I'm writing this post from the comfort of my bed. I caught a virus that left me weak and sick and with a fever. Throughout the past three days, my need for calories has naturally decreased. Firstly, when the body is working on healing itself, there is just not that much room for food and digestion. Plus, you simply do not require the same amount of calories when you're sitting around more or less useless. It is almost 12:30pm as I'm writing this post. I had a delicious breakfast of two eggs cooked in butter at 7:30am. Nothing else... and I'm just now starting to experience a mild hunger feeling. Had I eaten a bowl of cereal, however, chances really are that I would have started feeling hungry a lot sooner.
Why is that?
A bowl of cereal may be close in calories to two eggs cooked in butter, however, it is the macronutrients that make all the difference here.
The three big macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Together, these macronutrients nourish you in the most perfect way (that's assuming you're getting your carbohydrates from mostly vegetables). Each macronutrient has a number of jobs in the body.
Carbohydrates are digested quickly and easily, because they are basically shorter and longer sugar chains that need to be broken down into the simplest form of sugar: glucose. Glucose is the stuff that keeps you running every day. When consumed as vegetables, the breakdown will take a bit longer than when consumed as a processed carbs such as cereal. Carbohydrates help fuel the brain, they provide a quick source of energy, they help regulate protein and fat metabolism, help fight infection (together with protein and fat), lubricate joints, and they provide an ever important source of fiber! (Why do you think they fortify every boxed food with fiber??? You still have to poop!) In Nutritional Therapy, we recommend that about 40% of your daily food intake comes from carbs (the good carbs, not the candy bars and cookies).
Fat and protein get an equal 30% each in your daily need of macronutrients. Again, this is a general recommendation. Each person is different and may have to experiment with their macronutrient intake a little.
Fat (such as butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil) also provides a source of energy, slows the absorption of other nutrients, is absolutely necessary for adequate use of protein, manages inflammation, and is needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K (which in turn help assimilate proteins).
Protein (coming from meats, seafood, and eggs) is the building block of many functions in the body. Enzymes are the catalysts for all biochemical processes in the body. Antibodies help fight infection, hemoglobin is a specialized protein in the form of red blood cells and those carry oxygen, and hormones regulate your metabolism
Back to our bowl of cereal, which is mostly sugar, broken down into simpler sugar with very little protein and fat, even if consumed with whole fat milk. As a liquid, your milk is still digested faster, and lactose is yet another sugar (a disaccharide to be exact). Cereal is practically devoid of anything nutritious (despite the fact, that it's touted "heart healthy" and "fortified" with this, that, and another thing) and is digested in no time.
On a good day, my breakfast would include eggs, some greens, maybe half an avocado and/or a tomato. All macronutrients included, it makes a delicious and nutritious first meal of the day!