Proven. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Because the insulin kick causes your adrenal glands to stop pushing cortisol. Let me explain.

You know of cortisol (adrenaline!) as your fight or flight hormone. So when you see a tiger, you can fight or flee. However important the fight or flight instinct is, cortisol discreetly contributes in another key way. Behind the scenes.

But before I reveal cortisol’s hidden agenda, let me quickly introduce one additional character to this plot.  Insulin.  If we ignore the insulin hormone, then this narrative becomes a moot point.


Many are familiar with the role insulin plays. Especially, diabetics.

Insulin is a hormone which binds to glucose (sugar!) molecule in the blood. So the glucose can be used by your cells. Insulin is secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas when there’s glucose in the bloodstream. Especially, after we eat food.

Again, the purpose of insulin hormone is to introduce glucose molecules to your liver, muscle and etc; and guide glucose entry into the cells.

So step one is: we eat food. Step two is: the food gets digested. Step three is: insulin metabolizes carbohydrates into your cells (the fancy name for step three is called chemotaxis).

Now, imagine a teeter totter. Yes, the one you sat on as a kid. You on one end; and your friend on the other end.

As you push yourself off the ground, you start to rise. While your friend in the opposite seat simultaneously starts to fall. Back and forth, up and down. The teeter totter goes.

Now here’s the connection.

Insulin and cortisol similarly act counter to each other.

They’re called counter-regulatory hormones.

Cortisol and insulin each sit on opposite sides of the teeter totter. When one goes up; the other responds and goes down (assuming you’re sleeping properly).


So let’s get back to cortisol. What’s so special about cortisol other than fight or flight?

Answer: cortisol mobilizes stored energy when you’re in a state of starvation.

In other words, cortisol moves sugar in the opposite direction than that of insulin.

For example, if you were in the jungle or on a retreat without food for days, you would have no food consumption.  Without food consumption—especially quality carbohydrates—your blood sugar would get too low. This is called hypoglycemia. If you go too hypoglycemic, you’ll die.

This is where cortisol steps in.

The adrenal glands produce cortisol. For the fact blood sugar is low. Cortisol will then mobilize the stored energy in liver, muscle and fat. The goal? To balance blood sugar, of course.

The human body will sacrifice almost any bodily function for the sake of safely balancing blood sugar—just ask any diabetic.

And this balancing act continues while you sleep.

When we sleep, we’re going thru a period of fasting. The ends result is blood sugar becomes low. Therefore, as morning approaches, the adrenal glands are alerted to continuously secrete cortisol.

If you were to look at a normal cortisol curve, you would find it’s rising in the morning—and gradually declines throughout the day.

Repeat, cortisol should be higher in the morning. And insulin should be low in the morning.

Example: here’s my personal functional adrenal stress profile from March 2008. I had saliva tested to measure my adrenals. Notice the results: not good. I had developed little red rashes across my back and stomach a couple years prior.  So I got allergy, saliva and nutrition tested in an attempt to find the culprit of the draping rashes.

SIDE NOTE:  sleep is a key factor. If you don’t sleep in the dark; or if you stay up late hours with the lights on, then insulin will stay higher during the dark hours, when it should be flat.  To learn the hormone balancing dynamics of proper sleep, feel free to read the book Lights Out.

Here’s the bad news.

If cortisol secretion continues for too long, you could suffer from adrenal burnout. This is not good.

Not only that, because continual cortisol sucks glucose back into the bloodstream, it can confuse insulin to re-appear. This flawed signaling can contribute to a downline phenomenon called insulin resistance.

So what’s the solution?

Answer: eat quality food and get proper sleep.

Upon eating quality food after a good night’s sleep, the beta cells of the pancreas start secreting insulin. Then the teeter totter effect smoothly starts to settle in. As cortisol recognizes insulin’s response to food, the adrenal glands gradually reduce pumping cortisol. At last, the adrenal (cortisol) glands can relax.

How about diets suggesting speedy weight loss by not eating before morning exercises? Will you lose weigh?  Initially, yes. Might you instead suffer a heart-attack amidst the adrenal torture it causes? That’s a possibility, indeed.

In summary,

Skipping breakfast is an extremely dangerous approach to life. Eat breakfast to balance your blood sugar first. Even a banana: or toasted bread: or yogurt: or real fruit smoothie. Your adrenal glands will thank you for the fresh dose of natural insulin.

Here’s my usual breakfast: eggs over easy, Ezekiel toast, orange juice with a couple Greek olives. Sometimes I defer to oatmeal.

If you miss breakfast and start experiencing headaches, it may be due to a chemical imbalance caused by an overworked adrenal gland. Sharp knife-like pain in the middle of your gut from unknown origin? High likelihood it’s your adrenal glands hitting overload limits. Ever had a hunger pain from not eating? Adrenal glands are talking.

If you’re drinking coffee, exercising, using stimulant drugs or on a high protein diet while in the presence of adrenal fatigue, then the end result could be quite painful.

Get a full night’s sleep—in the dark. Eat quality food for breakfast. Your body and brain depend on it.

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