The Hibernation Effect

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but let me tell you why. When you wake up in the morning, your body has been in a starvation state for probably 10-12 hours. Hypothetically, you probably eat dinner at 7, go to bed at 10, and wake up at 7 the next morning. This is a good solid 12 hours without food, and at this point, your body is in a catabolic state, and you are not fully awake because the major organs located in your digestive system, are not going to start fully functioning until you put some food into your system. People don’t realize that when they sleep, their blood sugar levels drop because they haven’t eaten. Eating a good breakfast with a good carbohydrate and a good protein is going to raise your blood sugar and give you good energy to get your day started on the right foot.

However, most of us in the morning are rushing around trying to get ready for work, get the kids off to school, and get out the door. We end up grabbing a cup of Joe and running out the door without even thinking of grabbing something to eat in all the mayhem. Some people intentionally skip breakfast because they believe by skipping a meal they will take in less calories, and, in turn, lose weight. This actually does the opposite of what they want it to do. Our bodies still function as if we lived in the dark ages of hunting and gathering, when our next meal could be several days away, at best. Because of this, when the body realizes it is not getting nutrients on a regular basis, it starts holding on to fat. There are 9 calories per gram of fat, and only 4 per gram of protein and carb, so the body is capable of living longer off of fat than it is off of proteins and carbs. So, when the body goes extended periods of time without nutrients, it automatically starts storing a large portion of the next food as fat because it is a survival instinct.

Basically, this is your hibernation response. Think of a bear. They sleep for months at a time by storing up food before the winter season hits. However, it is not muscle that they are storing up to live off of for months and months; it is fat. Our bodies see these long periods of time without food as mini-hibernations. Our bodies need to eat roughly every 3-4 hours beginning with breakfast. Depending on your body type, you may need a protein or a carb, or both at these intervals, but the goal is to keep your blood sugar levels consistent. By eating small, frequent meals, you are taking your body out of fat storing mode, and putting it into muscle building, fat burning mode.

Comments are closed.