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High Protein Breakfasts

I mentioned in the epic-comment post about my carb binge that I’ve been trying to get more protein, and have felt a heightened sense of well being for it (and just for clarification, since it was apparently unclear — for which I will take blame: I was not in any sense doing a Lyle McDonald "refeed").

One thing you hear a lot from those on paleo is that they feel so good. For me, that had begun to wane, a bit. It’s not that I felt bad, just that I wasn’t typically feeling so damn good all the time. This has been for a few months and I’d just chalked it up to things wearing off and getting back to normal. Then Jimmy’s Julia Ross interview got me to thinking. It used to be that I would have my fasts and usually always eat a huge steak or some other form of lots of meat, and I’d graze a lot in the evening and don’t do that much, anymore. In the last few months, I had just been spontaneously eating less, very often not finishing a meal. So, maybe there’s a double edged sword. If we eat naturally, i.e., as an H-G, then perhaps there’s a downside for modern man — a consequence of food at your fingertips. For an H-G, they’re going to feed at every opportunity; for, without good systems for storage, they never know where or when the next meal is coming from.

I found that to the extent I wasn’t really that hungry, I’d fast in-between my fasts. That is, knowing I could source food whenever, it got to be increasingly: maybe later. The imperative to eat at every opportunity is missing in modern life (for a non carb-adict), so, perhaps it is that once you really get solid, you actually have to pay attention to eating even when not particularly hungry.

Hunger has always been the key, to me, but I now find myself wondering if, on the other side of this deal, we need to be mindful of being even a little hungry, which is to say: I don’t have to eat, but I could. I have also found, through experimentation, that even if slightly hungry, once I begin to eat, I can actually really pound it down. It’s like eating something turns a small hunger into a big appetite.

Here’s a couple of examples of high intake breakfasts of late; the second, not so much, but it was heavy in fat.

First up, a round of artisan cured meats & salami from the farmer’s market (from Germany & Spain), some leftover roasted chicken, fresh sauerkraut, and some sage cheese.

charcuterie breakfast
Charcuterie Breakfast

In addition, I had this grape tomato salad, tosses with EVOO, a dash of balsamic, and some dried basil & thyme.

tomato salad
Tomato Salad

Next up, this morning — and yea, I need to get some white plate up here at the cabin. It was poached eggs on cottage cheese, homemade Hollandaise sauce (paleo friendly, easy, recipe right here), some artisan salami, grape tomatoes, and a bit of fruit that’s not pictured.

poached eggs and hollandaise
Poached Eggs and Hollandaise

Admittedly, the Hollandaise doesn’t look great, but it did! What happened was that I did just what the recipe cautioned about and let it get to hot, so it curdled, a bit. Trust me: it was the most beautiful creamy before this. Oh, well, the taste was the same.

Not particularly high protein, but decent, and lots of fat. The Hollandaise has 3 egg yolks and an entire cube of butter. I had most of it, Bea some, and there was very little let over.

And here I sit, hours later, and hunger is the last thing on my mind. But I’m gonna eat a big steak tonight, anyway.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

27 Comments

  1. Lute Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 17:22

    I wasn’t really hungry, but now I am. haven’t eaten since about 3 yesterday afternoon, except for some nuts and fruit late last night.

  2. Bob in San Jose on July 27, 2009 at 18:06

    Came off my carb binge of the other night. Worked through lunch today (had to stay ahead of the carpenters) so I knocked off early and stopped by Carl’s Jr. for two low-carb burgers (for those that don’t know, these are their burgers wrapped in lettuce, sans bun. No french fries. I picked it up on the way home and enjoyed the burgers with some Perrier. Love the bubbly without any sugar. Feeling damn good right now.

  3. Jim on July 27, 2009 at 18:12

    Great post! I eat like this all the time. Big protein breakfasts, and overall a little more protein. I have gone from 225 to 191 over a year or so, between crossfit black box heavy lift focus exercise, and the paleo/primal diet. This has felt natural to me. I think that’s what you’re getting at. How you feel. I always just naturally enjoyed heavier lifts a little more than metabolic conditioning, and naturally, I really love protein, and I am CRAZY for some sizzling juicy animal fat.

    This is what I genuinely feel and enjoy, it’s what makes me feel most alive. I feel better than ever. I don’t presume that this food and exercise routine is right for others, but what I do believe is that you really need to listen to yourself and be you. Being your true self is the best thing that you can possibly be, and listening to your body and feeling hunger for certain things from deep within our primal scream is what I follow.

  4. Aaron Blaisdell on July 27, 2009 at 20:27

    I’ve had a similar experience. Last week on holiday in Palos Verdes I had a huge breakfast each morning, consisting of an omelet with spinach, cheese, tomatoes and bacon, 5-6 huge strips of bacon, some artisanal hams and salami, 3-4 kinds of cheese, and some berries. This was from a buffet so I went back for thirds. I wasn’t hungry until dinner for which I downed a huge steak one night and a large burger (no bun) the other. I was full of energy the whole time. The day after I got back home, I came down with a cold and just had very little appetite. I’ve been sluggish since then but my energy seems to pick up if I have a large meal with lots of meats, fish, and cheese. Seems consistent with what Richard and others are reporting.

  5. Don Matesz on July 27, 2009 at 21:05

    I rarely feel “hungry” eating very low to zero carbs, so I use this guide:

    If eating a steak sounds good I conclude I’m hungry — so I eat.

    If eating a steak doesn’t sound good, I conclude I’m not hungry, so don’t eat.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:22

      That’s a great idea, Don. I think I’ll try it.



  6. Arlo on July 27, 2009 at 21:41

    Interesting that you posted this today.

    I did my first 24hr fast from yesterday at 3ish pm till today at about 4ism PM, and did my weight lifting at around 2 PM today. Let me tell you, finding the energy to pull it off was a challenge, but I did it! (Not tired, but muscle energy empty).

    Had some blood sugar issues, like when I went paleo a few weeks ago, which indicates to me that I still need to repair my insulin response system a bit.

    To the point, while I was definitely hungry by the time it came to eat at around 4 pm, I simply couldn’t finish the plate of food seen here http://twitpic.com/bw207 … I ended up breaking it up into two meals during the evening. I couldn’t physically or mentally eat it all.

    Now according to fitday, all I’ve eaten today is about 1100 calories, but I simply HAVE NOT been hungry, and it’s worrying me a bit. The idea of packing in some more calories “just because I should”, just doesn’t seem right. I mean, I did get over 100g of protein, 60% fat…

    Really don’t know what to think. Should I be listening to my body, or forcing something that just doesn’t feel right? If I’m eating properly, wouldn’t my body let me know if I should be eating more?

    Too many questions. I guess I’ll find out more and the end of my week long 24hr fast/feast experiments.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:39

      How much weight do you have to lose, Arlo, if any?

      If you do, realize that once you make a fat burning machine out of your body (which, a higher fat, low carb, IF and workout regime will do), you are making up the difference with your own body fat, so it is entirely normal to not be hungry. It’s a sign that your body knows how to cure your hunger with your own fat.

      As you get into doing the workouts fasted, pay particular attention to your hunger. You should get to where you can make it go away or come back at will, within seconds, by simply upping the intensity or backing off. I find leg exercises to be the easiest to do this with, as they are big muscles requiring lots of energy and it’s pretty easy to get ahead of your body’s ability to keep up with fat metabolism.



    • Arlo @phareon on July 28, 2009 at 11:12

      Thanks Richard.

      How much weight do you have to lose, Arlo, if any?

      Dunno if that blockquote is going to work like it did in your old blog.

      Anyways, having only recently taken my health, muscle and fat into serious consideration (I’m 30), I’m way behind on the muscle (skinny arms) and much ahead on the fat (some chub, though already reduced belly).

      Rough calculations put my lean body mass @ roughly 154. At ~187 now I definitely have some visceral fat to lose and a lot of muscle to gain. I’m doing a 5×5 compound/bw regime to try to take care of that).

      It’s a sign that your body knows how to cure your hunger with your own fat.

      This is what I am hoping. It seems counter-intuitive to force myself to eat when I feel neither physically or mentally hungry, and still have lots of energy. During my #ifast, I felt neither, only my blood sugar was affected and I hope to see that improve like it did when I first went primal.

      Like I said, I have two more fast/lift/feed cycles this week and a free day on Saturday, so I’m going to see how it goes. I’ll try to remember to come back and post.

      Thanks for the reply!



  7. Diana Hsieh on July 28, 2009 at 00:35

    Great stuff, Richard! I’ve been mulling over some of these kinds of issues lately, so your post opened up some new lines of thought for me.

    You wrote: “I have also found, through experimentation, that even if slightly hungry, once I begin to eat, I can actually really pound it down. It’s like eating something turns a small hunger into a big appetite.”

    That’s been my experience, time and time again. I’ll be a bit hungry, and I could eat or not. Once I start eating, I can consume more food than I would ever have imagined possible. (Then, of course, I’m full but not painfully so, as I would be if I were chowing down on the carbs.)

    Moreover, even when I’m seriously hungry, as I was tonight, it’s just so easy to forget about that if I get engrossed in some other task. Back when my body ran on carbs, I had to eat because I couldn’t continue to function without ingesting more carbs. That’s not true any longer, and that might mean that I’m failing to eat sometimes when I ought to do so.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:41

      Diana:

      Make sure you see Don Matesz’s rule, above:

      “If eating a steak sounds good I conclude I’m hungry — so I eat.

      If eating a steak doesn’t sound good, I conclude I’m not hungry, so don’t eat.”

      Pretty good.

      Also, if you haven’t I highly recommend that Julia Ross interview. That’s what got me started on this line of thinking.



  8. David Brown on July 28, 2009 at 06:12
    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:32

      David:

      That first link doesn’t work. At any rate, I have not formally investigated it, but have read bits & pieces here & there, read anecdotes on some forums where guys did 5k kcak per day of high fat over a month and gained nothing.

      I also have my own experience. In particular, it seems that high levels of coconut fat really speeds up my metabolism.

      The principle part of the calories in/out dogma is that it’s overly simplistic, i.e., that the only thing you body will do with more energy than you need to function is store it as fat, rather than, say excreting it in some way, or using it in other processes, such as extra heartbeats, slightly higher body temperature, and the list goes on and on.



    • David Brown on July 28, 2009 at 23:22

      Richard,

      I mentioned overfeeding studies because these past several months I’ve been investigating the effect of gut microbes on energy apportionment. For example, when a person consumes plenty of high quality (especially protein-rich) food, the 2 kilograms of microbes in the digestive tract multiply profusely. When poor quality food is consumed, fewer microbes are produced.

      Each gram (dry weight) of microbes in the feces represents 5 kcal of energy that didn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream (1). Since feces is 50 to 60 percent dead gut microbes, I thought it might be interesting to calculate the amount of calories utilized by gut microbes. Problem is, I haven’t been able to find contemporary data on the dry weight of gut microbes. In a 1914 textbook, the low and high estimates were 5.34 to 8.54 grams respectively (2). This translates to 27 to 43 kcal of heat energy.

      But on page 15 of The Truth About Poop by Susan E. Goodman the author writes, “Each day, on average, people produce 1 ounce of poop for each 12 pounds of their body weight.” Since an ounce is 28.409 grams, I calculate that a 160 pound person (me) will produce about 379 grams of fecal matter per day. fecal matter is about 75 percent water, the dry weight would be 95 grams and the dry microbe weight would be about 47 grams. Multiplying by 5 kcal/gram yields 235 kcal which is a significant amount of energy. Add to that the energy content of the microbes themselves as well as any food residues that appear in the feces and the amount of energy absorbed into the bloodstream shrinks significantly.

      If the biological potency of food determines, to some extent, the rate and amount of caloric absorption into the bloodstream, then metabolic chamber measurements cannot accurately measure metabolic activity. In addition, since gut microbes can burn fat calories, subtracting the amount of fat calories in feces from total fat intake does not yield an accurate figure in terms of fat absorbed into the bloodstream.

      1.

      2. http://books.google.com/books?id=hiUbAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA653&lpg=PA653&dq=Dry+Weight+of+Fecal+Bacteria&source=bl&ots=_lkqMog4Zl&sig=8I_0h9sJWynTJP6AAMNU8aRq3AA&hl=en&ei=gsBKSqf7BYPklAfHuOwo&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10



  9. Jenny on July 28, 2009 at 06:54

    Hi. I’m just here from BlogExplosion and I came across your bloggy. It’s really nifty and I enjoyed reading it. I hope you’ll stop by and check out my blog as well. 🙂 I’d love to have you visit.

    I’m going to add your blog to my reader so I can keep up with your posts.

    Have a great week!

  10. Meeses on July 28, 2009 at 09:41

    The Julia Ross podcast was fascinating. I think I may have let the intermittent fasting get a little too non-intermittent as well (yes, I lost that “so good” Paleo feeling). I read Julia Ross’s book over the weekend. She believes that specific amino acid supplements (L-tyrosine, DLPA, etc.) might be (temporarily) necessary for some ex-chronic dieters even if they do (like me) eat a lot of protein, because different amino acids compete with each other for cell receptors. I’m skeptical, but will give it a shot as a self experiment. Ross also advocates whole grains and legumes, and seems to believe that women should be 28% body fat, but I figure I don’t have to go there. 🙂

    Thanks for the great blog-it’s always informative and refreshingly honest!

  11. Mark Sisson on July 28, 2009 at 09:42

    Richard, I have found that there’s nothing wrong with not eating when you are not hungry. And for long periods of time. I sense a slight urgency in the body-builder-turned-Paleo community to not want to lose hard-earned muslce mass. But, as we also find, often that extra mass was gained only through “expensive” extra eating and “expensive” extra hard work. Unless you are requiring that extra muscle for real-life experiences (or to win a BB trophy) it’s probably counter-productive.

    Let’s consider, for a moment, all the studies done on CR that show across the board benefits (including longer life). It has been my contention that a Primal (or paleo) diet naturally decreases appetite over time, decreases insulin over time and, hence, offers the exact same benefits as CR, but without the emaciation or the huge sacrifice. As long as you keep protein adequate, do a bit of heavy lifting now and then and keep carbs low, I say embrace your lack of hunger.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 10:20

      Thanks for the encouragement, Mark.

      “But, as we also find, often that extra mass was gained only through “expensive” extra eating and “expensive” extra hard work.”

      That strikes a cord, as I pretty much have all the muscle mass and strength that I want. We’re both 5′ 10″, if I’m recalling correctly, and your 165 lbs. is about what I weighed at 20-ish years old, but with less muscle and more fat — though that would be “skinny fat,” to some extent. At 180 lbs now, it seems entirely possible to me that I’ll hit my 10% BF target around 165, which is about 15 pounds more of fat loss. I still have a bit of stubborn fat on the belly and the annoying handles.

      “It has been my contention that a Primal (or paleo) diet naturally decreases appetite over time…”

      There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about it, and that’s why this is working for the many people who report in over here and at your great blog. I’ve seen it in myself, my wife, friends, family, and readers, and it’s probably the strongest predictor of continued success. And, it’s so liberating on so many levels.

      At present, I’m not going hog wild, just a bit more, and particularly for the first meal, which I call “breakfast,” but can happen anywhere from 10 am – 1 pm or so. Bea & I ate down at the brewpub last evening, having had the poached eggs around noon. Neither of us had a spec of food all day, were just a bit hungry, and I had iced tea (don’t use sweeteners, ever — a wedge of lemon is my sweetener), a green salad w blue cheese (probably with some bad stuff in it), and a nice large t-bone with butter melted on top.

      Went back home and watched two movies on the Apple TV until 1 am, and neither of us, again, raided or grazed in the slightest. In the past life, there’s have been ice cream, maybe some cookies, or any other manner of junk.

      And, now, here I sit after 10 am, now 14-15 hours since eating and I’m just getting a sense of hunger coming on.

      Liberation! It’s so great to get up, get right to one’s days activities before even thinking about food.

      Thanks, Mark.



  12. George on July 28, 2009 at 11:05

    Actually, I’ve not the slightest idea where you all are talking about!? I’m on Paleo/EF?IF more than a year and the only time I am not hungry is when I am in an IF period and/or I’m working out. For instance now I’ve just eaten diner at 7 pm (meat, spinach, brocolli and I was full) and now it’s 8 pm here and I am hungry again. (I had about 3000 kcal, low carb/paleo). If I would give in, I would weigh soon a lot more/have more fat as I’ve already experienced in the past…

    • Arlo @phareon on July 28, 2009 at 11:17

      Maybe it’ll change for me once I am fully into the #ifast thing, but there seems to be a lot of variability.

      One of the guys I follow on twitter eats absolutely enormous meals, 3-4 a day, and here I am stuffed after a 500 cal 60/40 fat/protein breakfast and probably won’t feel hungry until my 2nd pre-24hr-fast meal. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I struggled to eat 1300 calories post fast and workout last night.

      But, I am going to have to listen to my body, as long as I feel I’m getting enough protein.

      People really seem to have a wide range of responses. It’s a curious puzzle.



  13. Marc Feel Good Eating on July 28, 2009 at 12:52

    Richard,

    For me it totally works along Don M’s rule. It’s really that simple.
    In regards to the large breakfast, this is how it goes down for me. Large protein and fat breakfast let’s say at 8:30-9 am. Hungry a 1-2 pm. Big steak, fat, veggies for late lunch, full till the morning pretty much. light salad in the evening if I feel like it or perhaps a glass of red wine.

    Did a review on Rachel and Don’s cook book. They did a great job with it.

    Keep up the work Richard, I refer many (including stubborn friends and family) to your site.

    Marc
    Other days, first meal around 11. Then

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 13:09

      Thanks, Marc. I’ll definitely link up that review in my next link fest.

      I don’t always get to everything right away, but I get there eventually.



  14. Keith Thomas on July 28, 2009 at 13:59

    Good thoughts and observations here, Richard. As well as the ready availability of food as a temptation to our deep lizard brain, another distraction from the paleo way is our elevation of sustenance into a consumerist art form. Further, look at the way kitchen refurbishment, kitchen equipment and “entertaining” have all become part in an expensive hobby which we see as having pay-offs in terms of status – a source of status which we just didn’t have when I was brought up in the 1940s and 50s. I realized early on my paleo journey (late 1990s), that Ray Audette’s maxim that “we should eat only what our Palaeolithic ancestors could get with a sharp stick on the African savanna” was about all we need to know about diet. Ray himself was right at the bottom of the income scale and so simplicity was a high priority and gastronomic display and performance and novelty/variety were low priorities.
    With diet/nutrition thus pretty much disposed of, I see lifestyle (including physical activity) as needing far more of our attention: exercise and activity out of doors, sleep, conviviality, creativity – all these are important and need far of our attention than recipes if we are to come close to a paleo way.
    So my prescription, Richard, would be to cut your posts on meals by about 90% and use the freed up space to cycle through other aspects of the paleo way: air quality, pollution, living through doing, not buying (e.g, depending on your food for what you can grow, exchange and hunt rather than what you can buy, depending for winter heating on the wood you gather and split), exercise.
    Sorry if this sounds like a lecture – it’s not meant to be – it’s more a suggestion that we not rely on our food intake for our sense of well-being. There’s no one-to-one relationship to be found there. Our hormones drive our sense of well-being and the influences on our hormones are many and varied.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 16:47

      It’s OK, Keith. You’re one of the guys out there who’ve proven yourself worthy of giving lectures.

      I’m not quite sure I know how to respond, other than in some ways, the simplicity of lifestyle you espouse has a certain romantic appeal to me. In others, well, I’m just happy I’ve gotten this far. While a more primitive path may be more personally healthful for some, most or all in the long run, I don’t think it would be sustainable for me.

      I like a certain degree of gadgets, nice things, comforts, travel, gourmet food, and so on.

      I have been thinking of how I’ll exist in later years. I probably am going to want to switch, i.e., main house in the country on land where I can tinker, garden, have free range chickens and maybe some goat, lamb rabbits (we had a place like this when I was a kid, so I know how to do it all — maybe I’ll blog about it, someday).

      But, for now, I have too many people counting on my ability to produce (employees, incl. family), and now that I have turned my health around dramatically, I’m not so worried about this. At least I gave up options trading like a hot potato.

      Then there’s the responsibility to readers. I just think that I can reach far more people who need help with some degree of popularity, which is going forward right on track (single day visit and page view record, yesterday). People like the food posts, and I hope what I offer is that a paleo-ish diet does not have to be boring. It can indeed be somewhat fancy and still perfectly healthful.

      Above all, I have a profound love of cooking, especially for friends and family. I’m probably serving meals for others 2-3 times per week, on average, and in terms of primal society, that has to count for something.

      Appreciate your thoughts, inputs, guidance, Keith, as always.



  15. Salami Girl on July 30, 2009 at 18:59

    a word about salami:

    man do i love salami. A lifelong love, even when I was a little girl I could eat that stuff (and steak tartare – we’re European) all day long. The salami in your picture looks delightful, and you can tell by the way the fat is not so uniformly distributed and doesn’t look homogenized. But what I’m getting at here is that a lot of cheaper salami contains corn syrup. I’m sure many of you want to avoid this, so DO be sure to check the ingredients before you buy. Columbus brand and Molinari brand salami are great bets for good quality.
    Also salami is uncooked. The meat is hung raw and cured, but never heated, which is maybe why I love it so and feel its so easy to digest and gives insta-energy. Anyways, watch out for that corn syrup slipped into cheaper brands.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 31, 2009 at 09:51

      Yep, I’ve noticed the HFCS. None in these farmers’ market ones I guy, all of them from Europe.

      I like to slice thin and let the fat melt in my mouth.



  16. Dana on August 6, 2009 at 12:48

    Yes. I’m doing VLC, high-fat, moderate-protein, and I find that I don’t *have* to eat three meals a day because I hardly ever feel hungry. Boy do I pay for it if I don’t go ahead and eat. I get irritable and I get tired, even when I’ve had a full night’s sleep.

    This isn’t a problem for me, but if anyone out there believes calories count in the same way when you’re doing paleo or some kind of very-low-carb, get that idea out of your head or you’ll starve yourself. You’re leaking fat through lipolysis because your insulin isn’t up all the time, and you have no idea how much energy you’re getting from that stored fat at any given time. Go ahead and eat. You’ll feel lots better than if you don’t.

    Now lemme go take my own advice. Ha-ha.

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