Do you often find yourself skipping breakfast, with the desire to “save up” for later in the day? This habit might be more impactful on your fertility than you realize- especially if you’re on a journey to heal from hypothalamic amenorrhea. As a registered dietitian specializing in period loss with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and fertility, I’ve encountered this issue frequently in my clients. Let’s explore why eating a solid breakfast in morning matters and is an essential step for regaining your menstrual cycle and enhancing your chances of getting pregnant ASAP!
The Morning Reset: Why Breakfast Matters
The word “breakfast” is appropriately named. You are quite literally breaking the fast! When you wake up in the morning, your body is in a fasted state due to going 8+ hours without nourishment. To optimize your hormonal balance, particularly for the purpose of ovulation, it’s crucial to transition your body from a fasting state to a fed state as early as possible. This jumpstart helps ensure that energy is readily available for the complex hormonal processes that have been shut down to low energy availability. In order to turn these (and other) body systems back on, the body needs energy coming in at all times of the day and first thing in the morning is no exception!
The Calorie Deficit Conundrum
Research shows that maintaining a prolonged calorie deficit over a 24-hour period can hinder regular ovulation and missing to irregular periods (1). Skipping breakfast intensifies this calorie deficit, pushing your body further away from the hormonal equilibrium required for fertility. In fact, this is one reason why intermittent fasting may not be ideal for women of reproductive age- especially if you are noticing irregular or absent periods (2). Much of the supporting research suggesting fasting is beneficial for health was done in men, not women. Just like our hormone cycles are different from men, our energy needs to support that cycle are different. If your goal is to restore your menstrual cycle and boost your chances of conception, embracing breakfast as an opportunity for nourishment is step 1.
Awakening Hunger Hormones
Have you ever struggled with a lack of hunger cues, especially in the morning? Skipping meals can disrupt your hunger hormones, leading to a slow metabolism and compromised digestion. The path to recovery involves eating more consistently and purposefully. It’s one of many reasons I recommend eating on a schedule rather than relying on hunger alone. By giving your body steady sources of energy all throughout the day with well-balanced meals, you will boost your metabolism, improve digestion, and finally begin to tap into what true hunger feels like. This makes it 10x easier to eat enough to support getting your period back and having regular ovulatory cycles.
Fueling Recovery with Adequate Breakfast
A substantial breakfast serves as the foundation for a day of recovery and healing. Rather than attempting to “save” calories, embracing a good sized morning meal allows you to proactively nourish your body from the get-go. Starting your day with a nutrient-rich breakfast ensures that you have ample time to meet your body’s energy needs for period recovery, which is so important for sending your body and your brain the right message about energy availability for ovulation and bringing your cycle back naturally.
If you find this challenging, you’re not alone. So many of the women I work with have a scarcity mindset with food and feel the need to eat fewer calories during the day so they can have enough leftovers for dinner. Unfortunately this is a pretty backwards strategy for helping the body to feel fed and safe. It’s not always easy to flip a switch and make this change overnight, but a good place to start is to set an intention to eat something within 1 hour of waking for the day.
Going a step further
If you’ve found yourself skimping on breakfast, it’s worth delving into the underlying reasons. Whether driven by compensation for previous eating habits or lack of proper hunger cues due to imbalance eating or a history of fasting, these patterns can contribute to the loss of your period and/or irregularities in your cycle that can have a big negative impact on your ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant. Identifying the reason behind why you’re restricting food can give some key insights into what thought patterns and mindset blocks need to be addressed to help learn to fuel well for healthy hormones and restore fertility.
And if you need more support, you’re in the right place.
Join the Food Freedom Fertility Society
In the Food Freedom Fertility Society, we’re dedicated to helping you uncover and address the habits related to food and movement that might be hindering your path to true health and fertility. By dismantling these barriers and fostering a healthy relationship with nourishment, we’re committed to supporting your journey towards hormonal healing and achieving your fertility goals.
- Logue DM, Madigan SM, Melin A, Delahunt E, Heinen M, Donnell SM, Corish CA. Low Energy Availability in Athletes 2020: An Updated Narrative Review of Prevalence, Risk, Within-Day Energy Balance, Knowledge, and Impact on Sports Performance. Nutrients. 2020 Mar 20;12(3):835. doi: 10.3390/nu12030835. PMID: 32245088; PMCID: PMC7146210.
- Hill JW, Elmquist JK, Elias CF. Hypothalamic pathways linking energy balance and reproduction. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 May;294(5):E827-32. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00670.2007. Epub 2008 Feb 19. PMID: 18285524; PMCID: PMC5724360.