People often agonize over what to eat for breakfast on the autoimmune paleo protocol. Giving up the sugar-laden pastries, cereals, and muffins is no easy task---but starting your day with a greens-rich breakfast will enable all the dominos to fall into place.
To Fast or Not to Fast?
Although there is a plethora of research demonstrating the benefits of fasting for autoimmune disease, many people with autoimmunity have hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction, colloquially known as "adrenal fatigue". In this cohort of individuals, emphasizing regular meal timing and consumption of high quality animal protein and healthy fats at every meal is paramount for regulation of circadian rhythms.
There is an accumulating body of evidence supporting meal timing to ensure proper circadian rhythm physiology, which is crucial given the prominent correlations between circadian disruption, disease pathology, and morbidity (Johnston, 2014). As articulated by Johnston (2014), "Time of day alters lipid and glucose profiles following individual meals whereas, over a longer time scale, meal timing regulates adiposity and body weight; these changes may occur via the ability of timed feeding to synchronise local circadian rhythms in metabolically active tissues".
If your blood sugar is well-regulated, and you do not suffer from frequent episodes of hypoglycemia, then periodic intermittent fasting might take your healing to the next level. However, if you experience symptoms of low blood sugar, including but not limited to the following, then eating a higher-fat, higher-protein breakfast like my recipe below for "AIP Adrenal Breakfast Salad" within half an hour of awakening is crucial.
- confusion or disorientation
- poor proprioception (coordination)
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- shakiness or trembling
- tachycardia (racing pulse)
- pallor (pale skin coloration)
- vasovagal syncope (fainting)
Meal Timing for Weight Loss and Reversal of Adrenal Dysfunction
Further, research has consistently demonstrated that subjects who consumed their main meals later in the day lost less weight, at a slower rate, than those who ate earlier in the day, despite equivalency in caloric intake, dietary composition, energy expenditure, and sleep duration (Garaulet et al., 2013).
In a similar experiment, where obese women ate energy-restricted diets that diverged only in the percentage of energy distributed between their breakfasts and dinners, those eating bigger breakfasts lost significantly more weight. In addition, those with bigger breakfasts exhibited improvements in insulin sensitivity and triglyceride concentrations (Jakubowicz et al., 2013).
On the other hand, the evidence supports that night eating is consistently more prevalent in overweight and obese groups (Galant, Lundrgen, & Drapeau, 2012). Caloric intake after eight o'clock at night is associated with higher body mass index (BMI), independent of age, sleep duration, and sleep timing (Baron et al., 2011). According to Johnston (2014), "Together these data support the hypothesis that the timing of food intake is important for body-weight regulation".
In effect, I consider fasting to be a higher-level intervention, to be undertaken after the fundamentals of diet, exercise, stress management, and restorative sleep are reigned in. For those with adrenal burn-out, however, it is important to focus on eating smaller, whole foods meals every few hours to balance blood sugar, restore normal hormonal secretion patterns, and mitigate inflammation.
The Supplemental Strategy for Blood Sugar Regulation and Adrenal Healing
In addition to regular meal timing, my favorite botanical to recommend to those with blood sugar dysregulation is berberine, which you can find in my shop *here* under the heading "Anti-microbials".
Not only does berberine combat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), but it also has been shown to work as well as the type 2 diabetes drug Metform in lowering fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (glycated hemoglobin, or the measure of average blood sugar over a several-month span) (Ying, Xin, & Ye, 2008) Thus, berberine is an effective agent for insulin resistance that is often the culprit behind hypoglycemic episodes. The researchers conclude, "This pilot study indicates that berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic agent with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism" (Yin, Xing, & Ye, 2008).
Berberine likewise improves gut barrier function in rodent models, targeting intestinal permeability, one of the underlying causes of autoimmune disease (Gong et al., 2017). In addition to exerting positive effects on the immune system, endocrine system, and structure of the gut, berberine causes favorable changes in glucose and lipid metabolism in rat models, highlighting that berberine may be a viable therapy for those with pre-diabetes or fatty liver (Zhao et al., 2017). I have personally had success regulating my blood sugar with the combination berberine-alpha lipoic acid formula in my Shop, since both of these nutraceuticals help reverse metabolic derangements.
Baron et al. (2011). Role of sleep timing in caloric intake and BMI. Obesity, 19, 1374–1381.
Gallant, A.R., Lundgren, J. & Drapeau, V. (2012). The night-eating syndrome and obesity. Obesity Reviews, 13, 528–536.
Garaulet et al. (2013) Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. International Journal of Obesity, 37, 604–611.
Gong et al. (2017). Berberine attenuates intestinal mucosal barrier dysfunction in type 2 diabetic rats. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8(42).
Jakubowicz D, Barnea M, Wainstein J, et al. (2013) High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity 21, 2504–2512.
Johnston, J.D. (2014). Physiological responses to food intake throughout the day. Nutrition Research Reviews, 27(1), 107-118.
Yin, J., Xing, H., & Ye, J. (2008). Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolism, 57(4), 712-717.
Zhao et al. (2017). Berberine improves glucogenesis and lipid metabolism in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. BMC Endocrine Disorders, 17(13).
- 1 package of organic chicken breast
- 1 cup organic romaine lettuce, chopped,
- 1/2 of an organic cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup sunflower-seeds (omit for AIP)
- 1 avocado, sliced into one-inch sections
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- dried parsley
- sea salt
- pepper (omit for AIP)
- Cut chicken breast into strips
- Add spices to chicken breast
- Sautee chicken on medium heat for 12-15 minutes until golden brown