T Nation

Specific Breakfast Information?

I understand that many coaches, including yourself (CT), advocate eating breakfast for a plethora of beneficial reasons. My questions are:

  1. How long after getting out of bed can I wait before eating without missing my window?

  2. How much do I need to eat to reap the benefits of eating breakfast? Is it strictly a calorie amount? Protein? Macros?

Thank you for your time!

I don’t really remember ever saying that someone must eat breakfast. In fact, I used intermittent fasting quite a bit (never gained muscle on it, but got leaner and felt better).

Now, should you eat breakfast and how it should be depends on a lot of factors. Kinda hard for me to give you specific recommendations.

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In “Nutrition for Newbies” you say that the insulin spike from breakfast will help halt the catabolic state brought on by 8 or more hours of fasting. For heartburn reasons I don’t like to eat a couple hours prior to bed and because of appetite reasons I don’t (sometimes can’t) eat breakfast until being out of bed for 2-3 hours. So add all that up and I’m fasting for over 12 hours. Could/Should I add 4 hours or so onto the fast if I want to get leaner and feel better?

In “The Best Damn Diet for Natural Lifters” every meal plan you suggest has Breakfast listed, even on days when you don’t have time to eat before working out. As a natural lifter, if I want to follow your “Training Early Morning (No Time For Breakfast)” option, how long can I wait before starting my workout therefore delaying breakfast (basically question #1 from OP)?

In “The Carb Cycling Codex” you basically answer both of my questions from above but from a carb cycling approach, which I have tried and not had success with in the past. You specify that “Meal 1” should be ingested “upon waking up.” Does this only hold true during a carb cycle?

Lastly, In “5 Ways to Screw Up Intermittent Fasting” you detail skipping breakfast as a major mistake, calling it “the most common habit of overweight people.” I understand that you are making the point that sleeping is not the same as fasting. While I agree that sleeping may not be fasting, it is nevertheless “foodless” hours of the day. If you advocate eating breakfast AND not counting sleeping as fasting time, that leaves the middle of the day as fasting time. But if you eat breakfast and you need to presumably eat again later in the day, isn’t the whole point “don’t snack throughout the day?”

Sorry to bombard you with text, I am just confused. I understand that you never actually made it a commandment that one must eat breakfast, but you certainly make strong points for eating breakfast. I am just trying to understand where this leaves me if I cannot eat breakfast.

Thanks again!

  1. It annoys me that you quote me to “prove” that I said that you need to eat breakfast.

  2. I put breakfast in the general plans that I write but when I actually design plans they are based on the individual I’m working with.

  3. I do believe that to optimize body composition changes, especially if one wants to build muscle, having breakfast is best.

  4. Despite no.3, you can improve your physique without having breakfast.

  5. If you have heartburn when you have breakfast, there might be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

  6. While you are working on finding the problem with no.5, have you tried simply having a shake and a small portion of fruits as your breakfast?

  7. Because you put me in a bad mindset, I do not wish to discuss this any further. But I hope that I still provided you with some help.


My sincerest apologies good sir. I truly did not mean to annoy you.

  1. I honestly only quoted you to prove that I did the work reading what you have already written. I understand your time is valuable and would hate for you to think I’m wasting it.

  2. Breakfast doesn’t cause heartburn. Eating late dinner (too near bedtime) causes heartburn when I lay down. I don’t believe it is an issue as my physician has told me it is very common.

  3. I have tried that, however I have always been unsure whether that counts as a breakfast as it won’t meet the macros many coaches suggest. Even just a protein shake is sometimes too much first thing in the morning. I can routinely get a single banana down but does that count as a breakfast???

  4. You are always helpful and I take everything you say to heart. I will work on my message board etiquette before posting again.


Honestly, you don’t need to have a huge breakfast. If anything, a big breakfast could be counterproductive. I do not agree that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day” nor that one should eat breakfast like a king and supper like a pauper.

Eating a huge breakfast, especially if it is high in carbs could have three potential negative effects:

  1. It could lower cortisol and adrenaline too much (cortisol leads to the production of adrenaline, both are connected) which would make you crash, energy-wise.

  2. On the other end of the spectrum, if adrenaline and cortisol are too high in the morning (which can explain lack of appetite in some) your capacity to send the glucose and amino acids in the muscles will be reduced. This could make the blood sugar stays elevated for too long, which is not good for your health and it could lead to a reactive hypoglycemia… the body will over-release insulin to force the nutrients out of the bloodstream… if cortisol and adrenaline go down before insulin comes down, this can lead to a blood sugar crash which will also lead to low energy, problems concentrating, etc.

  3. If someone produces a lot of adrenaline in the morning, digestion could be negatively impacted. And a heavy meal would be hard to digest.

Really, what you want is to get some carbs in your blood stream and ideally some protein. To help regulate cortisol and prevents further increases (cortisol is released, in this specific situation, to mobilize stored energy).

Honestly, a little bit is better than none at all. And while I tend to prefer solid foods because they tend to contain more micronutrients and provide greater satisfaction, if the only nutrients you can take in are liquid, it’s better than nothing.

As for the heartburn, just because your doctor says that a lot of people get those and that it’s not a problem, doesn’t mean that there is not an underlying issue. It’s true that a lot of people can have the issue, but if we look at how the modern American eats, that’s not necessarily a good group to be associated with. Furthermore, just because a condition doesn’t bring further complications doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue. An optimized body should not have heartburn or reflux after eating.


I found these posts really insightful.

After reading these it touched on a few things I have noticed in myself: early riser, no appetite in the morning, occasionally I will get heartburn after an intense workout.

I test as a Type 1B and also enjoy coffee in the morning so I figured this was mostly the cause.

Just curious what may cause someone to release a lot of adrenaline in the morning if you wouldn’t move expanding upon that…is it because of cortisol release due to not having had food for several hours?


Every try the Finibars that Biotest sells? 280-300 calories, 40g of carbs, got proteins and fats in it, and it’s designed for easy digestion. I’m a big fan of them for easy pre-training breakfasts. I know several T Nation authors have spoken positively of them in that capacity.

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When is your last meal? How large is your last meal? Are you a smoker? This could explain the lack of hunger

Also, an idea of how many calories per day? Energy expenditure?

Yeah it would take more time than just after waking up


how Type 3 will deal with this ?
and how high Acetylcholine Type 3 is affected ?
is * Peripheral insulin resistance** linked most to this neurotype ?
thank you

Excellent suggestion. 300 calories still seems like a lot but calories and satiation don’t necessarily go hand in hand so I will definitely give that a try!

Pardon my ignorance, but how does one test their neurotype? I have seen the customized plans on CT’s website but unsure exactly which type I am…

On CT’s website there is a neurotype test you can get for a small and reasonable fee that will provide a numerical result for each Type based upon a questionnaire.

Thanks for the reply Alderban. Calories per day is something on the order of 2700, expenditure I suppose is about the same but outside of working out for an hour, walking dogs, and picking up after kids not much in the way of other activity. I work in front of a computer screen 90% of the time so there is about a 1/3 of my day doing not much. Last meal is dinner and usually around 800-900 calories. Generally my largest meal of the day also. I workout usually around noon for what it matters.

Type 3 tend to have slow COMT and are poor methylators. This means that they are not good at clearing adrenaline, it stays with them for a long time. This is why they are overthinker and tend to be more anxious and have less appetite overall.


Acetylcholine can decrease adrenaline production a bit, so it might be “less bad” than with a traditional type 3. But I don’t see much differences besides that.

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Peripheral insulin resistance is more a matter of nutrition than neurotype and is seen mostly when someone basically stops eating carbs for a decent amount of time. However, too much cortisol/adrenaline can eventually lead to “general” insulin resistance by keeping blood sugar constantly elevated.

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thank you

exactly same with me .
besides i think high adrenaline push me to more frequently workouts than i need.