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The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast
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June 8, 2011
1:52 pm
Asclepius
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@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.

🙂

June 8, 2011
2:04 pm
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Gnoll
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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.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

June 8, 2011
5:44 pm
Walter
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@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.

June 8, 2011
5:45 pm
Walter
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Also when you remove fat/cholesterol from the diet all sex hormones are harder to manufacture.

June 8, 2011
5:55 pm
Mark
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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?

June 8, 2011
9:33 pm
Franco
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@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.:)

June 8, 2011
9:51 pm
Franco
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@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.

June 8, 2011
11:41 pm
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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.)

June 9, 2011
2:28 am
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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.

June 9, 2011
10:04 am
Tracy
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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.

June 9, 2011
12:10 pm
lucy
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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.

June 9, 2011
2:06 pm
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Gnoll
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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!

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

June 9, 2011
9:17 pm
Fmgd
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@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.

June 9, 2011
11:21 pm
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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.

 

June 10, 2011
2:45 am
eddie
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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:)

June 11, 2011
5:33 am
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Gnoll
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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?

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

June 12, 2011
2:32 am
eddie watts
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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 😀

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

June 12, 2011
2:55 am
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Gnoll
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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.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

June 12, 2011
10:05 pm
Brad
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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.

June 14, 2011
5:10 am
Risto
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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.

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