What's the best breakfast to eat before a mentally-demanding day? - Heal.me
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What's the best breakfast to eat before a mentally-demanding day?

I have a big 5 hour test coming up and it has literally been 6 years of preparation for this test. It will show all of my progress, learning, and skills I have achieved since starting my program. Of course, most of it is up to my studying and all of that, but IWant to give myself the best shot. So What should I eat the morning of this test?

7 Answers

Gregory Hoeper

This is context dependent (as always) and depends mostly on your current circadian rhythm and leptin sensitivity.

Leptin sensitivity is closely correlated with the lab value reverse triiodothyronine (RT3) which is seldom measured by your regular PCP. RT3 is a direct competitor and inhibitor of T3. T3 is the active thyroid hormone which is majorly responsible for cellular metabolism. So RT3 stops T3 from doing it's job. High levels of RT3 correlate with leptin resistance. I have found that RT3 is produced when cortisol levels are altered or elevated. Cortisol is the "stress" hormone (glucocorticoid, but also regulated blood sugar), and has rhythmic secretion.

Leptin is the hormone released from your fat, enters your brain late in the evening, and in essence, tells your brain how much fat is available for fuel. When cortisol levels are high/altered, the body perceives stress and T4 is converted to RT3 instead of T3 as a counter measure to "preserve fuel".

Sign of leptin resistance include:
1) waking up not hungry
2) late evening gorging on food
3) cold extremities
4) poor sleep
6) high BMI with low muscle mass

In order to normalize leptin signalling (if altered), I would recommend a high protein, moderate-high fat, and low carbohydrate breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up.

If there are no signs of leptin resistance, I would recommend a moderate protein, moderate-high fat, and moderate (50% of total) carbohydrate breakfast within 30 minutes of waking.

If you need help determining which category you fit in, feel free to contact me.

Lynn M. Cameron

Jamie, have you heard of the work of Dr. Weston A. Price? I find that his research showing carbs are made more digestible by culturing/fermenting to be beneficial for me and my diabetic husband. Soak the grain in half the water required with a couple spoonfuls of whey, yogurt, kefir or any of the liquid that comes up from other cultured products along w/some good salt to jump start the digestion. While the living ferment will be changed by cooking, the digestibility of the grain will increase so your body needs to expend less energy in gleaning the goodies. In the near future, I'll put here onsite my own recipe for "Dandy Porridge"

Cindy Dallow,RD
I help women over 40 get off the diet roller coaster and into a more sustainable, realistic nutrition and fitness plan.

Whole grains, such as oatmeal, with any kind of nut butter, and fresh or frozen fruit (like blueberries) is a fantastic way to feel energetic and keep blood sugar in check.

Geri Winters

IF and only if your test is a couple of months away, then you can make changes today to help you brain be at its best. You need to give your body a couple of months to make the adjustment though.

If your diet is relatively high in carbs and processed foods, you can do your brain a favor by reducing the carbs (definitely below 200g a day, but 150g or even 100g is better) and getting rid of processed food. Replace the carbs with high quality fat. Experiment to see if you do better with:

No Breakfast
Fat for Breakfast
Protein for Breakfast

Different people react differently, but one of these will give you plenty of energy to get through 5 hours of testing and keep you mentally sharp.

Good luck on your exams!

Sam Baron
Let me help you get unstuck and take action on your goals using habit building, mindfulness, and ancestral health principles.

Hi Jamie! Now may not be the time for much diet experimentation. Major changes to your usual diet pattern could throw you off for when you need to be at your best. I would recommend some slight tweaks depending on how/what/when you currently eat breakfast. So if you habitually consume caffeine, then consume caffeine, but perhaps not more than usual. Keep your general macronutrient ratios (fat/protein/carbs) constant, but look at swapping in foods that are whole and nutrient dense. So high-quality animal fats/protein, such as pastured eggs (with yolks lightly cooked), fish/shellfish, pastured bacon, etc. If you currently eat a moderate-carb diet, then try some easily digestible starches: potatoes, rice, plantains, etc rather than grains, legumes, etc. Eat the carbs after the fat/protein. Another suggestion is to watch your meal timing. See if you can eat breakfast at least 1-2 hours before your test, so that the body can assimilate nutrients and you can shift your energy from metabolism to thinking! Good luck!!

Owner/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

definitely a meal that will sustain you throughout the test with whole grain carbs, protein, fat balance (including fruit and veggies is good too). the comment above is a good suggestion. If you can bring snacks to the test I would recommend having a snack such as nuts and dried fruit (no sugar added) part of the way through the test to keep your brain well fueled!

Cassidee Domstrich

Hi Jamie! I would recommend a balanced breakfast of eggs with veggies and avocado, and oatmeal and fruit! Add in flaxseed or chia seeds in the oatmeal for added brain foods!!

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