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Daine McDonald: fitness expert

Daine has a background in Human Movement Science and is currently completing undergraduate studies in Nutritional Medicine. He is a Poliquin Level 2 Strength Coach and BioSignature Level 2 Practitioner. For more information visit him at www.cleanhealth.com.au

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What's the ideal fat-loss breakfast?

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Day in and day out people ask me "What is the ideal fat-loss meal?" or "What should I eat for breakfast?" and so on. Fortunately I have the answer:

The meat and nuts breakfast is for you if you are looking for a way to:

  • increase your physical energy early morning and throughout the day;
  • increase your mental energy early morning and throughout the day;
  • kick-start your metabolism for the day allowing you to burn more fat throughout the day; or
  • decrease the insulin load in your body therefore increasing your ability to stay lean year round.

So let me now explain how it works to achieve these goals.

Humans have genetically not evolved all that much since caveman times — some studies argue less than 1 percent. In fact one could say today we are basically cavemen with mobile phones. So it makes common sense to eat in a similar manner to how our ancestors ate.

Ask yourself this: Do you think a caveman walked up to a tree and grabbed a bowl of cereal? We are designed to eat anything that once had eyes or plucked out of a tree or out of the earth. Simple. So to keep in line with how we are genetically programmed we should try to replicate this.

So how do consuming meats and nuts lead to the benefits above? Firstly we need to look at it from a macronutrient level. Animal meat is protein based and nuts are considered good fats. Now what do these two types of food have in common? Well they both have an extremely low insulin load (IL) in the body, meaning that when consumed the pancreas releases limited amounts of this hormone.

Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting energy into our cells. Think of it as a key to storing energy. If this process is continually abused due to stress on the pancreas from sugary foods, a diet high in processed carbs or foods containing a high IL (So basically all breakfast cereals, toast, etc) then our cells will no longer recognise the insulin key and thus will store the energy we consume as fat around our midsection.

Good fats have been shown to help our cells recognise the insulin key, thus allowing insulin to be absorbed into the cell the way it was meant to. Control insulin and you can better control fat loss. It's quite simple.

Stress to the pancreas can also hinder the production of pancreatic amylase and lipase, the two digestive enzymes responsible for breaking down carbs and fats in our small intestine. Stress the pancreas and you stress the gut, leading to an inability to properly break down and digest two of our major macronutrient sources, which will lead to more stress placed on our entire detoxification pathway.

The more stressed your small intestine, pancreas, liver and other internal organs are the fewer toxins your body will expel and the less body fat you will lose. And what type of foods stress the pancreas? Basically all the breakfast cereals you see for sale in supermarkets around the country today — think beige foods.

A meat and nut breakfast also sets up your brain chemistry in a positive way for the day. Red meats contain high amounts of tyrosine, a precursor for dopamine, which is our neurotransmitter of drive, arousal and motivation. Tyrosine is also a precursor for our thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Increase this and you increase your resting metabolic rate — or ability to burn fat while sitting down.

Meats also contain higher amounts of choline, a precursor for acetylcholine that is our neurotransmitter of quick thinking and memory retention. It's also linked to muscle fibre recruitment, which means your potential for results in the gym is improved as you can recruit more of the motor units that comprise the make-up of our muscle.

Being that there is a low insulin response from animal meat, your blood sugar levels are not destabilised as much as say when you consume your toast with jam, or cornflakes with fruit. This means more energy and more energy stability throughout the day so you won't be yo-yoing as much, which means you're more likely to make better food choices throughout the day.

Another reason why it is beneficial to you? When proteins are broken down into amino acids, they are the primary raw materials utilised by our liver during phase one and phase two detoxification, so by eating it early it kick starts your detoxification system to start the day.

So what to eat?

It's quite simple, pick meat and a fat and eat it for breakfast. Yes. It's that simple! Some suggestions I recommend include:

  • kangaroo and Brazil nuts;
  • organic chicken breast and avocado;
  • organic whole poached eggs and cashews;
  • organic New York steak and macadamia nuts; and
  • organic beef rissoles with walnuts.

In my opinion, red meats are best but it may take you a while to build up to that so you may want to start with white proteins (chicken, seafood, etc) When it comes to meats game meats are best. So kangaroo, deer, buffalo, etc. They are leaner cuts and have higher amounts of nutrients. The key is variety, so rotate your food.

When it comes to portion size let me make this clear. Kilojoule counting creates more problems than it solves — I don't recommend it. It is about nutrition in and nutrition out! Not kilojoules in and kilojoules out. Just eat nutritious food and move. From experience all kilojoule counting does is create eating disorders and a lot of problems in the body. A perfect example is lack of consuming good fats in the diet because of the kilojoule content per gram of fat.

Most people don't know but good fats are actually precursors for our steroid hormones — progesterone, DHEA, cortisol, etc. Lack of good fats in your diet can potentially lower your androgen levels and screw up your menstrual cycles amongst other things. The less androgens you make the harder it is to build lean muscle, the more lean muscle you build the more of a fat burning furnace your body becomes. I know which option I would prefer.

So give the meat and nuts breakfast a try — I promise you won't be disappointed!

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