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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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July 13 2011

Meal Timing Concerns: Breakfast, Frequency, and Snacking

By Mark Sisson
239 Comments

The issue of meal timing is a dense thicket of conflicting advice, a mix of conventional wisdom dispensed from USA Today articles, broscience on Internet forums, and confusing physiological feedback from a dysfunctional metabolism. How can one wade through it all and stay sane? You’ve been told your entire life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but then you hear about intermittent fasting, Warrior Diets, and skipping breakfast while thriving. The buff/cut/shredded/ripped/insert-increasingly-violent-adjective-to-describe-one’s-leanness-here (what’s next, “flayed”?) dudes at the gym insist you should break up your eating into at least six small meals (and if possible, maintain a steady IV-drip of Muscle Milk throughout the day) to “boost” your metabolism. Some say three meals a day works just as well, while others say it’s even superior. Others try to simplify things. They suggest listening to your own body, to eat when hungry and fast when not, which makes sense, but what if you’re overweight and hungry all the time – can your body’s metabolic signaling really be trusted?

These are common concerns. I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I think I can make navigating the meal timing issue a little easier for people. Let’s go through a couple of the most common questions and explore what might work. I think you’ll find that context is key.

To Eat Breakfast, or Not

It’s true that epidemiology shows habitual breakfast skippers trend toward being fatter and less healthy than traditional breakfasters. People who skip breakfast are more likely to be dieters (meaning they’re overweight) and lead generally unhealthy lifestyles (since skipping breakfast is widely seen as unhealthy, they’re more likely to engage in other unhealthy activities).

Is this true for you, though? Are you technically skipping breakfast, only to grab a Frappucino on the way to work and eat a couple stale donuts in your office at 10 AM? Are you skipping breakfast intuitively, simply because you’re not hungry? Or are you skipping breakfast while mustering up all the willpower you have and ignoring your body’s cries for sustenance? These are two very different physiological states. I’d argue that the intuitive breakfast skipper is not skipping breakfast at all. Instead, he (or she) is in tune with his body. He’s still breaking his fast, just at a later time. The tortured breakfast skipper is fighting against his own satiety hormones, a battle he cannot win over the long haul. He’s living in perpetual metabolic discord. What do you think he’s more likely to eat for lunch – a Big Ass Salad whose contents he lovingly and thoughtfully prepared the night before, or a Big Mac combo?

If you’re of the former category and a traditionally-timed breakfast simply never occurs to you, you’re fine. Stick with it and eat when you get hungry, especially if your fat-loss efforts are succeeding.

Others might want to eat a protein-rich breakfast. Overweight teens who habitually skipped breakfast ate either a high-protein breakfast (50 grams protein) or a breakfast with normal amounts of protein (18 grams) for seven days. Three hours after their last breakfast on the seventh day, researchers measured the teens’ neural responses to pictures of food. The high-protein group displayed the least amount of activity in areas of the brain associated with food reward. According to brain imaging scans, the high-protein group was more sated and less interested in the idea of food than the low-protein group. Of course, the usual caveats apply here: these overweight teens were not skipping breakfast so they could do their afternoon squat session fasted, they probably weren’t interested in fasting-induced cellular autophagy, and I doubt they skipped breakfast spontaneously because they were happily humming along on stored body fat energy. In short, they are a specific demographic whose results may not apply to you. But if you’re the type who’s tried to skip breakfast and failed miserably – or did it and felt miserable and ravenous – you might try eating a high-protein breakfast. Add some fat to that protein and I bet you could maintain satiation for longer than the three hours described in the study.

Many Small Meals vs. Few Large Meals

To graze or to feast? According to many fitness “experts,” grazing is supposed to “stoke the metabolic fire,” while infrequent meals “slow your metabolism.” The idea is that eating many small meals keeps your metabolism plugging away at a high rate for the entire day, helping you burn more fat. Conversely, going too long between meals slows down your metabolism, so that when you do eat, your body is sluggish to respond to the caloric load and you end up storing it as fat.

It’s a neat-sounding theory, but it isn’t true.

First of all, there is no metabolic advantage to eating multiple meals. Yeah, your body expends metabolic energy to process and digest food, but it doesn’t matter when or how it’s eaten. You could eat a steak in a single sitting or the same steak cut up into five pieces, each eaten an hour apart, and the total energy expenditure required to process and digest the steak would be identical in both cases. So, assuming macronutrient ratios and caloric content are identical, eating more frequently doesn’t make your metabolism “burn” brighter. If it did, this study would have ruled in favor of increased meal frequency as an effective tool in weight loss for obese patients. But it didn’t.

But wait: eating more frequently keeps you sated, right? If you’re eating more often and keep a cache of snacks on hand, you should be able to keep hunger at bay. This must be true because those 100-calorie snack packs of cookies and chips are so successful, and I always see the trimmest, sveltest folks happily snacking away on them. Why, I remember seeing a cubicle garbage bin positively filled to the brim with 100-cal snack wrappers. Its inhabitant was off for lunch at the time, but with all that healthy snacking, I imagine he or she was fit as a fiddle!

Ha, no. A recent study actually suggests that eating more frequently reduces measures of satiety and fullness in overweight and obese men (the population that most desperately needs satiety, mind you), while eating less frequent, higher-protein meals increases satiety and reduces hunger. This is buttressed by the hordes of anecdotes I receive in my inbox from folks who only achieved freedom from constant hunger when they started eating real, substantial Primal meals and stopped obsessing over frequent, smaller meals.

What About Snacking?

Another study, featured in a recent Weekend Link Love, reveals that 25% of Americans’ calories now come from snacks, half of which are sweetened beverages. Sure, drinking soda and eating chips in between meals is obviously terrible, but that doesn’t really apply to Primal snackers and their macadamia nuts, beef jerky, and berries. Or does it?

For certain groups, I think healthy snacking, or smaller, healthy meals, may be warranted. If you’re starving, it’s definitely better to reach for the beef jerky than the cookie. Chris Kresser wrote about how infrequent, larger meals and IFing (even in the context of a “paleo-type” diet) cause wild blood sugar swings in some of his patients, most notably the stressed-out ones with cortisol disregulation, so that’s something to consider. In my experience, whenever I’ve had a bad night’s sleep or am going through a particularly stressful situation with work or life in general, I like breakfast; I get hungrier more often and skipping breakfast or fasting simply doesn’t feel right, so I don’t. Rather than tough it out or power through it, I listen to my body in these situations and eat if I’m hungry. I strongly suspect that trying to fast when your body doesn’t “want” to does more harm than good. Problems arise when this becomes chronic, when you’re always stressed out, always hungry, and always snacking. But in the short term? Eat when hungry.

If you must snack, include some protein. As to why, I’ll draw your attention to a brilliant post by J. Stanton, entitled “Why Snacking Makes You Weak, Not Just Fat.” Stanton explains why eating a carb rich snack without protein is inherently catabolic: the insulin spike stimulates muscle protein synthesis, for which the body needs amino acids, and without dietary protein the body must draw on muscle protein stores. Once or twice this wouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re snacking on protein-deficient carby foods throughout the day, every day, you’re eventually going to see muscle wasting. The classic example is the skinny-fat cyclist or jogger with a fanny pack full of dried fruit and a bandolier of glucose gel packets.

Personally, I like my buddy Aaron Blaisdell‘s slogan: “Not IF, but WHEN (When Hunger Ensues Naturally).” Let hunger happen. Don’t force the fasting. Don’t fight hunger just because your official “eating window” hasn’t arrived yet, and if you feel it’s “ensuing” unnaturally, do some investigation. Are you sleeping well? Are you training too much, or not at all? Is your 80/20 turning into a 60/40? If all that stuff is under control, consider that you may need a few days to entrain your ghrelin secretion to your eating schedule. Ghrelin? It’s a hormone that precedes and indeed predicts mealtimes, induces hunger and is secreted when you’re about to eat. Your ghrelin secretion schedule follows your eating schedule, and it’s a fast responder, so a few days should be plenty of time to get things lined up. In the meantime, you may have to deal with a little extra hunger at your previously normal mealtimes.

In the end, it all comes down to doing what works for you. I’ll admit that IF is a great tool for people who thrive on it. I like throwing in a fast here and there, because it works for me. You have to consider how these strategies work within the confines of your physiology. If something isn’t working for you, don’t “stick with it” just because it worked for others or there’s a big blog post listing all the benefits with links to rat studies and human trials. Eat a big breakfast if you need it. Eat food before your workout if you find you perform better with something in your stomach. Your needs are the bottom line – all other considerations pale in comparison.

Of course, your needs will change, especially as you continue with the PB lifestyle. Once you start sleeping, eating, dealing with stress, and moving well, things get easier. You might get hungry a little later in the day. You might find you even have enough energy for a quick workout before that first meal. You might look up from your plate and realize that it’s noon and you haven’t eaten in sixteen hours – and you feel fine. When that happens, go with it. Don’t force it, but let it happen if it will. The good news is that this is all contextual, and nothing is written in stone.

How do you handle meal timing? Have you noticed any changes since adopting a Primal lifestyle?

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239 thoughts on “Meal Timing Concerns: Breakfast, Frequency, and Snacking”

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  1. Great article! I personally try to avoid snacking and feel an occasional fast has helped control my hunger.

    1. Conversely, allowing oneself to get hungry…knowing what it feels like without panicking…is a good thing. Snacking all day leaves me too bloaty and the psychological feeling of having to constantly put something in my mouth definitely leads to weight gain for me. I’m definitely in favor of 2 or 3 meals rather than 6 or 7 mini-meals. (although those bodybuilders do get pretty darn lean that way…).
      I am a 4;30 or 5 am runner though, so I always have a protein shake after my shower…waiting til noon is no option here!

      1. “(although those bodybuilders do get pretty darn lean that way…)”

        Yep.

        I’m afraid I can’t take too much notice of studies, when the evidence is walking around and talking to me in the gym!

        Same with protein. The “studies” tell us we only need maybe about 20 grams per day. Any more is wasted.

        Tell that to ANY successful bodybuilder?

        Generally I love Mark’s blog but found this post unconvincing. Do what feels good, as and when you feel like it, while ignoring what is proven to work for bodybuilders?

        No thanks.

        1. Bodybuilders? Step a few feet back and
          take a good look at bodybuilders…alot
          look like giant, plastic insects…do
          you really consider that a role model of health and the way humans ought to look? “Successful bodybuilder?” what is
          that????

        2. I think it’s not just a matter of “it works for them” Alan.

          Sure, if you want to get to the shredded level of a bodybuilder you will need at least that much protein, everyday. Because this is their job, they cannot falter at that. Their training and diet goes through a entire protocol to ensure maximal fat loss with minimal muscle loss, this is far from being the main goal of the Primal living.

          I’d like to eat all that protein, because I enjoy it, but if it happens to get lower than that some days, there’s no need to get crazy about it (unless you’re dieting to some event or having a intense training day).

        3. We may be building our bodies, but we aim for health and strenght, while bodybuilding aims specifficaly for maximum muscle hypertrohpy.

        4. wrong site pal. bodybuilding with the help of steroids and artificial whatnot is not healthy. mark’s not a bodybuilder. neither are most of the primal people. we go for health, strength and leanness, not building muscles for muscles sake in unnatural ways.

    2. if you ate only half the amount of food (by weight) compared to the amount of crap ya wanna serve us up with thru BLOG you should be right with the required
      quantity

        1. Hahaha why is it that people who are always angry or trying to make a point tend to misspell or misspeak?

  2. I’m a recovering grazer, and appreciate this compilation of excellent info. The combo of my local Crossfit gym, Mark’s Daily Apple and pregnancy-induced hypoglycemia helped me see the light.

    I’m finding it much easier to eat well when I don’t have to plan to eat ALL THE TIME. Which is what I was doing before!

    1. Recovering Grazer. I believe that’s my problem. Grazing. I’m never full and eat constantly. I’m not overweight but keeping my diet in check is a major struggle. Maybe all I need to do is stop grazing and eat my three meals a day. That will be my goal for the rest of this month and leading into the next. I think I can do it 🙂

      1. Hi Mindy

        How is your fat intake? Consider upping it ….I had hypoglycemia and had to snack all the time…I was eating good protein but it wasn’t until I upped the fats and really lowered carbs that I resolved it for good – no more snacking 🙂 well maybe occasionally! But I feel satisfied from meals now, not hungry an hour afterwards.

  3. I always have been scared to skip breakfast because of all the myths out there…but then I looked at my husband who doesn’t eat breakfast because he isn’t hungry in the morning and he does just fine. He has a physical job and doesn’t collapse because he doesn’t eat breakfast. So I started skipping breakfast most days of the week and it really works for me. I find that when I eat breakfast, I feel hungrier all that day and my brain obsesses on food more. If I don’t eat breakfast, my hunger level stays down and I don’t think about food until easily after noon.
    I also don’t like the eat 6 small meals a day approach either because then it seems way too much of your day is centered around food and who needs that.
    Most days I have two meals and no snacks and I’ve lost 35 pounds since February when I started Primal so I’ll just stick with what’s working.

    1. Whatever meal you eat after not having eaten in a while is breakfast, no matter what time of day it is. Just because you don’t eat right after you get up in the morning doesn’t mean you’ve skipped breakfast.

      I know I’m getting a bit technical but I think understanding the difference between a morning meal and “breakfast” is important.

      In your situation (and you husband’s) you just like to keep your fast going a little longer before you break it.

      1. Chris, it’s people being way too literal and technical like that in response to basic conversation that makes people stay away from the site. Yes, most people get that any time you eat after waking is technically breakfast because you are breaking your fasting state…but we all know what people mean when they say breakfast.

        1. I think maybe I worded my post wrong. After re-reading it sounds harsher than I intended. I was only commenting because you said that you, “started skipping breakfast.” No worries.

          I personally think there’s a psychological difference between thinking you are skipping breakfast vs. putting it off till noon or longer.

        2. I like your point on the psychological difference, and will be using it on myself. I had a tiny amount of guilt that I had been “skipping breakfast” lately, and I think that mind shift will do it in.

        3. picky picky..relax nomad1
          it’s people like you, who turn others off with your scrutinous remarks

      2. I’m totally with you on this one Chris. I always say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – but it doesn’t matter what time of day you eat it. I usually eat mine around 4-30pm.

    2. I’m the same way! If I eat breakfast, I generally think about food all day. It’s insane. But if I don’t eat it, my morning is just the same!

      1. No worries Chris:-)
        I get what you mean about thinking about it differently. If you consider it skipping, you mentally might associate with a feeling of depriving yourself.
        I like the feeling of working out on an empty stomach too, I seem to have more energy.

    3. YAY for you!!!! I started only 6 weeks ago–I am finding 2 meals a day totally works for me late omelet most days (around 11a) and dinner around 6 with a handful of nuts around 4 or so. I work from home so I have the luxury of making a quick meal in the middle of the work day. I am sticking with what works too!

      1. I have very much been testing this
        2 meal a day theory for a few weeks…
        I think it is the way to go…especially the older you get…and if you have a sedentary job…
        I bring eggs with me to work that I cook
        when I get up have them around 10-11am and like to have a big ass salad at 6pm….

    4. Yay! I’m so glad you said that! I landed on this post today because I am usually an intermittent faster, having my first meal at 1 or later, but this morning I was hungry. So I ate a healthy breakfast, protein, fat and veggies and was ravenous 2 hours later! I always check with Mark to figure things out. 🙂 Going back to skipping breakfast!

  4. Cool post Mark. I have carried over my previous endurance sport habit of eating and snacking at certain times every day. I had to eat often when I was a chronic cardio person eating a non-PB fare or else I was not a person you would want to be around because I was so grumpy. My wife would plan our weekend chores around my eating so I wouldn’t get in a bad mood. I haven’t made it to the point of more natural eating, but I’m progressing. Eating real food makes it incredibly easier to go long periods in between meals. Now it’s my wife that I have to look out for. She is still a SAD eater and gets cranky when she goes too long between meals.

  5. Interesting post Mark. I have always been a grazer, in the sense I always ate when I was hungry and this happened to be every 2-3 hours. Maybe I’ll try eating larger more infrequent meals and see how I do.

    1. Jaybird – I think you may have missed the point (though I really can’t speak for you OR Mark). It seems from the article, you would keep doing what you’ve been doing, since the main focus of the article is to listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry, and eat plenty of protein. It does not seem to me that Mark is ADVOCATING large meals, as much as he is just saying that they are not the true evil.

      1. I agree with you, I think that is the point he’s trying to get across. I am a big believer in switching things up though. Maybe I have always eaten that way because I have trained my body to be hungry at those times. Every sports nutrition class I took certainly drilled 2-3 hours in my head. I guess all I’m saying is I think i’ll try it out and see if it is better or worse than my current plan. If it works, it works.

        1. There is something to be said for training your body. For most of my life I have eaten every 2-3 hours and would get headaches if I didn’t eat but since going primal and lower carb I have trained myself to not eat breakfast because I like having two BIG meals in a day instead of three medium sized ones and I no longer get hungry in the morning.
          Apparently it only takes about a week if skipping breakfast to get used to it.

          There is an article on the leangains site about breakfast. It’s great.

  6. I must say, one of the most beneficial aspects of living primal for me has been the freedom from being hungry all the time. I used to eat every 3 or 4 hours, and if I didn’t I’d get very irritable and unpleasant to be around. The ability to be flexible with my meal times has definitely improved my quality of life in general.

    1. I completely agree. It is so nice to not be constrained by finding/cooking food all the time. I do that enough with three kids! 🙂

      1. Gah- I know! Especially during the summer… I feel like my entire day revolves around fixing my two girls food or cleaning up.

    2. God, I love the freedom of not being hungry all the time. I did not realize that my hunger was such a burden.
      What you described used to be me.

  7. I was one of those always hungry six-meal-a-day adherents, and had to pack snacks if I knew I was going to be out and about during a feeding time. It’s much, much nicer to only need three meals a day (not to mention tastier; bacon > unsweetened oatmeal bar). I have found that I do need to eat breakfast, though, and unless I’ve had an unusually large meal, IF isn’t really for me.

    I will admit to being way too amused by the fact you used the word “broscience” and by that “flayed” bit.

  8. i have ibs type stuff and large meals mess me up(still) but i hate snacking all day. i haven’t eaten since yesterday evening and it’s 2 pm texas time. just not hungry. i still dont know how to handle my meals times well but i DO know that the more i center my diet around fat, the better i do overall. less hunger, less ibs symptoms. fat rules.

      1. Mine too! And +1 for not being hungry all the time! Hypoglycemia was ruling my life! I love not wasting all that time preparing food and making sure I have snacks with me where ever I go.

    1. good for you, really envy you. I am constantly hungry. I also have IBS, but for me the more fat I eat the more unbearable the pain and symptoms are. all you on this board who can eat as much fat as you want, you have no idea how lucky you are.

  9. When I was eating “healthy” according to conventional wisdom (low fat, lots of whole grains, vegetables, citrus fruits, very little animal fat), I experienced regular, painful acid reflux and heartburn, and I mean, steel-band-around-the-chest, feels-like-a-heart-attack heartburn. When I saw my (previous) doctor about it, she didn’t question my diet at all, but focused on when I ate. When I told her that I would skip breakfast, and ate lunch and dinner when I was hungry, and not at any set time, she told me that this was why I was having digestive problems. No suggestion at all that what I was actually eating might be having an effect on my digestion. I continued to have the heartburn, and started taking Pepcid regularly in advance of meals.

    Now that I am about 90% primal, I still only eat breakfast occasionally (except for mass quantities of bacon and eggs on Saturday and Almond flour pancakes every Sunday!), and still eat lunch and dinner at varying times. I have absolutely no digestive problems, haven’t had reflux or heartburn in 2 years, and don’t have up and down energy levels. I’m a big fan of eat when your hungry, each as much as you want (within reason) when you eat, and don’t eat more than a couple of ounces of nuts or something similar between meals.

    I have found since going primal that I have no problem going from 7:30 at night until 1:00 p.m. the next day without eating. When I would do this before, I would be lightheaded and starving by lunchtime, and then I would crash in the afternoon.

    1. I know that light-headed feeling! Mine got so bad, I would almost pass out! Once I gave up the grains, most dairy (I still eat kefir, plain yogurt and whole eggs)and started going very high protein–much more protein/day than the gov’t recommends, my symptoms disappeared. Cravings gone, energy level steady and no more moodiness (I didn’t like that any more than the people around me, I’m sure!)
      I now eat when my body tells me I need to, and I don’t stress about any sort of rules. This attitude, in itself, has been an enormous release of stress for me with food. If we are really in tune with our bodies, our bodies will let us know what we need.
      Excellent article, Mark!!

      1. I HAD bad hypoglycemia. I thought I needed food every few hours to steer off the shakes/light-headed feeling/ and especially the irritability that comes with low blood sugar. Now on the HIGH fat, Moderate protein intake and no grains – I feel great with only eating 3 meals a day. I just attempted my first intermittent fast and it was the first time since I have been eating primal that I had low blood sugar symptoms that felt out of control. Considering ways to fix that for the next time I want to IF. I love the freedom of eating when I want – no rules – no cravings to sub-cum to. I feel great!

      2. Why do people put eggs in the dairy category? EGGS ARE NOT DAIRY PEOPLE!

    2. It’s that crash in the afternoon that was doing me in. Whenever I ate carbs (pasta, rice, etc.) I would get very sleepy within just an hour of eating. Sometimes I would have to pull over when driving because I could feel myself nodding off.
      Ever since going primal I have had no problems with that. In fact, I’m more alert than ever before. No matter what time of day I eat.

  10. Hey Mark,

    Great post!

    Any thoughts on timing if you’re trying to put on muscle? I found that I’m natually less hungry,but need to hit a goal of 3500 calories to sustain muscle growth. Should I eat even if I don’t physically need too? And should it be in large meals or spread out via snacks?

  11. I am right with you, Mark! I think it is important to eat if you’re hungry, and NOT eat if you are not hungry. People tend to want some shining silver bullet that will get rid of allll their diet problems, and meal timing is one of those ideas that always gets people thinking “well I can lose those 50 pounds in a snap if I just… eat 6 tiny meals a day” or “just… eat breakfast at 8:02am each morning”, etc…

    Being healthy is about being in tune with yourself, and eating whole foods – the foods we were meant to eat!

    ANyway, the point of this long rambling comment, to answer your questions:

    1) I eat when I’m hungry. It’s generally a small breakfast at 10am, lunch (moderate size) around 1pm, dinner at 7-8pm, and then maybe a snack before bed (the snack is not usually out of hunger, I just like having a dessert snack).

    2) I’m not totally primal but I have noticed that since I cut out the junk (I only ate junk briefly for a few years in college), I have better moods and it’s easier for me to adapt to eating situations – like if I have to eat according to another person’s schedule, that’s fine.

  12. I’ve been following the warrior diet lately and I love it, I feel more focused during the day and not having to worry about food frees the mind up during the day.

  13. Perfect Timing, I’ve been thinking and researching this subject all week. Just breakingmyfast now 11:45PST, up at 6am walked to the train, took the 5story stairs to the cubicle, but only just feeling hungry, so I ate and enjoyed it (3eggs with ham)
    Dinner tonight when I get hungry and same thing tomorrow, has been a trend this week, tons of energy and blasting through my workouts.
    Not losing a damn pound though after being strict primal for 10days now. Giving myself 3wks before possibly adjusting.

  14. I was just talking with a friend of mine who is a Gluten-Free Life Coach. She told me that she lost weight and started to feel amazing when she got happy! In other words, she worked on her stress responses and cortisol situation before struggling with the other aspects of a restricted diet. In fact, she said that it was easy, even though she has many food allergies. Because of her allergies, she’s basically primal and feeling great. This is her website: http://janelleholden.com/

  15. I just blogged about this topic this morning 🙂 I’m starting to wean myself off the traditional meal schedule I’ve been on. I’ve realized I’m eating snacks three times a day, just because that’s what I’ve always done, even when I’m not hungry. I’m going to start listening to my body, and only eat when I’m truly hungry!

  16. Cortisol is the biggest ‘trip’ factor for me with slipping into ‘grazing’. Stress obviously generates it but I find that disrupted sleep is also a big culprit – lots of people underestimate or don’t appreciate the connection between poor sleep habits (episodes) and eating patterns. Lots research out there now about how inter-connected the hormones are between sleep and appetite.

    Check out Emily Deans evolutionarypsychiatry blogspot for various articles.

    1. This is a great point – sleep and cortisol really monkey with eating patterns.

      The longer I stick with paleo/primal style eating, the less concerned I am about when I will eat next… BUT, I find it absolutely crucial to get a good night’s sleep. If I don’t, the next day I make a point to eat three meals and two snacks that are full of protein, veggies and good fats.

      (This is actually helpful when avoiding junk foods, because I know eating ice cream or white rice or other crap at night will wreck my sleep… I am too greedy with my 8+ hours to go there :)!)

    1. I think that is a little TOO simple. It might work for some people, but definitely not for all. If some people ate every time they felt hungry, they’d be eating all day long and taking in way too many calories.

        1. Yes when you are on the carbohydrate roller coaster you could eat all day, but when you are using fat as your primary source of fuel your metabolism is just so stable! You really can just eat when you are hungry. 🙂 Loving the Primal life!

  17. Great post! I’ve noticed since going Primal that I am not tied down to eating at specific times or specific meals. I just eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I’ve also noticed that I don’t have to eat every 3 hours to keep my energy up (I can go for hours not eating and I’m fine). I feel like I have mastered my metabolism, rather than be ruled by always having to “graze” on things such as those low calorie snack packs.

    1. You are probably snacking on your fat stores in between meals:)

  18. Food seems to taste better when I eat fewer times a day (2-3). I feel more sensitized to subtle flavors of meat, veggies, fruits and spices. A candy bar or a slice of pizza tastes over-powering and repulsive.

  19. I have to say that when we first went Primal it was very easy for my to fast at breakfast time, in fact I usually never really felt the urge to eat at all in the morning. It was pretty weird. And I stopped eating so much during the day, just listening to my body and eating when it told me to. Of course we still enjoy the sit down dinner together, sometimes its a big dinner sometimes its very light, there are just other family benefits to sitting down together.

    Now that I am pregnant again, there is more demands on my body for food intake….slipping breakfast doesn’t work out so well for me now…so I find it very important to listen to your body!!! When pregnant I have to eat breakfast or I start to feel very ill…..when not pregnant I totally can fast at breakfast time!!

    The point eat when you body tells you too, not when you bored or when someone else tells you too!!

  20. i’m under the impression that the body won’t bring significant fat out of storage if there’s much glucose OR insulin in the bloodstream…. if one is snacking constantly, the two of them are NEVER low at the same time, no?

    1. This is true, and even eating large quantities of protein without eating carbs can keep enough glucose circulating (via gluconeogenesis) to prevent fatty acid metabolism.

      You can read this guy’s scientific workup of why the morning is a fat-burning wonderland until you eat something that increases glucose and/or insulin.

      http://carbbackloading.com

      (It’s in the free report.)

  21. I follow leangains. 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour feeding window. I’ve been doing this for more than a year now and never get hungry outside of 12pm-8pm. I usually eat 2 big meals, one to break the fast and one just before starting. The only times I ever go outside of this is during very stressful periods or when social time/family time calls for it which I can usually nudge more in my favour.

  22. Since dumping grains and sugar from my diet, I’ve found it difficult to GET hungry. I found that skipping meals just made my body go into starvation mode, even though I wasn’t hungry, and the scale would not budge for weeks at a time. So I’ve started increasing my carbs up into the PB “sweet spot” rather than in the ketogenic area, and I keep my fat intake highest – and my weight loss is once again on the move.

  23. Personally I IF till Noon, workout on just BCAA’s and eat 3 meals a day. Since I have switched to these practices I have gotten leaner and had more productive workouts.

  24. I’m still a primal beginner, but I feel hungry a lot. I didn’t think I liked meat, but I ate a giant porkchop last night and liked it. (I call my Big-Ass Salad a Kick-Ass Salad, LOL). I kind of wander around the kitchen wondering what to eat. I’m just not that into meat and probably eat too much canned fish.

    1. I think I had that feeling too when I started. It’s like you have to get used to being “not hungry”, but “not full” at the same time. I was used to the full, bloated feeling that you get when eating pastas and breads, but it’s just a different feeling to be full on meat and veggies, at least for me. Now on primal, after eating, I’m not hungry, but I don’t feel “full” either, sorry, kind of hard to explain…

      1. I get it. Eating all that crappola makes me feel always full… bloated and icky… but never really satisfied (so I keep grazing). I’m guessing that eating Primal is giving you a good “full” (though not what your used to) and is, hopefully, leaving you satisfied. I am always amazed at how my children will eat a big dinner, then go jump on the trampoline…I’m guessing there is some survival value in that!

    2. And I would worry about canned fish being farmed fish. A lot of Omega-6’s, not to mention grain-fed, what we avoid. Like eating conventional beef vs. primal grass-fed, organic beef. Much better and primal.

  25. I have been a certified fitness trainer for over 25 years and so many of my clients have struggled with the “eating breakfast rule”. I never eat breakfast and start my day with an intense exercise program and encourage my clients to eat only when they are hungry. Many of my clients complain that when they do eat breakfast they are hungry all day and overeat. Without breakfast they are more successful at achieving and maintaining their goal weight.

    1. All this time I never believed my boyfriend… I thought he was confused or fooling himself. Guess he is right.

  26. Great post, as always. Interesting that there was no mention of the leptin reset idea, given that it’s a pretty big topic on the forum at present. I was doing really well on PB, with decreased appetite and managing my IBS easily – until I starting eating when I wasn’t hungry (large amounts of protein first thing in the morning). Now I’m all messed up again and it’s taking ages to recover. I was tempted by the magic bullet. Sigh.

    1. same for me, IBS, it never turns out well for me if i eat when i’m not hungry

  27. Hey Mark. Im huge fan of intermittent fasting. I saw your interview with dr. Mercola on youtube. You talked about adaption period, getting ‘fat adapted’.

    This was a greatpoint. Few years ago i tried warrior diet and failed.. i think it was due to the fact that my body wasnt adapted to the new eating schedule/habbits. Lately ive skipped most “junk” carbs. Now the intermittent fasting (or warrior diet) feels good increasingly better for me. Thanks.

  28. More then 2 years of skipping breakfast here and I love it. I keep losing inches but seem to maintian my weight. I have seen increase in my strength and stamina. I think I will be IFing for the rest of my life but then is it really intermittant.

  29. I am so glad to read this article. I have given up trying to eat breakfast when I get up, I am not hungry. However, so many people are so shocked when I say I did not eat and am working out without any food. I do have good workouts and then usually I am hungry and have something.

  30. Great post. I am almost never hungry for breakfast and then will grab something small around 10am. I went through a phase for years that I would force myself to eat breakfast. This usually ended up making me feel sick, but I stuck with it because eating breakfast was the “healthy” thing to do. I feel so much better (and eat so much less) now that I only eat when I’m hungry.

  31. One of the best books on this is Mastering leptin by Byron Richards.

  32. I eat when I’m hungry and it seems to be working out just fine for me.

    I usually wake up around five and eat around nine because that’s when I start getting hungry. Not always though, sometimes I’ll be ravenous when I wake up and cook a massive breakfast and then not eat again all day.

    I’m not sure how that works for others, but even when I was 75# heavier and eating regular (usually high-carb) meals I wasn’t really hungry half the time I ate, I just ate because it was time to.

  33. I just had this conversation with a classmate last week. I told her that I regularly skipped breakfast because I just wasn’t hungry. She flat out called me stupid. Quite frankly, I find ignoring what my body is telling me stupid, but whatever rubs your Buddha…

  34. Phew, nice to know I can discontionue my steady IV-Drip of Muscle Milk…that was getting expensive! 🙂

  35. I decided to skip breakfast for a few days, and ended up feeling tired and unable to concentrate, so skipping breakfast isn’t for everyone – just like most things. I drink a protein shake, mixed with almond and coconut milk, and a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, and I’m set for 5 hours.

  36. I’m only two weeks in to primal living, but one of the biggest benefits I’ve experienced is NOT feeling hungry every couple of hours. I am pregnant, and I also think I’m experiencing a little bit of “low carb flu,” so I’m a little tired. But, in general, my body is responding fantastically to the change. The hair/skin symptoms of PCOS that I’ve battled for almost 20 years are diminishing before my eyes, so I’m amazed.

    Mark, one of my favorite parts of today’s post (and I only stumbled across the site and the PB a couple of weeks ago – thank goodness I did!) is when you highlight the fact that different things work for different people. We should be in tune with our bodies, and eating should be natural. If something feels very off, we should listen to our bodies’ signals! I love your comment about trying to force unnatural eating habits on ourselves because some rat studies indicated a possible benefit. Thank you for your cheerful, life-loving approach to what could have been a very daunting journey for me.

  37. What you said about good primal meals when you are ready for them! It is great to not be constantly negotiating with yourself about how long you can hold out. It is fighting against the design of the system if you follow the CW. It is miserable.

    I’m one of those people who do very, very poorly on the CW (lots of small high-carb meals with low fat and modest protein). It is just a recipe for failure and constant hunger alternating with bingeing for me.

    The Primal approach is incredibly liberating. I make better choices because they are satisfying, now that I know how to do that, and ignore food until I am hungry. Meat and vegetables, meat and vegetables, meat and vegetables. It may sound boring, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is delightful and satisfying. Being strung out on bad carbs all the time was horrible.

    The only part of the deal I have a hard time with is coconut oil. I do much better when I include it, and it is getting easier, but it is something I’m still working at.

  38. I eat once once per day. I only drink water but feast at night on paleo foods. I started this style of eating last August (almost a year ago). Since that time by weight has dropped from 320 to 218. I was hungry during the day for the first few weeks but now I rarely get hungry till dinner time. My body has adapted just fine.

  39. I’m going to be the bold one who said I went back the other way. Or really I went back to who I was before I got messed up.

    I was one of those people who ate frequent small meals a good decade before the concept became mainstream. Not grazing (eating constantly) But smaller meals and anywhere from 3-6 per day. I probably average 4 meals.

    However I never did the faddish “piece of fruit” snack or ” a string cheese”. What’s the point of that? If I am hungry I eat some food and enough of it to matter.

    I tried the larger fewer meals thing for several months and got sicker and sicker. I started having attacks that led for testing for gallbladder and pancreas diseases.

    I went back to smaller less fat filled meals and the attacks went away and have stayed away (knock wood). My body can really only process so much at one time without rebelling.

    Does that mean I eat breakfast every morning? Nope. Most days I workout first thing and have breakfast when I get home. Sometimes I just have coffee and then have breakfast at around 9:30 (I get up at 4:30 so that is late) If I sleep in I tend to putter around with my coffee until about 11. And I still might have 4 meals that day. Or 3 or 5.

    Today I woke up starving and had a small meal before the gym. And breakfast at 10:30. I’m predicting a late lunch and a dinner.

  40. I always have more energy when I do not eat breakfast.

    I am just not a morning person so therefore I am not hungry in the morning.

    Why force myself to eat when I feel better if I don’t??

  41. A caveat – if you have/have had an eating disorder, be very, very careful with anything like IF. I decided to try IF (skipping breakfast) for about a month and although I became more used to it over the course of the month, it was always a fight (sometimes to the point of wanting to gnaw my arm off and eat it). It set me off on a two month binge fest which I am now just regaining control of.

    The issue was probably more a case of, as you said Mark, not listening to my body as the IF was a constant fight, but I think part of the problem for people with eating disorders is that we really don’t know how to listen to the signals our bodies send us. I think for me, at least for now, it is important to eat when I think I ‘should’ eat partly because if I don’t, I become obsessed with food, when am I going to eat, etc. and this food obsession is the very thing that I need to get away from. Keeping a regular schedule in this regard helps me personally not focus as much on food. I hope that I can eventually get to a point where food isn’t such a central issue in my life and it does become just ‘fuel’. One day at a time. 🙂

  42. Great post!

    I eat when I’m hungry and my body usually suffices with 3 decent meals. I rarely find the need to snack.

    Last week I went for some blood tests and had to fast. My appt was for 11 am and I didn’t get blood drawn until after noon. I had been fasting for almost 19 hours and I still felt great.

  43. Fantastic article! I could not agree more with you in regards to both snacking and fasting!

  44. Hi, I finally made it here–interesting site! I’ve had a health hobby for 30 years, and had to go with listening to my body and common sense. I loved your comment about cutting a steak up in 5 pieces and eating them an hour apart. One thing that would happen that nobody thinks about is that what’s already in your stomach rots, while it’s waiting for the new piece to digest (since it takes meat and some other foods much longer to process). It’s good for auto-toxemia.

    1. Nothing rots in your stomach. It doesn’t take meat long to digest in the high-acid content of the stomach. The only thing that “rots” (reacts to bacterial action, that is) is undigestable grains and seeds that ferment in the colon, causing gas. The stomach doesn’t “wait” for anything to digest and let other stomach contents sit.

  45. 3 weeks in, I’m findng that I look forward to breakfast, although I’m not always hungry for it until I start rummaging in the fridge. Also, I am lasting until maybe 13.00 or 14.00 when previously I would be gnawing my stationery by 11.30, or maybe even 10.30 desperate for fuel. I’m still starving for dinner when I get in at 18.45 (so I normally pack a PM snack)but I am sated until the morning after my evening meal. This is just totally new to me; it’s a family joke that I eat ALL THE TIME and I can be relied upon to nibble within an hour of a meal. I’m starting to think that the money I’ll save on mini meals will cover the cost of heaps of veggies and bigger protein portions. Hurray for Mr Sisson!

  46. I understand the concept of eating when hungry, but I think for many of us that only have a few months of PB under our belt that can be a difficult thing.

    Most of us are programmed to eat at 7, 12, and 7 (BF, Lunch, Dinner). We aren’t -really- hungry, but our brains are telling us that we’re hungry because it’s our prescribed feeding time.

    That’s why I’m taking to fasting. I’m doing IF right now and just started, but what I’m finding is that I feel -much- better when not eating breakfast. My brain is still telling my body “Hey, why the hell haven’t you eaten anything? It’s 9am!” So I feel a hunger ping, but it goes away.

    I would’ve liked to see more information about our mental hunger and physical hunger, and differentiating the two.

    Enjoyed the article though, as I do with all of them.

    Grok on! Live long. Drop dead.

  47. I do tend to force breakfast, only because if I dont I get really hungry around 10am, and there are not many EASY options at work (and cant really take time that isnt ‘lunch’ to prepare something healthy). A moderate breakfast high in fat and proteins soothes me over through lunch, and I usually end up taking a late lunch at that and feel fine. Former grazer converted in less then 2 weeks!

  48. I find it ridiculous people are still puzzled by this.
    Eat what you want when you want Fast, 6-7 times a day doesn’t matter … have a look in the mirror if you are overweight eat less .. if you are lean spot on … you have a whole life time to experiment and get it right!

    Raymond

  49. Before I started a PB lifestyle I would literally get sick if I didn’t eat every 2-3 hours. Sick as in not just a headache and lethargic, but also very anxious. (OMG, I haven’t eaten in two hours, I need food..stat!). But once I got into eating Primal it stopped being a concern. Instead of getting sick, I wait for the hunger pangs to appear, and that usually takes 5-6 hours between meals.

  50. My trainer is always on my butt about not eating before coming in for my early morning workout. I’m just not hungry first thing in the morning. Never have been. It doesn’t seem to me to affect how I feel when working out, but he insists he can tell the difference when I eat before working out than when I don’t. I finally got tired of it and said the topic wasn’t open for discussion any longer. Years ago, a guy I played racquetball with used to say, “Always play r-ball hungry”, and I followed his advice when winning r-ball tournaments.

  51. What a great article.

    I used to have a really hard time not following the 3x a meal a day, and snacks twice, once at 10 am…and the other around 4 pm.
    It’s ridiculous! My mother (and ALL of my relatives) have followed this their entire lives. The world would come to an end if we’d miss breakfast or lunch.
    My mother thinks sugar is a staple and if you don’t eat it you get ‘under-sugar’ (what she calls it) and fall into a coma. I grew up with these ridiculous lies!

    My life, and everyones in my family, evolved around certain day times and food. Still, to this day I look at the clock everytime I get ready to cook my primal meals…WTH! “Oh it’s 6pm, I should eat something”…gawdangit.
    I’m getting better though, being primal for about 16 months now and slowly getting away from the man-made clock, and just listening to my body.
    If only I could stop looking at the darn clock everytime I eat.

    So annoying.

  52. I fast most mornings( with a Tbs. of coconut oil in my coffee) and have found that I feel great with loads of energy most of the time despite my MS. However, when I first started IFing I forced myself to fast even though I felt shaky and would end up feeling rotten all day. I finally wised up and started listening to my body and realized the success of my fast almost always depended on what I had eaten the night before. So I still fast most mornings but only if I’m not hungry and I discontinue it if I feel weak. Otherwise, I feel that IFing is very therapeutic for my condition.

    Was it Mark that said “If it’s the most important meal of the day why is everyone eating dessert for breakfast?”. I roll that out for my gluten eating friends when they harass me for not eating! 🙂

  53. Timothy Ferris in the 4 hour body suggests you should eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. Ferriss says that this is critical because it starts your day off with the right fat burning hormones. Try eggs to get protein as these generally do not increase your cholesterol. This breakfast will also help you not to get a mid-afternoon slump after lunch. You may also want to mix in some carbs too which will come largely from fruits and veggies. Simple!

    My question is when is the best time for cardio? Is in the morning on an empty stomach? Timothy Ferris seems pretty adamant about the eating within one hour of waking and wanted to make sure that pre-breafast cardio doesn’t affect this in any way.

    1. I saw an interview recently with Timothy Ferris and someone asked him this same question. He said it depends on your goals. If you want to work out first thing in the morning and your goal is fat loss, don’t worry about eating anything beforehand or maybe just some coffee.
      Overall, if you are working out first thing in the morning he said it’s fine to wait to eat until after you are finished.

  54. Thanks, for yet again, keeping it easy to read, understand straight to the point.
    Signed,
    A recovering stumbler.

  55. I’m glad you wrote this article. I’ve always struggled with the “eating breakfast rule”. I’ve always just encouraged my patients to eat only when they are hungry. However, lately I have been starting my day with a protein drink and have noticed I have more energy and eat smaller dinner meals.

  56. I had a friend asking me just yesterday about whether he should eat breakfast or not when he isn’t hungry. He was actually convinced so much by the media that he started eating it even though he wasn’t hungry. Now I can point him here!

  57. I never eat breakfast until I have been up for at least a few hours…. I get up at 5am and usually don’t eat until 8am or 9am, I can’t stomach food when I first get up. I can’t go longer than that though and I love my big breakfasts.

    After I eat breakfast I may or may not eat lunch depending on what is in the fridge and how I feel.. and after dinner I don’t eat again until the next day.

  58. I liked this article. I have struggled with the 6 small meals theory for a long time. I never feel full and I’m constantly hungry. By mistake I found out that have I have a big old plate of protein and veggies, I feel full much longer and I can quit obsessing about my next meal. It’s a huge relief, and it works for me.

  59. I actually let the hunger pass. Being pretty much dialed in otherwise I find it goes away on its own pretty quickly. With carbs under control I just don’t get that gnawing I’ve got to eat now feeling.

    And being on the midnight shift, breakfast is an odd concept.

  60. Great article! But was Mark being sarcastic about anecdotes about people abandoning grazing? I have found the best way to eat healthy is to eat when you’re actually hungry. And to me, eating three substantial meals a day is definitely at cross-purposes to that strategy.

    My eating strategy can be summarized thus:
    1) only eat when you’re hungry
    2) eat significantly less food than what you are (traditionally) accustomed to.
    3) get A LOT of exercise

    With 3) being the most important. I have a friend who bikes hundreds of miles a week. He could probably eat KFC 3 times a day and be in better shape than most people because his metabolism is like a furnace. He is not skinny. He’s bikes a lot but is not fanatical about nutrition. The dude eats!

    For me, not eating breakfast before work is a recipe for disaster. On the weekends, I eat “breakfast” when I feel hungry.

  61. I read somewhere (new evolutionary diet) that snacking sends an immediate signal to stop burning fat and look to the new source of energy so rarely snack now, generally only eat twice a day (or once), and have never felt better. weight is coming off effortlessly.

  62. I have got to tell you i LOVE BREAKFAST, I LOVE EGGS, bacon, sausage, so I never skip breakfast. However since it is so hot here now in Texas I find I only want about 2 meals a day breakfast and a late lunch. and for ‘Dinner’ i have a little fruit like berries or 2 peaches, an avocado and some raw almonds 2ounces of the almonds and i am satisfied.

    1. I love those things too, but you can eat them for any meal of the day, not just breakfast.

  63. Breakfast is a pretty recent ‘invention’. People did not have access to a fridge or a stove first thing in the morning until just recent times, or a stuffed pantry.

    I have always rejected the notion of eating when the body is not ready. Has been a personal fight, because when I was a kid and teenager, an early breakfast would leave me nauseaus (still does). Something my parents and teachers would not understand. I was always happiest with a 10 or 11 am breakfast. Same goes for before and after exercise. As a kid that was a nono. These days a few dates serve me well.

    When I am under stress and/or had poor sleep, I turn into a grazer and will eat continously from the time I start, and just never feel sated. Stark contrast to when all is well – two good high protein meals and a snack or two; a snack being a piece of fruit, some nuts or a bit of dark chocolate, will often do. A third meal may not be needed. One of the keys is getting enough protein, wich can be a challenge when meal frequency drops.

    Nowadays most people (western world) don’t even know what actual hunger really feels like any more. When low carbing, the signals for hunger are very clear, and actually easy to deal with for a few hours. When grazing and eating more carbs, urges and cravings take over – very hard to deal with. The body tends to tell when something is off…

    Daniela Huppe

  64. Great article! Since I started adding in Intermittent Fasts to my week I find I am much more in tune with “am I really hungry? or just bored?” not to mention my energy levels are much more level.

  65. So, I think that “grazing”, eating every 3-4 hours as needed, if needed – with a balanced protein, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs (fruits and veggies) is what he is talking about vs. grazing for the sake of grazing. Otherwise your blood sugar drops, and body needs fuel. The key is to fuel properly. A snack as he states, with protein can still be called a snack. If you want to define a snack as a mini-meal and not the junk food we tend to associate as “snacks”. Been doing this for 7 years. Lost 65 lbs in most of one year and been maintaining this way ever since. Started exercising and moving only last August – where-in I lost the last 10 of those 65 lbs. And found (was directed to by a paddling buddy) to Mark’s Daily apple only a few weeks ago. Seems to fit (mostly) with what I’ve found and discovered on my owm through research.

  66. After being on paleo for three years I can and usually get by on one large meal a day…I’m never hungry, plus I’m slim, all muscle and 52

  67. Thank you so much for writing this, Mark. I’m fifteen years old and I’m currently experimenting with myself to discover my own needs with food and fitness. Your articles are absolutely golden! I have attempted several times to ‘diet’ and ‘lose weight’, but FINALLY I feel like I’m on a steady, manageable track – doing this for the RIGHT reasons. I’d be lost if I never came across your blog. I appreciate everything you do.

  68. I feel awesome! I do eat breakfast but sometimes don’t. My husband doesn’t or he will get nauseous in the morning. I find that if I eat like four eggs I can go hours satiated. I am the grazing type but I don’t eat meals really either. It is because of diabetes in my family. I am more concerned with keeping hunger away than being full.But sometimes that belly just needs to be full. I have also found that I gain weight if I eat more that 200 calories at a time of a carbohydrate even if it is fruit.That is what lead me to all of this primal stuff to begin with. To me there is nothing better than a chicken thigh and an orange.

  69. Before going primal, I literally had to have some type of food in my mouth 5 minutes after waking up, I don’t think I had ever skipped breakfast in my whole life. I used to get irritable and dizzy if I didn’t. Since going primal (6 months ago), that has changed. In the past 2 months, I’m hardly ever hungry for breakfast. Usually only about once a week, and if I’m hungry, I eat. The other days I have nothing or water or coffee with cream. I just can’t believe I’m not hungry when I wake up!

  70. Marks’ Post as always covers the current “wisdom” on healthy eating and then breaks it down to useful information.
    Listening to my body, I’ve discovered that fasting 12 hours in every 24 hours works for me. If I eat before that 12 hours, I tend to be more hungry the rest of the day.
    Exercising before I eat first thing in the morning works best for me too. I usually get hungry about 60 minutes after a workout.
    This has worked for me for many years.
    How did I get here?
    Over my life time I’ve either counted calories or overexercised. Most of the time it was successful.
    In 2008 I eliminated all processed foods along with some fruits and high carb vegetables to see if I was intolerant of any foods. This was a 30, 60, 90 day program that presented a challenge for me because I lived on bread, whole grain-no HFC etc- but still bread. I was able to stick to the program until, about 50 days into the program I ate a piece of artisan bread. It tasted like a mouth full of flour, not the tempting bread my eyes said I put in my mouth. What a confirmation of my new eating.
    I’ve stayed on this food plan, tempered it with the Zone diet and now with the PB. I don’t miss bread, but I miss butter.
    That’s when a sweet potato comes in handy.
    Timely sleeping and eating are my main problems.
    Thanks to all who posted reminding to sleep enough and keep stress in check.

  71. I remember when ‘fasted labs’ were torture–who could wait until 10am to eat breakfast? I haven’t eaten breakfast for months and I’m not really very hungry at noon when I do eat. Sometimes I wait until supper to eat. Bring on those fasted labs now, doc!

  72. I think people are confused by conflicting information, but also try too hard to find ‘the perfect storm’.
    “How will I achieve 6-pack abs in the shortest time possible? give me the ultimate method”.

    As usual, we are lazy by nature and look for the quickest route.

  73. oops at the end where I stated timely sleeping and eating are my main problems.
    I meant “eating in a timely manner”.
    Working at home gives me flexibility and I’ll get pretty hungry before I go to the kitchen. That’s ok if something is ready to eat but most times it’s not.

  74. Great article, definitely been on the 6-meal-a-day plan for a while and I’m gonna try switching it up.

    Do you (or does anyone) have any suggestions or advice when it comes to the post workout meal. Should you eat that even if you’re not hungry?

  75. I kinda liked the idea of the leangains guy. 8 hr feeding window followed by a 16 hr window of fasting. So I typically wake up at 8 am. Prolly grab breakfast around 10 am, lunch around 2 pm, and dinner around 6pm but really have to get in tune for how my body feels with that. Haven’t tried it yet, but it seemed like an interesting philosophy. My I am an athlete so my goal is muscle development. I agree eating 6 meals a day becomes an obsession with food and 3 meals (when naturally hungry) takes care of that problem!

  76. Great article. I started off in January weighing in at 221lb. I love the crossfit life style but I needed a change. I began reading about the Paleolithic style and I changed my diet over to that. It is now July 13th and I weigh 175lbs. About two months ago I started doing intermittent fasting which has worked very well for me and cut down on my body fat tremendously. I have a ton of energy (A LOT more than I used to), and I only have an 8 hour eating window, and then fast the other 16 hours. I will admit switching over to intermittent fasting with Paleo was a little hard at first but my body has grown used to it and now I fast 7 days a week. It is working for me and I feel awesome. Thanks to Guys like Mark and Robb Wolf I believe at 35 I am in the best shape of my life. Keep the great articles coming.

  77. One of the things eating primally has done is free me from the notion I must have breakfast and frequent meals. In general I am not hungry at breakfast time, no one in my family is, and I hate having to have small frequent meals because they leave me feeling unsatisfied. What I really like is two large meals a day, normally around 11am and again at 6.30pm, with a small snack around 4pm. I only get hungry for breakfast if I’ve been doing heavy physical work for a few days previous. Even if I skip dinner the night before, I’m still not hungry until 11am the next day. Now I work from home I’m able to follow my natural food instincts. When I worked in an office I did have a small protein rich breakfast (normally a whey protein shake or a can of sardines) because I only had a short lunch break and it wasn’t until 1pm. Two large meals a day suits me best.

  78. Great post today! I never eat before noon, just not hungry, and rarely eat after 9pm. I eat 2 meals a day, both on the big side, four eggs with 4 or 5 peices of uncured bacon and some coconut or almond milk for 1st meal, and a huge peice of meat, pork, beef, or lamb with a decent salad for second meal. I don’t even think in terms of breakfast lunch or dinner anymore!

  79. I eat regular meals because i am a bodybuilder and i want to prevent catabolism but my meals are primal, meat, veg, eggs and fat. What do you think about that?

  80. I’ve recently kicked (and blogged about!) a well established grazing habit. Mood and appetite much more stable and less prep time in the kitchen an added bonus!

  81. Since I’ve been following PB 100% (7 weeks) I eat breakfast about 90% of the time usually consisting of scrambled eggs or primal pancakes. On a few occasions when I didn’t eat breakfast, I didn’t bother with lunch either. It wasn’t planned, I just got busy and by the time I felt like eating it was early evening.

  82. Great article Mark! I follow a lot of Paleo/Primal/LCHF blogs and I think that yours is, by far, the best! Not only do you apply some sound science and research to your posts, but you also apply the 80/20. I sometimes get turned off by other hardline blogs and am always refreshed by your post topics and writing style.

    Anytime anyone asks me about why I eat lots of meat for lunch at work, why I don’t eat buns with hamburgers or hotdogs, why I have a standing desk when no one else does, or any other primal habits that make me look ‘wierd’ to everyone else, I direct them to this site.

    Keep up the good work!!

  83. When I used to eat the SAD (and was overweight and had MS flareups all the time), I always had to have a granola bar in my purse in case I got hungry, lest my crankypants alter-ego come out. I’ve been mostly primal for 2 years and I think my metabolism is just now healing so that I am rarely hungry and can fast easily without hunger. I feel fantastic when I fast – high, steady energy, little to no hunger, and relief from cravings. I do find, though, that after about 21-22 hours of fasting, I begin to feel sort of weak and only want to sit around rather than stay busy. I’m not hungry at all though. I have been breaking fast at that point b/c I can’t afford to sit around on my bum for a few hours til I reach the arbitrary 24-hour goal. Any ideas on what is happening here? Do I just need a little more adaptation to it? Why do I seem to need food to boost my energy if I don’t feel hungry?

    1. I am the same. I can fast up to 20 hours and then I give in. I believe this is normal. I think the metabolism switches into a diff. gear after 20-24 hours of not eating and being in fat burning mode.

      When that happens I think the body starts to break down other tissues to speed up nutrient supply to organs. Bone and tooth demineralization, muscle wasting, etc…

      That is why there is a feeling of weakness after ~ 20 hours of fasting. It would trigger Grok to get up off his lazy butt and go look for food. What kind of survival of our own species would that be if we could just not eat forever and NOT get that feeling of something being wrong.

  84. Mark – can you suggest some snack options other than jerky, berries? Are there any veggies that can be snacked on?

  85. Good grief – I don’t know when a topic posted here on MDA has generated so many comments! Plus, if you read all the comments, it’s unbelievable how may peeps are so different as to what works for them: eat breakfast, don’t eat breakfast (whatever “breakfast” is – BTW it means Break ((read: brake with a long “A” sound)) Fast). Eat when hungry, IF, snack all day, eat 1 or 2 or 3 times a day, etc, etc. etc.

    I personally am not hungry when I wake up – never have been. I don’t eat anything to “break my fast” until 11:00 AM or so. If I do – I’m hungry as hell for the rest of the day. And I always thought – and was told – that I’m weird.
    And if I followed CW and ate carbs at breakfast like oatmeal or any type of cereal – I’d be ravenous a half-hour later and it won’t quit eating for the rest for the day. I’d have to eat bowl after bowl of cereal before I felt full.

    My Mom eats cereals/carbs as soon as she gets up and snacks or is hungry all day long. She can’t eat eggs/protein because they cause “high cholesterol”. DH does the same: eats right after getting up and eats all day long. Any mention of changing their eating habits by me is met with a lot of resistance.

    In fact, if given to my own schedule and listening to my body, I could wait until evening (24 hour to 24 hour) to eat a really big meal consisting of all the nutrients I’m going to get for the day. For many years, all I ate was one meal a day: usually steak and a salad – gee whiz, is that Primal or what?

    Don’t you just love the diversity of all of us?

  86. Sorry but the “skipping breakfast” meme drives me straight up the nearest wall. (Is that a Crossfit WOD yet?) Unless you do not eat from wakeup to bedtime and go to sleep with an empty stomach, it is impossible to skip breakfast.

    Lunch? Yeah. Supper? Sure. You could skip either of those. But never breakfast.

    Now is it silly to make yourself wait too long before eating even though your stomach’s screaming at you? Sure. Not recommended. But the first time you eat in a day is always breakfast–no matter what time it is and no matter what you’re eating.

    Good post though. I would add that if one of your health issues is hyperinsulinemia, the last thing you want to do is eat six small meals a day. Your body needs to be retrained to let those insulin levels drop between meals. But every time you eat, it goes back up again, at least in response to the fact that you smelled and tasted food.

    As long as you’re eating two or three meals a day in that situation, and you eat *enough* and don’t go crazy on the carbs, in most cases you should be able to get your insulin back to sane levels and avoid low blood sugar. But I don’t see how the six meals a day is going to accomplish that, *particularly* in people not watching their carb intake.

  87. My son is 28 and perfectly fit, but I have been pestering him for years because he never has breakfast… Oops!

  88. I seem to be in the minority here, but I always wake up starving, and fantasizing about breakfast. If I wake up earlier than I usually get up, I lay there and think about breakfast until I actually get up and make it. I’m always hungry at lunch too, but dinner seems to be the meal I can pass on. Oh, I want dinner, but I’m not generally very hungry for dinner. Odd, since it used to be my favorite meal of the day.

  89. I keep it simple. Eat whole foods when I get hungry. I’ve never felt better or been more fit. Thanks for the great advise time and time again.

  90. Mindy;
    Agreed. Fat helps with satiety. I would consider increasing your fat intake.

  91. I havent eaten bread-rice-pasta-milk-sugar-grains in over 90 days…

    …….and I FEEL AMAZING!

  92. Ahhh yes… starvation mode. I noticed that another poster made this point as well. I have noticed that since going paleo, my appetite has dropped right off, regardless of when I eat. It is so great not to feel controlled by food/appetite.
    But, that does raise the question… if you are only “eating when hungry”, is it possible to put yourself into the dreaded “starvation mode”?

  93. I also think that doing what works your you is the the right way to go. I tried skipping breakfast, or not eating 3 hours before my workout, and I felt grumpy, shaky and unhappy. I am a breakfast lover, and as you said, if you feel like you’re hungry eat, if you don’t then you can throw in a little fasting.

  94. Rosalie are your “hungry” clients eating a high protein breakfast or a carby-but-healthy- SAD diet? Have them try a 50 gr protein/minimal carb (7 eggs or 7 oz. meat or a combination ) breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up as recommended by Dr. Jack Kruse and they will not be hungry for hours.

  95. Great timing. I am an IFer and am just coming off a fast. I work out in the morning and alway seem to have a great workout in a fasted state. Even after the workout I really wasnt starving just felt that I should eat a little something so breakfast was 3 strawberries and a piece of left over venison about the size of an egg.

    It really took me awhile to get the hang of fasting because I was that 6 meal a day guy. Like others I found myself always thinking about food and always hungry. Not having to think about food is in away very liberating and you begin to see food in a different light. My body feels “alive” in a way after a fast and I really don’t want to lose that feeling— so food becomes nourishment rather than entertainment, and from that perspective I have found myself making much healthier choices.

    Hopefully that makes some sense.

  96. In my experience as an NTP, clients who skip breakfast have a difficult time seperating hunger from wanting food. Most often this occurs because of insulin resistance, and a dependence on carbs as an energy source. Insulin can be triggered easily by the brain, simply thinking about food, which kicks in the obsessive craving sort of hunger, while true hunger feels much calmer and more interested than frantic. Eating breakfast regularly, especially a high protein breakfast in the first hour or less of waking can regulate this problem more quickly than anything else I have found, but I would love to hear other suggestions! It is often a big change for a client to prepare and eat 40-50 g of protein first thing in the morning!

  97. I was hungry when I got up this morning at 7:30. I had three eggs, six slices of bacon, and brussel sprouts cooked in the bacon fat. I don’t expect to be hungry until at least 3 this afternoon, or maybe not until 6. I’ll probably have a giant green salad and chicken or salmon for that meal. I might have a small handful of nuts later. That’s how I eat when I follow my body’s hunger.

  98. It’s funny how much more relaxed a vacation can become when you just eat when it suits you. Had a 12 hour flight which I turned into a 24 hour fast since I won’t eat the plain food anyway and I felt great the whole trip (instead og bloated and tired) – arrived in New orleans/miami/the keys where the weather is quite a lot hotter than in Denmark and my appetite just was not up for that so an early breakfast omelet and a late dinner salad was great! Normally I would fret about it eat even though I wasn’t hungry and feel bad most of the time – much better vacation this way!!!

  99. We are having great success with subscribing to the, “If I am hungry – I eat” thoughts. We have been also trying to do the “If I am tired – I sleep” but that is proving much more difficult.

  100. Aposite post Mark!
    I took the dog for a walk at 6.15am today and when I got back to the car – couldn’t turn the key in the ignition. The recovery service got me home at 12.45am. My dog and I covered over 10 miles whilst waiting – no point wasting a beautiful day and New Forest scenery – and although I’d not eaten since 4pm yesterday I wasn’t hungry. Which is a major shift from my pre-primal days.

    I have been eating primally for 9 months and, these last few months, I have found two good meals daily are plenty. If I’m out all day I just take a few fruits, homemade jerky and a bottle of water.

    Dropping grains from my diet has been great, and it’s all down to stumbling across MDA and Primal Blueprint.
    Thanks Mark!

  101. I’m in the process of losing weight. This morning I made myself eat breakfast about 8 a. m. It was a particularly nice breakfast – scrambled eggs with cheese, meat and veggies in it. I should have felt encouraged to eat. I just wasn’t ready – 10 or 11 a.m. is about right. I’ve heard so much our bodies going into “starvation mode” and hanging onto the fat if we don’t eat enough that I’m reluctant to eat just twice a day. Suggestions?

  102. Great post, Mark. I was on that 5-6 small meals a day merry-go-round a few years ago, and even though I initially lost weight, I plateaued and eventually gained it back.

    Now, that I’m retired, I do eat when I’m hungry and sometimes it’s two meals a day and other times more.

    This was a bone of contention between my hiking partner and me this spring. She is the carb queen bar none, who asserts that your hiking body needs carbs. Me, being primal, and knowing my body better than she, ate protein and very few carbs. She claimed that’s why I didn’t have consistent energy during the day, but alas, she was wrong. As I found out when I returned home, my lack of energy was due to Epstein-Barr virus, not lack of carbs!

  103. When I started the primal lifestyle in January this year, I ate breakfast consistently. Then, after a month or so, I would end up at work, and realize that I hadn’t had anything to eat. Since this happened so naturally, I now rarely eat breakfast unless I know that lunch will be compromised (I too, work at a physical job and somedays I end up skipping morning, and mid-day meals) On days like that, I usually bring a snack that I can eat at any spare moment, and then I eat a hearty dinner. This has worked well, and there is very little effort or stress associated with my daily food intake!

    On the note of stress, I find that on days that I travel or am highly stressed, I endure a loss of appetite, in which case, I can easily go 24 hours without food. This used to worry me, but now, I just let it happen and pack some beef jerky in the case I can relax for a moment.

  104. I feel a lot better about my eating habits now. Since I’m in college full time year round, I never eat breakfast, and once I get into fall and winter semesters, rarely eat lunch either. Everyone was saying my metabolism would drop, but now that I know that’s just conventional wisdom and I shouldn’t make myself eat just because, here’s to intermittent fasting!

  105. I love to eat snacks too, but I eat big meals as well. Mostly I eat nuts or fruits as snacks. Quality of snacks and meals do matter.
    I agree with your post that you just have to follow your hunger signal and not just eat several snacks or skip breakfast just because someone mentioned it in a blog or a scientific study showed some correlation. Every person is different, and the biggest clue is provided by your own body.

  106. I don’t know, but I’m still hungry. I eat 3 meals and 1 snack and I’m usually hungry, even though I have been eating very few carbs. I hate skipping breakfast, too. I’m not interested in cutting my calories that drastically. I am a nursing mother, but I thought the hunger would have subsided more based on what others have said.

    1. You might need more carbs (veggies and some fruits) or more Protein? Each 1 oz of meat (1.5 oz of fish) ~= 1 serving of Protein (7 grams). Each serving of Carbs ~= 9 grams (after fiber subtracted).
      Though being Primal is not tied to numbers, try adding more carbs, maybe? Or more Protein, depends on your needs. 1 cup of green beans ~= 1 serving carbs. 1 apple ~= to 2 servings of carbs, 10 cups lettuce ~= 1 serving of carbs – for example. Less dense need more to fill up.

      1. P.S. Fats (nuts, coconut oil, etc.) are most dense at 1.5 grams per serving; but, fats add to satiety.

  107. I’ve been primal and loving it for about a year, have been able to achieve a leanness I’ve always strived for. Recently I coupled the Primal eating plan with the Warrior Diet and have felt absolutely amazing. One huge meal a day and I feel fantastic, literally liberated as I don’t have to worry about the old way of thinking about eating frequently to ‘keep the metabolism going.’ I’ve also gotten even more lean coupling the two programs. Curious if any others have experienced the same.

    1. I have been wondering about doing the
      Warrior diet for a long time…at 58 I feel like one, evening meal would be
      perfect to get to my perfect weight… and you would save alot of money and
      also nighttime is the hardest for me…I think you have convinced me to try this…

      1. All I can say is that if you are even considering it, go for it, it’s at least worth trying. I’ve found I am so much more mentally focused and energetic throughout the day, and only eating a few raw fruits/vegetables and maybe some nuts. It’s given me an even greater appreciation for food and I truly look forward to eating all I want come that evening meal. Working out beforehand in that fasted state is especially enjoyable and surprisingly exhilirating. The book is a great read as well. When couple with the Primal Blueprint principles I think it’s really a powerful protocol. Good luck!!

  108. I haven’t eaten breakfast all my adult life though I’ve tried because everyone says it’s the most, blah, blah, blah. I start eating about 5 or 6, usually a huge amount of food, like a wolf I guess. When I force myself to eat breakfast and lunch I still eat too much for supper and I don’t feel a bit better for my efforts. So I’ve given in to my natural inclinations to eat when I want to.

  109. Our ancestors didn’t always have much food available. Other times the hunters brought home a big kill and they feasted. What would make grazing bad? Or fasting unhealthy? Or a few large meals excessive? I don’t see how any one method is truly superior to another. Therefore. I just eat when hungry and don’t worry about it.

    1. I’ve thought about this alot…and your
      right…different locations also had different foods available…I believe man is very adaptable…and I often think the key is an active lifestyle, which was forced upon primitive man…
      reguardless of what and when you eat.
      I see this in my dogs…no matter what they eat, giving them adequate exercise,
      daily, makes them very robust…and it is like the MDA exercise pyramid…alot of easy exercise with ocassional all out efforts…maybe a key for the modern
      primal is eating just enough for your
      activity level…

    2. Jen, reading all these various diets that everyone has shared makes, you come
      to your conclusion…

  110. One large meal/day and 4 or so snacks seems to be what I’m happiest on.

  111. Thank you Mark. You’ve well allowed me to be me. I tried following IF and found myself really having a hard time going without breakfast. I tend to do better with light dinners, then again if I completely fast at night and I’m hungry I don’t sleep well. I love the listen to your body approach!

  112. I would have to vote Whey protein as the ultimate “snacking food”. I say this because its uses are so versatile and many consider it a food source and not a supplement. You can drink it with water, milk, add it to a healthy smoothie, put a scoop in low-fat yoghurt… its uses are endless!

  113. personally i start my day with about 400 calories worth of heavy cream and my first solid food is usually eggs or meat–i don’t know why but my picky (IBS) gut objects mightily if the first solid food is carbs, no matter what time of the day it is. I’m really curious as to why–somehow related to my SIBO issues? Two mysteries of food timing/appetite that I have solved:
    1. During my ten weeks off for summer vacation, I often won’t get hungry (after the cream) until 1pm or later–even though I am doing plenty of strenuous stuff normally and I keep to my same early waking (5am) schedule. On workdays, I get hungry for solid food at about 8am or 10am. I was always thinking the demands for calories would be greater on my action-packed vacation time–until I read on MDA the article about the high energy demands of the brain. My job requires me to think at an intense level and i suspect that takes more calories than I ever realized….along with moving about on my feet all day at work.

    2. When I am stressed, I don’t get hungry in the slightest. I’ve had some epic outdoor experiences when I ended up hiking and climbing a LONG ways under stressful conditions and I didn’t even want to eat and I performed well physically. At work, too, I’ve gone without food all day while stressed. I always wondered how I could DO that, why I didn’t get hungry. Then I read in Taube’s book “Why We Get Fat” about the effects of cortisol (the stress hormone) on fat burning/storage. Apparently cortisol causes fat to be burned in the absence of insulin and causes fat to be stored in the presence of insulin…insulin being present only when carbs are present, of course. And this makes sense, from an evolutionary POV, stress hormones indicated a need to run or climb/move fast. If insulin was present, food energy would already be available for the body and the body wouldn’t want to waste energy breaking down fatty acids. But if there’s cortisol and no insulin, the body will work to make fat stores available for the body. Since I eat so low carb, there’s not much insulin so when I am stressed I burn through my fat stores. I actually do have energy for my body, which is why I don’t feel hungry and can perform. The typical stressed out person eating a carby diet while sitting in an office would likely see weight gains/fat storage.

  114. Hi mark. Im currently in the best shape of my life thanks to paleo and crossfit for the last six months. I also just eat when im hungry which usually means two meals a day. I was wondering tho what your thoughts r on eating right before you go to sleep? I often work out after work at 8pm and dont have dinner till 10pm then in bed by 11pm. Then i usually wake up, go to work and not eat till noon. Does this sound ok?

  115. Really interesting post, I’ve been trying to figure out when and how often I should be eating, and this has really helped.

    I actually find that when I don’t get enough sleep, or good quality sleep I can’t eat breakfast. I just get nauseous if I even think about it. I figure that without my proteins folding correctly and clogging up my cells nothing (including my digestive system) can function properly.

    But since I’ve been getting proper sleep after graduating school and quitting one of my jobs, I usually eat breakfast 30-45 minutes after waking up. But everybody’s different, like you said.

  116. Mark – am looking to take BCAA but I just noticed that it has “milk derivative” in the ingredients. I don’t dairy…AT ALL, so did I just waste my money on these products? I use the NOW brand which was recommended by people that I’m pretty confident know their stuff. Suggestions on BCAA products/brands that won’t mess up my immune system?? Thanks!

  117. I’ve been using Calorie Count to lose weight and it’s really working. One thing I’ve discovered is that eating vegetables with meals and whole fruit in between— say an apple, banana, kiwi, a couple of clementines— provides the energy boost I need between meals and helps me control my portions when I do have a regular meal. It also helps me to get my “5 a day.” I think the fiber in fruit helps with satiety. I used to go for grains when I needed an energy snack, but all that did was make me hungrier!

  118. So glad to find this article. I never feel like I’m starving but I was worried that I should be eating even when not hungry. Since I’ve gone Primal, I skip meals all the time. I eat when I’m hungry and don’t when I’m not. It’s such a strange feeling after tracking my meals, eating every 2-3 hours and feeling ruled by food. I used to feel guilty if I skipped breakfast. No more!

  119. I also have a husband who doesn’t eat breakfast because he isn’t hungry in the morning usually. I’m really finding out that my body can’t handle eating all day, bloating, constipation, weight gain, etc. I am focusing on three meals a day but if I’m not hungry in the morning I wait and when I am hungry I eat some form of protein bar, Luna, Kind, or Think Thin and it’s just enough to take me to lunch and I probably haven’t lost any weight yet but I can tell that my body isn’t puffy anymore. Snacking and 6 meals a day might work for some people but it doesn’t work for me. I also find that eating all day leads to feelings of unhappiness and no self control as well. EAT WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. If you are hungry 6 times a day then great.

  120. This is very interesting for me. I do try and eat breakfast between 8AM and 11AM. I do tend to skip lunch in the early afternoon since that is when I go to the gym so there is a 6 hour window when I don’t eat then eat again at around 4PM. I do tend to eat about 4-5 meals a day including one at 10pm which for the most part are just eggs. My issue is fruit which I do tend to eat at every meal. Is this a bad thing?

  121. I love a simple egg breakfast (boiled with a runny yolk) with an apple, banana and green tea thrown in 🙂

    I also have a light snack of berries (raspberries or blueberries) between my breakfast and lunch. Between lunch and dinner I may munch on a few walnuts or almonds, maybe even a couple of Brazil nuts if I’m feeling really adventurous.

    Personally, I can’t eat big meals, but I also don’t see the point in tiny meals which only serve as an appetiser for a massive snack crave! I like to follow the Okinawa approach and eat a meal which makes me feel about 80% full – I feel much better when digesting a meal of that size.

    I also don’t like eating anything within a few hours of sleep. I find I don’t sleep as well.

    It seems to be working well for me as I feel energised and refreshed all day!

    P.S. If I touch processed food or any sort of grain produce, I just feel incredibly bloated and lethargic after. So I can honestly say that after a diet of meat, veg, fruit and nuts I no longer have any desire to eat grains or processed rubbish.

  122. Wait a minute. Your words about breakfast are a little confusing. If you are advocating a more primitive diet, then I would suggest that we also look at the life style of our more primitive ancestors. I don’t believe we need to go back very far either.

    All the way up until an easy to use gas or electric stove was installed in every kitchen, preparing breakfast was a pretty big deal. First the stove or the fire place needed to be started up, gently puffing the coals back to life, and building up a fire that was capable of cooking something. Even if Mom was up at dawn to do this, it would be about nine or ten o’clock before she had a meal ready to serve her family. Meanwhile, Dad and the boys were out in the fields – working hard. Thy might have snacked on something, but they were busy – taking care of the cows, mending fences, plowing and the like. Then they came back for a large, sit-down meal around ten.

    The notion of a breakfast first thing on arising is purely post-industrial, when people had to be at the factory early in the morning, and there was no break for a meal until much later in the day.

    I don’t believe there is a parent on this list who hasn’t had a struggle with his children to get them to eat first thing in the morning. Almost invariably, the kids aren’t interested. Their stomachs aren’t awake yet. We’ve been trying to fit round pegs into square holes fora long time – it doesn’t really work.

    1. So agree with you! Our family of 4 rarely eat before 10 or 11 am. We homeschool so we are on our own schedule, not some one else’s. My hubby will even take his scrambled eggs with him in a thermos to eat later when he gets hungry.

  123. Great advice, i love your site Mark! It is truly the most resourceful regarding health and lifestyle in this day and age… I’m rocking the standing desk, and some bone broth beef soup 😉

  124. So I’m coming at this from a different perspective. Unlike many who struggle to control their appetite I find I have none, ever. Typically I reach a point of dizzy desperation before any hunger signals strike. I like the idea of eating intuitively but unfortunately that just doesn’t work. Any thoughts on how to structure eating to help reset my hunger signals? (Some stats to help, I’m 27yo female, 5’3″ 105# do short hiit exercise routine 6days a week plus frequent yoga, I do have ibs which complicates the hunger thing because I get cramp-y and bloated feeling, even on a strict primal diet.) would love your thoughts.

  125. An intriguing discussion is worth comment.

    I believe that you should write more about this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t speak about these subjects.

    To the next! Cheers!!