What’s going on, guys?
Sean Nalewanyj on www.SeanNal.com 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
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.
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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
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
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
So if you are having issues with hunger while
cutting, that is something that you can optionally
Now, the second question is on the issue of
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
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
And the second is related to strength and
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
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.
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Thanks for watching, guys, and I’ll talk again