Is Breakfast Important For Fat Loss & Muscle Growth?

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What’s going on, guys?
Sean Nalewanyj on with a nutrition
question to go over today: the question being
on the importance of breakfast.
It’s been a pretty standard health and fitness
piece of advice for a really long time that
you should always start the day off with a
proper breakfast.
Because it’s going to kick start your metabolism,
it’s going to increase muscle growth and it’s
something that you need for proper health
and functioning throughout the day.
So let’s take a look at this topic from three
different angles: fat loss, muscle building
and overall health, and then you can decide
on what sort of morning nutrition approach
is right for you.
Before I dive into the video, guys.
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So the first issue is breakfast and fat loss.
We know that the most important factor by
far when it comes to losing body fat is that
you need to create a calorie deficit by burning
more calories than you consume on a consistent
So for breakfast to increase fat loss it would
need to somehow improve your nett energy balance
in the big picture.
And for years people have been saying that
eating breakfast increases your metabolism
that if you don’t eat breakfast your body’s
going to go into starvation mode, your metabolisms
going to slow down and you won’t burn as much
However, if we look at the actual research
behind this, and also just tons of anecdotal
evidence from people who use intermittent
fasting or similar types of approaches where
breakfast is skipped, it really doesn’t look
like breakfast has any special fat-burning
Eating breakfast technically does increase
your metabolism, but that happens anytime
you eat a meal, and there isn’t some greater
increase that you’re going to get specifically
by eating in the morning.
Most of the research on meal frequency pretty
much points to the idea that as long as your
total calories for the day are the same, it
really doesn’t matter how you space your meals
out in terms of losing fat.
Basal metabolic rate and the thermic effect
of food stay the same, and that’s whether
you eat two big meals, four medium sized meals
or six small meals, and it’s regardless of
how you spaced them.
So whether you eat a higher percentage of
your calories earlier on in the day or later
on in the day like a lot of people do with
intermittent fasting.
Now, some people will say that skipping breakfast
is a bad idea because it will increase your
hunger and cause you to eat more later on.
And, yeah, as a general rule if you don’t
eat breakfast then you’re probably naturally
going to eat more calories in that later portion
of the day.
But studies have shown that overall, and there
will always be individual differences of course,
but overall even though calories tend to increase
later on in people who skip breakfast they
still end up eating fewer calories for the
day as a whole.
And one study showed that if you take people
who regularly don’t eat breakfast and then
require them to start eating breakfast they
usually end up gaining weight.
And I’ll link that study and any other research
that I mentioned in this video in the description
box below.
But the bottom line on breakfast and fat loss
is that given equal calorie intake for the
day, it most likely makes no noticeable difference
whether you eat right after waking up or if
you push your first meal until later on.
Whether that’s just by a couple hours or by
a much longer period of up to six to eight
hours or more like people do with intermittent
And in a lot of people, skipping breakfast
actually has a positive effect on controlling
appetite and on reducing calorie intake for
the day as a whole once their body adapts
to it.
So if you are having issues with hunger while
cutting, that is something that you can optionally
experiment with.
Now, the second question is on the issue of
muscle growth.
And we’ve all heard the idea that you need
to eat every two to three hours throughout
the day or else you’re going to go catabolic
and lose all of your gains.
And a lot of us recommended and followed that
approach in the past, myself included, fortunately
we know now that it takes a lot longer than
three hours for muscle breakdown to actually
become a real issue.
As long as total protein synthesis for the
day as a whole exceeds protein breakdown,
which is known as your protein turnover rate,
then you’re going to gain muscle.
And that’s why, and I don’t think there’s
anything special about intermittent fasting
by the way, it’s one option to use out of
many but it’s just a good example to use on
this whole breakfast topic.
That’s why even people using intermittent
fasting can still gain muscle effectively
and increase their strength and so on even
though they’re not eating for the first eight
hours of the day.
So can you gain muscle effectively without
eating breakfast?
Yes, obviously that’s pretty clear that you
And as long as your nutrition for the day
as a whole is on point, you know, you’re getting
enough total calories and protein and you’re
breaking it up into two and preferably three
separate feedings, yes, you’ll still gain
muscle effectively as long as your training
is also on point.
However, I am going to give two caveats on
The first is that if your goal is to fully
maximize muscle growth to your full potential,
then I wouldn’t say that fasting for a large
portion of the day is going to be ideal.
The difference will probably be pretty small
overall but for optimal muscle building results,
I’d say to at least get some protein in within
a few hours of waking up rather than spending
the entire first half of the day in a totally
fasted state.
And the second is related to strength and
energy levels.
Because training in a completely fasted state
can negatively impact peak training performance.
In other words, if you’re performing a maximum
effort weight training session and you want
to put up the biggest numbers possible, going
at it on a completely empty stomach is probably
not going to be your best choice.
Getting in some protein and some carbs within
one to about two and a half hours pre-workout,
that would probably be ideal.
And if you are still going to go ahead and
train fasted regardless, then I would recommend
that you get in at least around twenty grams
of protein or so within a couple hours of
finishing your workout rather than training
on a completely empty stomach and then continuing
to fast for another five or six hours or more.
Now again, remember that those two caveats
are about fully maximizing your results.
I can’t say just how big the difference would
It’s going to vary from person to person.
You can still get great results even if you
ignore this but those factors should be considered
if you want to be fully on the safe side in
terms of maximizing your gains.
And then lastly, is the issue of breakfast
and overall health.
So, a few observational studies have shown
that people who eat breakfast are generally
healthier than non breakfast eaters.
And that creates the impression that eating
breakfast must be healthier.
But it’s important to keep in mind that these
types of studies only look at correlation
not a direct causation.
So most likely it’s not that people are healthier
because they eat breakfast, it’s more likely
that the type of person who would just naturally
be eating a healthier diet and exercising
regularly, is also the type of person who’s
going to be following traditional health and
fitness advice, which includes not skipping
breakfast; whereas people who do skip breakfast
are more likely going to be the types who
are leading a generally unhealthy lifestyle.
Again, on average.
So people aren’t healthy because they eat
breakfast, they’re healthy in spite of the
fact that they eat breakfast.
And actually some studies have even shown
that pushing your first meal until later on
can even have certain health benefits like
decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure,
and improving cardiovascular health.
And also that populations who do fast regularly
tend to live longer and are healthier overall.
I don’t know just how significant those health
effects are, it’s something that or it’s not
something I’ve done a ton of research into,
but the central point here is that there’s
no real reason to assume that breakfast is
healthy in any specific way or that skipping
breakfast is going to have a negative impact
on health markers.
And actually the actual statement that breakfast
is the most important meal of the day that
was actually created by Kellogg’s to promote
their breakfast cereals back in the early
So that statement itself is just based on
advertising and not on any real science to
begin with.
So, what’s the bottom line on all this?
The bottom line is that the decision to eat
breakfast or not eat breakfast is mostly just
a matter of personal preference.
And you can just make the decision for yourself
based on your individual appetite, your energy
levels, your daily schedule, your fitness
goals, and on what’s most convenient for you.
Just know what your total nutritional needs
are for the day as a whole to support your
goals, and then lay it out in the way that
you most prefer and in the way that will be
easiest to stick to because the vast majority
of your results are going to be determined
by your total calorie and total macronutrient
intake in the bigger picture.
Some people find that delaying their first
meal until the afternoon is helpful for controlling
appetite, which makes it easier to stick to
their diet, and others like myself prefer
to just wake up and eat regular breakfast
right after waking up.
Ultimately you just have to test it out and
see for yourself what works best.
Again, the only caveat to take into account
like I mentioned before, is for those who
are trying to fully maximize muscle growth
and fully maximize performance a hundred percent.
In that case, fasting for a prolonged period
of the day probably isn’t ideal and training
fasted in the morning without a post-workout
meal, that’s probably not going to be ideal
But again, even the difference there is probably
minor overall, so you can just weight it out
for yourself based on that.
So, I hope this was helpful, guys.
If you appreciate this science-based no BS
approach to fitness, and you want to get a
complete step-by-step roadmap for gaining
muscle and losing fat as effectively as possible;
the workouts, meal plans, supplement guides,
along with one-on-one coaching, then you can
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using the link in the description box.
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Thanks for watching, guys, and I’ll talk again


  1. Hi Sean! Excellent points, I'm tired of hearing that you need to eat "breakfast to kickstart your metabolism", lol

    One future topic suggestion I'd love for you to cover – the culture and claims surrounding the ketogenic diet, specifically how a minority of them, but very vocal, are claiming that CICO doesn't matter at ALL! In other words that you can simply be HFLC and thermodynamics hence are irrelevant because its actually hormones that make you gain or lose fat (insulin vs HGH). Would love to hear your take!

  2. This guy was pushing his online book stating different to what he says here and here he states 2 caveats, he's making it up as he goes along on no scientific basis – unsubscribed

  3. Sean, once again, you put me at ease. Half the time, i look for something quick at breakfast time, and i'm fine. Incredible video. Have a Merry Christmas!πŸŽ„πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ™Œ

  4. Isn't the most important meal of the day the one where you do or don't cross the caloric expenditure threshold? I mean that's kind of important in the grand scheme of things.

  5. Sean your humility regarding the "3 hour window" and admitting that you have followed the science and changed your thoughts as science has changed is why I stay tuned in. Keep making good content man.

  6. I love when IF wackjobs act as if an eating schedule magically melts away fat. All fasting does is reduce the likelihood of you overeating because you spend less hours in a fed state.

  7. What can be the reason I have more energy while fasted? My usual is I skip breakfast, have a preworkout shake and work out at 12ish. My first meal of the day is around 1pm. I experimented with eating lunch first, and then working out in the afternoon. I felt more sluggish and no noticeable increase in energy.

  8. If I eat late in the evening then I can not eat in the morning.I would then eat around 12-13h and then again around 6pm and if hungry around 11pm again. The whole point for me is to control the hunger so I dont exceed total calorie deficit.

  9. The longer the fast, the bigger it's health benefits. A good suggestion would be 14-16 hour fast every day (intermittent fasting) and eating your food in 8-10 hour window. This kind of eating is great for general health and weight loss, but it's not as good if you want to put on some size, cause it tend to supress your appetite too much. Anyway, i like to eat earlier in the day cause i found out i digest food better that way. But it's nothing wrong with eating later in the day if you prefer so.

  10. Consistent empirical evidence and recent meta-analyses have shown that taking breakfast raises cognitive and academic performance (preferably low-GI food intake); not taking breakfast would result in a converse and detrimental effect.

  11. Right on point! Its crazy to think about how marketing of cereals can really brainwash people into thinking that "breakfast is the most impotant meal of the day"

  12. The 16:8 IF approach with occasional fasted training seems to help my mental focus, diet discipline, and pump in the gym.

  13. I'm currently bulking. I've found that the only way I can get in enough calories and keep from feeling sluggish eating to much at one time is by eating smaller portions more often aka the every 3 hour meal type system. But for my purposes it is not to keep energy levels up or keep my muscles from breaking down. It's so that I can get enough food within 24 hours and not feel bloated or full. I've also found that at first I wasn't able to eat as much at one time without bloating/feeling too full but after a couple months I can now eat larger portions and still feel great.

  14. As clearly explained as it can be. People tend to repeat what they hear "skipping breakfast is unhealthy" when they fail to do their research. Keep it up Sean!

  15. I really respect u Sean, honestly u've given me so much high quality info in my lifting years.

    Though, today i gotta disagree on the two warnings u gave us at around 5:30. I'm gonna address them with 1 week of full days research (yes, i did spent that much time on it). And also I've been seeing a doctor and dietician on this to check on my health, and to see if it affects it.

    At the moment, I'm doing intermittent fasting to try things out (mostly becos the idea of breakfast puts me off, as I used to eat breakfast and puke cos I'm kinda forcing myself to eat it) (and yeah I force myself to eat it becos I was always one of those people thinkin…. BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL!
    So after experimenting intermittent fasting, I realised that I no longer pleateau (yes, I was facing multiple pleatueas in many workouts before fasting.) and i FEEL FREAKIN INCREDIBLE

    Addressing to 1st warning: fasting is usually the state where u r most optimal. Having some protein intake would break the fast, thus actually making u even more hungrier. ,

    Addressing to 2nd warning: Actually completed fasted state allows me to not feel bad during working out. I used to work out having a large pre-workout meal with around 50-100g of carbs. THis allowed me to feel like crap everytime i worked out and have less strength. Working out fasted is actually so motivating for me.
    Think of me as a lion, tiger or bear. I wake up, I hunt. During the hunting period, I have increased and peaked mental energy, Strength, endurance to catch that prey. (catching the prey is like me working out to set new PRs)

  16. God.. you are by far the most well researched fitness youtuber and you convey each concept in such an eloquent way. I don't understand why you're less popular than some of these meathead bro science youtubers.

  17. 7:29 Muslims in the 50 or so Muslim majority countries fast for one month of every year as instructed in the scripture (Al Qur'an).

  18. how are you going to have energy in the gym for hitting PR's without eating first? I assume that if you delay or skip breakfast that you workout late in the day

  19. I wish you, Jeff nippard and Layne Norton would colab. But I guess when three people use their logic and agree on most subjects it wouldn’t be as interesting for some people. Best 3 on YouTube!!!

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