February 22, 2010
"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." How many times have we heard that?
And has anyone else noticed that what passes for "breakfast food" is the nutritional equivalent of Halloween candy? How did we get bamboozled into starting our day with snacks and dessert?
You can't live like a predator if you start your day eating like prey.
"Predators gorge and fast: prey grazes.
Rephrased for modern humans: predators eat meals, prey grazes on snacks."
(From , my popular guide to paleo diet and life.)
"Breakfast" Is Most Likely A Neolithic Invention
Technically "breakfast" is your first…
I have either
- curd with fresh fruit or
- three hard boiled eggs
for breakfast... but yes... it would not be necessary. I try skipping it tomorrow.
I haven't 'done breakfast' for some years. It is quite liberating and an entirely comfortable experience once you break both the habit of breakfast and once you progress past a sugar-laden/carb-heavy diet.
I seldom eat before midday whereupon I 'break my fast' (often) with a traditional English fry up (I try to get grain free sausages and black pudding with minimal grain content).
Instead of complex carbs I prefer my bodyfat to provide a 'slow release of energy'.
As a general rule we should be suspicious of any food that goes well with chocolate and/or sugar. Every school kid in the UK knows how to make Rice Krispie buns and 'oaty' chocolate flapjacks are a feature of our cafes. Even simple bread marrys well with chocolate spread!
The cereal manufacturers are exploiting this with their cereal bars and heavily sweetened cereals (Chocolate Weetabix and Honey Nut Cornflakes are prime examples).
Hah - I ate protein powder waffles in my BFL days! Good times. Actually this morning I was a bit peckish and had a banana and tea on my way out the door (usually skip breakfast on Wednesdays). We'll see how I feel at 10am...
As a former sugar/carb-aholic breakfast was the hardest to change, but I beat those sugars into submission with bacon and eggs and now have been analyzing whether or not I am actually hungry or just am used to having food in the morning. It seems to be that my body is used to it, not needs it. Time for skipping of "breakfast".
Love the article. I just recently went to a professional conference where breakfast was provided for us on the second day... nothing but bagels (with fat free cream cheese!), danishes, muffins, fruit, and fruit juice. I understand that since it was a free breakfast that it's not gonna be the most extravagant offering in the world, but jeez... it was mostly dessert!
I can't eat anything until I've been up for awhile; I've been that way almost all my life. Today I was up at 5:30 a.m. and didn't eat until 9 a.m. - I simply was not hungry.
And when I did eat it was a single Scotch egg. 'Cause nothin' says "breakfast" like a hard-boiled egg encased in spicy pork sausage and rolled in almond flour. Good stuff, Maynard.
I had homemade granola for breakfast for 30+ years, one of the hardest addictions I had to overcome. Now I do beef, bacon and eggs and I can take it or leave it most days. Even when I get hungry, it's not usually that driving, gnawing hunger I used to wake up to every morning. It's just an increased appetite, and almost feels pleasurable in itself.
I wake up around five most days, my family not until 8. I wait for them before making breakfast. 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!
Your post comes at a perfect time. I'm just about to post about IF and CR in children. Breakfast is, of course, every parent's greatest concern.
oh dear - Friday I'll celebrate my first 100 days on Paleo, however most of those days have had the "feast" at breakfast! - today's was ground bison with bone broth, spinach, carrots, onion and garlic - I'll be eating again tonight - have I got it backwards? According to this - oh well - my program is a "program of progress, not perfection"! Learn something new every day!
I've noticed more and more than as my diet has transitioned, I'm not as hungry in the mornings anymore. On the other hand, I love eggs, so I'll often eat breakfast, but hardly ever eat again until dinner, if then. Since breaking from the dessert like breakfast foods (great way of putting it, by the way!) I've found that even veggie smoothies without protein, or fruit by itself for breakfast makes me tired soon after.
That being said, my kids (ages 4, 2.5 and 1) do get hungry in the morning, and as active as they all are, a few eggs and some veggies each morning is the usual. The few times they've had cereal or some other "food" at a relative's house though... bad attitudes all day and tired and whiny a couple hours later!
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 for breakfast. If ever they were hungry, they indulged at best with 1 croissant, never more.
I mostly always had breakfast and I never smoke, the result I'm the overweight one ;-(
As for the African breakfast, I can also attest that on Comoros it is only leftovers from the evening. People only prepare food for the evening (on occasions it can happen that people eat at noon, but it happens only on festive days like wedding). They always prepare more than necessary so that there's always enough if someone unexpected visits, the leftovers are then eaten up in the morning.
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.
I think I've never really had the habit of having breakfast.
Well, actually, up to the point I got a bit more self-suficient I'd have a cup of chocolate milk in the morning just about every day, but as soon as people stopped serving me it it became less and less common.
Now for several years I've had breakfast only very sparingly in special ocasions, even though my diet was pretty normal, only with a lot of eggs. I also know quite some people who will only occasionally eat when they wake up, most on completely usual diets.
Today I've been up for about five hours, my last meal was over seventeen hours ago and only now, reading about food, I'm even starting to think about eating. Even then it's still not quite hunger, and won't be for several more hours if I don't eat either. I did gorge yesterday :D
Anyway, I think breakfast is much more of an habit and most people (depending on how they ate before and what kind of activity they had and will have, of course) wouldn't have a problem skipping it if they never got used to have breakfast in the first place.
Oh, and congratualations on your site. I found it a few weeks ago, after rendering some tallow (it's actually not hard to get grass fed cow fat for free around here) for the first time and getting in a discussion with some relatives. Had no idea about the whole Paleo thing, even though I had a similar, yet less complete, reasoning. I've read all of the articles since then and you do have some great material here, so thank you :)
You're not doing anything wrong by a long shot -- you're eating real, nourishing food that'll last you 8-10 hours. There are physiological benefits to short-term fasts (16hrs daily is quite popular), however you're not hurting yourself so don't sweat it.
I found this absolutely fascinating ... being of the primal-minded approach myself I always eat meat and maybe a few nuts for breaky (sometimes I eat eggs; usually red meat), and the truth is that everything I've learned teaches me not to wait to break the fast if I want to build lean muscle and burn fat. I teach my clients this way as well. That being said, I've experimented with intermittent fasting before and I do 'get' the science behind that.
I developed a personal theory on IF, which I just find logical, and I'd be interested to know what you think. My theory is that if someone is under a LOT of modern-day stress (lack of sleep, working too much, not enough down-time, stressful life/relationships in general, not to mention issues of toxicity due to previous lifestyle/environment etc) then something like IF just becomes an added stress that can be the final straw and stimulate a major SNS response.
What do you think? Should we play around with 'truly' paleo-style eating only when we have everything else relatively on track, or would you say we actually support our body by eating more truly according to nature? My concern is the concept of lack of food stimulating a stress response in an already stressed body ...?
Thanks for the article; I'm looking forward to part 2!
Bill DeWitt: Check out JS's article on the effect of Ghrelin: http://www.gnolls.org/79/i-am-a-ghrelin-addict/
This could explain your "enjoyable hunger" as you put it :)
As for the intermittant fasting over breakfast (how ironic) I'm giving it a go and to be honest, it seems to be working. 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.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - the most important to skip. If I'm hungry I eat and most days that doesn't happen until around noon and eggs at noon is fine with me.
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