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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  12:03:49  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
I'm skeptical of the Doctor recommended 3 meals/day diet, the well-balanced 4 (or is it 5?) basic food groups perscription, and of the "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" bit of conventional wisdom. I looked around the net for some discussion of why this has become the accepted way to eat. But I found more or less nothing. Does anyone know where these came from?

An aquaintance had told me it has something to do with the rate at which food moves through the digestive track and the frequency of hunger pangs as a result, but I've not found actual back-up for that.... Another (conspiracy) theory is that the 4 basic food groups were an attempt by the government to boost certain food-producing industries, for whatever that's worth.

My skeptical thoughts come from from this thinking:

#1. Humans as we know them evolved, for the most part, under the conditions of the hunter gatherer life-style.

#2. Hunter gather diets not only vary a great deal day by day but also an enormous amount with the seasons. So shouldn't our metabolisms be genetically tuned to be successful with that variability?

#3. And if #2 is correct, then can the opposite be said for the 3-meals a day, well balanced 4-basic food groups diet? Why would this diet be healthy to a digestive / metabolic system fine-tuned to deal with common prolonged fasts of one type or another and to take maximum advantage of times of plenty?

It seems that the human body ought to be best able to deal with a diet light (in both calories and nutrients) for a few days and then of plenty for a time. And it seems likely that agricultural foods that we wouldn't ordinarily get by hunting/gathering would be something our systems are just not designed to deal with (refined sugar and grain-based carbs, anyone?).

Thoughts?

-Chaloobi


Edited by - chaloobi on 10/30/2006 13:00:55

Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  13:25:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
Hi chaloobi. As for the three-meals-a-day claim, I may tend to agree. That is, I haven't read much about that being the most ideal arrangement.

However, I have read a number of claims that eating breakfast is important. A quick Google search turns up some of the news reports that have come out over the years, e.g.

Breakfast is 'most important meal'

Skipping breakfast very bad for health

And so on. I don't know about how these fit into an evolutionary framework, but the evidence seems fairly compelling.
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  13:51:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
Searching scholar.google.com with the terms "breakfast" and "most important meal of the day" gives you 120 hits. The studies deal with different issues and sometimes reveal conflicting results, but overall, it would seem that breakfast consuption is, indeed, a good idea.

Rampersaud et al performed a meta-analysis of 47 studies. Abstract as follows:
quote:
Breakfast has been labeled the most important meal of the day, but are there data to support this claim? We summarized the results of 47 studies examining the association of breakfast consumption with nutritional adequacy (nine studies), body weight (16 studies), and academic performance (22 studies) in children and adolescents. Breakfast skipping is highly prevalent in the United States and Europe (10% to 30%), depending on age group, population, and definition. Although the quality of breakfast was variable within and between studies, children who reported eating breakfast on a consistent basis tended to have superior nutritional profiles than their breakfast-skipping peers. Breakfast eaters generally consumed more daily calories yet were less likely to be overweight, although not all studies associated breakfast skipping with overweight. Evidence suggests that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and school attendance. Breakfast as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle can positively impact children's health and well-being. Parents should be encouraged to provide breakfast for their children or explore the availability of a school breakfast program. We advocate consumption of a healthful breakfast on a daily basis consisting of a variety of foods, especially high-fiber and nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits, and dairy products.



METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  13:55:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Hawks

Searching scholar.google.com with the terms "breakfast" and "most important meal of the day" gives you 120 hits. The studies deal with different issues and sometimes reveal conflicting results, but overall, it would seem that breakfast consuption is, indeed, a good idea.

Rampersaud et al performed a meta-analysis of 47 studies. Abstract as follows:
quote:
Breakfast has been labeled the most important meal of the day, but are there data to support this claim? We summarized the results of 47 studies examining the association of breakfast consumption with nutritional adequacy (nine studies), body weight (16 studies), and academic performance (22 studies) in children and adolescents. Breakfast skipping is highly prevalent in the United States and Europe (10% to 30%), depending on age group, population, and definition. Although the quality of breakfast was variable within and between studies, children who reported eating breakfast on a consistent basis tended to have superior nutritional profiles than their breakfast-skipping peers. Breakfast eaters generally consumed more daily calories yet were less likely to be overweight, although not all studies associated breakfast skipping with overweight. Evidence suggests that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and school attendance. Breakfast as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle can positively impact children's health and well-being. Parents should be encouraged to provide breakfast for their children or explore the availability of a school breakfast program. We advocate consumption of a healthful breakfast on a daily basis consisting of a variety of foods, especially high-fiber and nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits, and dairy products.




Hmmm.... the immediate question I have in the case of the quote relates to the obvious differences in nutritional requirements between adults and children. Did you find anything specific to fully grown adults?

-Chaloobi

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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:05:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
quote:
Oroginally posted by chaloobi
It seems that the human body ought to be best able to deal with a diet light (in both calories and nutrients) for a few days and then of plenty for a time. And it seems likely that agricultural foods that we wouldn't ordinarily get by hunting/gathering would be something our systems are just not designed to deal with (refined sugar and grain-based carbs, anyone?).

It probably can deal with it. But just because we evolved during such circumstances it does not necessarily follow that the consequences of such a diet is what we desire. We would have evolved to have a high reproductive success, but that is not generally the foremost goal people strive towards today. One to two children is often the norm (in industrialised nations) and then we want to retire and live comfortably until we are a hundred (yeah, yeah, I'm generalazing just A BIT). Problem is, while a hunter-gatherer (or any other "primitive" diet) might enable us to be very reproductively successful, they might also kill us at the age of 50. You have here a potential reproductive sucess you will not fully exploit (so it is wasted) and you die long before you want to. All in all, a crap diet. All this is, of course, just a hypothetical. But at least for worms (C. elegans) it would seem that a longer life means making fewer baby-worms - and vice versa.

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:08:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist

Hi chaloobi. As for the three-meals-a-day claim, I may tend to agree. That is, I haven't read much about that being the most ideal arrangement.

However, I have read a number of claims that eating breakfast is important. A quick Google search turns up some of the news reports that have come out over the years, e.g.

Breakfast is 'most important meal'

Skipping breakfast very bad for health

And so on. I don't know about how these fit into an evolutionary framework, but the evidence seems fairly compelling.

I read the second link you posted because it seemed more compelling. The article, however, isn't so straight forward. It associates a lot of bad behavior with skipping breakfast but admits the studies do not establish a cause/effect relationship. Then it goes on to say this:

quote:
But she said: 'Just because people who skip breakfast also have these adverse health behaviours, it doesn't mean that one leads to the other.

'Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, because it replenishes your body's energy levels in the morning.

'Studies of schoolchildren have shown eating breakfast improves their concentration levels in the morning.'

And she said people who were trying to lose weight were more successful if they had breakfast.

'People who skip breakfast tend to go on to have a snack mid-morning, usually something unhealthy like a chocolate bar.' The research is published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation
Again the focus on children.... And that last bit about snacks makes a lot of sense culturally, but not physiologically. People are snacking at work where the only food they have access to is high fat/calorie vending machine/fast food junk. So of course they gain weight. But that doesn't necessarily establish a physiologial need for breakfast - just one more flaw in our culuture....

Further, perhaps they're right about breakfast, or at least about having something to eat right away in the morning. But what about lunch & dinner? Do we need these as 3 distinct, descreet meals? Why do that? Why not have a more or less continuous supply of healthy snack food and never actually eating a set of big meals? Or why not just ONE big meal - dinner say - and spend the earlier part of the day snacking lightly?

And what would happen if every 3rd day you just ate some nuts in the morning to get you going and then fasted the rest of the day? Clearly our ancestors had to live with conditions like that - why would that be harmful to an adult human?

-Chaloobi

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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:20:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by chaloobi
And what would happen if every 3rd day you just ate some nuts in the morning to get you going and then fasted the rest of the day? Clearly our ancestors had to live with conditions like that - why would that be harmful to an adult human?
But wouldn't that be breakfast? Perhaps some definitions are in order. The distinction is between eating something (sort of healthy) during the first hour of the day-- while we're getting ready for school/work/etc.-- versus getting ready for school/work/etc. and then, a few hours into that activity, eating. The evidence seems to suggest that the cognative skills and overall health of at least children is better in the former situation, and perhaps this is the case with the latter as well. That is, if having cereal in the morning helps a teen-ager do better in 3rd period math, wouldn't it also help the 30-year-old accountant going over the company's books?
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:23:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Hawks

quote:
Oroginally posted by chaloobi
It seems that the human body ought to be best able to deal with a diet light (in both calories and nutrients) for a few days and then of plenty for a time. And it seems likely that agricultural foods that we wouldn't ordinarily get by hunting/gathering would be something our systems are just not designed to deal with (refined sugar and grain-based carbs, anyone?).

It probably can deal with it. But just because we evolved during such circumstances it does not necessarily follow that the consequences of such a diet is what we desire. We would have evolved to have a high reproductive success, but that is not generally the foremost goal people strive towards today. One to two children is often the norm (in industrialised nations) and then we want to retire and live comfortably until we are a hundred (yeah, yeah, I'm generalazing just A BIT). Problem is, while a hunter-gatherer (or any other "primitive" diet) might enable us to be very reproductively successful, they might also kill us at the age of 50. You have here a potential reproductive sucess you will not fully exploit (so it is wasted) and you die long before you want to. All in all, a crap diet. All this is, of course, just a hypothetical. But at least for worms (C. elegans) it would seem that a longer life means making fewer baby-worms - and vice versa.

I think you've got a couple good points here. Yeah, we can swing with that up and down diet, but is that best for us? To take that in another direction, is the 3 meals thing about comfort? Yeah, we can handle the occasional, or even regular, fast, but it's not very pleasant, and so we don't....

As far as crap diet, I think you're definitely right if the fasts leave us with key vitamins/nutriets deficient. But I'm not so sure the occasional and/or regular fast (speaking of adults here) is necessarily crap, if the key nutriets are fine. For example, look at Caloric Restriction and the life-extending properties brought about. Also, the argument can be made that 3-meals can be a bad thing too. Look at the problems with obesity and the resulting troubles with health problems like diabetes and heart disease. It would be interesting to look at the life-long diets of people who've lived to ripe old ages without many chronic illnesses. What did they eat, how much of it, and how regularly?

I think a good question might be that as long as you keep your nutrition (thinking everything but calories here) in line, why would you suffer by skipping 70% of a normal day's food? What is the harm in that and is there possibly a benefit (thinking of the Caloric Restriction again here)? It may be that people've never looked at this idea much because it is uncomfortable...


-Chaloobi

Edited by - chaloobi on 10/30/2006 14:24:07
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:29:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist

quote:
Originally posted by chaloobi
And what would happen if every 3rd day you just ate some nuts in the morning to get you going and then fasted the rest of the day? Clearly our ancestors had to live with conditions like that - why would that be harmful to an adult human?
But wouldn't that be breakfast? Perhaps some definitions are in order. The distinction is between eating something (sort of healthy) during the first hour of the day-- while we're getting ready for school/work/etc.-- versus getting ready for school/work/etc. and then, a few hours into that activity, eating. The evidence seems to suggest that the cognative skills and overall health of at least children is better in the former situation, and perhaps this is the case with the latter as well. That is, if having cereal in the morning helps a teen-ager do better in 3rd period math, wouldn't it also help the 30-year-old accountant going over the company's books?

Perhaps. I don't know. A couple things --- please, let's not just confine this to breakfast. That said, consider that the 30 yr old accountant doesn't have nearly the energy & nutritional requirements of a healthy growing child and if he's got a spare-tire waist, may not require a morning energy boost at all...

-Chaloobi

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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:36:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
I was always quite curious about this, chaloobi, but never had the time to do any research into the matter. I myself eat 1 meal a day, and possibly a bowl of pasta or rice a few hours before I go to bed, although not very often. Other than that, I typically do no snacking.

I've always thought of dinner as the most important meal of the day, or rather, the most tasty. Those words often conflate in my head.


Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:38:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
The most important meal of the day is the one that falls between breakfast and brunch.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  14:39:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
Elevensies?

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  16:07:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

The most important meal of the day is the one that falls between breakfast and brunch.



You mean beer is the most important meal of the day?
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  16:18:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist
You mean beer is the most important meal of the day?

I'll drink to that.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  19:54:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Ricky

I was always quite curious about this, chaloobi, but never had the time to do any research into the matter. I myself eat 1 meal a day, and possibly a bowl of pasta or rice a few hours before I go to bed, although not very often. Other than that, I typically do no snacking.

I've always thought of dinner as the most important meal of the day, or rather, the most tasty. Those words often conflate in my head.



So you eat 1 meal and no snacks? You literally do not eat at all until the evening? What about coffee or soda?

I myself do not eat breakfast. I take medicatoin in the morning requiring me not to eat 3 hours prior and 1 hour after. So I just don't eat until lunch, since I rarely wake up more than an hour prior to arriving at work. But I DO have a big coffee which I enjoy with a splash of 2% milk.... (cafe con leche?) In any case - I don't feel fatigued or hungry at all before lunch, and for lunch I typically have a salad. My big meal of the day is dinner.

-Chaloobi

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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2006 :  19:55:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
General -- Come on folks, lets have some substance here. Anyone have anything on the rationale behind the 3 meal a day diet? Breakfast skip woes for adults rather than children?

-Chaloobi

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