T Nation

7 Reasons Why You Should NOT Eat Breakfast

I’m not a nutritionist, but this just seems like crap thinking. Mehdi has had decent training articles in the past, but this is quacky.

article from StrongLifts:

[quote]I used to wake up, drink coffee and eat nothing until noon. I had nausea’s from having breakfast so I skipped it until I was about 14.

But this changed when I began going to school by bike. I always got sick cycling on an empty stomach: cold sweat broke out by the time I arrived at school and I threw up my coffee several times.

I thought skipping breakfast was the cause because everybody told me I should eat breakfast, it’s healthier. So I started to eat like an animal on waking up. And indeed: I no longer got sick when I went by bike to school.

15 years later, I’ve trained on an empty stomach many times without problems. I no longer get sick from training in a fasted state, although I train at higher intensities than I did at age 14. What happened?

I now believe my bad eating habits and being out of shape as a teenager were the causes. Because it turns out eating on waking up is not healthier. Here are 7 reasons why you should not have breakfast.

  1. Breakfast Doesn’t Increase Your Metabolism. Studies show that fasting or less frequent meals don’t decrease your metabolism. And eating every 3 hours, including breakfast, doesn’t increase your metabolism neither.

People promoting Intermittent Fasting like Brad Pilon from Eat Stop Eat & Martin Berkhan from Leangains have shown the opposite is true: your metabolic rate increases slightly when you fast.

  1. Breakfast Doesn’t Stop Muscle Breakdown. Starvation mode is a myth: you won’t lose muscle if you don’t eat every 3 hours ’ like when sleeping ’ and as long as you do regular exercise.

Your muscles also don’t need protein every 3 hours. Getting protein around your training seems to be more important than your total protein intake. Read Brad Pilon’s How Much Protein for solid research on topic.

  1. Breakfast Doesn’t Manage Blood Sugar Well. The common advice is to have breakfast to raise your blood sugar and control your insulin levels. Insulin is key for muscle growth but is also responsible for fat storage.

Fasting reduces your insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity dramatically more than eating small frequent meals do. People with diabetes have reported they managed their blood sugar better using Intermittent Fasting.

  1. Breakfast Increases Hunger. Many people ’ including me ’ feel hungrier during the day after eating breakfast. This could be a benefit or a drawback, depending on whether you want to gain weight or lose fat.
  • Great for Weight Gain. If you’re a skinny guy who struggles to eat a lot, eating breakfast will make it easier to reach your caloric needs.
  • Not So Great for Fat Loss. Especially since more frequent meals don’t increase your metabolism. You’ll have to control your food choice, like starchy carb intake, to avoid fat gains. Follow the 8 nutrition rules.
  1. Breakfast Is Not Healthier. People who don’t eat breakfast are usually the ones who don’t exercise and who grab a donut on their way to work, eat junk food at noon and a big dinner in front of the TV.

Breakfast doesn’t benefit your health directly, but helps building healthy eating habits. Studies claiming that breakfast is healthy are correlational.

  • Breakfast does not manage blood sugar well.
  • Breakfast does not increase your metabolism.
  • Breakfast does not prevent muscle breakdown.
  • Breakfast makes you hungrier the rest of the day.
  1. Breakfast Impairs Concentration. Studies show fasting for 48 hours doesn’t impact cognitive tests negatively. You don’t need breakfast for mental alertness.

A lot of people, especially students, skip breakfast because they know they’ll be more productive, concentrated and motivated during the rest of the day as a result. I’ve experienced the same thing.

  1. Breakfast Is Unnatural. Our ancestors probably didn’t eat large breakfasts: they’d have to hunt it first (unless we’re talking left-overs). Hunter-gather meal patterns with large dinners and little during the day seem more natural.

This could be why many people’s instinct is to skip breakfast. Some say cereal companies pushed the idea that breakfast is healthy for their own benefits.

No More Breakfast? Am I saying you should stop eating breakfast? Not if you struggle to eat whole foods 90% of the time. In this case you should learn to eat breakfast as it will help you build healthy eating habits.

But once you’ve been eating healthy 90% of the time for at least 1 year and depending on what your goal is, you could experiment with approaches like Intermittent Fasting. See how that works out for you.[/quote]

It just goes to show you that this whole industry is F_ed up. Anyone can write an article saying the opposite of what people do and they will try it as odds are what they are doing isn’t getting them where they want to be. I agree with some of his points on eating every 3 hours isn’t a necessity.

Just remember folks… 90% of everything written in this industry on training and diet is BS. You’ll be better off in the end.

I am always most skeptical of articles that are either way too sciencey or ones that state things in what your body “wants” or “evolution” etc. It’s just too easy to make stuff up with that. I’ll try it real quick.

You have been going about your diet all wrong! That’s right… you think you have all your bases covered but in reality you are missing out on the biggest missing link in protein metabolism. The secret is to create a “protein deficit” to produce a dramatic rebound effect and pack on size! You need to wave load your protein to produce this dramatic "super compensation effect on different training days.

It works like this… for two days, your goal is to get as little protein as possible. I would limit it to 20 grams a day. On the 3rd day… you need to consume 5 grams per lb of bodyweight. After being on your “protein fast” Your body WANTS to do anything it can to hold onto that coveted protein and it will convert it all to NEW MUSCLE MASS! Just keep cycling like this and you will see new dramatic increaases in strength, power, endurance, brain power and dick size!

This secret was obtained by looking at our cavemen ansestors. They survived on twigs and berries most days except where they could make a crucial kill here and there. Evolution has programed your body for these events and Testoterone, Growth Hormone, and IGF1 skyrocket to create the ultimate anabolic cocktail! Buy my book… TAKING IT DEEP WITH CAVEMEN by DJS

After 7 years of being a trainer and meeting thousands of overweight people. 95% of the time at least, there is the fact that either A. most skip breakfast B. those who do eat breakfast load up on carbs

THERMIC. EFFECT. OF. MOTHER. FUCKING. FOOD.

I’d love to see the “studies” this guy mentions.

None of these definitive statements reference any studies either. What a load of horse crap. Even if breakfast was bad i’m not giving up my eggs, no way jose.

[quote]kanew wrote:
None of these definitive statements reference any studies either. What a load of horse crap. Even if breakfast was bad i’m not giving up my eggs, no way jose.[/quote]

but it will raise urz kolesterolz

[quote]Xab wrote:
THERMIC. EFFECT. OF. MOTHER. FUCKING. FOOD.

I’d love to see the “studies” this guy mentions. [/quote]

He (Mehdi) usually has decent training articles, but this is off the deep end. Purely anecdotal bs.

The “Intermittent Fasting” really bothers. He’s advocating planned fasting for several days throughout the week. Can any experts comment on the effects this would have on your metabolism?

I’ve done an intermittent fasting type of diet for a month before (had to), and I don’t think I’ve lost any muscle, in fact I’ve gained some strength during that time period, most notable my military press, going from 70kg to I believe about 90kg (~198lb). I’ve always thought that the overall calories and macronutrients play a more important role than how you structure your meals out.

Martin Berkhan (the guy mentioned in the article) has deadlifted more than 600lb for reps and I don’t see him being in a fasted state affected his workouts. Brad Pilon is also another smart guy, his claims are referenced, though his target audience is mostly overweight people who is just looking to lose weight with a maintainable and enjoyable diet, not competing bodybuilders.

Of course, there is no need to change how you set up your diet just because of some article, just stick with what has worked for you. I’ve always enjoyed bigger meals more closely packed together so I really like the intermittent fasting approach especially for dieting. If you’re a skinny guy that can hardly eat enough to gain weight, then the typical bodybuilders diet is what you’ll probably need. Depends on your goals and preferences I guess.

Another thing to note from the article is that, he didn’t mention eating breakfast is a bad thing or that it impairs your gains and you should stop eating breakfast at all cost, just that skipping breakfast isn’t the worst thing that you could possibly do. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people should skip breakfast then not minding what they eat the rest of the day. He did say that you should have been eating properly 90% of the time for at least a year before trying intermittent fasting.

Taufiq, do you have any more sources on intermittent fasting? (Science or anecdotal based are fine)

Anecdotally, although I doubt it is a type of fasting at all, I have found good progress on a fat loss diet (which stagnating strength) with my meals clumped around a mid-day workout; If they were plotted onto a graph, my calorie distribution would look like an exponential christmas tree, so definitely not typical.

The tone of my post is kind of permissive in retrospect, the article quoted initially by the OP does, indeed, seem to be a load of steaming shit served on skunk.

[quote]silverhydra wrote:
Taufiq, do you have any more sources on intermittent fasting? (Science or anecdotal based are fine)

Anecdotally, although I doubt it is a type of fasting at all, I have found good progress on a fat loss diet (which stagnating strength) with my meals clumped around a mid-day workout; If they were plotted onto a graph, my calorie distribution would look like an exponential christmas tree, so definitely not typical.

The tone of my post is kind of permissive in retrospect, the article quoted initially by the OP does, indeed, seem to be a load of steaming shit served on skunk.[/quote]

For starters, you can check out both martin’s and brad’s sites, I don’t think I can link them here, but you can just google them. Most of the reference that Brad used are listed in his book which I don’t have right now. There are some studies that show that fasting doesn’t make you lose muscle (again sorry, I can’t remember the reference) but keep in mind that the subjects aren’t exactly what the people here would call bodybuilders.

Martin’s intermittent fasting diet is more orientated towards bodybuilders/strength athletes, and his fasting recommendation isn’t as long, about 14-17 hours which if you think about it, isn’t really that absurd at all. I sleep for 8-9 hours a day and have my last meal about 2 hours before I go to bed, then I have my breakfast about an hour or two after I wake up. So I’m actually “fasting” for about 12 hours without actually having the intention of fasting.

I’m not trying to say that this type of diet is better than the typical diet, but if this kind of lifestyle suits you (you like big meals, you can’t ever commit yourself to prepraring several meals per day and having to bring them wherever you go, you’re able to concentrate much better when fasting etc).

Of course, you probably can’t do this type of diet if you need to eat upwards of 7000 calories and 600g protein, it’s gonna be hard to cram that much food in the 8 hours window.

was he trying to sell something? i used to really like stronglifts, now all the articles are either re-runs or adverts.

[quote]Xab wrote:
THERMIC. EFFECT. OF. MOTHER. FUCKING. FOOD.

I’d love to see the “studies” this guy mentions. [/quote]

Um, if you eat the same amount of calories in 2 meals as someone else does in 5, the thermic effect will be the same. He’s not saying “Skip breakfast and delete those calories altogether.” He, and all the IF guys, says “Skip breakfast and make up for it later.”

“You gotta stoke the metabolic fire” is bro science at its finest. In fact, it doesn’t make sense at all if you look at hunter gatherers. Do you think nomadic people carried tupperware with them on their long trips? There is no scientific evidence behind it, but you swallow it because a bunch of bros on the internet say it. Then you lash out at anyone who challenges your precious dogma. Funny stuff.

[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
After 7 years of being a trainer and meeting thousands of overweight people. 95% of the time at least, there is the fact that either A. most skip breakfast B. those who do eat breakfast load up on carbs

[/quote]

I fully aggree JF…

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions… As such, I think the article written is bunk and could be paid for by some university or college that is looking to give some actual credit to their textbooks that are based on caveman sciences…

[quote]Taufiq wrote:
Another thing to note from the article is that, he didn’t mention eating breakfast is a bad thing or that it impairs your gains and you should stop eating breakfast at all cost, just that skipping breakfast isn’t the worst thing that you could possibly do. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people should skip breakfast then not minding what they eat the rest of the day. He did say that you should have been eating properly 90% of the time for at least a year before trying intermittent fasting. [/quote]

X2

I think the purpose of the article was to disprove a lot of misinformation out there or provide another angle on the dogma of popular diet culture.

Bro science might not always be true, but there’s also some pretty big “bros” that will tell you eat 10 times a day. Martin, Lyle, Jamie Hale…those guys are definitely ripped, but not enormous by any means. I really think there’s a new fitness culture emerging between the typical mass gainers (bodybuilders) and ultralean, fat-loss folks (crossfit) thanks to guys like Alan Aragon, Jamie Hale, Lyle McDonald, Martin Berkhan and the like.

My $0.02 is anyone trying to gain muscle mass should never intentionally go hungry and eat as much as they need to be full, BUT it won’t hurt if you miss a meal here and there if you make it up later in the day.

a) breakfast is important if you’re riding your bike to school.
b) breakfast is yummy.
c) it probably doesn’t matter that much.

I eat breakfast because I’m hungry when I wake up.

Someone doesn’t understand the biochemistry of fasting very well.

Or well…much of anything.

I’ll bet he’s small.

[quote]phatkins187 wrote:

Bro science might not always be true, but there’s also some pretty big “bros” that will tell you eat 10 times a day. Martin, Lyle, Jamie Hale…those guys are definitely ripped, but not enormous by any means. I really think there’s a new fitness culture emerging between the typical mass gainers (bodybuilders) and ultralean, fat-loss folks (crossfit) thanks to guys like Alan Aragon, Jamie Hale, Lyle McDonald, Martin Berkhan and the like.

My $0.02 is anyone trying to gain muscle mass should never intentionally go hungry and eat as much as they need to be full, BUT it won’t hurt if you miss a meal here and there if you make it up later in the day.[/quote]

Absolutely agreed here. I’d guess that the reason the “eat every 3 hours” thing started was that bodybuilders need to consume massive amounts of calories, and doing it all in 3 squares a day is just plain impossible. At some point, that became dogma for EVERYONE, even people trying to maintain or lose fat. So if a short woman needs to eat 1200 calories a day, she needs to eat 6 x 200 calories to “stoke the metabolic fire, bro.” This is nonsense, of course. But yes, if you want to get big, eating breakfast and frequent meals is imperative.

That’s not to say I’ll ever give up eating breakfast. Breakfast is the only thing that motivates me to get out of bed. But I CAN say that I’ve experienced much greater fat loss, with much less hunger, by having 3 meals a day instead of 6.