T Nation

Breakfast Timing

When experts say to eat breakfast for the various benefits, that brings questions to mind:

What constitutes as “breakfast?” Obviously it is the first meal eating upon waking, but how long can one wait to eat that first meal and still be taking advantage of the benefits that come with eating breakfast?

Is there any science out there that says “eating breakfast within X hours of waking…”?

Also, how much? X% of total calories? X grams of protein/carbs?

Thanks everybody!

Which experts in particular?

Check out those specific experts’ specific recommendations. Don’t get a general recommendation for a specific piece of advice.

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It depends on your own hormonal cycle. But whether you eat or not, your body will find a way to spike energy after waking up through catecholamines, because it is its natural phase of energy expenditure. If you eat, then prefer protein, especially meat, eggs (tyrosin -> adrenaline and noradrenaline)

If you fast then it will elevate cortisol to elevate blood sugar levels and mobilize energy, which will increase noradrenaline to adrenaline conversion (hence the feeling of energy, focus, etc)

Dan John, Christian Thibaudeau, and several others that write articles for TNation. To my knowledge, none of them have written any “specific” recommendations that answer the questions I’ve asked, but instead they give “general” advice advocating for the importance of eating breakfast.

Very informative. Thank you very much.

CT is INCREDIBLY responsive in his forum: why not ask him directly?


To be honest, I didn’t know that was an option. I will do that, but I will still monitor this forum in case anyone has anything more to offer. Thanks for the advice.

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The only experts that should be advocating breakfast should be working for Kelloggs.

In terms of science, it is interesting that the hormone primarily involved with appetite, namely ghrelin, is at its lowest around 8am and peaks at 8pm. You may draw your own inferences.

Thanks JamesBrawn007, that is exactly why I’m inquiring. I have to be awake for approximately 3 hours, sometimes longer, to eat a decent sized breakfast. Otherwise, I’m literally choking down what I’d classify as a snack at best.

What inference would you draw from being hungry when you wake up then? Specifically in relation to the ghrelin rhythm.

Right? How weird for an animal which sleeps at night, to experience hunger and eat a meal before the prolonged fasting that is sleeping?

Don’t shoot the messenger, lads! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I tried to opt for a friendly tone, I was genuinely curious how to process that with my perceived morning hunger but I didn’t want to tip the scales if the conversation in any direction. If I were asked the same thing I’d suggest: try having an even bigger pre-bed meal and see what happens.

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I eat a large meal immediately before bed, and my first thought when I wake up is what do I get to eat RIGHT now.

You people who aren’t hungry in the morning confuse me.


Dan John is a big proponent of eating a good, solid breakfast. Reading recent posts, so is CT.

For me, I had gone years doing IF and not eating breakfast. It works great if lower bodyweight is your goal (it was literally so easy to stay light and lean, and after an adjustment I wasn’t even that hungry until noon). But, if muscle building and performance are at the top of your list, eat a breakfast.

I wake around 6:30, coffee at 7, walk at 8 for about 1.25 miles. I eat 3 eggs, 1-2 pieces of Ezekiel, cottage choose, and some meat with the eggs around 8:30. Coffee again around 9:30.
I train around 11. Have a protein smoothie right after (plain kefir, blueberries, whey, creatine), then a lunch of something like steak, rice, beans, and berries. Usually don’t snack, have a dinner with the family. Sometimes honey, chocolate, and/or wine later in the evening.

Personally, I don’t measure or weigh food or count calories. I’ve tried but it’s not for me and I don’t need it for my goals. I just try to avoid things in wrappers, anything with artificial flavors/colors/sweeteners, and the like. I also only buy plain, full fat foods (dairy, peanut butter, butter) and add fruits or honey if I need to. To me, life’s too short to eat fake food.

If you listen to any of his podcasts, Dan John himself uses IF and has recommended it extensively to various people who have sent questions in. I suspect his answer in general would be “it depends”. CT has also answered this question recently in the following thread:

Tl:DR: it depends.

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I think it’s an individual thing. I usually get up at 7, have coffee, have breakfast, do my workout, and go on with my usual morning routine. But my girlfriend wakes up at 5 a.m. but has breakfast almost at 12 noon. And we both feel great.