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I have no “beef” with breakfast – in fact I eat it most days. I just have it for lunch! I discovered the concept of eating fewer meals with somewhat misguided intentions. like most people I was focused solely on the “burning fat” part. Through my experiments, I think I’ve developed a strong argument for eating fewer meals each day, but make no mistake about it, quantity still matters. Skipping breakfast isn’t a magical fat loss solution!
If your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is (say) 2815 calories and you eat say 3600 calories each evening, you will put on weight. Still, research has debunked over and over again the purported value of breakfast. It’s not “the most important meal of the day”. Any evidence to the contrary is typically anecdotal and since I am not selling you on a concept as much as a strategy, I think you should hear me out.
Breakfast – (NOT) The Most Important Meal of The Day
As the word “breakfast” implies, this meal marks the “breaking” of your “fast”. Your body is primed to take in nutrients that you depleted during sleep. Most people that suggest that breakfast is the most important meal of the day do so because the people that avoid breakfast tend to make poor choices in their first meals. If your first choice is a convenient doughnut at 10 a.m., it shouldn’t surprise you that your body may actually want some real food instead of the dessert you just ate to “satisfy your hunger”.
I talk a bit more about it below but your first meal should be a hearty meal full of protein and fat (meats and veggies). Your body doesn’t really WANT the doughnut – its wants nutrition. Your breakfast should be comprised of high quality sources of food, but the time at which you eat it is pretty irrelevant.
The Argument for Two Large Meals
As I mentioned earlier, when I first started eating two meals a day, the goal was simply to lose body fat. What I learned was pretty enlightening.
Two good-sized meals around 1,500 calories each) really fill you up and stretch your stomach so you are satiated most of the time. Unlike many of the people using this method to get smaller, I found it helpful as it relates to performing better and, ultimately, geting bigger as well. There is one caveat I should mention however; if I’m going to work out and I have time to eat and digest a small meal (give or take an hour), I EAT. I find that I perform better and recover better as a result. So if I work out in the early morning, I’ll probably go in fasted and rely on my food stores from the night before to fuel my activity. Once I am done training and as soon as I feel comfortable, I eat.
I have learned to not put an artificial time limit on when I eat breakfast (like noon as an example) because it’s frankly not that much of a benefit to wait. If I am hungry I eat – if I don’t feel like I can put down a bigger meal, well, I am not really all that hungry. So I wait. This is where all of that “anabolic window” claptrap deters people from doing what’s best. I’m not saying there is no advantage at all to it, but if I had to choose between eating a decent sized meal or optimizing for fat loss I choose the meal.
One note of caution is that if your first meal of the day is loaded with carbs, you might drag a bit. I tend to work out in the evening and so I rely on mostly fats and proteins with just enough carbs so I feel full.
It really depends upon what my first meal is, but sometimes around 3 p.m. I will have a kombucha tea and sunflower seeds or summer sausage. Nothing too big – just enough to tide me over. On workout days I tend to have a carb drink beforehand (like Tropical flavored Vitargo, available in our store) but I really consider that part of my evening meal.
Planning and Eating Less Occasionally
One of the primary reasons I like to eat fewer meals is that it’s an easy strategy for someone who doesn’t like to plan meals. Planning can be a pitfall for most people and distract them form more important nutritional considerations.
You should practically always eat for performance, but every now and again you’ll decide to tackle some aesthetic goals. This strategy is great for controlling food intake – by simply removing some of the snack foods or desserts that I normally, I typically see immediate results in my physique.
Let me end this by saying that this is a strategy article, it’s what I do most of the time but it isn’t what I do ALL of the time. You could even make an argument for one meal on occasion where your first meal is the 3pm snack (probably best to do a nutrient dense salad) and then have a bigger meal at night. This is particularly useful during the holiday’s and special occasions where you know you will be having a lot of food all at once.
The point of all of this is to show that altering your mindset can make a big difference. Delaying breakfast a little bit and varying the composition, as well as the size of your meals, can be a useful tool.
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