' and 'Carb Nite', which I'm really getting great results from now, you are better off not raising insulin at all in the first part of the day and rather extending the natural fat-burning (fasted) state after sleeping.

You can achieve this either by skipping breakfast, OR by eating mainly fat and some protein for breakfast, thereby keeping insulin levels low.

Insulin 101
To massively oversimplify, insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to control blood sugar levels. Too much glucose in the blood is toxic to the body so insulin is released to facilitate prednisone the transfer of glucose out of the blood and into bodily tissues to either be used as fuel (for the brain, muscles and other cell functions), to top up glycogen reserves in the muscles and liver (for that CrossFit work out later on in the day), or to be converted into fat and stored in adipose tissue (a major bummer if you want to look good in a bikini/speedos).

When insulin is high it prevents these stored fatty acids being released from adipose tissue to be burned as fuel. Hence, if you want to burn fat then high insulin levels = bad. The whole (flawed but useful) Glycemic Index of food theory (i.e low GI foods are better than high GI foods) is based on keeping insulin low.

The most effective way to increase insulin sensitivity (and therefore reduce the amount of fat-storing insulin released by the pancreas) is through resistance training. This is perhaps THE major benefit of weight training and why EVERYONE should lift heavy weights occasionally. To elaborate on CarbNite, Kiefer recommends that you do resistance training in the late afternoon (4-7pm) to increase muscular insulin sensitivity, which usually decreases as the day goes on. Check out my twenty-minute bodyweight workout here.

The theory goes that post workout you can get away with eating significant amounts of carbs and will actually increase muscular growth due to this spiking of insulin. Interestingly, Kiefer points out that insulin causes ALL body tissue to grow - both muscle and fat - and so this essential hormone can act as both friend and foe.

At times it may actually be beneficial to spike insulin after weight training to get the muscles to grow, while at other times (i.e. when insulin sensitivity is low/insulin resistance is high) it would be counterproductive to raise insulin too much as this will cause adipose (fat) tissue to grow. Diabetics are insulin resistant all the time which is why it is so difficult for them to lose weight. This is why resistance training coupled with a low carb or even ketogenic diet seems nizagara to be the best way to treat diabetes (Patel, 2012).

Eat fat to burn fat
For the above reasons I strongly advise against eating too many carbs in the morning if your goal is to burn fat. Raising insulin early in the morning by eating high carb, especially with low fat and low protein, is just setting you up for blood-sugar crashes and fat storage throughout the day.

The irony is that this is exactly what the Standard American Diet is telling you to eat - cereal or "healthy whole grains" like a whole-wheat bagel or Cheerios with skim milk and a glass of juice! HORRIFIC for your metabolism and a sure-fire way to feel like shit all day and gain weight. Even "slow-release" oatmeal or muesli, contrary to popular belief, is not a healthy breakfast option. I'm not saying you have to eat bacon and eggs every day but I am saying don't eat bagels, cereal, low-fat prednisone yoghurt and fruit juice for breakfast! 

Bloody Oats!
I know a lot of you 'healthy' types love your oats, nuts, muesli, fruit and yoghurt in the morning (I was addicted to this breakfast for years!) Maybe you don't like the idea of eating bacon and eggs in the mornings, girls. But let me ask you to just try this for a week: cut the grains, fruit and other carbs in the morning and instead have something low carb, high fat. 

If the thought of bacon and eggs grosses you out how about a couple of hard boiled eggs and a handful of nuts, or if you can handle it maybe even some leftover meat or fish from the night before and half an avocado? I guarantee you will feel better, with lasting energy until lunchtime and without your typical 11am food cravings for sweet things. Just try it.

How About Green Smoothies?
I really believe that being strict on the zero carbs before midday is the best way to maximize fat burning, however, some people are obsessed with their green smoothies and that is totally fine.

If you insist on drinking your breakfast and are not interested in bulletproof coffee, I think a very low carb, high fibre, moderate protein and fat (green) smoothie could be fairly benign in the morning. Just leave out the high fructose fruit such as apple, pear, mango, pineapple or orange and instead throw in a few frozen berries if absolutely necessary - enabling you to keep net sugars to about 5 grams or less.

It is essential to include some fat in any green smoothie to enable absorption of the FAT SOLUBLE vitamins A, D, E and K. MCT oil, coconut oil, raw (pastured) egg yolks and avocado are a great source. I also would be careful of overdoing raw kale and raw spinach such a high load of oxalic acid can be problematic to some people. It's always better to lightly cook your greens and eat them with grass-fed butter to maximize their nutrition.

PS - Apparently the average American used to eat 5 eggs a day in the 1950s and look how slim they were compared to Americans today (Gundry, 2012).

PPS - I swear by this brand of MCT oil which I use in my Bulletproof Coffee and post-workout smoothies:

Related Articles:

How To Build Muscle, Honestly and Healthily

My Ideal Paleo Eating Day

The Big Three Weight Loss Myths: # 1 - Calories In, Calories Out


Asprey, Dave. 'The Bulletproof Executive', [Accessed 07 April 2013]

Gundry, Steven, MD. 'High Fat Diets: Good vs. Bad', Ask the Low-Carb Experts Podcast Episode 35, Jan 15th 2013,

Kiefer, John. 'Dangerously Hardcore', [Accessed 07 April 2013]

Patel, Rakesh, MD. 'Hacking your heart and preventing diabetes with Dr. Rocky Patel', Bulletproof Executive Radio Podcast 32, Nov 28th 2012,

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Ideal Paleo Eating Day

Typical Brekky: Eggs, Sautéed Kale, Cherry Tomatoes and Prosciutto.

It's all good and well to talk Paleo and Primal and 'no grain' this and 'no dairy' that and 'low Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios' and blah blah blah. But if the whole concept of Paleo or 'evolutionary eating' is foreign to you it can be difficult to conceptualise what a Paleo diet would actually look like on a day-to-day basis.