Breakfast and Learning – Cisco Live

Breakfast at Cisco Live! has been a controversial topic, and while @networkingnerd is busy taking care of important topics like fixing the CCIE,  I’m going to battle one closer to my stomach.


We have had quite the debacle when it comes to breakfast, the hot food story back in San Diego was interesting,  but this year what we got was continental.    Muffins, doughnuts,  sugar filled pastry, and mini boxed cereal – and coffee.  Let me be very clear, the coffee station was awesome, and appreciated.

This isn’t a typical tweet/blog about how I wasn’t happy with the food – this is about academics, learning and science.

“Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” – ULCA Professor of Neurosurgery and Physiological Science Fernando Gómez-Pinilla.

These are deep technical topics,  there are sessions on BGP architecture – at 8AM.   Many people were out until after midnight (yes go to bed earlier if you have an early session – but many do not) .   Everyone is sleep deprived going at 200mph at Cisco Live – we need a good breakfast.   Even if you were not out until 2AM – breakfast is still important.

This year I resigned to paying out of pocket $25-30 – per day – to get a decent breakfast because the provided breakfast was not acceptable.   We pay $1800+ to attend – sorry but continental isn’t good enough.   Most employers will not reimburse a food expense because it is covered by the event, and real breakfast is off site, which is a pain with 8AM sessions.

A recent study on breakfast consumption at  Tufts University  showed that “results indicated that breakfast consumption and breakfast type affected cognitive performance, particularly spatial memory, short-term memory, visual perception, and auditory vigilance.”

The key here is BREAKFAST TYPE – they compared basic dry cereal with something more hearty – oatmeal – and they found that they “performed better on a short term memory task after consuming the oatmeal breakfast compared to when they consumed the ready-to eat cereal or no breakfast”

These are long sessions we are in – and we are listening – and the same study identified that the oatmeal over regular dry cereal caused the test subjects to ” perform(ed) better on a short term memory task and an auditory attention task than when they had the ready-to-eat cereal.”

Now talk about the rest of the food, I do not want this to be just an attack on dry cereal – lets talk about the pastry.   Very high in refined sugars.    This causes a sharp rise and fall in blood glucose which causes a very quick crash as opposed to the slow sustained glucose release.

The oatmeal in this study provided the same carbohydrates and fat as the ready-to-eat cereals, but it contained fibre and PROTEIN.     You leave feeling full, with a slow steady energy release and less crash with a full breakfast instead of ready-eat-cereals and high sugar pastries.

The Last Word

The final word is this.   I hope @CiscoLive is listening – and if you read this article, please re-tweet this article and tag @CiscoLive .   This event is about learning, it is about the pursuit of knowledge.   That pursuit begins with a proper and hearty breakfast, and due to scheduling, going off site for breakfast simply isn’t reasonable.  We need the event to provide us with the physiological needs to learn the best we can at this event.


Click to access MahoneyEtAl.pdf


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