Well-Being//

How Eating Mono Meals Can Boost Your Well-being

Mono Your Way into the Day

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Soloviova Liudmyla/ Shutterstock
Soloviova Liudmyla/ Shutterstock

This is my approach to time­restricted feeding (a form of intermittent fasting), and it will help to reestablish your body’s and your microbiome’s natural circadian rhythms and train your metabolism to enter a fasted state each day.

This well ­choreographed eating timetable involves timing your meals strategically to make the most of your body’s rest and re­ pair functions, while limiting the daylong rush hour hitting your mitochondria. Translation: You will increase the period between the last meal of one day and the first meal of the next. For some of you, this may be the most intimidating part of the program. After all, the dogma about breakfast being “the most important meal of the day” has been drilled into our heads for years, and many people struggle to start their day on an empty stomach.

But never fear: I’m going to make this easy for you. Now, I could ask you to wake up tomorrow and fast until noon (which, believe it or not, in six weeks will most likely be a breeze for you); but quite frankly, that would be the equivalent of adding a six­hour jet lag to your circadian clock and your microbiome’s clock. And, if you’ve ever flown between continents, you know that you feel off­kilter and drained for days after arriving at your destination. Our goal here is to improve, not diminish, your energy. So, we’re going to start slowly, with an eating window of twelve hours and gradually narrow that window to six to eight hours a day, while leaving a good three hours of not eating before bedtime. This gives your body, your mitochondria, your gut, and your poor addled brain much­ needed time to rest, repair, and regenerate. And, as a reward and incentive, weekends are free to do whatever you want, within reason. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Now, here’s the best part: Your first meal of the day, your “break­ fast,” is going to jump­start your energy production into high gear by making things really easy on your mitochondria. Welcome to the mono meal.

Mono Your Way into the Day

In addition to restricting your eating window, you’re going to give your mitochondria another break by providing them with one fuel and one fuel only for the first meal of the day. Remember the effects of the mono diets we discussed in Chapter 4? While I don’t recommend following them over an extended period of time, they are effective in the beginning because they reduce the mitochondrial traffic jam. We’re going to borrow a page from their playbook with not a mono diet but a mono meal.

Your first meal of the day will be based on one macronutrient. Initially this meal will be made up of an almost pure protein, or almost pure carbohydrate source, and later, as the program progresses, you can choose mostly fat. Why wait on a pure fat meal? Because it’s unlikely that you have the metabolic flexibility to burn fat right now. No cartwheels just yet. My experience with thou­ sands of patients who plunge headlong into keto diets is that they usually crash and burn because their insulin levels are too high for their bodies to run on fat for fuel. But an all­protein or all­carb meal is still easy on your mitochondria and gives you all the energy you need.

Here’s the best part: I don’t care what macronutrient you choose and neither do your mitochondria. Dealer’s choice! Carb day? Okay, how about a bowl of millet cereal with almond milk? How about a warm bowl of fonio (a tiny cousin of millet) prepared like oatmeal? Or a prebiotic shake? Or sweet potato hash browns? Time for a high­protein break­fast? As simple as a few scrambled egg whites (the whites are the protein part of the egg, the yolks are the fat), humanely raised ham or Canadian bacon, or some grass­ fed, grass­finished jerky. Vegan options for protein include hemp protein powder shakes or a basil seed pudding  that puts chia puddings to shame! This first meal of the day is a little treat for your mitochondria—you are waking them up gently with a soft pop ballad rather than heavy metal. And here’s more good news: You can mix it up! Egg whites one day, sorghum “oatmeal” the next, hemp shake the next, Canadian bacon or turkey sausage patties the next, or millet cereal every day. What kind of crazy eating program is this? I’ll tell you what it is: It’s one that works, is sustainable, and keeps you from getting stuck in a rut. Just remember, mono diets usually fail due to boredom. Not this time!

Once you make it to week 3, you can throw in fat break­fasts. My favorite is an avocado, cut in half, the pit replaced with two egg yolks and popped into the toaster oven or broiler, then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Yummy! Or what about a nice big hunk of triple cream Brie from France? Vegans, how about a pitted olive–stuffed avocado drizzled with olive oil? There are plenty of satisfying options, no matter which mono you choose.

The six­week Energy Paradox Program is incremental, so each week will break down like this: Monday through Friday you will delay your break­fast by one hour and you will try to finish your last meal by 7 p.m. In other words, if you have break­fast at 7 a.m. on Monday, you’ll have break­fast at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, 9 a.m. on Wednesday, and so on, finishing eating by 7 p.m. every day. Then, each successive week will restart the same pattern, delaying your first meal of the week by another hour. By week 6, you will have arrived at your goal of starting break­fast at noon and limiting your total eating window to seven hours (12 p.m. to 7 p.m.). And remember, your break­fast will be your choice of a mono meal—protein, carb, and after two weeks, fat if you want.

WEEK Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast

1

7 A.M.

8 A.M.

9 A.M.

10 A.M.

11 A.M.

2

8 A.M.

9 A.M.

10 A.M.

11 A.M.

12 P.M.

3

9 A.M.

10 A.M.

11 A.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

4

10 A.M.

11 A.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

5

11 A.M.

11 A.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

6

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.

12 P.M.
Excerpted from The Energy Paradox: What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone, March 16, 2021. Harper Wave.

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