Breakfast of Champions: Balance Your Mood, Power Up Your Brain, Burn More Fat, & Boost Your Immunity
I simply cannot overstate the importance of your food choices when it comes to your mental health. In a very real sense, you have TWO brains – one in your head, and one in your gut – both of which are created from the same tissue during fetal development.
In the big picture, nourishing your gut health is therefore essential to maintaining a positive mood. Even individual food choices may make a difference in how you feel mentally and emotionally from day to day.
– Dr. Joseph Mercola, Alternative Medicine Physician
What you ingest first thing in the morning will determine how you feel for the rest of the day.
Have you noticed how your body feels after a sugary, high-carb breakfast? Are you crashing before lunchtime and/or starving a couple of hours after? Do you ever experience “brain fog” or difficulty retaining information or concentrating for an extended period of time? Do you find yourself experiencing mood swings and irritability or impatience after eating certain foods?
That’s because the quality of foods we eat directly impacts our mental and emotional state, as well as our energy levels.
You’ve probably got a pretty full plate already trying to juggle all your personal and professional responsibilities and demands. I bet you’d be delighted if you could somehow figure out a way to generate tons more energy in your mornings while maintaining sharp focus AND stay on fat-burning mode while you’re at it. If you’re like me, you need to be in top-notch shape mentally to tackle the tasks and to-do lists required to make your vision come alive. This is especially true if you’re doing any sort of creative work like writing and researching or any kind of work that requires your sharpened intuitive capabilities.
Up until recently, I struggled to get my mental engines revving in the morning. I’d wake up so tired from the night before; my energy levels felt stuck. I felt like I had cloudy brain fog that wouldn’t dissipate or let up. I tried going off coffee. Missed it. I tried going back on coffee. Felt jittery and crashed. I tried eating fruit only. I was starving an hour later and craving something starchy.
And after learning about how food impacts how we feel, it made sense… Not only does the ol’ sugar/carb rush make you come down (and hard), a recent Yale School of Medicine study found that it also shrinks our most powerful brain cells as well. 
High-sugar, high-carb breakfasts can:
- Create harmful gut bacteria that can overpower the “good” gut bacteria and not only wreak havoc with your insides but like Dr. Mercola mentioned, with your mental/emotional state too. 
- Suppress BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, an essential growth hormone created in the brain. Depression is marked by very low levels of this hormone.) 
- Sugar = inflammation (which weakens our immune system and messes with our brains.) 
- Sugar and grains can create insulin resistance, which also impacts our mental state. 
- Sugar can lead to big rises and falls in blood sugar, which directly translates to mood swings. 
- Processed foods, additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame are also toxic to our bodies and brains and have been known to affect our moods. (Depression and panic attacks are known potential side effects of aspartame consumption.) 
- Gluten (a protein found in grains) causes major inflammation in our bodies, which in turn wreaks havoc in our brains. Gluten also inhibits the production of feel-good neurochemical serotonin. Physician Dr. David Perlmutter’s research points to the fact that gluten-based inflammation is at the core of many neurodegenerative (the breakdown of the brain) and mood disorders. 
Most grain foods… still are associated with a carbohydrate surge. They have a fairly high glycemic index, meaning that after 90-120 minutes, your blood sugar is going to go up, and that is detrimental to the brain… Even mild elevations in blood sugar compromise brain structure and lead to shrinkage of the brain.
– Dr. David Perlmutter, Physician, Researcher, & Author of “Grain Brain”
It wasn’t until I discovered my Daily Morning Trifecta that I started to feel a radical change in terms of my energy levels, mental cognition and clarity, focus and memory retention, fullness levels, curbed cravings, and even increased fat burning capability (most notably with my belly fat.)
Everybody is different. We’re all sensitive to and respond to different things. My intention here is to share with you what’s worked for me, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work the same way for you. As with everything, feel it out and listen to your body. Change or tweak it according to what feels right for you – there’s no right or wrong way to go about it.
Breakfast of Champions – The Daily Morning Trifecta:
1) The Elixir of Life (Turmeric Lemon Water)
What’s In It?
Juice of 1 organic lemon
1 tsp organic ground turmeric
1 tsp organic cayenne pepper
2 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
A dash of black pepper
Mix everything and chug.
I call this little concoction my ‘Elixir of Life’ because not only are the individual components super potent and powerful by themselves, but something alchemical occurs when you mix them together…
‘Elixir of Life’ benefits:
– Cleansing/ detoxifying/ alkaline – it regulates your internal landscape, pH levels, and hydrates/refreshes you from the inside out.
– Antioxidant – helps you fight disease and keep you looking young and hot.
– Anti-inflammatory – helps keep bloating and inflammation at bay both within and without. (This is especially great if you experience allergies or food sensitivities!)
– Fat burner – boosts metabolism and helps you burn fat and eat less.
– Digestion helper – your gut and insides will thank you if you make this a daily morning ritual!
- It contains electrolytes like potassium, calcium, and magnesium which helps to hydrate the body, especially upon awakening. 
- Antioxidant – packed with Vitamin C, which is not only great for radiant skin but also makes for a powerful infection fighter and immunity booster. (It also helps the body fight free-radicals that cause aging.) 
- Citric Acid helps the body improve digestion. 
- Curcumin has been found to be a powerful anti-inflammatory compound 
- Curcumin has also been found to be an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal 
- Heart health – protects from cardiovascular diseases. 
- Suppresses appetite 
- Boosts metabolism thereby burning more fat! (Daily, prolonged use recommended for maximum benefits.) 
- Heart & blood health – may reduce “bad” cholesterol and may help prevent blood clots, allowing more blood to flow. 
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):
- Heart health – studies on rats have shown that their blood pressure could be lowered by the acetic acid found in ACV  and has also been shown to decrease “bad” cholesterol in other animal studies 
- Weight loss – seems to have an anti-obesity effect that increases your ‘fullness’ sensors and therefore reduces the amount of food consumed. 
These are only some of the overall benefits of each key component; there’s a whole lot more! If you want to know about the full spectrum of powerful healing effects of this Elixir, check out this post where I go even deeper and specify the mechanisms and breakdowns in detail.
2) Bulletproof Coffee (BPC) with Maca
What’s In It?
1 cup of High-Quality coffee made with high-quality beans
1 tbsp Organic, Grass-Fed Unsalted Butter or Coconut oil
1 tbsp High-grade MCT oil
1 tbsp Organic Maca powder
Organic Vanilla ground vanilla
Mix it all together to create a creamy, frothy, tasty cafe. (Caution: You might get hooked.)
For detailed instructions on how to make BPC from the creator, Dave Asprey, himself, check this out (note: I add the maca as well.)
There’s a lot of controversy around coffee and whether it is “good” or “bad.” Science seems to support both sides. For example, in one of his articles, functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman refers to coffee disrupting our adrenal glands and spiking up our stress hormones. .
Dr. Mercola also writes about coffee, stating that coffee is “the #1 source of antioxidants in the US” and also refers to studies that point to coffee helping fight off various types of cancer. He also shares that coffee may affect multiple mood-related neurotransmitters and that according to research coffee triggers a release of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, an essential growth hormone created in the brain, which as I mentioned above is suppressed by sugar, remember?) 
I gave up coffee for a long while because I felt jittery and then I’d feel the subsequent crash thereafter. I just didn’t like how it made me feel. So I went for a cup of tea in the mornings. Then my boyfriend introduced me to Bulletproof coffee and schooled me on some interesting things that made me want to give BPC a try, especially because he really makes a great tasting cuppa.
I was skeptical about putting butter and oil in my coffee. It sounded ludicrous to me. I’d heard about BPC years before but dismissed it as the hype and a passing fad. Then I tried it. Once the creamy froth hit my lips I was surprised at how nice and smooth it tasted. (And it didn’t even need sugar or sweetener!)
The next thing I noticed was that I didn’t experience that jittery caffeine rush and subsequent crash like I had with my past morning lattes. That’s because mixing caffeine with milk can spike up your blood sugar. Unless you carefully select an unsweetened kind, most milk of any kind contains some amount of sugar. With BPC, the high-grade fats in the coffee made me feel balanced and satiated for a long while after drinking it.
I found I didn’t need to have that piece of toast any more. I noticed I stopped craving carby things like croissants and English muffins. The other thing I noticed was my ability to focus for a sustained period of time. This was a big one for me. It felt like I could just dive into my work and sustain the flow for hours after ingesting BPC in the morning.
Again, my intention with this post is to share with you what has worked for me, which may not work for you. Listen to your body and go with what feels right. Test stuff out. Take what you vibe with, leave the rest. (If you have a caffeine or coffee sensitivity, try the above concoction with tea instead. It’s just as good and tasty and may sit with your body even better.)
BPC might not work for you. It didn’t sit well with a friend who started taking it up in the mornings. She texted me one day asking me if I was experiencing acne, skin breakouts, and headaches… I wasn’t, but apparently her body was reacting differently. I wanted to help her figure it out so I did some research on the subject and came across some info that I want to share with you because if you’re going to give BCP a go, there are some things you should know:
– BCP is to be taken by itself, and definitely not to be taken with any carbs, sugars, or dairy. (No added sweeteners, no creamers… just the grass-fed butter and MCT or XCT oil, both derived from coconut oil but in a more concentrated, upgraded form… In fact, if you’re going to go the carby route, I’d suggest not doing BPC at all as the mixture of high carb, high fat might not agree with your body.)
– After my morning BCP I am mindful of what I eat for lunch. It’s best not to go crazy on the carbs or sugars as this will kill the ketogenic effect of BPC. (Ketosis occurs when the body begins to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar. So the less sugar and carbs you ingest, the more fat you burn!)
“I start the day with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee… because it has a massive impact on cognitive function. So I use the lowest toxin, highest performance coffee there is… and blend unsalted, grass fed butter into it, along with an extract of coconut oil that improves brain energy. Yes, butter. All the benefits of healthy milk fat with none of the damaging denatured casein proteins found in cream… It will keep you satisfied with level energy for 6 hours if you need it and because I’m having it for breakfast, I’m programming my body to burn fat for energy all day long!”
– Dave Asprey, creator of Bulletproof Coffee and founder of Bulletproof Executive.
You know who else starts the day with BCP? Dr. Mark Hyman.  Yes, he did write an article with reasons to quit coffee, AND it appears that he might also believe that coffee taken in this form (with the good kinds of fats) can be a good thing.
People always want to know what I’m eating. I talk a lot about cutting sugar and processed carbs and eating real, whole, fresh foods, but everyone wants to know if I walk the walk! The truth is that I have to. I have about ten jobs, two kids, a dog, a team, weeks of travel at a time… the list goes on and on. In order to keep up with this lifestyle, maintaining optimal health becomes a top priority. Here’s a typical day of eating for me… Breakfast: Bulletproof Coffee. When I can, I’ll also make some time for movement in the morning. I love to go on long bike rides with my son or start up a game of basketball before a long day, and after I work out, I usually enjoy my whole-food protein shake.
– Dr. Mark Hyman, functional medicine doctor and author of “Eat Fat, Get Thin”
… Now you know why I’m a fan of BPC and why it’s part 2 of my Daily Morning Trifecta. And for an added bonus, here’s the other (big) little secret weapon I use to hack my biology to boost my brain power and fat burning abilities:
- Maca is a plant grown in Peru in the high altitudes of the Andes mountains and has been used medicinally and as a staple crop for at least 3000 years. 
- It’s comprised of 18% protein and 76% carbs and contains over 20 amino acids, 8 of which are essential. It also contains generous amounts of fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, sodium, selenium, and zinc to name a few. 
- It’s an antioxidant. 
- Can improve sexual function in women. One study found maca to be effective in regulating female sexual dysfunction related to taking commonly prescribed anti-depressants. 
- It’s a brain protector – according to some animal studies maca displays neuroprotective qualities that may improve overall brain power 
- thanks to its fatty acids, maca root may help support mood balance and according to animal studies may also prove effective in treating stress, anxiety, and depression.  
- fertility booster – animal test results seem promising when it comes to maca’s ability to boost hormones associated with fertility, especially in female subjects. 
- because it promotes hormone balance and is great for the endocrine system, maca can help with PMS symptoms and menopause symptoms.  
- Ladies tell your gents: maca upgrades sperm by improving production and motility. 
- Also for the guys: maca can improve your sexual behavior and promote prostate health according to animal studies.  
- It’s an energy booster! 
- It’s not only antioxidant, according to testing on rats it may help the body produce more antioxidants, like glutathione, naturally. This could be good for preventing and treating some chronic diseases. 
- Recommended daily doses vary, but the average is between 1g. – 5g. daily.
Lately, I’ve been taking the following 4 supplements daily as part 3 of the Trifecta:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Cod Liver Oil
Biohacker Dave Asprey says: “Vitamin D isn’t just the most important supplement – it is the most important biohack.”
- Vitamin D partakes in over 1,000 different genes and serves as an essential underlying base for sex hormones like: testosterone, human growth hormones, and estrogen. 
- Regulates immune function (fights infections) and inflammation. 
- Aids in calcium metabolism and bone formation 
- It’s one of the few vitamins we can produce on our own from the sun’s rays but for many this isn’t enough, especially if you don’t live in a sunny place. If you’re darker skinned you don’t convert Vit. D as quickly and may need to take more. 
- Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to depression and mood disorders in older adults. 
- Vital for your heart health. 
- Helps repair DNA 
- Helps prevent against autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease 
- Take Vitamin A (i.e.: cod liver oil) along with Vitamin D to avoid overdosing.
- The general recommended dose is 1000 IU / 25 lbs of body weight.
I take 5000 IU/daily of Vitamin D3 in the morning.
It is extremely important you get your bloodwork done to know exactly where your body chemistry stands. Even living in Miami, I was surprised when the doctor told me my blood work showed my Vitamin D levels were on the floor they were so low. Before you take this or any supplement, please do your research and consult with your doctor, especially if you’re taking other medications and/or have other health conditions.
Again, this is what I take because it works for me. Everybody is different.
- Your body doesn’t produce this vitamin so you get it from food intake (i.e. lemons) and from supplements. 
- It helps grow and repair tissue in all the body. It helps make collagen (used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.) 
- It can heal wounds and repair/maintain healthy bones and teeth. 
- It’s an antioxidant. 
- Though it’s rare to be deficient with this vitamin, cigarette smoking lowers your vitamin C levels and signs of deficiency are: splitting hair, gingivitis, rough/dry skin, decreased wound-healing time, easy bruising, and nosebleeds. 
Cod Liver Oil:
- High in both Vitamin A & D, which has been controversial in terms of vitamin toxicity. According to the Weston A. Price Organization, “the vitamin D found in Cod liver oil and butterfat from pasture-raised animals protects against vitamin A toxicity, and allows one to consume a much higher amount of vitamin A before it becomes toxic.”  Also, grass-fed butter oil contains vitamin K(2), which is said to protect against vitamin D toxicity. (Call this combo of cod liver and butter oil a ‘checks and balances system’.)
- In ‘The 4 Hour Body,’ Tim Ferriss also mentions fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi as good sources for vitamin K(2). I usually have a few spoonfuls of sauerkraut during the day. You can also incorporate it into your daily diet to add an extra boost to this supplement. 
- It contains Omega 3, 6, 7, 9 fatty acids, which have been known to play a role in creating emotional well being. One study showed a 20% reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega 3. 
- Ciltep is a nootropic – which is a natural-derived dietary supplement used to improve mental performance and cognitive function, particularly used for achieving motivation, concentration, and memory. 
- Both prominent biohackers, Dave Asprey and Tim Ferriss have mentioned the use of Ciltep when they need a brain boost for writing or other creative purposes.
- Comprised of artichoke extract among other all-natural ingredients.
- Works on a cellular level to induce Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) which is a state of increased neuron connectivity and improved memory retention. 
*Even though I share the amounts/doses I take daily, please check in with your doctor or do your own research. I am not a doctor nor am I recommending you follow my doses. Although I am taking these supplements now, there’s a myriad of supplements one can take. This is not meant to be the ‘end-all, be all,’ or the ‘holy grail,’ as I myself change up what I take depending on various factors.
So there you have it – my daily morning trifecta breakdown.
Now you’ll understand why I’m so inspired to share all this research and knowledge with you… Not so you’ll blindly follow it, but so you educate yourself and then make a balanced decision based on what works best for you.
I didn’t figure all this out in one go. I’ve been tweaking and reinventing for a while based on how I feel and what my mind and body most need to get the job done at any given time. You’re here to do and create cool things that will provide value to us all. You owe it to yourself to set yourself up to win and create the most optimal environment for your mind and potential to bloom. And if I’ve even created just one little ripple in your pond today with this info, I am very grateful for the opportunity!
Let me know how you go. I’d love to hear your thoughts after reading this and also what kinds of powerful morning rituals you create for yourself too.
 http://www.fourhourbody.com/ “The 4-Hour Body” Tim Ferris, page 505-506