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The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast
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June 14, 2011
7:28 am
eddie
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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?

June 14, 2011
11:54 am
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First-Eater
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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

June 14, 2011
12:06 pm
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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

June 14, 2011
6:41 pm
Mike OD
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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!

June 15, 2011
2:13 am
Fmgd
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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.

June 15, 2011
1:31 pm
The Breakfast Myth,
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[...] The Breakfast Myth, Part 2: The Art and Science Of Not Eating Breakfast [...]

June 16, 2011
11:09 am
The reason for big p
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[...] 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 [...]

June 16, 2011
10:13 pm
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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

June 17, 2011
5:04 am
Risto
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@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.

June 17, 2011
11:26 pm
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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

June 20, 2011
12:20 am
Ray
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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

June 20, 2011
5:15 pm
Josh
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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."

June 22, 2011
5:19 pm
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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

July 1, 2011
6:43 am
A James
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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.

July 4, 2011
10:12 pm
Way of the Warrior-P
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[...] 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 [...]

July 6, 2011
11:30 am
California
Gnoll
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June 20, 2011
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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.

July 6, 2011
11:45 pm
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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

August 3, 2011
2:59 pm
Way of the Warrior-P
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[...] 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 [...]

September 14, 2011
5:09 pm
What do you guys eat
Guest

[...] 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 | [...]

October 6, 2011
5:53 pm
Exercise while fasti
Guest

[...] 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 | [...]

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