Ep. 025 – Protein in the Morning Supports Healthy Cortisol Response

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 025 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

In Episode 025, Dr. Trayford revisits the topic of breakfast. We may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but do we really understand why? We need our breakfast not only to fuel our bodies, but also to regulate our stress hormones throughout the day. Try it and see how you feel! Thanks for listening!

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

very specific aspect of breakfast. We know we should eat breakfast. There are a lot of good reasons we should eat breakfast. But more specifically we want to make sure we eat protein in the morning to support healthy cortisol responses.
Now I’m sure you’ve heard of cortisol, the kind of damaging stress hormone that we all deal with.

Jason: Yes, en Episode 121.

Cortisol was designed to essentially save our lives, but we have these sustained responses that cause a challenge and people wind up developing improper grafts of cortisol production, throughout the day.

What I mean by that is, when you wake up in the morning, you should have the highest spike of cortisol that you experience all day. If you think about it, you wake up, you’re groggy, it takes a little while to kind of get you acclimated to the day. You take a shower, it snaps you out of it, wakes you up a little bit.
Well within an hour or so of waking you should have that highest spike of cortisol, which basically primes your body and gets it ready for the day. Then gradually that cortisol response or secretion declines through the course of the day until you go to bed at night. Then that whole cycle starts all over again.
So it’s up in the morning, all the way to down in the evening. That’s how it should be.

But people are having altered responses due to stressors at work, family, financial and so many other aspects of stress that are plaguing people these days. Protein in the morning has been shown to help mitigate of effectively support that cortisol response that we have in the morning, that large spike first thing in the morning.

Every physiology book that’s ever been printed, talks about this type of response. And protein is so important. When you think about it what do most people eat for breakfast? Just throw out a few things…

Jason: Like eggs, bacon, sausage and those kinds of things.
Well that’s the protein stuff. The reality is that most people are eating cereals, bagels, toast and other very carbohydrate dominant breakfast foods.
Jason: That’s what I eat. I’m a cereal man.

That’s trouble because when you think about it one of the side effects of cortisol is to cause your body to deposit fat. Because you have all of that cortisol production your body recognizes a state of crisis. Even though it might not exists. These are kind of primitive reactions that occur to protect us. So your body wants to conserve its richest source of energy, which is fat. And if you eat a lot of carbohydrates and you can’t burn all of those carbohydrates in the morning, they will easily be deposited as fat.

So if we eat more protein, higher fiber, fewer carbohydrates, we will have a much, much better impact on the cortisol response. And we’ll deposit less fat first thing in the morning.

So this is where we actually start to lose weight, because of eating breakfast. A lot of people skip breakfast to lose weight, but it’s counter intuitive and you can’t outsmart your body’s physiology. That’s why it’s important to eat those eggs and other protein rich foods right away in the morning so you are getting adequate amounts of protein.

There are many sources if people don’t have issues with lactose or casein or whey, they can do yogurt, cottage cheese or other things like that. If they do have lactose issues, there’s a soy-based alternatives. There’s rice and pea based alternatives. People can do medical foods where they’re actually getting high quantities of protein and fiber in the morning to support things like type 2 diabetes and systemic inflammation.

So there are a lot of tricks that we’ll talk about along the way. Most importantly keep your protein intake up in the morning.

Jason: Wow that makes a lot of sense and it’s exciting to hear that, because you answer a lot of questions that I’ve always had about myself, which is why I feel like I’m in my prime of the day at 10:00 am. That’s when I do my best work. It’s when I’m really awake and everything. So that must be because of the cortisol right?

Exactly to, because if you’re eating all of those carbohydrates in the morning you’re burning them off fairly quickly and then your body has no energy to draw from and it has to dig within and break down fat and protein inside your own body, which is a very expensive metabolic process. It takes a lot of energy to make that kind of energy. So it can fatigue you quite quickly and give you that kind of dump in the middle of the day at noon or so, when you just don’t function as well.

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