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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 12, 2016

Why Breakfast Isn’t the Most Important Meal of the Day (For Everyone)

By Mark Sisson
74 Comments

Why Breakfast Is Not the Most Important Meal of the Day FinalIf you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I’m always interested in exploring those time-tested bits of advice, those old wives’ tales, that folk wisdom handed down generation over generation because they’re often right, or at least contain a kernel of truth. And if a piece of conventional folk wisdom turns out to be wrong or misguided, understanding why it endured for so many years is a fun exercise and usually reveals other messages and truths. Today, I’m looking at the importance (or lack thereof) of breakfast. For years, you’ve heard how important breakfast is. Your grandma says it. Your doctor probably scolds you if you’re not eating it. We all grow up having this “fact”—breakfast is the most important meal of the day—drilled into our subconsciouses. Even the people who just don’t feel hungry in the morning feel guilty about it and compelled to stuff something into their craws.

Is it right or wrong?

Before I begin, I’m a little biased. I follow a compressed eating window, from noon/1 to about 6 or 7 at night. On a typical day, I’ll wake up and grab a mug of coffee with a splash of heavy cream and a teaspoon of sugar. And that’s it until lunch, my biggest meal of the day. Since I’m such an effective fat burner, this schedule clearly works for me. I experience even-keeled energy on a consistent basis. My productivity is high, I’m happy with my physical performance and ability to recover, and I don’t stress over food because I’m just not hungry. It makes things easier overall. Plus, though solid research in humans is scant on this, I stick to a compressed eating window to promote autophagy (cellular maintenance) and hedge against aging and neurodegeneration (if those things ever come!). Based on what I’ve heard from thousands of readers, I’m not alone on this. But a single anecdote, or a collection of thousands, doesn’t prove much. We need to look deeper.

Well, what do the breakfast proponents actually claim? Let’s examine some of the claims and see what the evidence says.

Breakfast makes you lean, skipping breakfast makes you fat

The epidemiology of breakfast skipping certainly seems to suggest a connection between skipping breakfast and obesity:

  • In a cohort of Japanese adults, skipping breakfast was linked to greater body weight and waist size.
  • Among American young adults, breakfast skippers weigh more, have more abdominal obesity, and an elevated cardiometabolic risk profile.
  • In both white and black American teenage girls, eating breakfast is linked to higher calcium and fiber intakes and lower body weights.

But these are observational studies, and observational studies cannot establish causality.

So what’s going on here? A few things.

Unhealthy user bias: As breakfast skipping is widely considered to be unhealthy, breakfast skippers may be unhealthy in other areas. They eat more and exercise less, and they’re more likely to drink more alcohol and smoke more cigarettes. Iranian children, for example, who skip breakfast are heavier with larger waists than non-skippers, but they also eat more fast food, fruit juice, salty snacks, and sugary soda than their breakfast-eating counterparts, who favor fruits, vegetables, and milk. Unless you can establish that skipping breakfast causes these lifestyle differences, you can’t say that skipping breakfast plays a causal role.

Dieter bias: Breakfast skippers are likely to be actively dieting, and active dieters usually only diet because they have weight to lose.

The a priori effect: When you presume “breakfast is important” to be true, all your research and results must flow from that presumption.

And a few years ago, a group of researchers took a close look at the evidence other researchers were using to prove the “casual link” between obesity and breakfast skipping. They weren’t very impressed, finding that:

  1. Most researchers suffered from confirmation bias, throwing out or disregarding evidence to the contrary and emphasizing evidence that supported their views. They favored observational studies showing a link and ignored the controlled trials showing no effect.
  2. They used “casual terms” when discussing their work and the work of other scientists researching the breakfast/obesity question when no causality had been established.

Instead of observational studies, there are a couple intervention studies (where causality can be examined) worth examining.

In a study from the late 1990s, overweight women were randomized to either eat large breakfasts (with smaller dinners) or large dinners (with smaller breakfasts). Those in the large breakfast group lost the most weight, but they also lost the most lean mass. The large dinner group, who didn’t skip breakfast but ate a meager one, lost the most fat mass and preserved the most lean mass. Like I always ask, what kind of weight are you trying to lose—fat or muscle?

In 2014, researchers randomly divided a group of dieting adults into two groups. One group was told to eat breakfast, the other was told to skip it. After 16 weeks, weight loss was basically identical across both groups. Neither skipping breakfast nor eating it had any discernible or unique effect on weight loss.

Other studies have indicated that skipping breakfast may actually reduce the overall amount of calories a person eats throughout the day. A spontaneous reduction in calories eaten is generally a path to weight loss.

Breakfast gives you boundless energy

“Energy” is difficult to measure objectively. There’s no blood test for “chi” or “life force,” so we have to rely on subjective reports of things like “alertness” and extrapolate from related objective markers. Energy expenditure is a decent marker for how much energy you have. If you’re burning more energy, your body obviously has “enough” to spare. Another is blood glucose control. If your blood sugar takes a dive, that typically manifests as hunger and sleepiness.

“Breakfast” doesn’t tell us much. Some breakfasts will give you better energy than other types of breakfast. A higher protein, lower carb breakfast tends to increase energy expenditure and improve “postprandial wellness” (basically, how do you feel about life after eating this breakfast?). If you throw in some fat with the protein, you can even improve a type 2 diabetic’s glucose tolerance throughout the day, which corresponds to steadier energy levels.

Meanwhile, high-carb breakfasts do the opposite: they make people hungrier sooner, cause greater elevations in insulin and a subsequent drop in blood sugar at 3 to 4 hours after breakfast. The reduced satiety, heightened insulin spikes, and low blood sugar combine to make people “hangry,” sleepy, and susceptible to break room donuts to take the edge off.

It’s true that some studies find connections between skipping breakfast and low subjective alertness or cognitive or physical performance. But these studies are either observational, conducted using standard sugar-burning subjects (as opposed to fat-adapted subjects), or concern children and adolescents (a more energy-intensive subset of humanity for whom breakfast skipping is often nonconsensual, unnecessary, and counterproductive). And the ones that do find a positive relationship between teens, breakfast, and subsequent cognitive function find the greatest benefit from low-GI (read: low-carb, higher fat and protein) breakfasts.

Skipping breakfast destroys your metabolism

If skipping the occasional breakfast is enough to send you into starvation mode, surely all-out fasting for 72 hours will do the trick. Right? Except when healthy humans are told to fast for three days and their biomarkers are monitored, we find that the resting metabolic rate only drops by 8%. 8% is 8%, sure, but that’s a full 72 hours without food. Skipping breakfast doesn’t even compare.

Skipping breakfast makes you overeat

It does seem to make people overeat at lunch, but not enough to make up for the skipped breakfast. In one study of free-living adults, skipping breakfast led to earlier and bigger lunches. Despite the increased hunger and larger lunches, breakfast skippers still ate fewer calories per day than the breakfast eaters. This is consistent with earlier studies showing that breakfast skipping does not lead to compensatory food intake at lunch and dinner, and in fact may reduce calorie balance by over 400 per day. You might feel hungry enough to eat twice as much, but at the end of the day you end up in an energy deficit.

So, can everyone safely skip breakfast?

Not exactly.

If you’re eating a higher or moderate carb diet, breakfast may be the best time to get your carbs. Insulin sensitivity follows a circadian rhythm. Muscle insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning and lowest at night—meaning your muscles are primed to accept and store glucose as glycogen with minimal insulin input—so breakfast is a good time to eat some carbohydrates. Skipping breakfast and then eating a high-carb lunch exacerbates the insulin and blood sugar spike you’d normally get. Eating a carb-rich breakfast “preps” your body for the carb load at lunch.

Side note: The circadian sensitivity of carb tolerance can be overcome with training and physical activity, since exercise restores insulin sensitivity independent of circadian phase. So if you’re going to carb-up during a phase of circadian insulin resistance, make sure to train.

If you compete or train really hard in the morning, a small breakfast could be a good idea. On Sundays, when I play my big Ultimate Frisbee game, I’ll have a small breakfast with my coffee—usually a couple scoops of Primal Fuel mixed in water.

If you’re a child or adolescent, you should probably eat breakfast. You’re growing. And the observational studies finding links between breakfast skipping and overweight tend to focus on kids and teens. Just to be safe, eat something.

If you’re a type 2 diabetic eating a high-carb diet, you should eat breakfast (preferably egg-based). A recent study in diabetics found that skipping breakfast drastically increased the glucose spikes that occurred after lunch and dinner. However, lunch and dinner were high-carb and low-fat (20% fat, 54% carb, 26% protein, 700 calories each), which is a terrible combination for type 2 diabetics.

Side note: This presupposes the type 2 diabetic in question insists on eating a high-carb diet. When you give them healthier meals lower in carbs—salmon, nuts, leafy greens, olives, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a little bread—diabetics can actually skip breakfast and get more favorable glucose numbers at lunch. If you’re a Primal type 2 diabetic eating low-carb, high-fat meals, your meals won’t provoke those kinds of glucose spikes—breakfast or no breakfast.

If you’re a woman, you might do better with breakfast. In general, women function more poorly skipping meals. I’ve covered this before; skipping breakfast just doesn’t seem to work as well for women. That said, a slightly later breakfast—say, at 10 AM instead of 8 AM—may be a good compromise for women who want to try breakfast skipping.

All that said, there is one huge confounding variable the “breakfast is awesome” controlled trials never account for: meal timing entrainment. Almost everyone eats breakfast. The “normals,” at least. So the average study participant is a habitual breakfast eater whose body expects and likely functions best (at least for now) with regular breakfast intake. You get a group of them together, “starve” them, and you’ll see awful results. Huge insulin spikes, glucose crashes, fatigue, general malaise. It’s like fast tracking the low-carb flu, and it’s going to skew your results. People habituate to the eating schedules they follow. If you’re a natural breakfast skipper, skipping breakfast isn’t going to have the same effect on you.

In a recent study, the authors actually tested this, separating overweight women into habitual breakfast skippers and habitual breakfast eaters and then having them either skip breakfast or eat breakfast.

Breakfast eaters who skipped breakfast experienced way more hunger at lunch. They had worse blood lipids and their insulin skyrocketed. Breakfast skippers who skipped breakfast experienced none of these deleterious effects.

Breakfast eaters who ate breakfast were more satiated at lunch. They had better blood lipids and fairly normal insulin levels. Breakfast skippers who ate breakfast were just as hungry at lunch as normal; the extra meal couldn’t abate their regular lunch-time appetite.

As long as they stuck to their normal eating habits, they had normal responses.

What’s the big takeaway here?

If you’re the type who “never feels like breakfast,” keep skipping it. If it’s easy, don’t eat it. If you’re not hungry, don’t force yourself.

If you’re the type who wakes up ravenous, eat! Don’t skip it just because you read a study somewhere. 

What do you think, folks? How do you respond to skipping breakfast?

Thanks for reading. Take care and be good.

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74 Comments on "Why Breakfast Isn’t the Most Important Meal of the Day (For Everyone)"

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Charles
Charles
1 year 3 months ago

What a wonderful, nuanced perspective on the subject, Mark. That’s what I love about your articles. You cut down the middle. You offer up what you do personally, make it clear that your routines are not for everyone, and provide evidence for possible lifestyle modifications for a wide breadth of people. Another great article!

Jessica
Jessica
1 year 3 months ago

I’m with you, Mark. I guess I’m one of those lucky people who rarely ever wake up hungry. It sure does make intermittent fasting and eating in a compressed eating window a heck of a lot easier when you have 8 hours of sleep behind you. I’ll continue to skip breakfast, since it’s clear that my body tells me it makes the most sense.

Clay
Clay
1 year 3 months ago

But both you and Mark aren’t really skipping breakfast. Breakfast means to literally break your fast. No matter how long you delay it after waking, your first meal of the day is still breakfast. And from reading this blog for a while most people, including Mark, do consider their first meal pretty important.

Frank
Frank
1 year 2 months ago

I agree with you, on your first meal you will break your fast, no matter what time it is. But “breakfast” has a new connotation these days, that is to eat a meal not longer after waking up!

Ted
Ted
1 year 3 months ago

I’m curious to what stimulates some people to be ravenous upon waking while others feel fine until near lunchtime. Of course diet has an effect (I notice that if I eat too much sugar/processed food the day/night before I’ll wake up hungry.) But for two people who eat primally, I’m sure there are folks out there with a different baseline preference. Sure, like you said Mark, conditioning can have an effect. But it’d be interesting to take a look at hormone levels, etc. to see what’s different in the groups. Thanks for the article!

jenella herring
jenella herring
1 year 3 months ago

For me…it’s what I ate and what time I ate the night before. If I eat large and late, I wake up ravenous.

Ted
Ted
1 year 3 months ago

Right!! I’m sure there’s some leptin/ghrelin dysregulation that goes on when we do that, hence the early morning hunger pangs.

Alexandra
Alexandra
1 year 3 months ago

I’m a breakfast eater myself (and always have been). Now, the KINDS of breakfasts I eat have changed radically since I went primal–somehow blueberry waffles just weren’t giving me the sustained boost in energy I needed to survive the day. Who would have thought? Some pastured raised eggs and veggies, on the other hand, seem to do the trick every time. 🙂

Ashley
Ashley
1 year 3 months ago

I do the mini-fast compromise. I still need breakfast, but I don’t need it right upon waking (or even in the first hour or two). Pushing my first bit of food until 10 or 11, if I wake up at 6:30-7, seems to work just fine.

Noconago
Noconago
1 year 3 months ago

That’s exactly my schedule, but I do have my body weight workout a couple hours after waking and before I eat.

Rick
Rick
1 year 3 months ago

I love skipping breakfast. I like to work out mid morning and I feel like I get the best fat burning mileage working off a 10-12 hour fast. Good stuff!

jenella herring
jenella herring
1 year 3 months ago

I prefer to drink a couple cups of coffee with HWC then eat later in the day. It just works for me.

JB300
JB300
1 year 3 months ago
Great article as always. I have been following the Primal way of eating now for about 53 days I think it is now. Really loving it. Not trying to lose weight or anything really, just trying to feel the best I can, and so far its working great. 23 years old, 5’11 Male @ 170lbs. I have always tended to skip breakfast, but now that I am adapted to this way of eating I don’t even think about eating in the morning. I am quite happy to wait until my lunch around 1PM and have a nice giant primal salad.… Read more »
Granny Gibson
Granny Gibson
1 year 3 months ago

I’m a long term diabetic controlling it with diet and it’s all about the blood sugar. I have a protein meal within an hour of rising. If I skip breakfast, energy coasts down and I’ll end up with a headache. Breakfast is my largest meal, lunch is smaller, and “dinner” is a snack, often berries and full fat yogurt. I keep them at least five hours apart. I couldn’t do that on my work schedule, but it works great in retirement!

ShaSha
ShaSha
1 year 3 months ago
Great post….Mark, I would like more information on “meal-time entrainment”. My experience has been that it was always easy and felt natural for me to skip breakfast. This also helped me control my weight and just generally feel better. I don’t know whats happened but in the last few years I have developed the habit of having a small breakfast, not high in carbs, but not high in anything else either. I feel as though it would be very difficult to skip eating in the mornings but I would really like to get back to it because I find that… Read more »
Jana
Jana
1 year 3 months ago
I’m a 40-something female who is a breakfast eater. Was drilled into my head ad nauseum when I was young. As a 20-something and 30-something, I did not eat breakfast regularly as I was just not hungry. I wouldn’t say I skipped breakfast, exactly, but definitely delayed it. I do eat a small breakfast now as my training time (heavy lifting) begins at 5:30 a.m. and I find I need a little sumpin’ to have more energy for those workouts. I have worked out in a fasted state with no ill effects but prefer a small meal of protein and… Read more »
ShaSha
ShaSha
1 year 3 months ago

Sorry, didn’t post my question: How do I get back to being “entrained” to not eating breakfast?

Shary
Shary
1 year 3 months ago
If I eat breakfast (eggs and some kind of meat, late a.m.), then I skip lunch. If I’m planning to do lunch, then I don’t eat breakfast. This means I generally eat only twice a day, around 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. I rarely eat anything following dinner, and I don’t often feel like snacking during the day. Since going Paleo a few years ago and sticking with a higher-protein, more nutrient-dense diet, this method of eating works well for me. I don’t get hungry between meals even though I’m probably consuming less food than I did back in the… Read more »
Elizabeth
1 year 3 months ago
Here’s what I do….I have my own version of bullet-proof coffee at the crack of dawn while I have my quiet time. With all the fat and the collagen I’m good for a few hours. If I have to be out of the house early, like today (was working on my blog at Starbucks, sipping tea) I throw some raw nuts in my purse and snack on those. If I’m at home I usually cook pastured eggs in ghee, and serve over a bowl of leftover veggies from the night before. But I always listen to my body. If I’m… Read more »
Michael
Michael
1 year 3 months ago

Great summary. It’s like everything else when it pertains to diet, health, and wellness – just be intuitive. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not, don’t.The same instincts worked for our ancestors for thousands of years.

JB300
JB300
1 year 3 months ago

Agreed completely. Being intuitive and going based upon your feeling is key.

Emily
1 year 3 months ago
I have always been a breakfast eater, so I was nervous when I first saw the title of this article! I think the big thing is what you are eating for breakfast. If someone is eating poptarts and a McMuffin every morning, it is probably not doing them any favors, but if you are cooking eggs, possible an animal protein, and veggies and fruit, it is a great way to start your day off right. I find when I eat a good breakfast it makes me stay on track nutritionally for the rest of the day and I stay satiated… Read more »
Ashley
Ashley
1 year 3 months ago
Same here! I eat 4 eggs every morning with steamed veggies and sometimes some wellness meats bacon. Honestly when I wake up and start getting ready for work I get hungry. I think its different for everyone. Also I tried skipping breakfast and I would have to ignore my hunger long enough until it was annoying. Then I would have to make sure I packaged not only lunch for work but breakfast as well. And I like my breakfast fresh personally. For me I just listen to my body. If I could skip any meal I find dinner easier to… Read more »
Paula
Paula
1 year 3 months ago
I agree with you. Now that I’ve been following primal for awhile now, I find that some days I’m good with 2 meals a day but by following my natural lack of hunger, it’s either lunch or dinner that I skip…so I have a Dunch or Linner sometimes. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me. I’ve tried drinking only high-fat coffee (a little grassfed butter, coconut oil, and heavy cream) before in the morning but that leaves me with cravings so I need to pair that with some eggs at least to feel full in the… Read more »
Paleo4life
Paleo4life
1 year 3 months ago

I’m with you on this one. I’ve always been a breakfast and lunch eater. Dinner is a meal I’d rather skip, so I only eat it when it involves a social occasion. Generally, when I have dinner, breakfast happens much later the next morning, or not at all.

Lateygirl
Lateygirl
1 year 3 months ago
Great article, thank you Mark. I have eaten breakfast regularly for a few years on the advice of lots of people and my weight has slowly crept up. Before this, I rarely could stomach breakfast and found if I ate late morning or waited till lunch, this was better for me. Whenever I’ve needed to lose weight I would automatically drop breakfast and it would work, but EVERYONE I spoke to advised me against this. Wish I’d have known about this research before gaining the weight I had. From now on, it’s ‘listen to my body’ and eat if I’m… Read more »
Alannah Farley
Alannah Farley
1 year 3 months ago

You and I are in the same boat. Currently a little heavier then I would like to be, but not too worried about it coming off soon enough. I am going to stick to my roots of no breakfast from now on and not give in to those people who tell me otherwise. I know my body better then they do. Oh well, you live and learn.

Fiona
1 year 3 months ago
Thank you so muuch for sharing this!!! This happened to me a couple of months ago, I noticed some good results the firsts months but afterwards I felt it wasn’t working anymore, so I tried everything , I looked up for the reasons and everything you posted is so true about the breakfast, the only thing I was missing was the time to relax and recover, I thought that wasn’t important enough to actually do it the right way until I was so frustrated that I felt I was about to explote, so I started to make some changes in… Read more »
Peter
Peter
1 year 3 months ago

Hi Mark,

Could you do an essay sometime regarding snacking versus non-snacking? A month ago I stopped snacking. It took a bit of adjustment and willpower. I now eat twice a day at Noon and at 7pm. My six-pack is better than ever, my teeth sparkle and my sleep has improved.

Whitney Treadwell
Whitney Treadwell
1 year 3 months ago
I skip breakfast typically as I do the compressed eating window from noon to seven daily w/ some exceptions. I do drink coffee in the morning either black or w/ cocnut oil and butter (bullet style). It works for me and I enjoy the fasting to clear me out and burn the fat I have on me. I usually work out right before lunch and if its high intensity I enjoy the hormonal effect from testosterone and hgh boost in my bloodstream unhindered by my body having to digest food. And when I eat I really eat. It been a… Read more »
Susanne
Susanne
1 year 3 months ago

If I’m hungry I eat. If I’m not hungry I wait. The only exception is religious fasts. I figure this is nice and simple, and few people will argue with me about it.

Ziva
Ziva
1 year 3 months ago

Makes perfect sense to me 🙂 Most days I easily go til 10, 11, or even past noon but occasionally I wake up ravenous. Hungry = eat. Not hungry = wait.

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
1 year 3 months ago

I used to IF pretty frequently but found that as my stress level would go up, skipping breakfast (for me IF was compressed eating window) seemed to make me crankier. I’m back on breakfast–works better for me.

Brian
Brian
1 year 3 months ago

I eat 4-6 raw eggs (depends on the schedule and how far away the next meal may be) in the morning with some heavy cream and cocoa (blend the whole works). This usually keeps me full for around 5 to 6 hours, longer if I am busy and don’t notice I am hungry. It is a lot to eat, but I am bigger than most Primals due to my powerlifting, and I do not eat a significant meal again until dinner. When I am done competing it will probably be a smaller meal.

Cheers

Tyrker
Tyrker
1 year 3 months ago

The article misses an important point: in the morning, your gallbladder is chock-full of concentrated bile awaiting to be released. For optimum digestive function and health, you will want to empty that gallbladder as quickly and as completely as possible. Of all the macronutrients, fat has the most effect on bile release/gallbladder emptying, therefore a high-fat (and, should I add, high-fiber) breakfast is in fact the most important meal of the day.

Examples:
3 softboiled eggs and a handful of sauerkraut
An entire avocado with a dash of balsamic
A tin of sardines mixed into a fresh salad
etc.

Sam
Sam
1 year 3 months ago

I’m wondering what the effects of skipping on the weekdays and having a delicious brunch on the weekends would be. Probably increased caloric intake, but it might be worth it for some amazing food!

Susan
Susan
1 year 3 months ago

That’s what we do every weekend. Have a larger breakfast/brunch late morning and then dinner between 4-5pm. Since I work and have a long commute weekdays we eat 3 meals. But I don’t want to stand in the kitchen all weekend cooking meals so we have compressed them giving me time to play and relax.

Jessica
1 year 3 months ago
Growing up I hated breakfast. My mom was not a happy morning person, so we usually got a glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast, a cookie, and Flintstone vitamin. Once I was old enough to start making my own choices, I just skipped the whole thing. I might have a glass of milk or juice but that was it. I was usually nauseous in the morning anyway from not enough sleep and stress about school. Fast forward to now and after experimenting with all kinds of breakfast routines, I am currently eating around 1030 in the morning–usually a root veg hash… Read more »
Tuba
Tuba
1 year 3 months ago

In the family I grew up in breakfast was huge and by far the largest meal of the day. But it was not “breakfast” food. It was like a big supper every morning. Then they went out and did physical labor all day. I think the kind of breakfast and what you do after it is important. More than half a century later my breakfast –four days a week — has nothing to do with “breakfast” food. The other three mornings I don’t eat breakfast because I am fasting AND exercising.

Ziva
Ziva
1 year 3 months ago

Agreed. On the rare occasion I have breakfast it’s usually a salad that’s heavy on the meat, olives, and feta (mmmm…), or eggs. I’ve heard it said leftover steak from the night before is good, too, but what the hell is “leftover” and “steak” doing in the same sentence? 😉

I’ve gotten very strange looks for having a salad or meat or a “dinner type” breakfast, yet it’s perfectly acceptable (socially) to have doughnuts, Rice Krispie bars, or Pop-Tarts.

Taylor
1 year 3 months ago

I’m more likely to eat a small breakfast, usually a green shake with protein powder and skip lunch, on my non training days anyway. On training days I usually have my green shake preworkout then a protein heavy breakfast about an hour after my workout. I’ve found if I don’t know my shake right away it changes my “regularity”

Ziva
Ziva
1 year 3 months ago
Truthfully, the “IF vs. starvation mode” thing just damn well SLAYS me because if going without food for 16 hours puts me into that mode, I should have been dead and buried decades ago. To be honest I find the idea that skipping a meal because I’m just not hungry as a sure fire way for me to lose all muscle mass, and waste away and die one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen/heard. Fun times on social media had someone attempting to “educate” me about how not eating 4-6 meals per day was going to kill my… Read more »
Steve
Steve
1 year 3 months ago

Wow! Just looked up the food pyramid. It really is 6-11 servings of grain per day!! That’s 11 slices of bread. I was at about half that even before I went off wheat, and it left me feeling constantly bloated.

eatsleepswim
eatsleepswim
1 year 3 months ago

Do what works best for YOU. Or my other truly favorite mantra:

It’s more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes in it.

HealthyHombre
HealthyHombre
1 year 3 months ago

Thanks for the reminder Mark, I need to eat a meal. I’ll call it breakfast … because I’ll be breaking my unintended fast. 🙂

Brian
Brian
1 year 3 months ago
I think it comes down to 2 things, are you hungry, and do you have cortisol issues. Providing you have no cortisol issues, are you hungry? Forcing yourself to eat when not hungry I can’t imagine being very good as it’s going to cause some sort of stress. If your hungry at breakfast, eat, if your not, don’t eat. If you have cortisol issues and elevated cortisol, skipping breakfast will cause it to elevate further. Elevated cortisol is basically a recipe for your body to store fat. You will not burn fat if your hormones aren’t in check, meaning your… Read more »
Sam
Sam
1 year 3 months ago

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals and I often wake up ready to eat. However, I prefer to exercise on an empty stomach and over the years have conditioned myself to not eat anything until after my workout (running). In the beginning I ate something light before the run and had snack food on standby to eat immediately following the run. I was pleasantly surprised how much energy and endurance I had running on an empty stomach.

Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons
1 year 3 months ago

I’m someone who does best without breakfast. I follow a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb/sugar paleo-primal eating pattern…and, aside from my morning “bulletproof coffee,” only eat between lunch and dinner. No breakfast. No snacks.

My body, mind, energy level, and metabolism thrive on this breakfast-less routine, snack-less (though really appreciate your thorough explanation of why it’s not for everyone).

Thanks for this–will be very helpful to share with clients who are convinced skipping breakfast = “slowed metabolism.”

Steve
Steve
1 year 3 months ago
Great read! I’ve always been one who can’t stomach the thought of eating food first thing in the morning. It makes me feel queezy. I’ve tried over the years, since I’ve heard my whole life about how unhealthy it is to skip breakfast, but I just can’t do it. I need to be out of bed for at least an hour or two before I can eat, but I’m generally good until noon or later. Now, since my career chance (moved into the trades after 10 years of desk work), I do bring a glass of milk, or some fruit… Read more »
Rick
Rick
1 year 3 months ago

I’m closing in on 20:4 myself, ala Edward J. Walsh’s book. It’s nice, I can relax and eat what I want in those four hours and not worry about it. If I ate too many simple carbs the day before, my hunger pangs today will be stronger. But, they don’t last more than 10 minutes either way.

Rozska
Rozska
1 year 3 months ago
Lovely article, Mark. My eating habits have evolved over the years. But I’m in the “must eat something” in the mornings camp. My routine is thus: Get up, go walk for 1-2 miles. Come home, stretch, exercise, plank, yoga, push ups, pull ups, lunges, squats, etc. Shower, get ready for the day. Eat a smallish breakfast, between 300-400 calories. Currently is composed of full-fat yogurt with a spoonful of jam, pine nuts, coffee with cream and collagen. Lunch time – this is my biggest meal. Today was homemade spaghetti-type meat sauce over steamed broccoli with a bigass salad. Dinner time… Read more »
Steve
Steve
1 year 3 months ago

An interesting thought I just had. Could it be that breakfast people tend to think of breakfast skippers as being lazy, rather than simply listening to their natural biological rhythm? Kinda like how morning people often view themselves as superior to us night owls? Could this societal attitude be an influencing factor in the confirmation bias?

Alisa
Alisa
1 year 3 months ago
As a recently married woman, I’ve found negotiating meal timing to be one of the biggest challenges! I typically eat my first meal of the day anytime between half an hour to two hours after waking, depending on how late my dinner had been the night before. My husband, on the other hand, usually doesn’t eat anything until lunch (sometimes at 3 or 4 pm), which means that we’re not hungry for dinner at the same times. I’m very supportive of each person listening to their own hunger cues, but the desire to share a meal together at the beginning… Read more »
Marge
Marge
1 year 3 months ago
Thank you for once again validating my behavior patterns, Mark! I never wake up hungry. At best, I will be hungry a few hours after getting up. Normally, I am not interested in food for at least 5 hours after rising. As a kid, my parents forced me to eat something for breakfast, and argued with me semi-daily. As an adult, roommates and husbands have all tried to get me to eat a breakfast. I hated constantly having to fight against this! I do not want to eat until I am hungry! Eating early in the day makes me sleepy… Read more »
Diane
Diane
1 year 3 months ago

Breakfast is my favorite meal and has the best foods. If I had my way I would have breakfast at every meal and I would pass a law that breakfast must be served all day at restaurants. I could probably skip dinner many days, but not breakfast.

Sonja
Sonja
1 year 3 months ago

Isn’t it normal to quit breakfast or to have no breakfast first in the morning? our ancestors had no fridge thus they had to go searching for food and that could last a few hours….with the rhythm of the stone age humans I am perfectly fine…peak eating in the evening after ‘hunting’ and then go to sleep to digest…
First when I adopted a ‘fitness’ life with their 4-6 meals a day, I became fat, always hungry, miserable and it cost a lot of time with meal prep….
so, listen to your instincts, if you need breakfast eat, if you don’t, fast!

Joe
1 year 3 months ago

I know everyone has their own one-off, self proof story, but my father never ate breakfast and he’s the healthiest 60+ year old I know. He’s actually (not really knowing) been eating primal pretty much his whole life. I started skipping breakfast a little while ago and surprisingly, feel fantastic. I actually find I have more energy and I perform even better when doing a CrossFit WOD or heavy lifting throughout the day. I also save money and time in the morning. Great post Mark. Cheers

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Periodontist

Eat when you’re hungry; drink when you’re thirsty. Just know who you are, and recognize what your body is telling you.

PrimalandProud
PrimalandProud
1 year 3 months ago

THIS!!

Tanya E
Tanya E
1 year 3 months ago

Definitely eat when you are hungry! I used to be really hungry one hour after waking when I ate high carb, and would have felt ill not having breakfast.

Now I mostly skip it and only have a coffee, sometimes bulletproof, first thing, but if I’m hungry later I’ll have something. Like today, after an hour of yoga mid morning I felt a little shaky so I made myself a cocoa smoothie with whey, cashew, coconut milk, berries, green powder etc. to see me till lunch. Listening to your body is good.

Jim
Jim
1 year 3 months ago

How can breakfast not be important? The question is, when do you eat breakfast? Do you eat it in the morning, middle of the day or in the evening? Whenever you eat it is breakfast.

Clay
Clay
1 year 3 months ago
+1 Spot on. Breakfast is what it says (Break Fast). It’s the first meal of the day. Having it at noon doesn’t make it any less of a breakfast. So the premise of the article is flawed. Pretty much everyone thinks breakfast is super important. The question is when they eat it. I get up around 4am. Then drink some green tea and hit the waves around 4:30am. Surf for a couple hours. Then come home and usually finish off with planking, spinner bike, or pull ups. Then I eat. Usually it’s at least 7:30am by then (the time most… Read more »
Peaches
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t really think of it as skipping breakfast. I think of it as eating when I’m hungry. Some days I have breakfast and some days I do not.

rob
rob
1 year 3 months ago

Over the years breakfast was always hit or miss for me. The last three months I changed it up and have stuck with a plan of drinking some water and two cups of black coffee with Kerrygold butter. Seems to be an effective protocol. Am losing those last stubborn pounds lately. I know there is more to it than that!, but my energy level is fine, I feel great, I am not hungry, so I think it has been a worthwhile experiment.

OctoberAmy
OctoberAmy
1 year 3 months ago
The Best Breakfast ever… (or Supper if you’re a Skipper) Or “How to eat your Fat and Veggies for breakfast” (otherwise known as Quiche): 4 eggs 1 1/2 cups milk (or a mix of whole milk, cream, and/or buttermilk if I have it) 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (swiss or sharp cheddar work great) 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 bag frozen spinach (the chopped kind in the 10oz bags) 1/2 medium onion Saute the spinach and onion (diced) in coconut oil until soft. Mix it all up and bake it 15 mins at 425F, then 30 minutes at… Read more »
Catania
1 year 3 months ago
As usual, one reason why I love looking to you and your blog, Mark, is because you give us good information, and then let us make our own decisions. I love the intuitive nature of the Primal Blueprint. That’s the thing that bugs me about so much “diet advice” we get these days – It’s as if only science can tell us what to do – forget our bodies. 😉 I’m a woman. Sometimes, I wake up and am hungry. So I eat breakfast. Sometimes, I’m not that hungry, so I don’t. Most often, I’m eating my breakfast around 10AM.… Read more »
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