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Fitness Lies You Need to Stop Believing// Part 2 - Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog

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Fitness Lies You Need to Stop Believing// Part 2 - Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog


This month we continue with part two in our series of “Fitness Lies You Need To Stop Believing” (You can click here if you missed part one). This month we tackle a myth that has been promoted heavily by the fast-food industry, so right away you should be able to start smelling the faint smell of crap. Here we go:

Fitness Lie #2: Skipping breakfast (or skipping meals in general) makes you fat.

Before we get started, it’s important to note that this post is not intended to be medical advice. People with certain types of medical issues cannot and should not allow this information to replace the advice from their doctor.

If you pinned me down and forced me to confess, I would admit to you that many years ago, I used to be a gym bro… Chest and arms every day baby! As a matter of fact, most of us ‘functional’ fitness guys (especially those who have been around a while), were bros at some point in our past. As an impressionable young bro, I bought into many lies that the lifting culture of the time was feeding me. Part of this culture was the idea that you have to be eating 6 to 8 mini-meals per day if you want to be ripped, bro. Not only did I find this to be a tremendous chore, but those little bird meals never left me satisfied. I felt like I was always hungry while counting hours, minutes, and seconds until it was feeding time at the petting zoo again. And heaven forbid I miss one of those meals! I would find myself quite irritable. This was especially challenging when work got really busy or on vacations when away from normal routine.

Here’s the reality, folks: We were not designed to eat like this, nor is it a requirement to acquiring and/or maintaining a lean body. Our ancient ancestors didn’t carry little coolers filled with servings of unseasoned chicken and lightly steamed broccoli to consume every few hours. They would often go days, and sometimes even weeks, without food. Believe me, you won’t die if you skip breakfast! And before we go much further, it’s important to also take a look at what passes for breakfast. In Mark Sisson’s book, “The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation” he compares the following 2 “breakfasts”:


Photo courtesy of Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation” Click here to buy!

Breakfast #1 — A bowl of Cheerios with a sliced up banana and a cup of skim milk, served with a small glass of orange juice.

Breakfast #2 — A serving of skittles and a root beer float.

The average person may find the first option to be a totally acceptable breakfast. The second option? Not so much. However, as Mark points out, from a caloric and macronutrient prospective, these two meals are virtually identical. So, is breakfast the most important meal of the day? I think most would agree that if it was skittles and a root beer float, then probably no.

Before you go quoting medical studies, there are some important things to know. First, there is a difference between causation vs correlation. This is what I mean: Does skipping breakfast cause you to gain weight, or do people who skip breakfast also participate in other unhealthy habits that ultimately can lead to weight gain? Or, to use a similar non-food analogy, does jogging make you skinny, or do skinny people tend to like jogging? The power of being able to interpret such data can pay big dividends when trying to get to the bottom of some of these common urban legends. Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition did a splendid job helping people understand the common misconceptions of skipping breakfast in this article. If you don’t feel like reading it, here’s the big takeaway:

“While study after study may appear to support the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it turns out there has never been a properly randomized (causal) study that “proves” the positive effects of breakfast!”

About 6 years ago I broke away from eating small mini-meals and life has been much easier ever since. There is nothing more liberating than only having to worry about food once, maybe twice, per day.

You read that right: I’ve been eating 1-2 meals per day for last 6 years and I am I still alive.

Not only that, I am also in the best shape and strongest I’ve ever been in my entire life… my muscles didn’t instantly disintegrate. Weight loss happened quickly, weight maintenance has been effortless, and there’s just something wonderful about sitting down and eating a REAL meal until full satiety is reached… every single day!

Even if one were to not take this on as a regular habit, there is tremendous value in occasional fasts from the standpoint of just being able to understand true hunger. We’re not talking about ‘late lunch’ hunger, I mean REAL hunger. I was speaking with a client of mine about this, and after thinking about it for a while, he confessed to me that he honestly couldn’t remember the last time he was really, truly hungry. Eating meals had become so mechanical that he stopped listening to his body. He didn’t eat because he was hungry, he ate because it was noon. This level of mindfulness has helped him lose 10 pounds in his first month with us. Awesome!

I realize many bodybuilders use the small, frequent feedings to get ready for competition, which is fine. My issue is when this advice becomes the gospel to everyday working people who actually have things to do and can’t break away. One of the keys to a successful eating plan is adherence, and frankly, most people with busy lives will find this unadherable.

J. Stanton, author of “The Gnoll Credo” wrote a blog post a number of years ago called, “Eat like predator, not like prey.” He discusses how predators gorge and fast: They’re all about the big kill, the feast, then the nap. Prey, on the other hand, graze. They forage all day. They can’t pig out because if they’re moving slowly from a big meal, they may become someone else’s meal. So the real question becomes: Are humans predators or prey? I guess it depends on the human, but I digress…

Over the summer, my wife and I took a little vacation to Texas (although the location probably doesn’t matter). We did the usual tourist thing on the San Antonio Riverwalk, and I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I don’t crawl out of my cave often enough, but man… people are big! It was actually kind of depressing to see folks having trouble getting around. The other oddity was the prevalence of food. Every morning we walked by our hotel lobby where the breakfast buffet was going on and people were piling it up. Later in the day, as we were wandering around checking stuff out, there were places on every corner to get snacks, ice cream, snow cones (it was really hot out), and ice cold sodas. It seemed like everywhere we went, people were walking around with a smart phone in one hand, and something to eat or drink in the other; as though they might shrivel up and die if they actually went a few hours without food and/or caloric drink (or checking their phone). Part of the problem for me is that in my line of work, I sit and talk to these same types of people when they inquire about a weight loss program. I often hear the blame-game being played here. It reminds of a meme I saw the other day…

The currently fat: It’s genetics, society, spouse, etc.

The formerly fat: It was totally me. I took responsibility for my actions and made the necessary changes.

Now, I get that we tend to let the strings out a little when we are on vacation (I’m pretty guilty of this myself). The reality is that instead of taking a meal-by-meal or day-by-day approach with our diets, it’s better to look at week-to-week or maybe even month-to-month. At our facility, Marie does all of our nutrition coaching. When someone tells her about their amazingly healthy dinner last night, she congratulates them. But she is far more interested in knowing what the last month looked like. This big picture perspective is far more important than a smaller snap-shot. When taking this big picture perspective, you will see that there are some lean and healthy people who eat one meal per day, some who eat 3, and others who do 6. We have examples of all three at our facility.

So how do we interpret this phenomenon to determine which is right? Well to me, it shows two things: One, the human body is incredibly adaptable (our species survived/adapted to some pretty crazy stuff to get us to where we are now). And two, perhaps there is something other than meal timing/frequency that gets great results? The science seems to agree (click here for more on that).

In summary, we seem to keep coming back to food quality and quantity as being the key determiners of body composition. Quantity determines scale weight, quality determines what you look like in the mirror. And as far as skipping breakfast is concerned, if the two options are fasting or the typical American ‘dessert for breakfast’, I think I’ll take a pass.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman – Senior SMK Instructor

Jerry is the owner and founder of The Protocol Strength & Conditioning, a fitness facility and coaching program specializing in teaching people how to move better and become stronger. With over a decade of experience, Jerry has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, then distilling those answers into practical programs that produce great results. He provides workshops, clinics, and kettlebell certifications all over the world through the UK-based company, Strength Matters, and writes “The Healthy Addiction” blog which has thousands of readers world-wide. For more information, please visit theprotocolsc.com

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