What’s A Healthy Morning Appetite?


One of the top all-time questions I am asked as a health coach is “when do I need to eat breakfast by?” This is usually prefaced by comments like:

  • I just don’t get hungry in the mornings
  • I feel sick if I eat first thing
  • I can’t face food until I’ve been up for a few hours
  • I don’t have time to eat first thing
  • I go straight to the gym as soon as I get up, so I can’t eat until afterwards

Whilst I’m not against purposeful fasting from time to time, and even believe that it can help you to become more insulin sensitive and thus drop body fat faster, my rule on day-to-day breakfast strategies is pretty simple. Eat protein. Do it within 30 minutes of rising.

breakfast: the key to super-charging your metabolism

We all know that eating a proper, healthy breakfast is important to maintaining a raring metabolism as well as to creating stable energy and good mental focus for the day ahead. But did you know that waiting till you’ve been up for a few hours to eat can put your body into a cortisol-driven and fat-storing state? This is particularly relevant if you suffer from busy-stressed-life syndrome (it’s a real syndrome!), if you’re training first thing, or if you’re human and tend to make poor eating choices later in the day if you don’t lay a good foundation from the get-go!

The truth is that you should be hungry if not STARVING within 30 minutes of waking. Feeling this way may not be common, but it certainly does reflect a healthy morning appetite! Recently I’ve had a few clients comment worriedly that they just can’t stop eating in the mornings and my response is GOOD. That’s awesome! Nothing better than a nice strong wake-up call from your metabolism to tell you that your hard work is paying off!

And I most definitely relate – sometimes I can hear my tummy growling before I’ve even removed my sleep mask. I’m more of a ‘live to eat’ kinda gal, so these are the days when I do tend to eat straight away no matter what. I have been known to go to work un-showered, make-up less, and with a full boofhead of frizz rather than miss my breakfast.

But there are also other days when I am so tired from the day before that I just don’t care, when I’ve pigged out until late the night before and probably am still digesting yesterday’s food, or when an accumulation of busy-ness and stress quite simply means that I’m just not hungry. These are the kind of days when I’ll be 2 coffees and a couple of blog posts in before I realise I feel like absolute crap and may have even gone past the point of no return in terms of the way I’m going to feel for the whole rest of the day!

Delaying your first meal not only can leave you dizzy, light-headed or just plain old tired and grumpy, but it can also severely ramp-down your metabolism, can elicit a lasting stress response based on your survival-instincts, and ultimately it can make it very tough for you to meet your fat loss goals. Not least because your defences will be far lower when you come across any tasting looking treats later on in the day!

My advice? You spend so much of your time; your whole life even focusing on other people’s needs and the urgency that comes from constantly wearing several hats at once. Why not make this one thing something you commit to doing for yourself no matter what?


12 responses to “What’s A Healthy Morning Appetite?”

  1. Kelly says:

    Great post there! Luckily, I am one of those that wakes up hungry in the morning. I start my day with a bowl of porridge topped with fresh berries and a yogurt. My only problem is that sometimes I am not satisfied with just that. I tend to wake up quite early in the morning to study so sometimes I end up indulging in dipping biscuits in my morning tea.. :/ Any suggestions to counter the appetite??

    • Kat says:

      My recommendation would be eat protein within 30 minutes of waking! I usually eat about 100-120 grams chicken/beef/whatever plus some nuts as soon as I wake. Well, within 20 minutes. It sounds weird but I guarantee you will feel great for studying and any later morning activity! You could have the porridge as breaky 2.

      • Kelly says:

        Hey Kat, thanks for your reply. I have tried out what you’ve suggested… I had a boiled egg when I woke up and felt porridge for later… indeed I did feel much fuller! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Kat says:

        My pleasure; glad it worked Kelly!

  2. Nate says:

    Kat, craziest breakfast question you’ve ever had, I’m sure: I won’t get into why but with my work I have to get up at 5 AM and “check” on something every 15 minutes on my laptop. I keep my laptop right next to me starting at this time and because I fall asleep VERY easy, I quickly fall asleep and set my alarm for 15 minutes later. I do this for about 2 hours until I get up completely at 7AM, ie. alarm at 5:00, 5:15, 5:30, etc. Also, I do this because I like that extra sleep instead of just getting up at 5:00. In this craziest of situations, would you recommend I quickly eat my protein breakfast from 5:00 to 5:30 (I could then sleep/check my laptop until 7:30) or not eat until I’m all the way up and at it at 7:00? — Again, I know, craziest stuff ever. It should be semi-short lived, maybe another year or so. Thanks so much! I’ve been struggling with this one knowing it’s important to eat early!

    • Kat says:

      Wow; that is very random. My recommendation would be if at ALL possible can you get a PA or VA to do this task?! Your sleep is precious! If you are going to do that; I would eat something at 5 like a small amount of meat or a hard-boiled egg or two. Mind you, eating stimulates your body to wake up. But not eating and disrupting your sleep like that is an hormonal nightmare as well. I know that’s probably not as clear-cut an answer as you’d like. Hmmm. I think I would eat something; once the alarm goes off your body is in wake-up mode anyway.

      • Nate says:

        Kat, thanks for the reply. I’ll take your suggestion and eat a little protein, and maybe I guess a better meal when I’m up for good. No VA’s for this one. Training on that, although it’s quick, would be a nightmare. Thanks!

      • Kat says:

        Good luck!

  3. Kellie says:

    Hi Kat & everyone,
    I have 2 kids to get ready for school each morning, plus I aim to work out 3 of those school mornings before the kid’s get up, so I have to be really organised. I find the best way to have a healthy breakfast ready quickly is preparation the night before. My breakfast is pretty much the same everyday; eggs, meat of some kind and fruit or veges. So I have my frypan ready to go (& loaded up with coconut oil) waiting on the stove, have my fruit or veges (done in the microwave in 2 mins) chopped & my meat already waiting on a covered plate in the fridge. In the morning it’s really just assembling everything. I try to finish my breaky before the kids get up, as it’s my quiet ME time, but both of my kids are early risers, so it doesn’t always work!! Saying ‘I don’t have time” is really just an excuse, as it doesn’t actually take that long, and anyway, isn’t your health & feeling good for the rest of the day work 10 minutes of a little bit of effort?!

    • Kat says:

      Hi Kellie; loving your attitude! The whole not having time thing really gets to me. After all, who has time to feel like crap because – as you say – they couldn’t spend a few minutes preparing healthy food. I think people perceive it takes a lot of effort to be healthy but when they do it they see it’s really just as simple as being unhealthy; and you save money on health bills down the track! Not a huge microwave fan personally ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Olivia says:

    When someone first suggested that I should eat steak in the morning I thought they were joking! But, now I swear by it, albeit ‘normal’ people think I’m strange. Since I’ve made meat part of my morning routine I have so much more energy all day long and has placated the blood sugar swings I used to experience. It also simplifies things: in the morning I just grab a piece of whatever meat I’ve cooked the night before with some nut butter and a way I go.

    • Kat says:

      Exactly! Can’t eat cereal and milk on the run … ๐Ÿ™‚ (mind you, I did used to eat porridge in the car. Messy!)