One of my favorite parts of my job is hearing from you guys. I’m always knee deep in research, studying how the body works, but I often learn so much from your experiences and feedback. Diving into your questions and comments is always fun and insightful, so today I’m going to share the most interesting ones I’ve recently received.
What’s up with flatulence?
The first question is from Amy Schultz, one of our All-Day Energy Bars customers. If you’re unfamiliar with those, you can get them at AllDayEnergyBars.com if they’re in stock; they’re awesome.
“While delicious, these bars give me terrible stomach pain/gas, which I am assuming is from the inulin and chicory root. If I eat just a little bit of the bar every day, can I train my system to digest this beneficial prebiotic fiber?”
First of all, Amy is spot on in understanding what’s going on inside of her. Inulin is a very, very important prebiotic, meaning it serves as food for your good bacteria. The problem is that we don’t get enough of it in our diet. It’s very tough to get from regular food, so that’s why certain health foods like our All-Day Energy Bars include chicory root. It’s the most prominent source of inulin fiber out of pretty much any food on the planet, and it’s a prominent source of fiber in our bars. On top of all that, it really helps the bar come together a lot more.
A small segment of our customer base who’ve been enjoying the bars have experienced this gas. If you experience discomfort or gas, here’s what I’m going to suggest you do: taper down. Instead of having one bar at a time, have maybe a quarter, third, or half of a bar and build up your tolerance. As Amy suspected, you want to give your gut some time to adjust.
A lot of times when people start getting flatulence and gas, whether it’s from inulin or other compounds, it’s due to dysbiosis, which is similar to an imbalance of gut bacteria. Your good bacteria might be used to getting sugar and not-so-good foods, so when you start introducing our All-Day Energy Bars (which are amazingly good for you: chicory root fiber, chia seeds, quinoa, almonds, coconut and cacao all come together for an incredible taste) it might take a bit of time for those bacteria to adjust.
The same thing goes for raw potato starch, another prebiotic supplement that I’m really excited about these days. You can get at your health-food store, and it has so many benefits for the health of your gut and your entire body. However, much like chicory root, some people report that it gives them initial discomfort and gas because their gut is just not used to it. Thankfully, you can build up your tolerance of it over time which is what I recommend.
What’s the best type of food to eat for breakfast?
Next up is a question from Maggie Shea, and she asks:
“I’m wondering what your thoughts are for the best nutritional types of foods for certain times of the day? Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in respect to protein and fat for breakfast, versus fruit-and-veggie smoothies, versus oatmeal.”
That’s an awesome question and I think it’s really important to talk about. Much of what we believe about breakfast is completely false, all thanks to the cereal companies. The accepted belief is that we should wake up in the morning and have cereal, especially sugary ones like Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops. If we want a slightly healthier version, then we should opt for Cheerios and Raisin Bran and stuff like that.
It’s all a bunch of nonsense. I talk about this extensively in my upcoming book, The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet, with respect to meals and the specific food types we should eat at different times of the day. To make your life simple, think about this: you want to eat in a way that’s going to help your circadian and body rhythms work normally.
When you go to bed at night, the “sleep” hormone melatonin helps you get a good rest. That’s why people take a melatonin supplement sometimes if they can’t sleep. The “stress” hormone cortisol has the exact opposite effect of melatonin — during the day, it keeps you alert. They’re both triggered by light, so when the lights are low at night time, melatonin is elevated, thus signaling our body that it’s time to go to bed. During the day, sunlight heightens your cortisol levels.
Here’s how diet affects this delicate balance: among other things, cortisol helps to regulate a normal blood sugar level. If you you’re not digesting any food, cortisol will instead go to your stored glycogen and break it down into immediate sugar to help your blood sugar maintain its homeostatic balance. That’s a good thing.
However, if you have carbohydrates first thing in the morning—oatmeal, muffins, bagels, breads and cereals all count—you’re introducing in a surge of carbohydrates—i.e., sugar—into your body and that’s going to keep back the tide of cortisol. This blunts your natural cortisol rhythm, and if you do that consistently, it can really start to offset your natural circadian rhythm; this can really disrupt your sleep pattern and lead to a whole host of problems. It can also make it a lot harder for you to lose weight.
For this reason, I encourage you to have your carbohydrates later in the day. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but we want cortisol to be lower late in the day. Doing this will also help you sleep better, as carbohydrates are a precursor to serotonin, tryptophan, and thus, melatonin.
We’re often told not to eat carbs later in the day as they will lead to greater fat storage. Never mind that kind of talk, it’s not true at all. As long as you’re burning enough calories, you’re not going to store any fat.
I also want you to have more protein in the morning—20 to 30 grams is ideal. If you’re wondering about juicing, here’s what I would suggest: have a green juice that’s light on fruit as you want to avoid sugar. About half an hour to an hour later, you’re likely going to feel hungry, at which point you can have something that’s more protein-heavy—eggs or maybe a protein shake, whatever is going to work for you. It will help you feel full longer and power up the rest of your day.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have any carbs in the morning nor any proteins later in the day: it’s all on a spectrum. I just want to emphasize that if you start your days with oatmeal and carb-heavy meals, you’re going to feel sleepy before you each reach midday. Better to save that effect for later in the evening, no?
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