Why Breakfast Is NOT The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Post Workout Meal

Yes, I eat that after I exercise, and still lose weight!!!

Here at Lean Ape we like to make one thing abundantly clear, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to diet, weight loss/gain, exercise programs and meal timing. That being said it is also abundantly clear that people do NEED a plan if they are to be successful. The Lean Ape Diet and Exercise book is the perfect example of this. We give you choice, but still within the constraints of following a number of set rules for maximum progress.

And one of the most contentious points is the fact that myself and Alexis both advocate using what is known as Intermittent Fasting, advocated by Martin Berkham of LeanGains.Com, as a way of maximizing fat loss, ensuring you increase muscular size and shape, and getting you out of the mind-set that you simply want to lose weight.

We want to lose fat, not just weight, and actually, for many people, a lifestyle that is not about losing weight per-se, but about body re-composition, is by far the best approach. This is also an excellent way to control your overall calorie count if you pig out in a big way.

What Does This Have To Do With Breakfast?

It is hard not to call it a conspiracy. Maybe it is simply the way we have been brought up, what we see in magazines, on tv and what we believe is just “right”.

But the bottom line is that there is more than enough evidence from people who have decided never to eat breakfast again, or to limit the days per week they eat breakfast (and what they consume), to make me under no illusions whatsoever that the old staple “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, is simply not true at all for normal and healthy individuals. More like breakfast is the most important meal of the day to skip!

Those with no medical conditions that may preclude them from missing regularly spaced meals throughout the waking hours. Just one of the  many myths around food and fasting.

Many of us have been led to believe that:

a) we have to eat breakfast if we want to lose weight

b) we have to eat breakfast if we wish to gain weight

c) we have to eat breakfast if we wish to add muscle mass to our meagre frames

d) we will cause health issues if we skip breakfast

e) Cereal should be the mainstay of our breakfast repast

When I first came across what is known as intermittent fasting I thought I was in for a ride. And not a good one. I assumed that what I was about to read was going to be for some weird sales pitch I was yet to understand. What was the catch? How could a Guy that is basically ripped to the bone and covered in muscle do what most of us wrongly assume could not be achieved? And only be eating two or three meals a day, and starving himself or 16 out of every 24 hours?

It seemed counter-intuitive to what I assumed was the truth.

That everyone must eat breakfast, and a high carbohydrate breakfast preferably, if they want to lose weight effectively or live a healthier lifestyle.

And, the reality is, that this is totally wrong for healthy people. Sure, it is a lifestyle decision, but we should never simply assume that what we believe to be true is actually the case.

My Experience With Skipping Breakfast

Before I talk about how the wool has been pulled over our eyes in terms of breakfast I want to talk about my experience personally. What else can I do? Our motto here is that the only person that knows what works well for us in terms of food, and its effect, is us and a check-up at the Doctors. Unless we are talking about 10 cans of Cola a day and 38 donuts, I don’t think anyone can argue that is going to lead to weight gain!

Having lost a decent amount of weight, and beginning to get a little leaner, I began to totally plateau in terms of weight loss. And training began to do the same. I was not progressing in terms of adding weight to my lifts, so my muscles were not growing, and I was not losing any weight either.

So I decided to give intermittent fasting a try.

And it worked. When it comes to what to eat to get the perfect body, actually not eating for a period of time can help amazingly well. And you feel good too.

Intermittent Fasting Transformations

6 Weeks after skipping breakfast I was leaner and stronger then before too!

It’s kind of hard to explain the difference in the way you feel. I actually feel like the weight is burning off me, even though we are not talking about someone who has pounds and pounds to lose. We are talking about someone who wants to go from being lean to being very lean.

It did feel like my body changed and turned into a fat fighting machine. True or not, I began to lose weight again. And with the amended intermittent fasting for weight loss approach that we recommend in the Lean Ape Diet book the results were even better. This meant that on training days, which are also my personal cheat days, the results with my strength and muscle building began to improve too.

There is nothing like doing your own experiments on your own body to really decide what is effective and what is not.

The Negatives

I have read a fair bit about skipping breakfast and eating just two meals a day, or 3 meals within an 8 hour window, and the fact is that many advocates seem to be sure that you will not feel hungry.

I did.

To start.

It takes some getting used to, and it is not a way of eating that means you get to have a donut at 11.30 am. In fact not many diets recommend THAT!

What I found was that after a week or so I began to be on a much more even keel. I no longer felt as hungry as I did at the beginning and food simply is not on your mind as much. Very liberating for any reader that is a food obsessive!

Bodies take time to adapt to changes in routines. Especially if we are talking about a routine that has pretty much been going on for 39 years in my case. Not an easy habit to break you would think.

But actually it is a habit that is relatively easy to break.

And here is why:

  • As breakfast is not an option you stop obsessing over food
  • As you are not permitted to eat until lunch at 1PM at the earliest in most cases snacking is not an issue
  • It means you do not fixate on food as it is simply not in the picture
  • Energy levels remain high until lunch, as the rest of the diet is adapted to provide a much steadier level of energy through the lowering of carbohydrate intake. More in the Diet book on that subject
  • Breaking free of the cereal fixation
  • Both me and Alexis have seen much better energy levels since switching to a low carb way of life, and no sugar highs and lows means no cravings for snacks in the AM
  • No high carb breakfast means no come-down from the sugar rush an hour or so after eating. i.e you don’t crave more food in the morning even though you have eaten
  • No morning food means less calories consumed overall throughout the day. Unless you make a very concerted effort to eat enormous meals, which is totally counter-productive for anyone whose aim is to get lean and look good naked

Breaking The Cycle

We do not personally skip breakfast every single day.

I mentioned above that we are firm believers in listening to our own bodies, being honest about what we hear them telling us, and taking appropriate action. We are all adults at the end of the day and the bottom line is that how we look and feel is in most cases our responsibility and ours alone. Many proponents recommend this as a permanent way of life.

And they thrive on it.

Those with good lean muscle mass seem to totally thrive on a diet that involves no food for 18 hours a day. They maintain very low levels of body fat, continue to add muscle and thus weight, but lean weight, not fat.

But I don’t believe for one second that we are all the same, and the bottom line is that life is for living and I enjoy eating breakfast once every five days, the day I perform my weights workout. Yes, once every five days, and never more often than that. As you will discover when you read more about our recommended training programs, the usual 3 times a week exercise plan is not something we recommend for people, once they are past the early stages of training. Especially if the goal is to build muscle mass in an optimal way.

Getting out of the routine of breakfast is, quite frankly, hard to get your head around. It is something we have grown up with, had drilled into us from family and tv, and we simply believe that breakfast is the most important part of the day.

But why?

Because it is!

Is the usual answer. It sets you op for the day and it gets you going. And we accept it and tout it as fact. When if we actually take some time to see what happens if we switch to a low carb way of life, with no breakfast for most of the week, we may actually find we feel better, lose weight quicker, but more importantly we lose fat quicker. Losing muscle mass is to be avoided at all costs, or we end up being skinny fat, not the goal most of us wish to achieve.

If you try this, and it is part of a program we recommend for those wishing to lose weight, at least for a part of the cycle, and certainly once they reach a plateau, or simply cannot get away from high carb breakfasts for ever, then you will be surprised at how quickly it is to adjust.

  1. No more obsessing about food as soon as you wake (the option is gone)
  2. No sugar rush after a high carb cereal that makes you hungry within an hour or two (so no morning snacks are needed, or desired)
  3. Free to get about your morning routine without feeling sluggish because of the low after the sugar spike wears off
  4. A leaner body, a body lower in fat, and one that looks a lot better “Sin attire

What Would Be Natural In The Olden Days

And I don’t mean the 1900′s, I mean back when Man had to hunt and gather and really work for his food?

It’s doubtful he would be eating much for his brekkie is it? And it certainly would not be a high sugar, crash and burn, breakfast. If he was lucky it would some left over meat or a piece of fruit right?

Look, I am not Mr. Paleo, I like some of it, and some of it simply doesn’t suit my way of living, or what I feel makes me get about my daily business. But there is a compelling argument for the fact that what Man evolved to become is not an animal that would naturally consume breakfast on a regular basis. He would eat relatively sparingly, eating much more food on days that had a lot of physical activity, i.e hunting and catching food.

Much like we base our training programs around. Common sense, not some fanatical worship of all things Paleo, or any other approach to life for that matter.

We could argue about that until the cows come home, I am sure, but the logic stacks up for me personally. But logic aside, the results stack up, and that is what I am concerned with. We can probably make a case for pretty much any type of diet and way of eating, what counts is results, and results for us personally, not what works best for someone else. And the only way to know this is to actually get on and do it.

Why Skipping Breakfast Helps You To Lose Weight

There are a number of studies that have been performed that seem to conclude that the fasted state is a myth when it comes to short term fasting. Many people believe that missing meals puts your body into what is known as starvation mode, and that your metabolism slows down. Thus holding onto the meagre energy supplies it has, and refusing to burn body fat for energy.

Studies seem to show this not to be the case. But more importantly, your personal experience will show this to not be the case either.

And that is what counts as far as I am concerned. Studies be damned, we want to find what works for us.

But at the end of the day there are a few key points to think about and better yet, to implement and trial personally.

Missing breakfast stops you crashing from a sugar high to a sugar, low if you consume carbs for breakfast, such as cereals or other high sugar options.

You cut down on the amount of food you eat.

Your body seems to go into overdrive in terms of fat building.

You create a situation where you release the grip food has on you. (one of the most important points for me personally)

Increased realization that there is nothing stopping you from reaching your goals. You can stop eating if you want to.

You have more energy through the day, as you have switched to a diet that is giving you a balanced energy level rather than the ups and downs so many of us are now used to, and indoctrinated into believing are the norm.

You will also save money too. Free up time in the mornings to get a little bit more sleep, not feel so frazzled and rushed, and not be inclined to snack in the mornings. And if you are inclined then the fact is that it is not a part of your diet, so you simply stop thinking about it eventually. Remember, without will-power no change in eating habits is going to pan out long term. So make the correct adjustments in your mind and stick to them.

So, what do you think?

Should you skip breakfast? It’s up to you Dude. I just know it has helped with weight loss from our personal point of view. At the end of the day what you do is your responsibility, and will depend very much on your ability to control what you do and how you do it.

If you do eat breakfast then I would certainly recommend that you think seriously about the reasons why, and more importantly what you do actually eat for this meal.

If you take one thing away from this, and one thing only, then it would be my hope that it would mean you no longer eat a meal that is full of manufactured crap, that is full of fast acting carbohydrates that give a feeling of a high, only to give a low very quickly after.

Have 2 boiled eggs and some ham, or a nice omelette with a little bit of grated cheese instead. Heck, have a few slices of chicken with some salad. Who said breakfast has to be made up of brightly colored rings, or things loaded with sugar and all kinds of nonsense. It is one of the greatest cons in the entire food industry.

At least try switching to a protein only breakfast for a week and let me know how you feel, and the weight loss results after that, if part of a calorie controlled diet.

I dares you, innit ;)

About Dave

6 Responses to “Why Breakfast Is NOT The Most Important Meal Of The Day”

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  1. Carrie says:

    You just reminded me that many years ago I lost weight by simply skipping dinner most nights for a few weeks. I think skipping dinner may work better for me than breakfast since I am an early riser.

    In fact, I have shamefully gained a few pounds overeating nuts (my lowish card weakness) and have gotten strict with carb levels this week to get my weight back down. Maybe I should try skipping some dinners also and see if that speeds things up and then I can earn back my nuts :)

    • Dave says:

      Carrie, sounds like a good plan. It doesn’t have to be breakfast, any skipping of a meal is going to give good results. Breakfast skipping is probably optimal as far as fat burning goes, but switching it to missing an evening meal is still going to cut the total calories for a day by a lot.

      Gotta do what you can to get back to your nuts ;)

  2. rob says:

    why not just eat a healthy breakfast that includes fruit or natural foods that you can eat as many as you like and you wont gain weight anyways, in fact if you really want to loose weight this is what your diet should mostly be of.

    Your energy levels would at least be more higher in the morning which will probably make you feel like doing more plus will give your body more nutrients, doesn’t make sense to starve yourself to loose weight when you can give your body what it needs and still get the same results

    • Dave says:

      rob, I have plenty of energy in the mornings. And for a lot of people who do not have good Insulin sensitivty the worst thing they can do is to eat foods high in sugars, fruit included. As soon as you hit those carbs in the AM then the chance to lose fat is greatly reduced. I have lost weight much easier by skipping breakfast, I then burn fat for fuel.

      So the results are not the same as if you were to eat breakfast, not at all. But it is a personal thing, and for me this is a lifestyle change that I like. See the post about Insulin for why breakfast may hinder your weight loss goals due to Insulin levels. No breakfast means that a lot of people don’t get the high energy burst followed by the come-down, carbs for many people are a really bad idea, apart from after weight training, and eating them in the morning can really hinder their progress.

      But we all have to find out what works for us, right? No two people have the same bodies.

  3. denise says:

    I have been doing the 5 and 2 fast diet for about three weeks now. Is it still beneficial to skip breakfast and eat lunch at 11:00 am(that is when my lunch break is). I see you said to wait till about 1:00pm.

    • Dave says:

      denise, the later you can eat the more beneficial it will be. So yes, if you eat an early lunch I would wait until then to have your first meal. The later you leave it the more you burn going about your daily activities.

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