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Insights for Entrepreneurs

What’s the Simple Secret to Energy, Productivity, and Success?

When you’re almost late to an 8:00 a.m. meeting, little else matters to you except being on time. Bagels or bacon, donuts or scrambled eggs—as long as you can put it in your body, you’re happy. And, hey, if you don’t have time, you can always wait until lunch.

Really, who’s got time for breakfast? You’ve got payroll to make!

But entrepreneurs who think they’re above good nutrition will pay for their hubris with low energy, bad sleep, and may even risk long-term health problems. And good nutrition starts at breakfast because how you start your day will effect your energy, your concentration, and your food decisions through the work hours and beyond.

If you want to avoid bad sleep and afternoon lulls, make breakfast a priority—and do it right. Here’s how.

First Things First: Eat Something

“Breakfast has been labeled the most important meal of the day,” wrote researchers at the University of Florida, “but is there data to support this claim?”

You’ve likely heard it before, too.

“Don’t skip breakfast!”

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”

The advice is old news. If you get your daily caloric requirement at some point during the day, aren’t you still doing your body right?

Maybe not.

The advice to eat breakfast is scientifically sound; those Florida researchers reviewed 47 studies relating to breakfast and nutrition and found that even if the type of breakfast varied, children who reported eating breakfast consistently tended to keep better nutrition profiles overall. In other words, eating breakfast was correlated with better eating decisions throughout the day.

What’s more, breakfast eaters were found to eat more calories throughout the day…and yet were less likely to be overweight than their breakfast-skipping counterparts, according to a study done in 2010.

The conclusions are clear: if you want to be healthier, eat something in the morning.

Getting Your Mornings Right

Okay, but if you really want to nail breakfast, what should you eat?

Obviously you’re going to lose the nutritional benefits of eating breakfast if you eat leftover birthday cake and wash it down with Mountain Dew in the morning. Thankfully, there’s an optimum breakfast that will keep you healthy and provide consistent energy throughout the day.

Keep the glycemic index of your breakfast low. A 2008 study concluded that eating a low-carbohydrate breakfast—without altering the other meals of the day—made people feel more satiated by the time lunch hit. “Such modifications could potentially be a useful public health recommendation,” wrote the researchers.

4-Hour Body author Tim Ferriss came to the same conclusion, writing that he keeps a “30 in 30” rule: he looks for at least 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up.

Begin Each Day Deliberately!

Entrepreneurs have a reputation for working into the late hours of the night, barely able to make time for their family and friends, never mind the right kinds of foods. Eating well can prevent burn-out and help you through times when the work is piling on.

Ditch those morning bagels and substitute them for eggs and other familiar breakfast proteins. You’ll have stable energy and won’t be distracted by hunger halfway through your morning, preventing the lunchtime pig-out that precedes the afternoon lunch coma.

Entrepreneurs, what do you eat in the morning? What changes have you seen in your energy level based on what you put in your mouth?