The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Importance of Breakfast (AKA F$%K Breakfast)

Before I begin, let me say that I love breakfast food. If you know me, you know that I love pancakes, I love eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, yogurt, and tomorrow after my workout I'm going to destroy a whole tray of cinnamon rolls by myself. Beast Master.

I got no problem with breakfast foods. However, people love to jump all over me for not eating breakfast and saying that breakfast ain't necessary. I've never been hungry in the morning, and I like to train without an ounce of food in my body. I have the most energy and I'm the most focused in this scenario. You may not be, but Ol' Yeargain is.

There is a lot of research being done over being in a fasted state for lengthy periods of time that is both extremely positive and extremely negative. Frankly, I've always thought it to be just an issue of personal preference, or a means to make your meals more satiating. I even wrote about it briefly in a previous post called "Weight Loss Tool: Intermittent Fasting."  I never claim to be an expert on anything. I repeat ANYTHING! At this point in my life, I'm a well read bro scientist who has a high level of interest into destroying the basic mantras that are drilled into our heads at birth. One of those mantras is breakfast and it's "significance."

I don't really take any kind of debate over social media too seriously. More than likely you're not going to convince anyone of anything, and if you let yourself get all worked up about someone's relatively uninformed observations. Don't think of the following as me showing off, or trying to set someone straight, but think of it as a challenge to yourself and your basic understanding of food and what we're told about our diets and how and when we should eat.

I'm rather glad someone challenged me to prove my thoughts that were reflective in my life and meal timing choices, it allowed me to dig deeper into the research and understand it more fully. It also has given me a taste for research and learning that I haven't had as much of this past year. This was a fun way to begin the day for ol' Yeargain.

Facebook crap:

I recently got into a discussion on Facebook. I said breakfast wasn't important for body composition, and somehow I got into the classic debate about how skipping breakfast is bad for you:

Here is my response:

"Besides the anecdotal evidence of me being the leanest and strongest I've ever been and rarely consuming food before noon (despite having to wake up before or around 8am) for the past year, there is research to show that it might be better to eat food less frequently. But I won't really address that for now.

People often say that eating breakfast is important because it starts up your metabolism. Because of the Thermic Effect of food, the energy required to break down food, our bodies do boost our metabolism. However, it is in direct relation to the amount of food we eat. At the end of the 24-hour period, or as long as you are consuming the same amount of calories, there would be no difference in the thermal effect of food. You cannot "trick" the body in to burning more or less calories by manipulating meal frequency.

This means you can eat your food whenever you like, in the morning when you wake up, after noon, at midnight, in 1, 2, or even 12 meals. If you're in a calorie surplus you will gain weight, if you're in a calorie deficit you will lose weight. Meal frequency and timing is a matter of personal preference and comfort, not of health."

To which she replied:

"Coming back atcha with this. Breakfast helps in building your memory. After a long gap post dinner, your stomach not only needs something to give you energy, but also your mind which is craving for some boost too. Breakfast sharpens your short term memory.

And while the body is craving for some energy to kick start your day, you have already put it rolling. As a result the body refuses to work. And morning is the time you need the most of your body essentials working their best.

And the effects skipping breakfast is the most vital of it all. When there is a lack of food, mind starts to conserve the limited energy it has stored from the last meal. This stops it from providing the kind of results you are expecting out of it.
It's not just the brain that is getting affected, but studies have shown that people who have had been skipping breakfast for a long time have higher cholesterol levels and higher insulin levels. This, in long term, can be really dangerous."

I had gotten to bed rather early the night before, around midnight (early for Ol' Yeargain) and I awoke to this message around 7 am. My body was obviously in a state of panic because I was completely fasted, I hadn't eaten since 6pm the night before, my cortisol levels were through the roof and my glucose levels depleted beyond belief. My body demanded me to take what was barely left of my energetic reservoir and crawl to the kitchen where I would grasp towards the half eaten box of cheerios, my body seizing up due to hypoglycemia! I reached and reached, but it was all in vain as I collapsed on the floor and died. RIP, Ol' Yeargain.

JK, fuck cheerios. I wouldn't eat that cardboard tasting shit if my life depended on it (which it doesn't.) Nah, I woke up, went to the bathroom and wrote a novel on my Ma's Facebook post. Sorry Ma!

Here is my response:

"I'll go ahead and put some anecdotal evidence out there in the case of body refusing to work without breakfast. I have been training fasted for the past year and my body has done the task just fine. This includes deadlifting more than twice my weight (415lbs) Squatting and benching more than my weight (255lbs each) and, when I used to do it more frequently, an hour of cardio that was anything between walking to High Intensity Interval training. People who require breakfast to function are what people in my industry call "Sugar burners" meaning you've trained your body to function off of the carbs, fats, proteins you put into your mouth before you do activity, rather than utilizing the stored fat in your body as an energy source. However, burning stored fat only occurs if you've eaten in a calorie deficit. You can still be riding on the excess calories from the day before.

However, I will take back my anecdotal bias and give you this: There was a study on sports performance during Ramadan that showed a small, but still significant impact on performance, but this was mostly due to dehydration due to Ramadan's fluid restrictions.

In this study: Eight young men fasted for 3 and a half days and they saw very little degradation in their performance. "The 3.5 day fast did not influence isometric strength, anaerobic capacity or aerobic endurance. Isokinetic strength was significantly reduced (approximately 10%) at both velocities. VO2, VE and perceived exertion were not affected by fasting. Fasting significantly increased heart rate during exercise but not at rest. It was concluded that there are minimal impairments in physical performance parameters measured here as a result of a 3.5 day fast."

Of course there are individuals who should not regularly skip meals, them being diabetics (Poppa Yeargain), but healthy individuals need not worry about such issues because we have evolved our regulatory system for preventing blood glucose from dropping too low.

For the final point, I will have to say that correlation does not equal causation. This meaning that most studies that point to non breakfast consumers are not taking account of the numerous fit people who are consciously not consuming breakfast, but are instead looking into the general (out of shape) populous that skips breakfast. These "non health" conscious individuals have erratic eating patterns, don't watch what or how much they eat and will become overweight do to these other habits, not because their body has shut down because they didn't get their wheaties in. Obesity is the cause of high cholesterol and insulin, high insulin and cholesterol don't make people obese.

Breakfast improves short term memory:

I had never heard this, so I just googled the damn thing and came up with This study.

'This article compares the findings of three studies that explored the role of increased blood glucose in improving memory function for subjects who ate breakfast. An initial improvement in memory function for these subjects was found to correlate with blood glucose concentrations. In subsequent studies, morning fasting was found to adversely affect the ability to recall a word list and a story read aloud, as well as recall items while counting backwards. Failure to eat breakfast did not affect performance on an intelligence test. It was concluded that breakfast consumption preferentially influences tasks requiring aspects of memory. In the case of both word list recall and memory while counting backwards, the decline in performance associated with not eating breakfast was reversed by the consumption of a glucose-supplemented drink. Although a morning fast also affected the ability to recall a story read aloud, the glucose drink did not reverse this decline. It appears that breakfast consumption influences cognition via several mechanisms, including an increase in blood glucose."
Am J Clin Nutr

"Unlike those of other organs, the brain’s energy requirements are met almost exclusively through aerobic glucose degradation. Although weighing only 2% of total body weight, the brain uses<20% of the body’s energy at rest. The brain’s energy stores are extremely small and without glucose replacement the brain would be depleted of glucose in < 10 min.

"For example, breakfast did not influence performance in an intelligence test but confirmed previous findings in memory tasks. Although this topic has not been systematically explored, breakfast may influence particular aspects of memory."

My issues with this study:

It kind of sounds like a study paid for by a breakfast shake company to prove how their product will make you smarter. But, that's just me being silly, I didn't look into who paid for this study or why they did it, I didn't really care, I just wanted to see their argument.

1.) Fasting Length
They arrived 9am, but then they sat for 2 hours and took the second test. All of the subjects finished eating by 7pm the night before (some may have finished before), so they were taking these tests having fasted for 16 hours, the usual time most people break their fast if they follow the skip breakfast, finish eating at 8pm. For most individuals this is an extreme gap of time for food. But for those of us who are used to fasting for 15 to 19 hours daily, i'm curious to see how the tests would go.

Also, the testing showed that eating breakfast didn't affect intelligence or the spatial memory task. I will concede that there is evidence to support food improving short term memory if you are going to be ingesting information within within the morning hours, but as far as developing overall memory, I din't think this could be correlated. If you're absorbing most of your information in a fed state, then you should be fine (again, according to this study). Does this pose issues for people who have early morning schedules that require a great deal of short term memory, yes, yes it does. However, you can still have the benefits of fasting by eating dinner earlier in the day and having some breakfast right when you get to work. This doesn't show the necessity of breakfast foods or breakfast, it just shows the importance of nutrition on short term memory. Good Read, though."

I say GOD DAMN it feels good to be a gangster.

I'm really just joking, this wasn't really a big test of my beliefs, but it definitely made me understand my lifestyle better, and I'm getting better reading scientific articles and finding more credible sources. This is fun for Ol' Yeargain!

Luckily, a great deal of my research has been done for me, thanks to Mr. Leangains himself, Martin Berkhan. Almost all of this information has been taken from his two articles "Why Does Breakfast Make Me Hungry" and "Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked." I've been hearing a great deal of debate against fasting and and increased me frequency, and I plan to look into all of it, but I'm kind of a slow reader (but fast writer, strangely enough) and all of this science is new and confusing to me, so I try to take it all in as best as I can.

In other news, I destroyed this tray of cinnamon rolls for my post full body workout nutrition, which I did not consume until noon today, and only after benching my body weight plus 12lbs over my face, as well as some squats, dead lifts and dumbbell rows.

Fuckin amazing. I consider this both a physical and a mental victory meal, considering I've done pretty well for myself in both areas today.

More Stuff:

The point I'm tryin to get to you guys is this, you don't have to be a vegetable munchin overweight sad sack that cries every time you eat a chocolate chip cookie. You can track your macros, lose weight and eat awesome shit. I ate steak tacos and froyo last night and I accidentally lost 2 lbs this morning. (I thought there was more steak in there than they suggested) Call it boosted metabolism from strength training (I do) call it a fluke (which it may be) but a carb is a carb, a fat is a fat, and a protein is gad dang protein. You don't need to eat every 2 hours to "stoke your metabolism" and you sure as hell don't need to eat breakfast, especially if you're not hungry. Your body doesn't care as long as it's not sick, it's getting it's vitamins, and you're getting plenty of water and rest, you'll get the results you want. I PROMISE!

And, as always:

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