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The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast

Caution: contains SCIENCE!

In Part 1 of "The Breakfast Myth", we discussed why the modern “breakfast” is really just snacks and dessert—and why eating it at all might be evolutionarily discordant. Here in Part 2, we explore the scientific evidence for and against breakfast—and what we should do in response.

But first, a short and entertaining detour!

The Shocking Origins Of Breakfast Cereal

We’ve already established that breakfast cereals are the nutritional equivalent of candy—but how were we bamboozled into eating expensive empty calories? Surprisingly, cereal wasn’t originally a cynical marketing ploy to sell sugar to children. Felicity Lawrence, a British journalist, investigates:

Prepackaged and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals began with the American temperance movement in the 19th century. In the 1830s, the Reverend Sylvester Graham preached the virtues of a vegetarian diet to his congregation, and in particular the importance of wholemeal flour. Meat-eating, he said, excited the carnal passions.
[...]
“After Jackson’s invention, the Seventh-Day Adventists took up the mission. [...] John Harvey Kellogg…set about devising cures for what he believed were the common ills of the day, in particular constipation and masturbation. In Kellogg’s mind, the two were closely linked, the common cause being a lack of fibre, both dietary and moral.

Kellogg experimented in the sanitarium kitchen to produce an easily digested form of cereal. Together with his wife and his younger brother, William Keith, he came up with his own highly profitable Granula, but was promptly sued by Jackson, the original maker of Granula, and had to change the name to Granola.”

-“Drop That Spoon” (The Guardian, 23 November 2010)

That’s right: breakfast cereal, including “granola”, is a cynical marketing ploy by religious fundamentalists to destroy your sex drive. And if you’ve got a strong stomach, you can click here to see what John Harvey Kellogg did to children (and adults) at the Kellogg sanitarium. (Warning: absolutely disgusting.)

Meanwhile, I strongly recommend you read Lawrence’s entire article, because it’s fascinating.

And there is hope yet: “Sales of ready-to-eat cereals fell 2.55% in the 52 weeks ending April 17 to $6.41 billion…Sales and units shipped have been lackluster since at least 2007, predating the Global Recession and the recent rise in grain prices. [...] Much to the horror of nutritionists, the popularity of egg-based breakfast sandwiches is surging.” -Breakfast Cereals Americans No Longer Love

Our Bodies Already Feed Us In The Morning

Fasting is a high-fat meal…of your own adipose tissue. Remember, every diet is a high-fat diet, because if you’re losing weight, you’re burning your own fat. And fat-burning is most intense in the morning, because we haven’t eaten all night. So when we wake up, we’re already eating a steady diet…of fat.

Furthermore, our bodies give us a shot of cortisol in the morning, as we wake up. Cortisol increases gluconeogenesis (the process by which our liver creates glucose), so that we can maintain normal blood sugar when we’re not eating any. First, it seems unlikely that we’d evolve this metabolic pattern if we usually had access to food right after waking up.

Most importantly, morning cortisol explains why we’re not hungry immediately upon waking: not only are we already burning our own fat for energy, our liver has already gone to work making glucose for us!

Here’s the problem: most of us are in a rush to get to school or work, and we can’t just wait around the house for a few hours until we finally get hungry. But we’re told over and over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! We’re supposed to eat something…

And that’s why modern “breakfast food” is snacks and sugary junk: it’s all we can force ourselves to eat when we’re not hungry.

Consider “heart-healthy” oatmeal for a moment: do you eat it plain? No, you put sugar in it, and usually fruit.

In other words, it’s a bowl of liquid cookies. Would you eat oatmeal cookies for breakfast?

The Science Of Breakfast: Programming Our Metabolism For The Day

Yes, this is a mouse study…but its conclusions are very, very interesting, and they are consonant with human studies.

Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 November; 34(11): 1589–1598.
Time-of-Day-Dependent Dietary Fat Consumption Influences Multiple Cardiometabolic Syndrome Parameters in Mice
Molly S. Bray, Ju-Yun Tsai, Carolina Villegas-Montoya, Brandon B. Boland, Zackary Blasier, Oluwaseun Egbejimi, Michael Kueht, and Martin E. Young

“We report that mice fed either low- or high-fat diets in a contiguous manner during the 12 h awake/active period adjust both food intake and energy expenditure appropriately, such that metabolic parameters are maintained within a normal physiologic range.”

In other words, when we feed mice the same diet all day (actually all night…mice are nocturnal), they’re fine.

Note that both the low-fat and the high-fat diets contained 20% protein, which puts them well ahead of our typical “breakfast snack” of cereal, oatmeal, or a bagel. The difference was that calories were swapped between carbohydrate in the form of sucrose (table sugar) and cornstarch, and fat in the form of lard.

Also note that even the “high-fat” diet was 35% carbs, of which fully half was sucrose (table sugar)…not exactly a healthy diet.

“In contrast, fluctuation in dietary composition during the active period (as occurs in human beings) markedly influences whole body metabolic homeostasis. Mice fed a high-fat meal at the beginning of the active period retain metabolic flexibility in response to dietary challenges later in the active period (as revealed by indirect calorimetry).

Conversely, consumption of high-fat meal at the end of the active phase leads to increased weight gain, adiposity, glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hyperleptinemia (that is cardiometabolic syndrome) in mice. The latter perturbations in energy/metabolic homeostasis are independent of daily total or fat-derived calories.”

To summarize: if the mice ate a high-fat breakfast, it doesn’t matter what they ate for the rest of the day. But if they ate a low-fat breakfast and a high-fat dinner, they were in massive metabolic trouble.

Does this pattern sound familiar to anyone? Low-fat breakfast and high-fat dinner? A quick “heart-healthy” breakfast of oatmeal, Nuts-N-Twigs cereal in skim milk, or a bagel with fat-free cream cheese—and a rich, delicious, long-awaited dinner out, followed by potato chips or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on the couch?

I’ll quote senior author Martin Young here, from the press release: “This study suggests that if you ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast it would promote carbohydrate utilization throughout the rest of the day, whereas, if you have a fat-rich breakfast, you have metabolic plasticity to transfer your energy utilization between carbohydrate and fat.”

Remember my article about metabolic flexibility and the respiratory exchange ratio (RER)? The RER graphs from Young et. al. show that mice fed a high-fat breakfast maintained the flexibility to switch back to fat-burning after eating a high-carb, low-fat dinner…whereas mice fed a high-carb, low-fat breakfast were stuck burning carbs all day, even during the fasting period between breakfast and dinner.

The conclusion is clear: how you break your fast programs your metabolism for the rest of the day. If you start your day eating like a predator, you’ll be a predator all day. If you start your day snacking like prey, you’ll be prey all day.

Still feel like eating those “heart-healthy whole grains” for breakfast?

Young et. al. explains how dedicated low-fat dieters manage to lose weight, so long as they keep grazing on low-fat prey foods all day. But for most of us, that low-fat willpower only lasts until dinner…which makes us obese and diabetic.

Better to eat like predators—complete protein and rich, delicious, nutritious animal fat—at every meal.

“But That’s Mice,” You Say.

The authors admit that they need to follow up with the human version of this study—but we can see similar results here.

Nutr Res Vol 30, Issue 2, pp. 96-103 (Feb 2010)
Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men.
Joseph Ratliff, Jose O. Leitea, Ryan de Ogburn, Michael J. Puglisi, Jaci VanHeest, Maria Luz Fernandez

“Subjects consumed fewer kilocalories after the EGG breakfast compared with the BAGEL breakfast (P< .01). In addition, subjects consumed more kilocalories in the 24-hour period after the BAGEL compared with the EGG breakfast (P < .05). Based on VAS, subjects were hungrier and less satisfied 3 hours after the BAGEL breakfast compared with the EGG breakfast (P < .01).

Participants had higher plasma glucose area under the curve (P < .05) as well as an increased ghrelin and insulin area under the curve with BAGEL (P < .05). These findings suggest that consumption of eggs for breakfast results in less variation of plasma glucose and insulin, a suppressed ghrelin response, and reduced energy intake."

We also see similar results in the exhaustively instrumented study I reference in my previous article How “Heart-Healthy Whole Grains” Make Us Fat. Yes, it’s theoretically possible that the results in Bray et. al. won’t apply to humans…but the evidence so far is that it’s extremely unlikely.

Breakfast Skipping: Should I Eat Breakfast At All?

So we’ve established that it’s much better for weight maintenance, and for our health, to eat a complete, high-fat breakfast than a sugary, low-fat “breakfast snack”. But what about skipping breakfast entirely?

There are several observational studies showing that people who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese. Unfortunately, people usually skip breakfast because they have to be at school or at work very early in the morning and didn’t get enough sleep, not because they’re trying to lose weight…so that doesn’t tell us much other than stress is related to obesity, which we already know. And I know of only one controlled study on breakfast skipping—and it’s calorie-restricted, so it doesn’t tell us much either. (Though it does tell us that obese women who previously ate breakfast but started skipping it lost the most weight…so, if anything, it supports the concept.)

Here’s a recent study that actually provides useful data:

Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:5 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-5
Impact of breakfast on daily energy intake – an analysis of absolute versus relative breakfast calories
Volker Schusdziarra, Margit Hausmann, Claudia Wittke, Johanna Mittermeier, Marietta Kellner, Aline Naumann, Stefan Wagenpfeil, and Johannes Erdmann

“Reduced breakfast energy intake is associated with lower total daily intake. The influence of the ratio of breakfast to overall energy intake largely depends on the post-breakfast rather than breakfast intake pattern. Therefore, overweight and obese subjects should consider the reduction of breakfast calories as a simple option to improve their daily energy balance.

In summary: the more you eat for breakfast, the less you’ll eat over the rest of the day…but not enough less to compensate for the calories you ate at breakfast.

There are some other interesting scraps of information hidden in this paper. Obese people were no more likely than normal-weight people to skip breakfast. Calorie intake from beverages remained relatively constant regardless of breakfast size, suggesting that calories from liquids have little or no effect on satiety. And, unsurprisingly, the foods most strongly associated with an increase in breakfast calories were bread and cake.

Figure 2 shows graphs of calories consumed per day, plotted against calories consumed for breakfast, for obese subjects.

We can see that for every 100 additional calories eaten at breakfast by an obese person, daily calorie consumption goes up by about 65 calories.

Figure 4 shows the same graphs, for normal-weight people:

And we can see that for every 100 additional calories eaten at breakfast by a normal-weight person, daily calorie consumption goes up by about 80 calories!

At this point, I can’t resist the urge to interject “If you’re trying to minimize calorie intake, it’s clear that zero is an excellent number of breakfast calories.”

Finally, here’s some breaking news for type 2 diabetics: skipping breakfast helps normalize blood glucose levels. This shouldn’t be a surprise, because fasting increases metabolic flexibility:

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jun;65(6):761-3. Epub 2011 Feb 23.
Do all patients with type 2 diabetes need breakfast?
Parkner T, Nielsen JK, Sandahl TD, Bibby BM, Jensen BS, Christiansen JS.

Objectives: To evaluate if an improved daily glycemic profile could be achieved in patients with type 2 diabetes by withholding breakfast, but maintaining the same total daily intake of calorie and the same composition of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

Results: The standard deviation based on plasma glucose was 32% higher after the breakfast diet compared with the non-breakfast diet (P<0.0001)

Conclusions: Not all patients with type 2 diabetes may need breakfast. Moreover, a non-breakfast diet reduces glycemic variability.

Is Breakfast A Myth? My Conclusion

The evidence is clear. Whenever we finally do break our fast for the day, we should eat like predators: a complete meal, full of complete protein and delicious, nutritious animal fat. (Coconut oil is fine too.) If we start our day like prey—by grazing on carb-heavy snacks like cereal, bagels, donuts, and oatmeal—we’ll either be stuck eating low-fat snack food all day, or we’ll be doing ourselves terrible metabolic damage.

But should we eat breakfast at all, or skip it and wait for lunch? This is less clear, but it seems silly to stuff yourself with calories when you’re not hungry. My conclusion: unless you know you’re going to be doing lots of manual labor (or aerobic exercise) that day and can’t stop to eat, don’t eat until hunger starts to distract you from your tasks.

Yes, it will seem strange at first to swim against the tide of received wisdom—but as we’ve seen, our body chemistry is primed to start the day without food. And as one of my commenters replied to Part 1:

“I think I asked myself honestly if I was hungry for the first time ever when I woke up this morning. The answer being a resounding no.” -Josh

Here’s a tip: if you feel like you’re hungry but the idea of eating any specific food has no appeal, you may simply be thirsty. Try drinking a glass of water, as we’re usually somewhat dehydrated when we wake up.

Yes, it’s OK if you’re genuinely hungry soon after you wake! When I started weight training, I found myself ravenous when I woke up. (Not that this should be a surprise…my body is trying to build muscle fibers.) And those new to eating like a predator sometimes find that after many years of grain-based malnutrition, they crave real food several times a day in order to refill their nutrient stores and rebuild their bodies.

The Logistics Of A Late Breakfast

The problem with not eating when we wake up is that we’re stuck eating out of vending machines at school or at work—and one excellent dietary rule is to never eat anything that comes out of a vending machine.

My opinion on the subject: if bacteria won’t eat it, we shouldn’t either.

Here are some ideas I have for eating a complete breakfast at work. Please contribute your own in the comments, and I’ll add the best ones to this list!

Remember: a stack of Takealongs or other microwave-safe containers will make your life much easier.

  • Hard-boiled eggs are the classic portable breakfast.
  • Bacon! Fry up a pound all at once, keep it in the refrigerator, and bring it with you in a Takealong or other airtight, microwave-safe container.
  • Roast beef, or meat of any kind. Put it in an airtight container. It won’t go bad in the few hours between leaving your house and eating it.
  • You can cook a fresh egg in a bowl in the microwave. Just scramble it and nuke it until it’s done.
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. Mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, home fries, even hash browns warm up just fine in the microwave.
  • My paleo scramble recipe tastes great re-heated.
  • So do most leftovers. Just cook some extra dinner, and nuke it for breakfast!
  • Bring a small electric skillet to work. Warning: delicious cooking smells may distract co-workers.

And, of course, there’s the easiest option: suck it up until 11 AM, when most restaurants and cafeterias open for lunch. As a bonus, they’re usually empty then—so you’ll spend less time waiting in line, and more time eating and relaxing.

Since you’re breaking a very long habit and embarking on a new, unfamiliar way of eating, It’ll most likely take some experimentation to settle into a routine that works for you. But I guarantee you’ll be healthier, sleeker, and more powerful once you ditch the candy and desserts, and start eating like a predator.

Live in freedom, live in beauty.

JS


Postscript: My Readers Speak

I asked about the breakfast habits of my readers in Part 1, and received many classic responses which I feel compelled to share.

My Readers, On The Subject Of Breakfast

“As a general rule we should be suspicious of any food that goes well with chocolate and/or sugar.” -Asclepius

“As a former sugar/carb-aholic breakfast was the hardest to change, but I beat those sugars into submission with bacon and eggs.” -Nax

“Nothin’ says “breakfast” like a hard-boiled egg encased in spicy pork sausage and rolled in almond flour.” -Jan

“That expensive breakfast cereal… I used to eat it for pudding before I wised up to cream, nuts and strawberries… and Scotch.” -kem

“I had homemade granola for breakfast for 30+ years, one of the hardest addictions I had to overcome.” -Bill DeWitt

“My hungry mornings are peaceful and productive – my favorite time of day. Of course, it didn’t used to be this way. Before I discovered the Paleo diet I was an impatient witch in the mornings!” -Peggy

“That might be also a reason for the French paradox. All people here I knew enough to know what breakfast they had, usually had only coffee and a cigarette. [...] As for the African breakfast, I can also attest that on Comoros it is only leftovers from the evening.” -gallier2

“Reminds me of that pivotal moment several years ago when I was working to convince my wife that the kids were better off without breakfast if it wasn’t something we cooked, like bacon and eggs. If we were short on time the usual breakfast was pop-tarts.

One morning my wife came in to find them all eating Snickers bars. She was appalled. I said it was breakfast, and then pointed out the nutrition information compared to a pop-tart. Identical calories, but the Snickers was higher in protein.

Now it’s a protein/fat breakfast or none at all.” -Bill Strahan

My Readers, On The Subject Of Not Eating Breakfast

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – the most important to skip.” -Walter

“Through the week I have a dingo’s breakfast … a scratch, a piss and a look around. Then I get dressed for work and don’t eat until lunchtime.” -Paul Halliday

“It simply makes no sense to believe that a healthy human should be eating when he’s not hungry. We’d be the dumbest animals alive.” -Fmgd

“I think I asked myself honestly if I was hungry for the first time ever when I woke up this morning. The answer being a resounding no.” -Josh

“A few years ago, my mother starting dating and then living with a man who had been single for a while and had never felt hungry in the morning so always skipped breakfast and eaten whatever and whenever he felt like. He was lean when they met, then she started nagging him into ‘healthy’ behaviours such as eating “the most important meal of the day” and “low-fat” foods such as margerine and skim milk.
When I saw them recently, I noticed that he is getting a significant spare tyre around the middle.” -Emma

I’ll close this article with an interesting observation: men are far more likely to skip breakfast entirely, whereas women are most likely to eat a normal or late breakfast. I’ll resist the urge to engage in half-baked evolutionary speculation—but it’s a robust trend, at least among my commenters.

Got some suggestions for a solid breakfast away from home? Want to argue that we’re doing it wrong? Leave a comment, and use the buttons below to tell your friends!

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115 comments

Permalink: The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast
  • Franco

    Another good entry!
    Your last paragraph catched my eye. I’m not aware any blogger in the paleo sphere ever write about gender differences in nutrition.
    I visited and even partially lived in many european countries and according my observations there’s an universal trend among women to have a bigger feeding frequency (aka snacking through the day) as well as leaning more towards fruits/vegetables/salads and lean meat (like fish/chicken breasts) and shying mostly away from fatty cuts/eggs/offal.
    Does this lead back to our hunter-gatherer past?
    I think so. Male hunting parties of modern hunter-gatherers sometimes need day(s) to catch the prey(Intermittant fasting) and most often after a succesful hunt eat the liver/bone marrow/brain(lots of fat and raw) fresh on spot and bring only the (often lean) meat back home to their families. Btw, women prefer their steak, if any, rather well done/medium never blue/rare)
    Gathering fruits on the other hand gives much opportunity for snacking through the day.
    The question now is, are women better adapted to frequent feeding, early breakfast and a higher amount of fruit(fructose) and less fat?
    I think you should write a blog about that!

  • Franco

    Now, if I think about, maybe that’s the explanation for the longer lifespan and lower heart attack rate in women? Maybe they’re just slightly less poisened by the standard diet then men? Is there a lifespan difference in H-G’s?

  • Batman

    To be honest, cereal was supposed to be the source of dietary fibre, not moral, so I don’t think it suppresses your sex drive, but other than that a great post..

  • eddie

    normally for breakfast these days i’ve been having a home-made fruit smoothie.
    100g blackberries/rhubarb frozen
    25-40g whey (not paleo but hey ho)
    100g full fat greek yogurt
    200mls full fat milk
    40g double cream.

    blitzed in a blender is very yummy.

    today i had 5 eggs in beef fat, from 100% beef burgers cooked last night. i felt a lot hungrier earlier than usual though.

    i put this down to lower caloric load (i imagine) but also i’m used to having the smoothie so force of habit and knowing i’ve done something different.

    good update

  • “if bacteria won’t eat it, we shouldn’t either” – that made me laugh, and then the question occured to me,

    “What is the impact on gut flora of eating foods that contain antimicrobials that kill/inhibit the growth of bacteria?”

    What level of residual effect do these antimicrobials have in the gut?

  • Emma

    I haven’t eaten breakfast in ages (I’m a woman :D). I have a long black with a dash of cream first thing and then usually eat my first meal around 1300.
    Sometimes, if I get caught out of the house without suitable food, I’ll wait until dinner to eat. I’m pretty hungry by then, but it hasn’t killed me yet.
    Sorry, I don’t have any portable breakfast ideas, but I haven’t needed to think of any!

  • Jo

    I have a wide-necked thermos. I cook up a bacon and cheese omelette, slip it in the flask and it stays warm till lunch time if necessary. I don’t add any liquid to the mix. Yum.

    Alternatively I have the traditional continental breakfast of cheese and cold meats.

    Another theory on women and breakfasts is that women are more likely than men to follow dietary advice. If we are told that eating breakfast is health and will keep us slim (which we are), then we eat it. Men don’t seem to care so much. Just a thought. I’m a woman, and I have a late breakfast or sometimes skip it. I saw an interesting article some time ago that suggested that our culture identifies ‘light’ carb foods as more feminine (e.g breads) than ‘heavy’ fatty/protein foods (like steak) which are more masculine. Thus high carb low fat diets are aimed at women, and low carb more likely to be aimed at men. Just another point of view to ponder.

  • Bodhi

    Another great blogpost! I don’t think you left any rock unturned. For me breakfast is just a habit, one that I need to break.

  • Birgit

    @Franco
    “I visited and even partially lived in many european countries and according my observations there’s an universal trend among women to have a bigger feeding frequency (aka snacking through the day) as well as leaning more towards fruits/vegetables/salads and lean meat (like fish/chicken breasts) and shying mostly away from fatty cuts/eggs/offal.
    Does this lead back to our hunter-gatherer past?
    I think so.”

    My guess is they snack because they are ravenously hungry because they are constantly calorie restricting (or trying to) because they are forever trying to lose weight, and the usual low fat/high carb diet that goes with that wouldn’t help either.

    And they are leaning towards the salads and low fat crap because they are brainwashed to believe that that’s the way to lose weight.
    Women are targeted heaps more by the advertising industry and put themselves under a lot more pressure to conform to some super skinny ideal of health. They just do what the mags tell them.

    I’ve been skinny all my life, and I’ve always loved eggs and fatty meats and cream and butter, and my favourite breakfast had always been dinner leftovers. If I had had weight trouble, I bet I would have fallen for the lean meat/salad/healthy whole grains and what not nonsense as well.

    I could see it the other way round as well of course. If I had fallen for the nonsense, I would have ended up with weight troubles… But I was lucky to grow up in a butter loving European household :-)

  • Beth@WeightMaven

    As I have a lot of personal experience in this (sad, but true), I’ve often thought that the reason obese folks statistically were more likely to skip breakfast is because we/they just weren’t hungry for it … largely of later night eating patterns.

    There are folks, like Tim Ferriss, who promote eating within a half-hour of waking to try and beat that early AM cortisol shot. Me, I don’t think it’s necessary to try and counteract millions of years of evolution ;).

  • Kikilula

    Have you tried a roast-witch? 2 slices of cold leftover roast, homemade mayonnaise, greens, cheese, slices of boild eggs, bacon, onions… combine as you like it.

  • Check the links̷

    [...] The Breakfast Myth, Part 2. [...]

  • Check the links̷

    [...] The Breakfast Myth, Part 2. [...]

  • Peggy The Primal Par

    You take on an important topic for sure. Typical breakfasts are a nightmare, but I question the validity of the studies you provided. What is the value of the research on diabetics or the research on daily energy intake if the studies used subjects who ate a standard diet before the study and who ate carbs for breakfast during the study? How do we know that a high fat, zero carb breakfast isn’t actually optimal? We don’t if there haven’t been any studies on that. Definitely, there is value in skipping a high carb breakfast, but this says nothing about skipping a low carb, high fat breakfast.

    “And that’s why modern “breakfast food” is snacks and sugary junk: it’s all we can force ourselves to eat when we’re not hungry.”

    I don’t think this makes much sense. I, and probably half the paleo community, have no problem eating bacon and eggs upon rising. I don’t personally get hungry before about 9 or 10, waking up around 5 or 6, but I eat because my family wants to eat. We all eat the same thing – bacon and eggs. We don’t eat carbs in the morning and we all eat our breakfast voraciously and with immense pleasure.

  • Jan

    Yet another stellar post – and you quoted me! I’m flattered. :)

    My husband and I are beginning to experiment with a little intermittent fasting – mostly just not eating until noon a couple of days a week, although last week we both went without eating for 24 hours. It wasn’t anything we planned – it just sort of happened – but we both dropped a couple of pounds quite suddenly. Nor was it difficult at all.

    The new slogan should be “Breakfast: The Most Overrated Meal of the Day.”

  • I'm the “dingo's breakfast” guy :)

    The conclusion does seem hazy and it is perhaps one of those things that remains inconclusive when studied. I think we are all reaching the same conclusion, though – eat if you are hungry, eat later if you're not.

    The idea of drinking water when you wake up is good – one of the very first things I do (after the “scratch” … but before the “piss”) is drink about a pint of water which I have by my bedside and the rest overnight allows the chlorine to drop out … I then have my “look around”.

    When I do eat breakfast, it is usually later in the morning around 11 or so. This does not fit into my work pattern, so during the week I just go straight through until 12 and have something then. At weekends I get the chance and it fits into the pattern of our weekends – I usually do the full monty of an English breakfast, but since focussing some attention on exactly what I eat I will be making a few changes:

    • Bacon, sausage and black pudding – these stay on the plate
    • Mushrooms – these stay on the plate
    • Eggs – these stay on the plate
    • Fried bread, toast and beans – these can go*
    • Hash browns – these can go

    * my wife, bless her, will always follow me as I have her best interests at heart but she really likes beans and fried bread. I like fried bread, too and so will continue to put these on her plate and maybe a small piece of fried bread on mine. I do all the cooking, BTW.

    What else can be included to substitute the starches?

    • Lava bread – part of the Welsh breakfast; a great pack of iron and flavour – seaweed boiled down and minced
    • Spinach, sea spinach or samphire – oddly, I am finding that these green foods satisfy any desire for bread or pasta on the plate
  • Paul Verizzo

    Coincidentally to these two recent posts, I had started on delaying breakfast for the IF factor. Breakfast is, of course fatty, eggy, and meaty or cheesy. And jalapenos in the eggs!

    What I’ve found is that with a 1000 calorie brunch or lunch, I’m good for most of the rest of the day. And you are reading comments from a certified foodaholic. Fifty years of being skinny let me do that. Then my evil ways and sorta-SAD caught up with me about almost two decades ago.

    Batman, Kellog, at least, definitely had a moral goal in his work. He was very proud that he and his wife had a pure marriage….like, you know, no sex. He believed that fiber (which is a misnomer) would reduce the sex drive. For a great read on this and all matters of the mythology of fiber, go to http://www.fibermenace.com/ Poke around, he has most of his book content online.

    Oh, I had a girlfriend who loved her steaks RARE! Like, wave it over the flame, ya know? Anything left over for me the next day absolutely needed to be cooked more.

  • Oh … I meant to say that as well … my wife likes steak rare. I think I converted her with buying good meat and meat that has a good marbling which just turns gorgeous and moist with a little heat.

  • Jessi Hance

    Fantastic article and discussion here. I had no idea that your first meal could warp your metabolism for the rest of the day.

    I do a cooking marathon on the weekend and pack up 10 meals for the week. I grab 2 meals in the morning and take them to work, and eat them when I get around to it. Usually my first meal is between 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Sometimes I never get around to eating the second meal until I get home, around 5:30 p.m.

    I don’t distinguish between different kinds of meals. Any good meal is good for breakfast. Meat, seafood, or eggs, with plenty of veggies, and maybe some yummy toppings like avocado or Bubbies’ sauerkraut. Occasionally a little goat feta, what a treat.

    Regarding Mr. Kellogg, from now on, his name will bring a cold shiver to my spine (and other parts). I happen to be leading a celibate life, but it doesn’t mean I want to suppress or mutilate myself!

    Here’s to a healthy libido for everyone! :D

  • Timothy

    Tremendous post as usual. J., you da gnoll.

    I’ve been a big fan of fasting for a while now. For most of the past year, I fasted until dinner 5-6 days out of the week. Once your body gets used to it, it’s terribly convenient and energy levels just keep going up until you break the fast in the late afternoon/early evening. Upon breaking the fast, I experienced the truth that hunger is the best sauce. Those who eat when they’re not really hungry are missing out on the full gastronomical experience.

    Just lately I’ve started weightlifting, and so I eat lunch on those days. Since I work in an office, time is in short supply, so I usually go for the following:

    Sardines
    Raw broccoli
    Whey concentrate shake with raw eggs, raw cow’s-milk kefir, cinnamon, and berries

    Sardines are an outstanding choice for a convenient and quick lunch. The taste might be a little unusual at first, but it’s easy to get used to. Get them with the skin and bones intact, and you’re getting not just a clean protein source, but also plenty of calcium, significant amounts of vitamins B12 and D, and one of the most concentrated sources of EPA and DHA available. All at a bargain price, and in a convenient tin which can be stored for over a year. I can take in 60-80g of protein in one meal from sardines alone. They go well with broccoli.

    As for the shake, generally I try to chew my nutrients, not drink them. So the whey shake is a bit of a compromise for convenience, and I drink it only after half-filling my belly with sardines and broccoli, slowing absorption somewhat.

  • Carl

    “Paleo” man I’m sure rose pretty early. What would be considered breakfast vs. lunch. 4 hours, 6 hours after waking?

    Pemmican for Brunch for me.

  • Melissa.

    @ Franco: Modern women’s eating habits have nothing to do with their Paleolithic ancestresses’ snacking while gathering berries.

    Women in Western societies eat smaller, more frequent meals because they are bombarded by diet and weight loss advice from childhood. Women–to a degree that men have a very hard time imagining–are raised with the constant admonishment against getting fat, because to be a fatgirl is to be worthless and unloveable. This is nothing new; I was put on my first diet at the age of nine, way back in 1976, and was constantly on- and off weight-loss diets for the next thirty years. My mother, born in the early ’40s, has had a similar experience. And all the women around us did–and continue to do–the exact same thing.

    Most diet and weight-loss advice from experts is packaged and sold first to women. It’s on daytime television shows, in women’s magazines, and in any other media targeted toward women. If you’re female, you can’t avoid it–it’s everywhere. Watch TV or flip through a magazine and pay attention to exactly what kind of people are featured in ads for low-fat, “lite,” calorie-reduced, “diet” foods. If you do, you’ll very soon realize that they are almost all female.

    Since the prevailing diet/weight loss wisdom has been to eat restricted calories, low fat, and high carbs, women often eat many small, light meals to stave off hunger as best they can. This isn’t how they want to eat; it isn’t how they have evolved to eat after millennia of berry-picking; it’s how they eat in order to cope with culturally-mandated chronically elevated insulin, semi-starvation, and malnourishment.

    Certain foods are perceived as “feminine” because they are the foods women are allowed to eat to while on diets, so women eat more of them. However tasty they may be, they aren’t very satisfying or nutritious on their own, and the few that are are only eaten in small amounts (tuna, skinless chicken). Women eating small meals, primarily composed of plant matter, is a cultural construction–not something women have somehow evolved to do separately from men.

    As for the “women (as a massive, undifferentiated group) don’t like rare/blue/bloody meat” claim, I don’t know where you’re getting that from. Well-done meat may be a preference among the women you know, but it is by no means universal. If women do tend to order their steaks cooked medium- to well, it is more likely due to fears of e. coli or foodborne illness than a genuine preference for overcoooked meat. Women tend to be far more aware of these hazards since they still do most of the cooking, as well as looking after their kids, so they are more likely to minimize risk to themselves and family members by overcooking meat.

  • Melissa.

    Okay! Where were we? Oh, yes–breakfast!

    I’ve never been a fan of breakfast. Never been a fan of set mealtimes, either–they never seem to coincide with when I’m actually hungry. So rather than following culturally-dictated mealtimes, I wait for hunger to show up, then eat. And since dehydration can feel like hunger, I make sure it’s the real thing by using the glass-of-water tip you’ve given–about half the time, it’s not.

    When I ate a “healthy” low-fat, high-carb diet, hunger showed up all the time. In fact, it sat on the stoop and hung around in between meals, too.

    Since switching over to high-fat, very-low-carb, I’m rarely hungry, and never first thing in the morning. Most days, I don’t get the first hunger pangs until well after noon, or even well into the evening. I usually only eat one big meal a day, and maybe one smaller, lighter meal, and that’s it.

    There are also days when I never get hungry at all, and on those days? I just don’t eat. Then, when hunger returns, I feed it whatever it wants.

    The most important meal of the day? It’s the one you eat when you have genuine hunger, no matter what the clock or your mom or the latest dietary “experts” say. Animals know this perfectly well; funny how we humans have to wake ourselves up to it.

  • TruthandJustice

    I have been skipping breakfast for the past several months and it has been amazing. I don’t really feel any different, but I do find it easier to eat my target number of calories and it saves me a lot of time. I can wake up and be out the door in less than 15 minutes, sometimes 10. All I do is wake up, jump in the show, dress, and head out the door. No need to sit around waiting for breakfast to cook.

  • Asclepius

    @Melissa “When I ate a “healthy” low-fat, high-carb diet, hunger showed up all the time. In fact, it sat on the stoop and hung around in between meals, too.”

    That is what cut it for me. My previous diet would get the thumbs up from just about every health organisation in the world. But for me it didn’t work. I’d eat a large breakfast (muesli and skinny milk), a large lunch (lots of ruit and nuts as well), and a large supper (usually pasta based).

    However, the gap between lunch and supper felt like a lifetime, and I’d be getting hunger-shakes just cooking the evening meal, even though it would be only five or so hours from my last meal. I remember making a stir fry whilst gorging on toast, fruit and nuts.

    I’ll never forget those hunger-shakes. This was my first realisation that my diet was actually wrong and that possibly my metabolism was screwed.

    Having gone ‘paleo’, I knew things were improving. After six months I scheduled in IF, although by this time the shakes in general were a thing of the past, and I was instinctively going longer between meals.

    The ability to fast for long periods of time – upwards of 24 hours and to do highly intense exercise in a fasted state was a revelation and liberating. It was instinctive and desireable – I just wasn’t hungry some mornings.

    Now I trust fatigue to tell me when to rest, I trust my thirst to tell me when to drink, and I trust my hunger to tell me when to eat.

    :)

  • Asclepius said:

    Now I trust fatigue to tell me when to rest, I trust my thirst to tell me when to drink, and I trust my hunger to tell me when to eat.


    Beautifully put … and pure.

  • Walter

    @Batman

    Carbs (sugar) aromatizes testosterone and turn it into estrogen. I familiar with the Silverster Graham/John Harvey Kellog story and when ever I tell it the punchline is and they have the last laugh, because their foods work.

  • Walter

    Also when you remove fat/cholesterol from the diet all sex hormones are harder to manufacture.

  • Mark

    In general, I dont have time for a full meal before work. However, Im a weightlifter(not a bodybuilder). My morning meal is usually a scoop of whey protein, a handful of mixed berries, 2 TBSPs of almond butter, a few ounces of coconut milk, and water mixed in a blender.
    Its sort of in the middle I guess. No animal fat, but there is plenty of fat in it. There is no corn or wheat but a bit of sugar from the berries. Also packed with protein.
    After that, the rest of the day is eggs, meat of various sources, vegetables, and avocados.

    Opinions?

  • Franco

    @all women posting here in defence of their love for fat and raw meat,

    I still stand by my observations and think that paleo-girls (like you, who read this side) are the exception which actually reinforces the rule.
    I also mentioned “countries in europe” because here in some places there’s still a good amount of daily calories comming from traditional foods with smaller amounts of processed crap. Albeit the mcdonaldsisation is unfortunatley spreading faster and faster.

    Now if that’s cultural motivated or really biologically/evolutionary (or maybe a bit of both) I can’t say.
    Maybe the average lower lean mass of girls requires less protein?
    Maybe the (hopefully) lower testosterone level requires less sat fat?
    Aren’t there also some needs for micronutritions (iron comes to mind) with gender differences?
    Maybe it’s really just education?
    I don’t know but I think the observed differences are interesting enough to look into this matter.:)

  • Franco

    @Melissa,

    regarding beef well done: It might be different in the US because you have a big steak culture there. Most women I observed in central (exception: france maybe?)/south/east europe are repulsed by a bloody steak. And when they eat meat, they eat less (as a ratio of meat:condiments). That’s my experience.

  • Wow!  Lots of responses here: I read and appreciate all of them, but I might miss responding to a few.  I apologize in advance.

    Franco:

    I'm uncertain about the relative impact of culture vs. nature, which is why I'm not comfortable with any conclusions on the issue.

    And male mortality with most H-Gs is generally due to injury, disease, accident, or conflict, as males generally have a riskier role than females…I'm not sure how one would disentangle the causes.  But do let me know if you find any solid information.

    eddie:

    Eggs are only about 75 calories each, so 5 eggs is only 375 calories plus the beef fat. No doubt this is less than contained in your smoothie: the yogurt alone is at least 100 calories.

    Unless this is a pre-workout breakfast, you might consider a slower-absorbing protein than whey, like egg.

    Asclepius:

    What effect do antimicrobial 'preservatives' have on our gut flora?  That's an excellent question!  I'm saving that in my list of “issues to investigate.”  And if you write an article about it someday, make sure to let me know.

    Emma:

    “No breakfast” is certainly the lowest-effort option.  And caffeine is an effective appetite suppressant.

    Jo:

    Omelet in a thermos?  That's genius!  

    I can see the differing cultural impact on men vs. women: as Birgit notes, most diet advice is aimed at women.

    Bodhi:

    It's worth trying: breakfast isn't that far from an early lunch.  And fasted workouts are great, so long as you've got some complete protein to ingest immediately afterward.

    Birgit:

    That's an excellent point: women are much more likely to be “on a diet” than men.  

    Beth: 

    That could be true…if you've eaten just before bed, you'll most likely be less hungry as you wake.  Did Tim Ferriss actually show that it's possible to pre-empt morning cortisol by eating, or is it just a theory of his?

    Kikilula:

    I like that idea!  Use meat as the “bread” and put the condiments inside.

    Peggy:

    You'll note that my conclusion is not anti-breakfast: it's anti-eating when you're not hungry.  If you're genuinely hungry upon waking, I see no reason not to eat a meal.

    You raise a good point, though: the study on breakfast vs. total energy intake doesn't break down what people ate.  And the EGG vs BAGEL study clearly shows that a healthy breakfast of EGG causes lower calorie intake throughout the day than eating a BAGEL.  So the results might be different if we were able to see data only from people who ate protein and fat-heavy meals.

    Jan:

    Thank you, and congratulations!  I'm convinced that time between meals is a major contributor to weight loss (vs. exercise, which tends to simply increase appetite).  I'll post about this sometime in the future.

    JS

    (I'm breaking this one up into multiple parts because it's getting huge.  More coming.)

  • Batman:

    Abstaining from animal products will absolutely mess with your sex drive, for many different reasons including the fact that cholesterol is the precursor to sex hormones.  But you're right that eating cereal for breakfast isn't enough by itself: that just tends to make you fat.

    Paul Halliday:

    Hash browns are fine, so long as they're cooked in animal fat instead of seed oils.  (If you want to be an old-school purist, you can use sweet potatoes…but I see no reason not to count peeled potatoes as a safe starch, and neither does anyone but Cordain/Wolf.)  And since you've cooked bacon and sausage, you have plenty of animal fat to spare.

    Lava bread should also be a good source of iodine, which is often lacking in a modern diet.

    Paul Verizzo:

    Fiber Menace is on my list of books to obtain and read.  And as Guyenet points out, the only controlled study on dietary fiber showed it to correlate with a 20% increased risk of death.

    Jessi:

    Cooking ahead of time is a great plan.  You make an excellent point, which I forgot to emphasize: don't worry about eating “breakfast foods” for breakfast.  And yes, Kellogg was an evil creep.

    Timothy:

    Sardines, broccoli, and a raw egg protein shake?  You win the hardcore award…that's old-school bodybuilder food right there.  Vince Gironda would be proud.

    I eat enough fresh salmon and mackerel that I don't need to get into the tinned sardines.  But you're right that they're an excellent food.  And fasting makes travel so much easier…I ate once a day on my trip.  It saves so much time, especially when you're trying to eat paleo-ish.

    Thanks for the support!  Gnolls hunt by persistence, not by ambush.

    Carl:

    “Breakfast” is usually taken to mean “a meal eaten soon after waking”.  I'm sure our schedule was determined by the sun.

    Melissa:

    There is indeed strong cultural pressure on women to eat low-fat “diet foods”, which, as we know, just makes all our problems worse.  Isn't it astounding how eating real food takes care of our hunger problems?

    TruthAndJustice:

    So long as we don't have to make it up by snacking, skipping meals is indeed a big time saver.

    Asclepius:

    I used to have to eat every three hours or I got really grouchy and snappish.  That's the best part: not being a slave to blood sugar swings.

    Walter:

    Do you have references for carbs aromatizing T?  AFAIK saturated fat promotes T, PUFA reduces T, and excess protein reduces T (!), but I'm not aware of carbohydrate having a direct effect on T.  Adipose tissue is estrogenic, but that's not necessarily due to carbohydrate.

    You're correct that cholesterol is the precursor to many hormones, including the sex hormones.  There's a reason most of our cells can synthesize it if we don't eat enough: it's absolutely necessary.

    JS

    I'm caught up!  Thanks, everyone, for the perceptive contributions…I'll likely add a couple to the article as time permits.

  • Tracy

    I haven’t eaten in the morning for years now. Really, the only reason I ever did was because of CW saying it was healthy to do so. I don’t skip it purposely, I’m just rarely hungry before noon (I eat whenever I’m hungry… I don’t do any IM on purpose)

    @Franco said: @all women posting here in defence of their love for fat and raw meat, I still stand by my observations and think that paleo-girls (like you, who read this side) are the exception which actually reinforces the rule.

    Can’t comment much about other women or your observations, but I can tell you that since I was a little girl, I’ve liked my beef and lamb rare or blue, and have always liked raw meat (fish, beef). However, we were a big meat-eating family, and my dad was a huge foodie and did a lot of the cooking… and eating heartily was highly encouraged in my family. My mother is not so much that way anymore.

  • lucy

    Coincidentally, I just finished my breakfast at 11:30. Today was beef broth with spinach and red Thai curry paste heated in the microwave at work. I cracked a couple eggs into the hot broth and poached them in the soup for another couple minutes (back in the microwave). I almost never hungry in the morning, and often just have coffee & coconut milk or cream to sip on my commute to work. Then I eat at my desk later in the morning. I find that a combination of eggs and meat keeps me satisfied until late afternoon, when I take my lunch break and eat my last meal of the day. A snack of fruit or a small salad in the evening is generally all I want.

    Eating this way just makes so much more sense. At work, we have free bagels, donuts and oatmeal, but even if I didn’t eat one of those until 10 or so, I would be starving and ready for lunch by 11:30.

    A roast-wich sounds like a genius idea, I will have to give that one a try! And count me in as another woman who likes rare steak and always has.

  • The roast-wich does sound genius, doesn't it? I've seen pizza bases made from minced meat and it didn't quite feel right, but a roast-wich is right.

    Another genius idea I saw for eating burgers was so simple and so obvious – simply place a slightly smaller burger on a crisp, structurally sound lettuce leaf with a good glob of guacamole to keep it in place, topping the burger with some chillis … shove in mouth, chew, enjoy!

  • Fmgd

    @all about the “girls don’t like it blue” issue, I think it has a lot to do, again, with culture. Not just because of dietary advice or risk-awereness, but becuase they’re supposed to be more “delicate”.

    A big blue steak is seen as grotesco-animalesque, so men are allowed or even encouraged to indulge and boast about their manlyness. Women on the other hand are supposed to think it’s grose. It’s a pretty strong thing in the modern gender roles.

    Now of course that’s not to say there can be no actual biological difference, that would be naive, all I mean is that the perceived differences are not really that good a piece of evidence for these particular differences.

    On a different note, some time ago (way before I had ever heard of Paleo) I decided to have a bacon chesse burger, but didn’t really care for the bread. My solution was an inside-out cheese burger. So if meat in the innermost layer of a cheese burguer, now it was the outermost, completelly encompassing everything else. Then cheese, then a lot of bacon and onions and at the very core there was a very small piece of bread. The thing was huge. Best burger I’ve ever had.

    Oh, besides roasts, not-so-well-done chicken breasts can also work for sandwichs.

  • Tracy:

    I think it's clear that culture has a huge impact on food desires and aversion.  Natto, fried crickets, and stinky tofu are eaten frequently in certain Asian countries, but not in America.  Hindus won't eat beef, Moslems and Jews won't eat pork.  I don't think anyone will argue that these are racial or genetic preferences.

    lucy:

    Free “food” at work is always either candy or its equivalent in bread.  It's almost like there's a conspiracy to make office workers fat and diabetic.

    Paul:

    I make burgers with iceberg lettuce for the top and bottom bun.  It's one of the only legitimate uses for iceberg lettuce.

    Fmgd:

    I suspect that the social pressure is quite significant: every girlfriend I've had has been willing to tear into bacon and eggs when I fix it for them.

    JS

    PS: I'm amazed at how many people are coming out of the no-breakfast closet!  If I've inspired others to not eat when they're not hungry, and to eat real food when they are, I consider my mission accomplished.

     

  • eddie

    paul halliday said about meat based pizza.

    i have to say meatza as it is often called is a fantastic meal to serve for non-paleo guests (as long as they eat meat!) they quickly forget there is no bread/whatever.

    however it is very filling and i made two mistakes the first time i made one:
    used lean minced steak which took forever to cook
    gave it enough meat-based topping for a normal pizza forgetting that the base was all meat!

    it was my first meal of the day at 3pm but i still struggled towards the end, my son who was 14 had to eat half later!

    for the smoothie i suppose i could use a slower digesting protein like casein, i just thought with the cream, full fat milk and full fat greek yogurt absorption would be slowed enough. plus the whey tastes great:)

  • Hahahaha! Why have I never done this before? Last night's “Friday Night Meal” was Chicken Fajitas using a Cos lettuce as the wrap. Wow! Huge fun, seriously great taste, and very refreshing and satisftying! Have a look: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/akbaYJfYEinOGNom397Ong?feat=directlink … okay, you can see a little pot of Greek yoghurt, but I am happy to include such things (as well as the beer, just out of the shot).

    So, what's this got to do with breakfast? Well, nothing … it's just that using lettuce as a wrap was brought up in the discussion. As was Meatza.

    I came into paleo via barefooting which I came into through a desire to lose weight, increase activity and have fun. One of the things I enjoy most in life is cooking and the key thing for me is that the food looks as good as it tastes. I put my thoughts down on (virtual) paper about where I am, what I already eat and what I need to drop out of my diet as I boost the things that are actually good for me, rather than the things I eat that I thought were good for me. How did I ever end up with tofu in my fridge? It's in the bin now.

    Anyway, the link if you're interested: http://blog.pjgh.co.uk/2011/06/10/the-logistics-of…..ing-paleo/ – there is a point, bear with me … and please remember I'm transitioning.

    Okay! So you yelled at your computer screen about how I'm being too timid; mentally allowing too many concessions. Yes, today I am as well … especially after last night's Chicken Fajitas. See, just like a Paleo Scramble, it's all starting to come together …

    What I've been mulling over in my sleep and come to realise this morning (over a very tasty breakfast) is that the things I need to drop out are not paleo; moreover, they manifest themselves best in dishes that are not paleo. Well, duh! But read that again … if I like battered Fish & Chips, that's not paleo … nor is Meat & Potato Pie, nor is Lasagne. These dishes are not great candidates to try to emulate in paleo cuisine.

    Substitution! That's the point …

    Why substitute? That's what vegetarians and vegans do. They do that because they do not have a whole diet. We're primal, paleo predators! What do we need to substitute? We don't! We eat pure and natural food!

    Chuckling, I remembered the scene in Laurel & Hardy's 'Saps at Sea' where the stowaway forces them to make him a meal and they use string for spaghetti, red paint for the sauce and pan scourers for the meatballs. It's all a bit silly really, substitution.

    My blog entry was full of substitutions and concessions and that is something I will address and revisit in my next blog entry now that I've seen the light. At the time, I guess my fear was that I would be losing some of my favourite dishes and couldn't really see how just beefing up the meat and green veg content was going to satisfy my palate or my eyes. The first bite is with the eyes … and I guess this applies very much to predators, seeing a juicy gazelle springing across the savannah; the hyaena is already salivating by the time it sinks its teeth into the animal.

    Substitution is wrong! Dropping out dishes that epitomise contra-paleo food is just that … drop them, don't make them anymore. Find new, interesting and gorgeous looking dishes to make that epitomise what is paleo. This, for breakfast: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/mtiM5JkPJahwEXa7aOIufw?feat=directlink … this, for dinner: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/PzbAXaCtMne-mpXys9DEhw?feat=directlink … no compromise! No substitution!

    While we're on that, doing a paleo-remix is a cool thing! Bangers & Mash is one of my favourite meals and it doesn't need a lot to become paleo – sausages over celeriac mash with some green cabbage alongside in a meat and mushroom gravy. The potato part has not been substituted … it has been supplanted. Likewise, lettuce wraps for fajitas or burgers is not substitution, it's ingenuity! The dish has been re-volved (literally, the plate has been turned). Is meatza a substitution or is it a totally new dish? A paleo-remix? It's emulation, that's for sure.

    Semantics, possibly, or a razor fine line?

    This morning, my brain is buzzing with ideas; moreover I am excited about puddings and desserts, stodgy flour-based puddings never did it for me, but lighter, less sweet pies … like pumpkin over a nut and butter base really does sound good. You can see from my food pictures that the look is very important! Paleo Scramble (delicious as it is) is not going to cut it for me … applying my ingenuity, artistic flair and cooking skill is going to be a seriously fun adventure in the paleosphere.

    Paleo Fine Dining, anyone?

  • eddie watts

    i generally agree with you that replacing non-paleo foods with paleo subs is not a good road to go down.
    but i miss pizza a lot, so erm i do meatza :D

    see it a lot of veggie/vegans with the substitute meats and can’t help but think it is missing the point.

    good comment though

  • I'll have to try it, Eddie. I have never liked pizza, so I will be treating meatza almost as a new experience.

    In fine dining, often the meat is at the top of a stack or placed in a manner where it is central, never the base of a dish. Turning the plate on its head, using meat as the base, the foundation or the carrier for another food is an interesting idea and one I will pursue.

  • Brad

    All I can say is that Dr. Kellogg belongs in hell if anyone does(though I don’t think anyone truly would because we’re all victims of our circumstances in some sense).

    Genital mutilation of children, both female and male, is one of the few crimes that should be punishable by death.

    Circumcision of both males and females amounts to violent, disfiguring, child rape.

  • Risto

    I only read the abstract of this study: http://www.jacn.org/content/22/4/296.abstract, but it makes a pretty weird conclusion:

    “This analysis provides evidence that skipping breakfast is not an effective way to manage weight. Eating cereal (ready-to-eat or cooked cereal) or quick breads for breakfast is associated with significantly lower body mass index compared to skipping breakfast or eating meats and/or eggs for breakfast.”

    What’s your take on this? I think we can’t really get anything from the study because of its design.

  • eddie

    Risto, i read through that and noticed this

    author affiliations:

    Kellogg-USA, Battle Creek, Michigan (S.C., C.A.C.), Berkeley, California
    School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California (M.D., C.J.P.B., G.B.)

    see that first name there?

  • Risto, eddie:

    Here's a study using the same data set (NHANES) that explains the results:

    http://www.jacn.org/content/29/4/407.abstract

    “Twenty-five percent of young adults were BS [breakfast skippers], 16.5% were RTECC [ready-to-eat cereal consumers], and 58.4% were OBC [other breakfast consumers]. Intakes of total energy, percent energy from carbohydrate, and dietary fiber were higher in RTECC than in BS and OBC. Percent energy intake from added sugars was higher in BS than in RTECC and OBC.”

    In other words, breakfast skippers got more energy throughout their day from added sugar than anyone else — including people who ate cereal for breakfast!

    This supports the theory I advanced in my article: “Unfortunately, people usually skip breakfast because they have to be at school or at work very early in the morning and didn’t get enough sleep, not because they’re trying to lose weight.”  Then, as I've mentioned, they end up eating vending machine junk food at school or at work…which explains their higher sugar intake despite their lower total calorie intake.

    Another contribution to the poor results is that breakfast-skipping children are very likely to be from a poor and dysfunctional family that simply doesn't feed their children before they go to school.

    JS

  • Paul, eddie:

    I agree that it's best to look forward, not backwards.  Instead of trying to emulate what I used to eat, I ask myself “Now that I have the freedom to eat all this delicious meat and fat, what delicious dishes can I create now that I couldn't before?”

    I will note that potatoes are not in themselves a problem, so you can keep your bangers and mash.  And sometimes it's possible to create a variation on an older dish that's delicious in its own right, i.e. beanless chili, hamburgers and tacos with lettuce for a “bun”.

    But I admit that I'm not a big fan of “primal bread” and other simulations.  I eat different food now.  That is a fact.

    Brad:

    I think we agree: circumcision is a religious mutilation that some scientists have retroactively attempted (and failed) to justify as a public health effort.  And I find it strange and ironic that US-based right wingers are defending and promulgating a practice of Jews and Moslems!

    JS

  • Mike OD

    Bravo! Always good to hear the message that we should be so crazy to eat when we are really hungry.

    As for breakfast, well I like to say…I always eat it (as the first meal of the day is always “breaking the fast”), but sometimes it is at 11am…other days 2pm…and maybe later some other day.

    Anything other wise is usually an espresso with some heavy cream or even coconut oil. Some light fat to help hunger/cortisol/energy/calorie levels while also maintaining a true protein and insulin response fast for the health benefits.

    Preach on!

  • Fmgd

    From the study Risto posted:

    “skippers have the lowest total daily energy intake of all groups, despite having high BMIs. An explanation for this could be that subjects who skip breakfast are already overweight, are trying to lose weight and are also limiting their daily energy intake from other food sources throughout the day.”

    But what caught my attention was their data about meat and egg breakfast eaters, presenting the highest daily energy intake and one the highest BMIs, even if technically comparable to all but the lowest BMIs.

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    [...] The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast [...]

  • The reason for big p

    [...] I really liked this article–with plenty of good references: The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast - GNOLLS.ORG For the record, neither I, nor the post's author is against eating breakfast. I think it's a very [...]

  • Mike OD:

    Exactly.  Break your fast whenever you feel hungry, but not before.

    Fmgd:

    The NHANES data includes all of America.  That means you've got about a million confounding factors — which you can't possibly control for because they weren't surveyed.

    For instance, after decades of anti-fat and anti-cholesterol propaganda, who still regularly eats a bacon and egg breakfast besides long-haul truckers?  (Remember that paleo eaters are still statistically insignificant to the US population.)  Basically you're selecting directly for “people who resolutely ignore health advice”, and then being surprised that they're less healthy.

    JS

  • Risto

    @eddie: Great point! I’m glad that your eye caught it, I completely missed it. I’m such a newbie with studies, but I’m glad I have people like you guys who make sure that I don’t make stupid conclusions.
    “Funding for this study was provided by the Kellogg Company.” We can basically throw it in the trash bin, huh?

    @JS: Yup, all of your arguments make sense and unfortunately it’s hard to get anything out of these studies.

    @Fmgd: Isn’t it just so hard to take anything out of these studies? As far as I’m concerned, all of these show just correlation and don’t prove anything.

    J. Stanton, you mentioned in your blog post that the awakening-cortisol response is one of the reasons that we generally don’t have appetite in the morning. How did you conclude that? I know it’s a fact that cortisol concentration is increased 50-160% in the first 30 minutes after waking up, but where does it come from that our appetite is suppressed because of it? Doesn’t training increase cortisol also? But my appetite is sky-high post-workout.

  • Risto:

    Cortisol is demonized as a toxic stress hormone, and too much cortisol is indeed bad for us — but cortisol performs many necessary functions, and if it's too low, you have what's called “adrenal insufficiency”, which leads to all sorts of problems.  (It's called “Addison's disease” if it's chronic.)  

    The primary function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar levels through gluconeogenesis.  I don't think cortisol is thereason we're not hungry in the morning: it's most likely one of the consequences of our circadian rhythms, which help us wake up and start the day in the absence of easily-available food.  

    Many hormonal issues aren't a matter of static levels, because they change dramatically throughout the day.  Growth hormone, for instance, is released in a pulsatile fashion throughout the day and night.  Those patterns of release can be different between males and females.  And in many cases, the problem isn't pulsation, it's a chronically elevated baseline level.  (Insulin is a great example: everyone gets an insulin spike after a meal, but if your insulin is chronically elevated, odds are good you've got problems.)  So I'm loath to say “Morning cortisol is bad, we should nuke it with protein” until I understand the function of the rhythm of cortisol secretion.

    JS

  • Ray

    Australian Aboriginal Stumpy Brown new how to eat like her ancestors for 40 , 000 years before her .
    Most likely the kids had breakfast and the adults had brunch .

    STUMPY BROWN: (Speaks pidgin English) I was born among the sandhills, in my own country. There were no white people. We slept without blankets. All we had was a fire to keep us warm. We wore no clothes — completely naked. We used to travel around and go hunting on foot. We’d catch large goanna’s, bandicoots, blue-tongue lizards and possums. We’d eat every bit of these animals — even crunch the bones and eat them too.

    My mother and father would both go hunting My sister and I would stay near the camp and hunt for small lizards. We’d track thorny devils, following its tiny tracks, until we would find one feasting on ants. We would catch it and look around for more. Then we would cook and eat them and save some for our mother and father.
    http://www.abc.net.au/dimensions/dimensions_in_time/Transcripts/s734882.htm

  • Josh

    Since JS’s first Breakfast Myth post, I’ve been able to abstain from breakfast for around 80% of the past two weeks and have felt great as a result.

    Interestingly enough, I had a bit of a carb binge last night thanks to being a little financially rotten and without access to a good source of protein and, lo and behold, my breakfast cravings have returned.

    Cereals and high sugar breakfasts keeping everyone in the carb loop? I don’t doubt it for a second.

    The things that continually impresses me about the Paleo, Low Carb lifestyle is that the longer you practice it without messing up too much, the more you no longer have to fight cravings. You literally DO NOT WANT to eat McDonalds or have that slice of toast with your bacon and eggs because YOU WILL FEEL ILL and take a little while to get back to how you were feeling pre-carb binge.

    Thankfully if any of my friends ever ask why I’ve lost a ton of weight and feel better than I have in as long as I can remember, I can just direct them to this website and say “your journey starts here.”

  • Ray:

    Thanks for the link!  That's consonant with most of the research I've seen on hunter-forager eating patterns.

    Josh:

    Like you, I've also found that eating protein-less carbs makes me hungry.  It's like our bodies throw a little bit of a tantrum when they come off a blood sugar spike: “MORE MORE MORE!  Oh, OK, I guess I'll burn some fat now.”

    I'm glad my articles are useful to you and your friends: I take care to write them so that they're understandable to people not already familiar with the concepts.  Thanks for helping spread the word!

    JS

  • A James

    I skip breakfast and lunch entirely and don’t even eat after I work out. That’s another “myth”- having to eat RIGHT AFTER you workout. It makes absolutely NO sense unless you’re selling chemical protein bars or shakes that are even worse for you than full sugar cola. The healthy low carb diet is a step in the right direction but it’s nothing compared to FASTING thru the day and running on your energy reserves until you eat one main meal at night and nothing else. We don’t need over half of the food we eat. We simply eat too much and that includes eating too many times during the day. Breadfast is the most important meal of the day? The Earth is also flat.

  • Way of the Warrior-P

    [...] dilemma with the shower products, I got on Facebook and one of my friends posted a link to an article claiming that not only was breakfast not the most important meal of the day, but that eating [...]

  • chris.george

    One thing I just realized when thinking about fasting and skipping breakfast/meals. A 12oz ribeye is a “snack” for those of us who fast.

  • A James:

    “Breadfast” is an excellent malapropism, which I'm going to steal from you.

    As far as post-workout (PWO) nutrition, I'm not going to jump into that shark tank until I feel like I understand it better.  There are a lot of very grumpy people with very strong opinions in the world of sports nutrition.

    Chris:

    Exactly.  Prime rib makes a delicious snack!

    JS

  • Way of the Warrior-P

    [...] dilemma with the shower products, I got on Facebook and one of my friends posted a link to an article claiming that not only was breakfast not the most important meal of the day, but that eating [...]

  • What do you guys eat

    [...] breakfast is none at all! I almost never eat before noon. Here's a good discourse on the subject: The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

  • Exercise while fasti

    [...] of skipping breakfast, which is what most hunter-gatherers do, this is a very interesting article: The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

  • Breakfast Skipping 1

    [...] The Breakfast Myth Part 2 “The Art and Science Of NOT Eating Breakfast – Gnolls.org [...]

  • J. Federico

    I have found that a lot of the time I’ll get breakfast on the way into work and have it there, maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours after I wake up. Has worked out great and a lot of people don’t know that you can get eggs, bacon and sausage as just side items at any drive through without having to get all of the associated bread items…makes it quicker and cheaper! =]

  • J. Federico:

    Good point!  At which drive-through do you find the best value for those items?  I tend to cook at home, but when I'm on the road, it would be good to know.

    JS

  • I don't know about the US, but in the UK … McDonalds of all people have started doing this for breakfast: http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/food/breakfast/breakfast-wrap.mcdj – chuck the wrap and eat the inner. It's breakfast! Your body just smashes it all up anyway …

    There is a pub/carvery local to my work which does unlimited return breakfasts for something like £6.95. All the bacon and eggs you can eat! Hash browns in there, black pudding (yeah, oatmeal … who cares? it's Black Pudding!) … sausages … I'll give it a try some day. Just a shame you can't get a beer at that time in the morning :)

  • Paul:

    This is, I think, the American equivalent.  As you said, ditch the wrap and it's pretty good, except for the seed oil they've no doubt fried the potatoes in.

    JS

  • Very similar – I was being a little tongue in cheek, but it's not a bad breakfast … with a fish oil chaser. Certainly a serious improvement upon a bowl of granola.

    I say, you guys get Angus meat? We have to have a rather bland and tasteless interpretation of an Angus burger from Burger King over here. I make my own – my local supermarket carries Angus meat, which is pretty damn good. Next time I'm over in Anglesey (where we visit a few times a year), I'll get the chap at MooBaaOinc to mince me some Welsh black beef and invite Samuel L Jackson around for a proper tasty burger!

    Anyway … just for a smattering of healthy jealousy, I've got leftover slow-cooked brisket for breakfast tomorrow …

  • Paul:

    I had an “Angus burger” from McDonalds once when I got a coupon — back before I was paleo.  It was dry and tasteless, and I didn't notice any difference from their regular meat.

    And I'm not jealous: I'm cooking some grass-finished short ribs.

    JS

  • Is it better to eat

    [...] as the carb breakfast increases appetite and blocks fat metabolism throughout the entire day. The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast - GNOLLS.ORG As other people have said it's better to eat carbs following activity especially with the [...]

  • Breakfast Part 4: Mo

    [...] by potato chips or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on the couch?   Here is the article:   The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science of Not Eating Breakfast   For now, I'm glad to be done pricking my finger and squeezing out a drop of blood for [...]

  • Cereal is Bad for yo

    [...] The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast - GNOLLS.ORG Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | [...]

  • shnark

    love the article!, i’ve just discovered your website.
    Maybe women tend to eat more of a breakfast because in general they do more work throughout the day than men. Work + childcare + domestic chores. a mom with a desk job burns more calories than a dad with a desk job, I bet.

    On a somewhat separate note, I used to swim 4 hours a day and I’d eat 6 waffles for breakfast in the morning with tons of syrup, except on friday when I’d eat four halves of a bagel covered in cheese. I was in great shape but even packing in those calories I was often tired. I’d eat little debbie snacks and juice boxes before practise and gatorade while I swam, and still pass out in the car on the ride home 2 hours later. I wonder what it would have been like if I ate paleo at the time…

  • shnark:

    There are many potential reasons — and determining “why” would require many more data points than I have!

    Six waffles?  Wow.  I liked waffles as a kid (of course…they're dessert) but that's a lot of sugar to be packing down at once.  “Passing out” is usually reactive hypoglycemia…so eating more calories beforehand just makes it worse.  I suspect that eating paleo would have solved that particular issue…

    JS

  • Mich

    Ok I read part 2 now. Excellent! I haven’t had breakfast since I was a kid, and when I’m forced to have it by others, in about 45 mins I’m starving again. Also, dietitians recommend the bread for breakfast within 1 hour of waking, especially when you’re not hungry. This unnatural breakfast is touted as preventing your liver from manufacturing glucose.

  • Mich:

    And why would you want to prevent your liver from manufacturing glucose?  It's been doing it all night…

    Like you, I find that eating breakfast just makes me hungrier.

    JS

  • Breakfast myth : Ter

    [...] “This study suggests that if you ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast it would promote carbohydrate utilization throughout the rest of the day, whereas, if you have a fat-rich breakfast, you have metabolic plasticity to transfer your energy utilization between carbohydrate and fat.” – The Breakfast Myth, Part 2 [...]

  • Jon

    Personally, I eat a rather large breakfast of bacon and eggs and I’m pretty satisfied until dinner. Lately, it’s been skip lunch. I’m usually eating 600-800 calories for breakfast and I feel full of energy all day, with no desire to eat lunch. This option seems the most realistic to me…usually eat the leftovers from the other night and then spend the rest of the day “hunting” for dinner. Sometimes you eat breakfast because you had a large “kill” and sometimes you don’t….

  • Jon:

    That's why I don't give a single dietary prescription for everyone: not only do daily responsibilities and individual metabolisms differ, a fixed daily routine was not a feature of our evolutionary past.  As you said, sometimes we had a big kill the night before, sometimes we didn't.

    JS

  • dana

    “i eat when i’m hungry i drink when i’m dry” has always sounded good to me. my husband thought for years that eating at 10a and 3p was just wrong. that is when i am hungry. all the decades of running a landscape design and installation company, i could eat whenever i wanted. after i started paying attention to the times, i realized it was always about the same 10 and 3. i eat elk burgers, eggs and sometimes coffee with stevia. we have a well, so we always have fabulius water. breakfast by the book..you know the sugar carb advertising was never something my parents ever fell for. we did have oatmeal made by my mother. this was before the packaged nuke it version. my aunt grew our oats. we had cows, so we had raw milk. and we had chickens so we had naturally fed eggs. still when i feel like a carb, i eat oatmeal. so very often, but it is a comfort food. i still subscribe to the idea that eat when you are hungry and drinking when you are dry sounds normal and right.

  • dana

    i meant so so very often on the oatmeal. if you can acquite oats for a reliable source and can make your own butter(can be done by hand or a blender from real(raw) milk, a good carb meal is oatmeal, some stevia and real butter. but steak and eggs tastes so much better!

  • dana:

    Absolutely.  The idea that we should eat when we're not hungry is silly enough…the idea that it'll help us lose weight is even sillier.

    And I'm jealous that you grew up eating your own milk, eggs, and meat…though I'm not jealous of the effort I know it takes to do so!

    JS

  • js290:

    Great article!  It's good news that people are eating less cereal for breakfast…but the alternatives being pushed are, if anything, even worse.

    “Even that box of double-chocolate Krave is stamped 'Good source of fiber and whole grain.'”

    I'm sure one reason that fiber and whole grains are pushed so hard is that they can be added to junk food without making it any less junky.

    JS

  • ashley

    This explains a lot.

    I have PCOS. Which is basically a genetic metabolic disorder (we now know both men and women have it). Typically women get diagnosed because it causes infertility issues (though not for men). People who have it can become insulin resistant or diabetic.

    I’m one of the few who does not come up as insulin resistant on blood tests. However, outward symptoms indicate I could be insulin resistant.

    All my life, I almost never ate
    breakfast (I am never hungry upon waking, and I don’t like sugar for breakfast). I never eat cereal, or carb like substances for breakfast. Instead I go for protein or dinner items, or wait until lunch. But this is what I intuitively go for since my mom gave up on making me breakfast (because it was so hard for her to wake me up earlier than 5 minutes before the bus came so she didn’t have to try to cram cereal down my throat).

    Maybe this is why I haven’t fell off the deep end into ‘obviously insulin resistant’ territory on blood tests?

    It’s interesting to ponder.

    I have been told to eat a low GI diet. Truth be told, if you REALLY read how you’re supposed to do the low GI, you’ll find that you’re gonna switch your bleached flour foods to unbleached whole grain foods, avoid other high GI foods like corns, most grains, and white potatoes. You’re going to cut back the carb portions drastically, even for whole grain, and even more if it’s something like mashed potatoes. They are concerned about the GI of the meal as a whole so you have to balance your sides, and the portions you use.

    Counting the GI is like calorie counting, which is worthless to me. I’m going to memorize the GI and calories in everything.

    I read between the lines came up with this condensed version. eat less carbs, even if they supposedly good carbs. And if you’re still hungry, eat more greens, healthy fats, and proteins. You have to read into it a little bit, but that is what they are really saying.

    Also, the concept that some foods have a better GI than others is debatable. It’s been known for a while each diabetic can respond differently to different foods. White flour pizza crust might be a blood sugar spike trigger for one diabetic, while corn in corn chips would be for another.
    One of the world’s longest living diabetics is also a doctor, recommended doing a elimination diet, where patients add one type of carb at a time to their diet and see how their blood sugar reaction. This way they can determine what to eat.

    In summary, I try to eat something green with every meal, and eat more meat and fat with every meal.
    Make a point to incorporate more healthy fats because sometimes people with PCOS do not absorb their nutrients very well because of their lower metabolism. Fats help maximize absorption.

    Cereal is also a scam. They will never really remove all that sugar.
    Depending on the company who makes the cereal, there is a rule that cereals must float in milk for at least 3 minutes. How do they do that? They coat it in sugar.
    Then they add a little whole grain and maybe fiber to make mom’s feel better about feeding their kids fruity pebbles slurry.

  • Paul N

    @ Ashley,

    The glycemic index was (and still is) a useful concept, but, like cholesterol measurements, its use has limitations.
    For example, the GI of fructose is just 17, and this GI newsletter, from Australia, would have you believe that, there fore, fructose is safe!
    http://www.glycemicindex.com/blog/2012/Mar/mar2012.pdf

    Then again , anti-freeze is low GI, but that doesn’t make it healthy either…

    The problem with GI is that it encourages substitutions, instead of real changes. You end up with “low GI wholewheat breads” when the idea should be to avoid bread altogether.
    the GI has become a way to put a rating on processed foods, that allows mfrs to game the system for a lower number. If the item has a GI on it, chances are it is not a real/whole food – when do you see GI labels on beef, milk, or broccoli?

    When you do eat, make sure it is protein first, then your veg, and after that, you probably won’t feel the need for much carb, and you have certainly lowered the GI of whatever yo do eat.

  • Ashley:

    Absolutely.  They can't come out and say “eat more fat and protein”, but that's the logical endpoint.  If you want to reduce glycemic spikes, you should reduce glucose intake…but you have to replace the calories with something, and as Paul points out, fructose is a bad choice.

    I strongly recommend you read Paul Jaminet's classic article How to Minimize Hyperglycemic Toxicity for more information on how to reduce the effective GI of your meals!

    And yes, “whole grains” are mostly a marketing scam.  As I said to js290 above, “I'm sure one reason that fiber and whole grains are pushed so hard is that they can be added to junk food without making it any less junky.”

    Paul N:

    Exactly!  The glycemic index of fat is 0…so if you really want to drop GI, throw out those “complex carbs” and eat natural, high-fat animal products.  “Low-GI bread” is like “low-tar cigarettes”.

    JS

  • Sue None

    From the YES I AM HUNGRY SOON AFTER WAKING UP group, which isn’t being represented yet by this group of commentators, I have struggled to reduce breakfast size and/or frequency for ages.

    The many comments, somewhat self congratulatory sounding, of “I never eat until noon” have always irritated me when I hear them. Gee, great, wish I could. Low carb and paleo did not change my unfortunate hunger either. For anyone on the other side of the experience fence, like me, my post is a post that you are not as alone as all of these other people make you feel.

    FWIW, I am not overweight. I don’t eat after 6pm, having no interest in eating late evening. No idea what any of this means.

  • Sue None:

    That's fine.  As I said in the article, “Yes, it’s OK if you’re genuinely hungry soon after you wake!”  And if you're genuinely not hungry after 6 PM, you're probably one of those mysterious “morning people”.  I've heard of them.

    JS

  • BillyBob

    While your article was good I disagree with one thing.

    That is your conclusions about what the mouse studies are saying. It is not the fact that the mice had a low fat breakfast that predisposed to metabolic syndrome, it was actually the high fat meals before the mice rested that predisposed to metabolic syndrome. Your conclusions are very misleading…

  • Jen W

    Billybob,

     

    Could you explain WHY you believe it was the high fat meals before resting that predisposed them to metabolic syndrome?

  • BillyBob:

    So you're contending that fat is bad…but only if you eat it for dinner?

    First, the RER of the mice who ate the low-fat meal for “breakfast” (the “Late High Fat” mice) stayed above 1.0 for eight hours straight — and only dropped once they ate a high-fat meal for “dinner”.  (The “high-fat” dinner was still 35% carbs, of which half was table sugar.)

    In other words, the mice only regained metabolic flexibility once they were fed fat.

    In further support of my interpretation, mice not only choose high-fat diets when allowed to — those that do are healthier than their compatriots forced to eat high-carb chow:

    “When scientists allowed a wild-type mouse strain that develops obesity and diabetes on a 40% carb, 40% fat chow to choose its own diet, it chose a diet of 5.6% carbs, 82.5% fat, and 12.0% protein, and “proved highly resistant to the development of obesity and diabetes.”  In the same study, transgenic mice genetically engineered to be even more prone to obesity and diabetes self-selected to a diet of 2.2% carbs and 85% fat and “developed obesity [that was] less pronounced than on a high-fat and high-carbohydrate Western diet…and did not become hyperglycemic; they showed decreased fasted and fed glucose levels.”  (Quote from Perfect Health Diet, p. 38.  Here's the original citation, sadly unavailable in fulltext.)

    So while it's possible that your interpretation is true, it seems extremely unlikely given the weight of the existing evidence.

    JS

  • Robyn

    I haven’t read all the comments, but is there anyone here who actually needs to eat to avoid losing weight? I’m slim and healthy and would feel awful if I didn’t eat within 30mins of rising. It bothers me, but at least on occasions like Xmas or other dinner parties, I don’t need to worry about my weight because I never do gain weight.
    For me breakfast is the most important meal of the day, along with lunch and dinner, which I am physically unable to skip.

  • Mima

    I’m fine skipping breakfast. But can I still have my coffee? Maybe with cream and no sugar?

  • Mima

    I’m fine skipping breakfast. But can I still have my coffee? Maybe with cream and no sugar?

  • E Craig

    Mima, how do you feel when you wait to eat in the morning until you're hungry?

     

    (Coffee geek mode start)

    Black coffee / straight shot of espresso should *not* make even genetic 'bitter tastes' want to wretch.  It should be pleasantly bitter and not taste burned or scorched. (Unless you're in Southern Italy).  Genetic bitter tasters (husband is, I'm only partly) may have a harder time of it.

    (coffee geek mode end)

     

    Eat if you wake up truly hungry, but make food choices that aren't going to give you a hyper-spazz rush but then lead to a horrid crash at the bottom of Blood Sugar mountain.

  • Robyn:

    If you're legitimately hungry at breakfast, then eat!  When I'm trying to gain muscle mass, I'll eat breakfast too.  What I'm saying is that it's counterproductive to force ourselves to eat when we're not hungry just because we're supposed to want food at a certain time.

    Mima:

    Morning coffee is fine so long as you're drinking coffee — not a latte, mocha, “frappucino”, or any other sugary concoction.  It's also an effective appetite suppressant.  And a little cream in it won't hurt, either.

    E Craig:

    Good coffee is a pleasure, though I rarely indulge so as to maintain a robust response to caffeine when I really need it.

    JS

  • [...] to J. Staton, author of The Gnoll Credo, “Fasting is a high-fat meal…of your own adipose tissue. [...]

  • Robert F

    An interesting read from 1900.

    The No Breakfast Plan and The Fasting Cure by Edward Hooker Dewey, M.D. Free on Kindle.

  • Robert F:

    Interesting!  The therapeutic value of fasting and meal skipping has been known for quite a while…and the empirical evidence is that we had a much better handle on weight control “back in the day”.

    JS

  • H

    There are some studies emerging which show that eating frequently actually improves insulin sensitivity for women. This is in opposition to all the research on intermittent fasting showing that skipping meals improves insulin sensitivity – those studies have been conducted on men only.

    I agree that if you’re not hungry at breakfast (I never have been) you shouldn’t eat. But fasting may be counterproductive for women.

    Women’s bodies seem to be more attached to their fat stores than men’s. Women experience starvation response mechanisms much more quickly than men do. Women’s bodies have to be ready to have a baby, and that makes fat stores and access to food very important. Regular meals, and even regular starchy carbohydrates, seem to be extra important for women. Otherwise our bodies seem to think they are not being fed, and stress and hunger hormones go up, fertility goes down, and health risks increase.

    Just an interesting thought to add to the other commenters who observe that women seem to need to eat more consistently, and more carbohydrates, than men.

  • H:

    I'd love to see the citations you're speaking of on eating frequency and insulin…feel free to leave them in a comment or send them to me via gnolls.org/contact.

    The “need to have a baby” explanation is tempting — as is most plausible-sounding evo-bio speculation — but it doesn't explain why menopausal and post-menopausal women often seem to suffer even worse.

    That being said, I don't disagree that women don't seem to respond as well as men to long IFs: I've noted above that women often seem to do best with a late breakfast and skipping lunch, vs. skipping breakfast entirely, as many men do. 

    JS

  • [...] Turns out that that’s not necessarily true.  Yes it’s important. But necessary? Not at all. The necessity of breakfast is a modern idea. It’s actually not that important. [...]

  • Troy T.

    Great read! May be an ignorant question but curious on how to properly eat when working night shifts such as myself. Is it Just backwards? I wake up around early dinner time and don’t eat as if it were to be my breakfast. Breakfast time for most people feels like my dinner and is usually the time I eat. Also I have a bad habit of fasting for days at times and was wondering if there is any other way not to over eat coming off of fasting. Thanks for the read and any feed back I could get would be appreciated.

  • Troy:

    “Breakfast” is whenever you wake up, and “dinner” is whenever you fall asleep.  So if you're eating dinner-style foods for “breakfast”, you're doing well, and likely much better off than most!

    If you're hungry coming off a multi-day fast, it's not really possible to “overeat” unless you're drinking olive oil straight from the bottle.  If you end up binging on junk, that's another issue…do you fast because you're trying to achieve an objective, or simply because your schedule makes it inconvenient to eat?

    JS

  • Alice Tesla

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU.

    I started reading your site a few days ago after I was googling around about carbs (after reading the article “Always Hungry? Here’s Why” that appeared in the NY Times on May 16, 2014). I have hit the “where the hell did this weight come from?” moment in my mid-thirties and so I’ve been trying to figure out what I need to fix about my eating to stop gaining weight and start losing some.

    While I’m a long ways out from going Paleo, reading about bread being sugar (I will NEVER walk past a bakery and not think of Skittles!), and in particular how we often eat that stuff at breakfast, made me realize that the simplest positive change in my diet I could make was to totally change my first meal of the day.

    So two days ago I made myself an omelette. Which might not sound like a big deal, except that it was the first omelette I’d ever eaten. This is because, as a child, I used to wretch when I even smelled eggs cooking! So I’ve always hated them. But I had sensed for a while that my aversion was waning, and so I felt ready to try it out. And indeed, I can manage it!

    What I couldn’t BELIEVE was that I didn’t even think about eating again until 3pm. I just wasn’t hungry. Period. Same thing today, after another omelette. Now that I’ve read this article, I see how badly I was hurting myself by eating low-fat, high-carb in the morning! But no more!! Time to start burning fat for energy again!!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
    -Alice

  • Alice:

    I'm glad to hear you're having success with such a simple change!

    Do note that you don't have to eat “breakfast food” for breakfast.  While omelets are delicious and I encourage their consumption, it's unnecessary to limit oneself to eggs and pork products.  Anything you'd eat for lunch or dinner is fair game.  In fact, most people would be better served eating their evening meal for breakfast and their breakfast for dinner!

    If you're in a hurry and don't have time to cook breakfast, it's nice to have some hard-boiled eggs on hand.  Just sprinkle on some seasoning and go!  (I like “creole seasoning” like Zatarain's or Tony Chachere's, but salt and pepper is fine too.)  You can also grill an entire package of sausages all at once, refrigerate them, and heat them up in ones or twos in the morning instead of having to cook them from scratch.  And dinner leftovers are also a perfectly acceptable breakfast.

    Stay in touch and let us know how you get on!

    JS

  • Sylwester Smieszek

    I have question, it’s been bothering me for a while now , i was wondering if having cold beakfast is healthy or if it’s unhealthy and bad for ya , please let me know what you think or simply direct me to some webs where i can find informations about it.

  • Sylwester:

    The temperature of the breakfast isn’t important: if you don’t have time to prepare a hot meal, hard-boiled eggs or cold leftovers are just fine. What’s important is the nutritional content: a meal of complete protein, relatively low in carbohydrates, will keep you satiated for much longer than a meal of juice (sugar) and cereal (sugar).

    More articles you might be interested in:
    http://www.gnolls.org/2131/the-breakfast-myth-part-1/
    http://www.gnolls.org/2052/how-heart-healthy-whole-grains-make-us-fat/
    http://www.gnolls.org/3409/the-calorie-paradox-did-four-rice-chex-make-america-fat-part-ii-of-there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-calorie/ (see “calories at dinner vs. breakfast” section)
    http://www.gnolls.org/3662/what-is-hunger-and-why-are-we-hungry-j-stantons-ahs-2012-presentation-including-slides/

    JS

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