know you have heard this over and over again, but breakfast is really the most important meal of the day especially if you have ADHD. It’s important that your first meal is loaded with good proteins so your brains can function at its best all day long.
It’s easier to implement advice when knowing the reasons behind it, particularly if it’s advice that you have heard of a million times. So here is what happens behind the scenes.
To protect our brains from bacterial infections and other nasties, there is a barrier called the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is very strict in what it allows to pass through the cells of the rest of our bodies into the brain area. It’s like the VIP area in a club.
When you eat protein, it is turned into amino acids and that, in turn, is made into neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the brain that allow you to focus and concentrate, feel sleepy or be motivated.
Amino acids, tryptophan, and tyrosine use the same pathway to cross the blood-brain barrier; but there is a ‘first-come, first served’ rule because they can’t both use the pathway at the same time.
A high-carb meal increases the tryptophan levels and so, serotonin is produced. The result is, you feel sleepy; so eating this type of meal is good in the evenings. In contrast, a meal with protein increases tyrosine levels, so norepinephrine and dopamine are produced. Consequently, you feel alert, energized and ready to focus; so this type of meal is good in the morning.
The reason why breakfast, in particular, is so good is that we have been fasting for 8 or so hours, and our brain hasn’t received any nutrients during that time. So it’s particularly responsive to that first meal.
If you don’t like typical breakfast foods: eggs, protein powder, etc., make a mental shift and see it as a meal with no rules. This gives you permission to eat any healthy protein, such as chicken left-overs or a tin of tuna…
If you don’t usually have time to eat breakfast, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. You will have a more productive day by eating breakfast than having those 15 minutes to sleep.
Experiment with your breakfasts and find which foods allow you to function best.