How much truth is there to this? The importance of breakfast...

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NorthCascades
NorthCascades Posts: 10,968 Member
The company I work for runs a fitness challenge every summer. This year it's focused mostly on hydration and nutrition. The company has hired a nutritionist to come in and give lectures, we're paid to attend them; it's optional, and a nice break from the grindstone.

In yesterday's session, our nutritionist told us that skipping or delaying breakfast means running on glycogen until it runs out and then "burning" muscle mass for energy.

This sounds alarmist to me, so I'd like a few second opinions. What do you think?

In my case: I usually have breakfast but it can be two or three hours after I get out of bed. I'm not a morning person by nature. Showering, dressing, and driving to work aren't very taxing. As a cyclist, I'm pretty well adapted to using fat as an energy source. Any additional thoughts?

Thanks, all. :smile:

Replies

  • girlwithcurls2
    girlwithcurls2 Posts: 2,276 Member
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    Once I started delaying breakfast by about an hour and a half, I realized that I eat less. I don't have a flexible lunch time, so breakfast didn't need to be big. Taking out a meal that I was eating when I wasn't hungry was big for me. I haven't seen an effect yet. I don't plan to change. I already snack when I'm not hungry. Why would I get out of bed and eat just "because?"

    Now, for my 13-year-old daughter, breakfast is a must. I took her to a reg dietician when she wanted to be a vegetarian and it was decided that for a young, growing girl, not eating until lunch (close to 1pm) was not an option.
  • AJ_G
    AJ_G Posts: 4,158 Member
    edited July 2016
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    In yesterday's session, our nutritionist told us that skipping or delaying breakfast means running on glycogen until it runs out and then "burning" muscle mass for energy.

    This is wrong. First of all, it takes a lot more than skipping one meal to deplete your liver and your muscles of glycogen. Secondly, glycogen is the preferred source of energy for high intensity activity. At rest and during low intensity activity, your body gets the majority of it's energy from adipose tissue (body fat). Aside from that, your body is constantly breaking down muscle and building it at the same time. It's the relative rate of the two processes that determines whether you are in an anabolic state (net muscle gain), or catabolic state (net muscle loss). Even instantaneous anabolism or catabolism is also pretty unimportant. The main factors that determine if you will gain or lose muscle are primarily

    1. Whether or not you're gaining or losing weight.
    2. How large or small your calorie deficit or calorie surplus is.
    3. Whether or not you're consuming adequate protein.
    4. Whether or not you're performing regular strength training.

    Meal timing, meal frequency, number of meals, meal size, etc have almost no effect on muscle mass, muscle gain, muscle loss, etc. Any effect it might have is negligible. I usually eat 2 meals a day, lunch and dinner. I might eat breakfast 3-4 times a month, that's it. I usually eat lunch between 11 and noon, and I'll eat dinner anywhere from 6 to 8.
  • ccrdragon
    ccrdragon Posts: 3,371 Member
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    In yesterday's session, our nutritionist told us that skipping or delaying breakfast means running on glycogen until it runs out and then "burning" muscle mass for energy.

    This sounds alarmist to me, so I'd like a few second opinions. What do you think?

    This is very much an alarmist point of view (and very 'old school' like "breakfast is the most important meal of the day").

    You would have to be running an ultra-marathon or something along the same lines to burn all of the glycogen stored in your muscles/liver as a result of skipping (or even delaying) a single meal. I personally rarely eat before noon on any given day, workout religiously at 5:00 every morning and have not had a problem with losing muscle mass or any other ill effects from doing so.

    Regardless of the good intentions of the 'experts' on nutrition and good eating habits, meal timing, frequency, size, etc is a matter of personal taste and has never been shown definitively to affect normal performance, weight loss, etc.

  • sullus
    sullus Posts: 2,839 Member
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    Anyone who thinks that muscle, rather than fat, is the body's first choice as an energy reserve has a fundamental misunderstanding of how the body works.
  • faidwen
    faidwen Posts: 131 Member
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    Remember, EVERY ONE IS DIFFERENT! There is really no guaranteed formula. Yes, there are suggestions, and yes there are truths, fictions, and fallacies , but there is absolutely __NO__ complete one hundred percent understanding of HOW it ALL works for everyone all the time.

    Some folks swear by breakfast, some folks don't. Give each a try, and see which works best for YOU!
  • sullus
    sullus Posts: 2,839 Member
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    faidwen wrote: »
    Remember, EVERY ONE IS DIFFERENT! There is really no guaranteed formula. Yes, there are suggestions, and yes there are truths, fictions, and fallacies , but there is absolutely __NO__ complete one hundred percent understanding of HOW it ALL works for everyone all the time.

    Some folks swear by breakfast, some folks don't. Give each a try, and see which works best for YOU!

    Everyone may be different, but nobody is so different that their body will consume its muscle tissue before its fat tissue.
  • Quasita
    Quasita Posts: 1,530 Member
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    I think that because every person is individual to their needs, it's hard to really say one way or the other, as to whether it's truly important to eat breakfast. That attitude given is possibly alarmist, but I think sometimes that the "alarmist" mindset is presented as a way to give people a legitimate sounding reason to adopt healthier habits.

    It may be fundamentally true that it will take more than a delayed meal to cause muscle loss, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's perfectly okay for everyone to skip meals. For me, if I start going long spans of time without a meal, I see an actual slow down of metabolic processes (and before anyone gripes at me about this, this has been confirmed through fasting/fed testing and measuring the metabolic hormones being produced by my thyroid and other organs). Sometimes these processes come to a stand still, and I effectively become hypothyroidic, even though regular meal intervals show that I have a perfectly functioning thyroid.

    So I think when a speaker has to give a recommendation for a large group as in giving a talk like this, they have to weigh in on what is going to be the most universally applicable and safe habit to encourage. Some people are able to not eat in the morning, and still eat reasonably throughout the rest of the day, but others are not able to. Office environments are notorious for snacking and such, and so encouraging people to have a solid and consistent breakfast habit when they are working in an office makes total sense to me.
  • markrgeary1
    markrgeary1 Posts: 853 Member
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    Before commercial breakfast cereal what did people eat? For centuries people were going around losing muscle cause nobody ate breakfast! Seriously a hundred fifty years ago there was no breakfast, it's a modern invention.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,968 Member
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    Thanks, everyone! :smile: I really appreciate hearing all the thoughts. I've read everything posted in this thread. I agree with the overall consensus here, and I'm glad to find out I'm not the only one who thinks this is crazy, or at least a bit alarmist.

    I get out of bed as late as I can get away with, don't have time to eat at home, and it takes me an hour or two before I want food in the mornings. It would be pretty inconvenient to change a routine that works for me just to eat earlier, especially since it sounds like it's really not necessary. But I started lifting heavy about a month and a half ago ... I'm trying to build muscle, so this worried me enough to want to ask.
    AJ_G wrote: »
    This is wrong. First of all, it takes a lot more than skipping one meal to deplete your liver and your muscles of glycogen. Secondly, glycogen is the preferred source of energy for high intensity activity. At rest and during low intensity activity, your body gets the majority of it's energy from adipose tissue (body fat). Aside from that, your body is constantly breaking down muscle and building it at the same time. It's the relative rate of the two processes that determines whether you are in an anabolic state (net muscle gain), or catabolic state (net muscle loss). Even instantaneous anabolism or catabolism is also pretty unimportant. The main factors that determine if you will gain or lose muscle are primarily ...

    Thanks for this! I always thought people have 2,000 to 2,500 kCal of glycogen available, and I know what it is to feel "runger" after a hard workout, like hill repeats on the bike, or a 5K run. The morning before breakfast is nothing like that.
  • AJ_G
    AJ_G Posts: 4,158 Member
    edited July 2016
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    Quasita wrote: »
    That attitude given is possibly alarmist, but I think sometimes that the "alarmist" mindset is presented as a way to give people a legitimate sounding reason to adopt healthier habits.

    Being alarmist is an irresponsible and unacceptable way to get people to adopt healthier habits. How about being fact based? Telling people the truth of how things actually works? Maybe being a responsible person...idk

    It may be fundamentally true that it will take more than a delayed meal to cause muscle loss, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's perfectly okay for everyone to skip meals.

    Read up on intermittent fasting. People regularly skip meals on IF and there are actually health advantages to it, and no known disadvantages, so actually it is perfectly ok to skip meals as long as you're getting your calories and macros in, in your remaining meals.

    For me, if I start going long spans of time without a meal, I see an actual slow down of metabolic processes (and before anyone gripes at me about this, this has been confirmed through fasting/fed testing and measuring the metabolic hormones being produced by my thyroid and other organs). Sometimes these processes come to a stand still, and I effectively become hypothyroidic, even though regular meal intervals show that I have a perfectly functioning thyroid.

    Honestly it's become quite clear that you have no idea what you're talking about to be perfectly blunt. Short term fasting actually increases metabolism.

  • snehad123
    snehad123 Posts: 119 Member
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    I think breakfast is really important to kickstart your metabolism . Also what is consumed in bf determines your energy levels and hunger throughout the day!
  • AJ_G
    AJ_G Posts: 4,158 Member
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    snehad123 wrote: »
    I think breakfast is really important to kickstart your metabolism.

    This is categorically false. It's not the 1980s anymore, check up on nutrition science from the past 20 years.
  • stevencloser
    stevencloser Posts: 8,911 Member
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    snehad123 wrote: »
    I think breakfast is really important to kickstart your metabolism . Also what is consumed in bf determines your energy levels and hunger throughout the day!

    The only thing that can kickstart your metabolism is a defibrillator.
  • ccrdragon
    ccrdragon Posts: 3,371 Member
    edited July 2016
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    snehad123 wrote: »
    I think breakfast is really important to kickstart your metabolism . Also what is consumed in bf determines your energy levels and hunger throughout the day!

    Nope - your metabolism is running all of the time (unless you are dead) and does not need a 'kickstart'. Nor is it true that breakfast will determine your energy levels and hunger levels for the rest of the day... in fact for me, the consumption of breakfast early in the morning slows me down and makes me MORE prone to eating more thru out the day, as opposed to skipping breakfast on a regular basis and being well in control of my eating.

    You know, there has to be an entry someplace in the record books for the whole 'Breakfast is the most important meal of the day' campaign as the most successful in history, because that's all that whole mantra is - an advertising campaign by the USDA in an attempt to sell farmer's output (i.e. crops and livestock) in the form of breakfast foods. It is not based in science and has no real value in the real world! /endrant
  • PaulaWallaDingDong
    PaulaWallaDingDong Posts: 4,641 Member
    edited July 2016
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    snehad123 wrote: »
    I think breakfast is really important to kickstart your metabolism . Also what is consumed in bf determines your energy levels and hunger throughout the day!

    Kickstart it? It never stopped in the first place. Otherwise, I'm offended that nobody invited me to the funeral.
  • snowflake930
    snowflake930 Posts: 2,188 Member
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    I kind of think it depends on the individual to do what works best for themselves.
    I am of the opinion that the nutritionist is wrong.
    Personally, many days, I do not eat anything until lunch time, and I generally work out every morning, first thing. Not having eaten anything does not seem to bother me at all. I lost a lot of weight, and have kept if off for over 2 years, and frankly, my health has never been better. I'm happy, my family is happy, and my doctor is happy. It is all good. It has been over 4 years since I began, and I am pretty sure I am not cannibalizing my muscle mass.
  • Zipp237
    Zipp237 Posts: 255 Member
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    If I don't eat breakfast, I get much more hungry at night. I don't pretend to know why, but it's a thing for me. When I eat breakfast and don't eat at night, the weight loss goes smoother and easier. I sleep better and longer when I'm not full, too. So for me breakfast is very important. It's the most important meal if the day. ;) You have to do you, though.