Here might be a typical breakfast for you, and many would consider it to be reasonable and healthy:  fruit-sweetened oatmeal, a banana, and a glass of milk.  Later you might have an apple or a handful of raisins for a snack.

That is not a balanced breakfast for anyone, friends.  It is a bowl of carbohydrate with some diced carbohydrate stirred in, followed by a peeled carbohydrate, washed down with a glass of carbohydrate.  (Yes.  I know there are levels of fat and protein in each, but I’m talking your fundamental, core macronutrient composition of each food.)

Let me provide a little insight that may help simplify your food choices.  Every food can be placed into one of three groups: carbohydrate, protein and fat.  Those are the only three categories you need to know when considering balancing your meals and snacks.

So, what do you think will happen when you eat the “healthy” breakfast above?  Well, at first, as your glucose levels spike,  you will feel great and your sweet tooth will also be thanking you!  You may feel satisfied for a  short time.  But then comes the switch–you’ll be ravenous in a few short hours, you will feel groggy mid-morning, not to mention your workout will feel…meh.

Food is fuel, but food is also a drug, because what you eat affects your hormonal response.  It is medication by way of food.  Your input is directly related to your output.

Carbohydrate is a substance that affects the hormone called insulin, which is your energy-storage hormone.

Protein is a substance that affects the hormone called glucagon, which is your energy-mobilizer hormone.

Fat is neutral.  It slows the release of energy.  Keyword: satiety.

What does this mean for you?  You can use the hormone response from your food to create positive outcomes in your body.  Cool.  If you have too much of one thing or another, you will foster a hormonal imbalance, which will eventually have more and more of an impact over time.  Even if you don’t have health problems like inflammation, sleep disruption, or autoimmune disorders, you will see that your performance, clarity, and overall energy will improve dramatically.

So…think of every meal as a teeter totter.  Classify your foods in terms of their macronutrient makeup, and ensure you have the right balance.

For those of you who learn visually:

Nourish yourself well!

8 comments on “Balance”

  1. You have changed my thinking about going Primal with this article. I will have to research more to see if I could commit. Or perhaps I should start off slow and gradually mix in some of your yummy sounding recipes.


    1. Nora, you don’t have to go completely primal. I just suggest making sure you eat some lean protein and healthy fat at every meal. I of course could talk for hours about why you would LOVE switching over completely, but for now, just make sure you are getting that protein and fat with your healthy sources of carbs…Leigh


  2. Leigh,

    I’ve been hoping to cross paths w you one day on post to introduce myself to you. This website is informative, inspirational, and has been life changing (positive) for me! I am a nurse practitioner and firmly believe “you are what you eat.” I work daily teasing out labs, tweeking meds for patients, etc trying to fight all the chronic disease that likely could be avoided/ eliminated w a healthy lifestyle. I enjoy the recipes. After I have a third baby in Oct I’d love to check out a crossfit workout. Nora, Katie, and Veronica inspire me. Ps. You were my husbands neighbor when he was younger, and a dear friend Molly Capra adores you too 😉


    1. Wow, Melissa, Thanks for your sweet words!! I have loved knowing the Palkas thru the years, and I am sorry we didn’t meet at Ft. Hood!! (those were not my happiest of days!) I would love to have you join us at the gym…we have had pregnant and newly post-partum ladies in our group–its all scalable and will quickly provide you with results. I am glad you like the recipes. I really hope we can meet soon. I will be here all summer, and at Delafield with my little children quite often, so maybe we will bump into each other!! Love, Leigh


  3. Great summary, Leigh! The typical American breakfast is quite sad, and the worst part is that it’s what the FDA reccomends as a healthy breakfast!
    Best advice is to ask yourself what I ask my kids every morning: what’s your protein?


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