One of the biggest common threads among successful business leaders is starting the day early. We're talking almost middle of the night early. The thought personally makes me want to eat glass due to my own experience, but if you feel like pulling a Jeff Bezos and doing it, breakfast should be your friend.

Let me say that one more time, with emphasis so you internalize it better.

Early to rise = breakfast not optional.

Here's why, nutshell version.

The hours you go without any fuel

Let's assume that you eat dinner around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. Now let's assume you get up at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. like the "pros" do it to work before real work--12 percent of Americans do this every day, with over half (53) skipping a morning meal at least once a week. You're still alive. But now let's also assume that, if you're so driven to drag yourself out of bed at that kind of hour, then like 29 percent of Americans, you likely feel compelled, probably by sheer demand or the desire to look productive and gain a semblance of job security, to work through your lunch, too. This sequence translates to going almost 24 hours without a real meal, because realistically, you're probably not going to have dinner until after work.

Did you get that? If you're getting up early and not eating breakfast or lunch, you're not fasting from the time you get up to dinner. You're fasting from dinner the night before.

You're a high-performance machine, but you can't live out of one

Oh, but you can snack, you say. This is absolutely fine if you aren't eating junk. Some nuts, string cheese, a boiled egg--those are golden. But since 40 percent of millennials won't even eat cereal anymore because it's too inconvenient to clean up afterward, I'll bet you're leaning to a vending machine. These machines can be the only source of food for sale in a workplace. And while there are specialty companies making huge strides in healthy vending, many machines still are stocked with the typical candy bars, processed crackers or sodas. Trying to make your body work with that kind of fuel is a lot like putting crude oil in your coffee maker. You're not designed to work that way, as the statistics on diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease demonstrate.

But there's intermittent fasting!

Isn't that supposed to be good for you? According to Harvard Health, there's actually very little evidence that fasting adds health benefits beyond any other weight loss strategy. And other research suggests that women in particular have to be careful of fasting, as it can mess with their hormones more.

But let's assume there might be benefits we don't quite grasp yet. If you regularly skip breakfast and have a good lunch, then you're naturally doing the 16:8 method (don't eat for 16 hours, eat in the next eight hour window what you want). But if you also work through lunch, then you'll likely push or exceed the recommended fasting period (14 hours for women, 16 for men). Go that long and your blood sugar might sag into dangerous territory, affecting the energy you have to do tasks and focus. Even with the eat-stop-eat method, where you fast for 24 hours, you're only supposed to do it twice a week, not every day. And some experts assert that when you have only one meal, you're less likely to eat well-balanced, nutritious food choices. And others note that, on top of potentially impairing cognitive function and sleep, this type of fasting isn't sustainable and can lead to you eventually needing to eat more.

So the bottom line is, getting up at the crack of dawn and skipping breakfast isn't the end of the world if you feed yourself in the middle of the day. But if you've got FOMO so bad that you're setting your alarm for 3:45 and work through lunch without healthy snacks, then part of your morning routine has to be eating a balanced meal. Otherwise, you put yourself at at risk for serious brain fog and other health issues, none of which will be a boon to your career. But remember. Balanced doesn't have to mean complicated or time consuming. (I'm considering you, non-cereal eaters.) Think wheat toast and peanut butter with a bowl of Greek yogurt, for example, or maybe overnight oats, breakfast burritos with made-ahead fillings, or avocado on wheat toast with a side of low-fat cottage cheese. Eat right out of the container if you have to (I won't tell, I promise). But eat something. You're worth the five minutes.

Published on: Jun 18, 2018
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