Breakfast has long been a staple in the American diet. Recently, intermittent fasting and other trendy diets have promoted skipping breakfast and eating only during a small window. Those diets do have some merit but are not a positive contributor to having, or maintaining, a healthy weight for the majority of the population. The Farmer’s Breakfast is a brain optimized, neurotransmitter focused, lean body mass promoting meal. It incorporates foods that benefit the body and mind for the day ahead. Foods influences neurotransmitters, and believe it or not, we have had it completely backwards when it comes to what is a healthy breakfast, and what is not.
Growing up in the Midwest, I was exposed to small town rural America, where farming predominates. One time I stayed over with a friend whose family ran a dairy farm. We woke up at 5 AM to milk the cow’s and afterwards came into the house for breakfast. This was the biggest breakfast I had ever seen! The table hardly had a spare space, covered with steak, bacon, 3 types of eggs, 2 types of sausage, salad and vegetables, melon, coffee, orange juice and water. This home breakfast had a spread that could put a breakfast buffet in the East to shame. Everything was cooked in lard and butter. Fat was not avoided. I remember saying, “this is how breakfast should be everyday!” and my friends mom replied, “Well it is!”
I asked why the breakfast was so large and my friends mother simply said, “Farming is hard. You have to have a huge, hearty breakfast to make it through the day.” Now, there is a side note I want to make; this dairy family was lean and strong. My friend was an all state wrestler in Iowa and didn’t have an ounce of extra fat on his body. His dad was in his 70s and looked about 45, and his mother was a skinny woman.
The rest of this article will detail out the science behind a healthy ‘Farmer’s Breakfast’.
WE EAT FOR BRAIN FUNCTION AND TO OBTAIN NUTRIENTS FROM FOOD.
There are four primary neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that control our mood: Dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin are the big four. Dopamine and acetylcholine are best known for their influence on focus and memory, with GABA and serotonin having associated with calmn and happiness. Dopamine is the highest in the morning. Acetylcholine is best supported in the morning also.
Besides knowing what time of day these brain chemicals peak, knowing what kinds of foods stimulate their production might be the biggest ticket to understanding brain function. Different foods stimulate different neurotransmitter production.
- Made from amino acids and requires protein consumption for optimal levels
- Highest levels in the morning
- Requires choline from healthy fat and protein sources for optimal levels
- Nuts, Vegetables, Fruits, Protein sources all support health GABA levels
- Carbohydrates, sugar, starches and high glycemic index foods boost serotonin
FOODS STIMULATE YOUR NEUROTRANSMITTERS. EATING THE RIGHT FOODS AT THE RIGHT TIME IS NEEDED FOR A MAXIMIZED HEALTHY BRAIN, BALANCED HORMONES, LEAN BODY MASS AND OVERALL VITALITY.
Contrary to what TV and other news media outlets/advertisers have been telling you for years, carbohydrates (breads, pastas, oatmeal, breakfast cereal, bagels, juice, pastries, and the like) are THE WORST POSSIBLE THING YOU CAN EAT FOR BREAKFAST. If you want a healthy, focused brain for the day, a high sugar breakfast will definitely lead to the 2-4pm crash. A high sugar breakfast also won’t do a thing for your focus. Yes, they advertise stimulants for this too….but that’s another article.
If you want to eat a breakfast that will help you stay lean or lose weight, increase focus and drive, fight food cravings, lead to better food choices throughout the day, and most of all increase energy, here is the secret:
PROTEIN STIMULATES DOPAMINE > DOPAMINE IS HIGHEST IN THE MORNING > MEAT FOR BREAKFAST WILL DRIVE UP DOPAMINE PRODUCTION IN THE MORNING.
CARBOHYDRATES AND SUGAR STIMULATE SEROTONIN > SEROTONIN IS HIGHEST AT NIGHT AND IS NEEDED FOR SLEEP > WORST POSSIBLE CHOICE FOR BREAKFAST.
EAT PROTEIN & FAT FOR BREAKFAST. SAVE THE CARBS FOR DINNER.
EAT BREAKFAST LIKE A FARMER.
It is that simple. Eat meat and fat for breakfast. Avoid carbohydrates like starches, breads, grains, etc. at all costs in the morning. The biggest benefit, besides better brain function, leaner body composition and making better food choices throughout the day, are the long term benefits you will see. Dopamine function is one of the most affected neurotransmitters in dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Eating this type of breakfast will optimize your dopamine function and decrease the risk of later in life dementia as well as other brain diseases.
Below are some lists of healthy protein and fat sources:
- 100% grass fed beef
- Wild Caught Fish
- Free Range Chicken
- Free Range Turkey
- Free Range Pork
- Wild Boar
Tip: High quality, clean, organic, free range, or wild, lean cuts are best. Quality does matter.
- Brazil Nuts
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Butter (cooking agent)
- Lard or Rendered Duck Fat (cooking agent)
- Coconut Oil
- Omega 3 Oils
- Vitamin D and E (best supplemented with breakfast)
Tip: Sprouted, organic, non-pasteurized, forms tend to be best. Always look for organic as most toxins are fat soluble.
If you have allergies to nuts or have a sensitive digestive system, one other tip will be to add low glycemic index fruit and vegetables to the breakfast in place of some of the fat content. Everyone requires different amounts of fat in the diet to remain lean, and this is one piece of the breakfast that can vary from person to person and required some time to find exact right amount.
- Golden Berries
- Acia Berries
- Anything green for the most part
Tip: Always get organic fruits and vegetables, as they tend not to be highly sprayed with pesticides and do offer a better nutrient profile.
- Pick 1 food from each category (fruit/vegetable being optional).
- 1 Protein, 1 Fat, 1 Fruit/Vegetable (optional)
- Use a food ratio system, Protein:Fat:Fruit (optional)
- 2:1:(1) - 2 servings protein to 1 serving fat, 1 serving fruit/vegetable
- Pick 2-3 meal options for the week and rotate them.
- If you are a big person and eat more than the 2:1:(1) ratio, you must increase the ratio proportionally as in 4:2:(2).
- Foods must be rotated as to prevent food allergies.
- Fruit is NOT a requirement. Protein and fat are the important pieces.
- May take up to 3 weeks for body to get used to breakfast.
References, links to articles, scientific publications, and other information available upon request. Dr. Waples has spent years researching and compiling data to support all treatment and lifestyle plans and changes he prescribes. Please contact the BHG concierge desk for more info.
Another great resource on breakfast is Charles Poliquin of StrengthSensei.com. He has been using this form of breakfast for decades with many professional athletes and has extensive research on the benefits.
Dr. Eric Braverman is also a great resource. He is one of the leading authorities on Neurotransmitters and brain treatments in the country. He has many books written on the subject and also runs PATH Medical in NYC.