Why You’re Not Hungry in the Morning

For most of my life, even as a kid, I remember rarely having an appetite in the morning. More likely, it was feeling queasy from being hungover, and that wasn’t until closer to noon anyway!

Even on days when I wasn’t out drinking the night before (I swear it wasn’t that often, I was a real lightweight with alcohol) my appetite didn’t really kick in until I had been awake for several hours. But neither did my energy levels. 

I could lay in bed hitting the snooze button for at least an hour, maybe more before finally getting up. Caffeine often made me feel worse so I didn’t really turn to coffee. It was just a slow, dragging process to finally have energy and desire to eat. 

Then, the opposite usually happened at night, when I should have been asleep I would get wired and feel the urge to binge eat. My entire life I was a night owl that consumed the majority of my calories after dark.

About ten years ago, I learned about intermittent fasting and my prayers were answered. Nothing was wrong with me after all! If I wanted to live forever I shouldn’t eat breakfast anyway.

It seemed so easy, and even going entire days without food was no problem. Except it was a problem. My circadian rhythms were still all dysregulated, my disordered eating was now being encouraged, and my energy levels and muscle tone were both in serious decline. 

So this may not exactly be describing what you’re experiencing, but if you’re not hungry in the morning here’s where it all connects.

By starving my body completely or just of carbs for 16+ hours everyday, I was teaching my body to be adapted to a highly stressful chronic state of uncertainty. At first, it felt great, because the stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline kick in and it’s like running on high octane. The body in it’s millions of years of evolutionary wisdom knows that if you’re really hungry, it needs to kick in some extra juice to help you find something to eat before it’s game over! 

You can see the attraction for many biohackers and silicon valley types who think it’s all about pushing their bodies beyond the normal limits of physical ability to outperform their competitors. 

For the rest of us, this sounds attractive when we can barely perform, let alone think about outperforming anyone. But we are probably finding ourselves in this position because we’ve already gone as far as our adrenals can take us. 

And when our bodies are completely overwhelmed by chronic stress, nutritional problems, lack of exercise, and so many other problems, the only solution is to slow everything down and wait for the storm to clear.

So that’s what our bodies do. Like when your phone asks if you want to go into low power mode when your battery hits 10%. Sure, it still works, but nowhere near as well as it does when it’s fully charged. 

That’s when your appetite changes from one that supports having energy all do to one that supports storing energy and conserving it as much as possible. Seems crazy to think that in our modern world of overwhelming amounts of food, that has become the default for so many of us. Even those of us who think we are eating healthy. That’s because a lot of the “healthy” things we’ve been told to do are actually signalling to our bodies to prepare for the long cold winter!

Consider the hibernating bear, who slows his metabolism down after gorging on salmon for a few months. The high levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in the salmon tell the bear’s metabolism to store fat to last through the cold, dark, foodless winter. The PUFAs increase insulin resistance, and when insulin levels increase, they block the breakdown of fat into usable energy.[1] In other words, they force you to store more fat. Even when I weighed only 128lbs as a “low-carb raw vegan” that drank only green juice for dinner, I still had some belly fat. I was “skinny fat,” and I had the same insulin-resistance symptoms as people weighing almost three times as much. Fat gets deposited in the non-adipose tissue like the liver and muscle, and it takes far more insulin to get the sugar into the cells. That might make the bear feel sluggish, weak, or if this went on long enough, suffer from chronic pain in the energy starved muscles.

In 1929, research by George and Mildred Burr led to the idea that there could be “essential fatty acids,” or EFAs. “Burr’s disease” was thought to be a deficiency in these EFAs until about 10 years later when it turned out it was just a deficiency of B6. When the Burr’s conducted their experiments, B vitamins hadn’t been discovered. The rats fed PUFAs had slower metabolism than those that weren’t, and so the non-PUFA rats burned through critical nutrients faster on the diet, creating the illusion of a “PUFA-deficiency.” The reality is there’s no such thing. 

Over the last 100 years or so, the human diet has exponentially increased in the percentage of PUFAs to saturated fats. Largely based on “science” sponsored by Procter & Gamble to sell Crisco, the hydrogenated cottonseed oil by-product of their soap production, Americans were convinced that their traditional diets high in saturated fats were killing them and PUFAs were essential and heart-healthy. The researcher failed to mention that of the 23 countries he studied, he ignored the 16 that refuted his findings. No connection between saturated fats and heart disease was ever established. 

In fact, the opposite has been seen, as Americans consistently shunned saturated fats for PUFAs, our rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and neurological diseases grew exponentially. Most chronic diseases are associated with metabolic dysfunction and excess body fat (which can include us “skinny fat” people). 

PUFAs exert a direct inhibitory effect on thyroid function by blocking its release of hormones, conversion of T4 to T3, and use of T3 by the cells. This slows all metabolic processes, including but not limited to burning fat, digestion, reproductive function, the immune system and the brain. Simply put, it makes you feel tired, have brain fog, and gain weight with fewer calories.[2]

The other danger to our thyroid in what many claim to be the “healthiest” diets, are carotenoids. The most popular being beta-carotene, which is in most multivitamins, too. Metabolizing carotenoids requires the thyroid to regulate their conversion into vitamin A retinaldehyde so they can be eliminated with specific enzymes. At first, this leads to hyperthyroid conditions as the body races to get rid of the carotenoids. If this pathway becomes overwhelmed, the thyroid slows down. Hyperthyroid patients have elevated levels of vitamin A in their liver as a result of a diet high in carotene. Carotenoids are fat-soluble, so if the body runs out of room to store the excess, it alters metabolism to increase fat for storing more carotenoids.[3

No wonder all these people choosing a sweet potato fried in canola oil or drenched in margarine are finding themselves fatter and sicker than those eating a regular potato fried in beef tallow or drenched in butter! Just one example of the “healthier” choice being more of the same problem that caused the mess in the first place.

One sweet potato can have a week’s worth of beta-carotene. And many of the fruits and veggies in a typical healthy diet are loaded with carotenoids, too. Including dark leafy greens and nightshades (hopefully you’ve read up on how peppers and tomatoes are connected to allergies, too).

Then, maybe someone convinced you to give up dairy, replacing the saturated fats with PUFAs like almond milk or cashew cheese cake. Eating more fish instead of red meat. Taking omega 3 DHA or fish oil supplements (especially pregnant ladies and babies on formula!)

Wow, so all these supposedly healthy things are making us fat and suppressing our appetites. Then we think it’s probably sugar’s fault, so we cut out sugar, too. But like I shared previously, sugar is our friend when we want to get in shape and feel great. Sucrose (table sugar, a glucose and fructose molecule) and fructose help fuel our liver to support it in several hundred metabolic functions, including burning fat. So, when we eschew sugars, we further inhibit our ability to burn fat, or do just about anything, really. Everything in our body slows down, and stress hormones push us into our coping mechanisms for dealing with starvation. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle unless we break the chain. 

Start by eliminating as much PUFAs and carotene as you can. Then, start eating sugars and fruits with protein consistently from waking until bedtime. Diets that have the highest ratio of carbs to protein promote the best longevity, cardiovascular health, and lowest body fat. You have to retrain your body to feel safe, and eat like the high metabolic person you want to become. That also includes lifting weights and being active. 

Not sure where to start? We’ve made it easy for you with recipes, meal plans, and all the support of a community of people just like you going through this together. Schedule a free call to answer all of your questions and show you how easy it is to get started right now!

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