T Nation

On Breakfast


Because I don't communicate via PM on here anymore (Did anyone look at my hub page and realize I have other contact informaton?), I'm posting on this topic here because someone messaged me about his difficulty in eating breakfast secondary to plain old lack of appetite.

I used to think that we MUST have breakfast and that we MUST have six meals per day, but with all the studies that have come out showing that there is not much significant benefit from spreading calories out over six meals versus fewer meals, and there are are actually benefits of intermittent fasting, I no longer believe breafkast or 5 to six meals per day are MUSTS provided you emphasize peri-workout nutrition and consume the appropriate calories and macronutrients per day. (Granted it will be difficult to consume more 5,000 calories in 2 to 4 meals unless "non-clean" foods are eaten, but it can be done. Even Michael Phelps consumes 10,000 calories over 3 meals and several shakes.)

I think intermittent fasting has been discussed here before and I'm considering experimenting with the guidelines provided on leangains.com. Layne Norton, Lyle McDonald, and Alan Aragon have all been writing and speaking about IF and lower meal frequency.

After finishing the RFL diet a couple of weeks ago, I went to eating 3 to 4 meals per day (5 occasionally), something I haven't done in a very, VERY long time. However, only on a few occasions had I fasted for more than 14 hours or more including sleep time.

So to the guy who messaged me, you can:
1) Not have breakfast but make sure you're getting the right calories, macronutrients, and peri-workout nutrition.
2) Try to have foods that are easy to get down with lack of appetite.
3) Force yourself to have breakfast initially, and then let your body prime itself to become hungry after you awake.


I have also done some reading of IF and it made me curious. I know a family friend who was a former bodybuilder but still maintains a ripped and muscular physique and he is a large proponent of IF. He told me thats what I should do. Apparently he even did it when he bulked in his off seasons.

Keep this updated. Im slowly making my way to IF. I go about 12 hours without eating, then I have a few big meals. DO you think its better to fast in the a.m and have your meals in the eveing, vice versa or it doesn't matter?


Some people are grazers and others eat once a day and still make progress, provided macros and calories are in line with goals. We're all different. I get a migraine if I go more than 8 hours without eating. And yes, that includes sleeping, too. I wake up really hungry and I need to eat ASAP. IF would be difficult and painful for me. I need to eat every few hours.


Depends on when you work out.


Well I technically workout in the morning, but with the way I am, I much prefer to fast during the morning and early afternoon hours and eat in the evening. In fact, yesterday was my first day in trying IF, and I must say, I felt great! I went 16 hours (approximately) without food. Breakfast tends to stimulate my hunger and makes me want to eat more. Anyways, today is day two.

I know its not optimal, but how would a half scoop of whey protein powder before and after training hold up? Yes, its not much, but considering I would eat a lot during my feeding window, especially since its lasts till 11 at night, do you think thats enough to offset some catabolism?


personally, i think that's retarded...

you want as many high quality carbs/protein as you can get in during your workout. ANACONDA protocol ring a bell?

this past winter i went from 225 to 210 while only whey/simple carbs pre/during workout, a whey only shake post workout, chicken breast with green veggies an hour or so later, then a lean steak with green veggies for dinner. typically 2500 cals and around 280 grams protein. i maintained/gained strength and a bit of muscle - also my diet was quite shitty prior to that which helped a bit but you get the point...

btw not trying to sound like a dick. just giving my opinion.


Actually, come to think of it, a scoop of protein powder before and after training shouldn't be break the fast anyways. Plus Im not working out everyday, and thus would only do this on my workout days. And on the days I workout I can just shorten my feeding window slightly.

Im really into this shit as I have found it to be enjoyable.


Brick, to further discuss not eating breakfast etc.

In my experience, most people that are overweight tend to skip breakfast. Is this simply looking at just one part of their diet and drawing a conclusion, or is there more merit in it?

Berardi has posted about studies showing more frequent feedings improve body comp as well has blood profiles. I've also read from the LMcD camp that other studies show the opposite.


look im saying the more cals/protein you put into your body para-workout will result in greater body composition as opposed to working out and having nearly ALL you calories outside of the para-workout-window.

overall it would be better to consume all your calories around your workout THEN fast until whenever...

two scoops of protein WOULD break the fast. hence the word "break-fast" typically regarding the first meal of the day.


Can you show me some science to support this that didn't come out of ad-copy?

You do realize that the average meal takes around 6-8 hours to be fully digested, and this time frame increases as the size of the meal increases, right?

What credentials can you produce to affirm that you have more successful experience or knowledge of intermittent fasting than someone like Berkhan?


There are conflicting studies. Which is why I say it depends on the individual and if it pans out in real life outside of studies too.

Right, people who skip breakfast are overweight. But we can't say the reason they're overweight is because they skip breakfast. Most people don't eat breakfast AND most people don't work out or eat the right foods in the right amounts.

It's the same argument against bodypart splits that TBT cultists use: most people who use bodypart splits don't have good bodies. But get this, bodypart splits are what most people in gyms use, so therefore it's going to have the highest failure rate and it's also because most people don't train and eat properly while using a BP split.

So we can't blame bodypart splits or lack of breakfast for people being in poor health.

The average person who misses breakfast is the same average person who doesn't know much about nutrition and doesn't have any interest in making appropriate lifestyle changes.


We also have to take into account what individuals want. What if six meals per day are optimal but this person can't do optimal things? There's a difference between practical and optimal and it took me up until two years ago to respect this.


come on, isnt this common sense?

EDIT: wait what part of my response are you questioning exactly?


brick sorry to hijack but would you mind commenting on what i said?


I THINK (and it's thinking from what I've read on IF and peri-workout nutr) it would, because as little as 15 grams of protein is needed for peri-workout nutrition to have some protein-synthetic effect. Try it, see how you feel, and check your strength and body composition. That's really the only route to (I think) see if that works because you don't want to eat at night. From what I gather from Berkhan's site, you just plan the feeding phase around the workout. Have pre-workout meal, have para-workout nutrition, eat a post-workout meal, and perhaps another meal before the 8 hour feeding phase ends. Then the fast starts from there, regardless of then you train and eat.


To comment on what you wrote: I do agree with you in that peri-workout nutrition is very important and like Berkhan recommends, the workout should be within the feeding phase.

But the thing is we're dealing with personal preferences here. Sometimes personal preferences should be ignored though. (I can't have BK everyday because I prefer it.) However, if Forbes refuses to do it the way Berkhan suggests, what are we left with? Again, what is optimal is oftentimes not practical. I do THINK he'll get better results if he does it the way Berkhan lays it out.


The "look im saying the more cals/protein you put into your body para-workout will result in greater body composition as opposed to working out and having nearly ALL you calories outside of the para-workout-window." part. I want to see some real evidence for that statement.

Digestion and absorption is NOT as simple as "eat it and BOOM it's there!".


I can't imagine waking up and not eating a large meal within 20 minutes, I think I'd pass out, or cry, or both. But that is just my personal preference.



Do you think 13 grams of protein before and after training is sufficient to prevent excessive protein degredation? I know its not going to optimize protein synthesis or anything, but is it enough to prevent excessive muscular breakdown? Of course I'd be consuming sufficient nutrients during my feeding window.


you seem to have some views yourself. So whats your take on my above question to Brick? I'd also value your opinion.


Indeed, hence why its not for everybody. Some people NEED to eat frequently, while others hate the thought of food in the morning. Again, I'm just giving this a shot myself, but based upon the last two days, I feel great. But only time will tell. I know for me breakfast stimulates my hunger more, which is not inherently bad, but I seem to have some digestive problems accompanied with it as well. Surprisingly I did not care for food during the fasting hours, but enjoyed it more during my feeding hours.