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How Breakfast Became a Thing (priceonomics.com)
247 points by samsolomon on May 9, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 193 comments

I started to read this with some interest, as someone who's spent many hours thinking about and trying different metabolic strategies, diets, etc..

Then about 30 seconds in my reading got disrupted by a fucking light-box asking me to sign up or log in or god knows what.. my instinct to close tab won out over my curiosity. Please stop this pattern. If you really think your content is worth having to (whatever)wall from the public, do so, but don't make me get into it and then shove something mid word into my face. This is the digital equivalent of giving me a magazine to read, waiting until you're sure I've got my eyes on it, then shoving a business card in my field of vision and telling me what you do for a living. It's a low rent tactic, annoys rather than grips your users, and it reeks of desperation to monetize.

This company produces great, great content. You agree that it's interesting, from what you've read.

And yet apparently the most popular comment on their effort is that you don't want to spare the all-of-2 seconds it takes to click your mouse to close a pop-up? On a site that isn't plastered with ads, btw, and is generally very accessible?

I don't mean to take out my frustration on you, and I get where you're coming from, but maybe we as consumers should stop feeling so entitled, maybe that's the pattern that has to end here.

Similar to GP, if one of these sites throws something in my face I'd rather just leave the site.

Not only is it often (though not always) indicative of other nearby antipatterns, but it's my small way of protesting the lightboxes. Same thing goes for interstitial.

I intentionally do not use any ad blockers and when this how you treat me, i'd really rather not.

It really destroys the flow of reading though. These light-boxes should be more passive. I agree with the first commenter. It's super annoying and something nice becomes ugly.

Check out how DigitalOcean does this, on their tutorials. As you scroll down, a small box appears in the left margin asking you to sign up for the newsletter. It doesn't block any of the content and you can ignore it while you continue reading. That's nearly perfect, and an example of how to do it right.

I still find the animation of it appearing distracting and I think it interrupts the 'flow' of reading the article, but it was easy enough to block the element with my ad blocking extension.

As an aside, Firefox + Noscript are a thing of beauty. Using them I just don't see most of these annoyances. Yes, it 'breaks' many websites but this usually means a much faster page render without all the annoying stuff.

The problem is these boxes are designed to manipulate behaviour, not to avoid annoyance.

Unfortunately slamming a SIGN UP NOW!!!!! box in the middle of the page gets more people to sign up than a "Please sign up over here" box at the side.

The problem may be a lack of systems thinking.

If your metrics are sign-ups, then the aggressive pattern wins.

If your metrics are committed sign-ups by users who are genuinely interested and aren't simply going to ignore your emails for the rest of eternity, the picture may be more complicated.

Too many UX people don't seem to think this one through.

Well, the other side is that it seems quite pointless. I'm glad it's a simple popover, and not a full page video ad, and it responds nicely to escape. But all that means is I've closed it half a second after it appeared, without reading, with nothing but a grunt of frustration over "yet another popover crap". Is that really the impression this site wants to make? Something unobtrusive in the sidebar that would let me keep reading, and then look at, I would be more inclined to even read...

>This company produces great, great content.

What they made is a spammy, irritating popup.

I'm working on a chrome extension to kill exit intents, I'll share it

Killing everything with position:absolute would work pretty good. Would take away annoying top/bottom bars too, and actually let me use my screen real estate for content instead of quick links to social sharing.

The Chrome extension "Fix Fixed" adds a button which removes all fixed-position content. It doesn't solve the lightbox problem (because you still have to click a button) but it's a big help with real estate.

Ve specifically said ve didn't mind a pay wall. Ve found the the mid-read interruption rude, which I think is totally fair.

I had to google this "ve". At first I thought that you were mimicking a German accent, which did not make sense here.

I'm guessing the result was:

Ve, a proposed gender-neutral pronoun [0]

I hadn't heard of it either.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VE

I'm just personally tired of our lack of appropriate gender-neutral pronouns. I guess it got me some downvotes due to misunderstanding.

Doesn't do it for me. It leads to confusion in a couple different contexts. I think we should be open to intelligently refactoring our language, instead of being slaves to organic change.

But "ve" doesn't create confusion?

Only momentary confusion. You will probably never again be confused by "ve", for the rest of your life, based on just this tiny passing exposure to it (assuming, of course, you ever see it again.. which is obviously not certain).

The idea of overloading the plural "they" to mean a gender-neutral singular nominative has some inherent problems you can't just learn away, because context is often not sufficient to pinpoint a meaning from the possibilities.

Arrgh!!! and yet somehow your complaint about something, which is at best mildly irritating, has generated enough off-topic commentary that I had to scroll for miles to find the useful part of this discussion which is about the article's subject matter. Right now I know what I find more annoying, and it isn't a click-to-dismiss lightbox.

Seriously though, bumping our gums about this sort of thing doesn't get us anywhere, unless it's a particularly egregious UX crime. Have a moan directly at the site owners, not the rest of us, many of whom find these posts tiresome. Or install something like u-blocker or privacy badger.

Why hasn't HN implemented a collapsible thread function yet like Reddit? I love HN comments, but this is my biggest gripe.

There's an extension for Chrome, but it really should be built-in: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hacker-news-collap...

Agreed. This one is also quite good:


I think bearing in mind Hacker News origins and community, comments like this are appropriate to the audience.

I think the priceonomics guys are regular HN participants. They'll probably see the comment and its votes/discussions.

> Right now I know what I find more annoying, and it isn't a click-to-dismiss lightbox.

And now you understand. Maybe if they hadn't used the shitty lightbox, you wouldn't have had to scroll to "on-topic" content?

This is the digital equivalent of giving me a magazine to read, waiting until you're sure I've got my eyes on it, then shoving a business card in my field of vision

This is an ironic analogy to choose, seeing as how magazines do in fact do exactly that.

I know it's been a while since anybody read one, but if you cast your mind back, you'll recall that every dozen pages or so they will have stuck in a subscription card that you'll have to shake out or even tear apart just to continue reading.

It funny in a way to see that digital media has so exactly copied that.

I think what makes it even more mildly amusing is how to deal with it. I remember shaking magazines out and pulling the cards out before reading. If you didn't, then the pages would get flipped by the siffer subscription card's paper stock and you'd be unable to read some article. (Literally, the page would just start flipping over - it was so goddam infuriating sometimes when the card couldn't easily be removed because it was perforated and left a little tab behind that prevented the magazine from ever laying flat on the table!)

I don't remember any magazine with that crap, but maybe it's a regional thing, I'm not from the US. Which ones are you thinking of?

Funny, I was thinking the exact opposite after I had been on the site for 10 minutes or so.

It's sad that you get sites making 'slideshows' getting 20 page views per visit for stupid slideshows like 'Celebrities who have had DUIs'. Meanwhile, something educational and informational makes 5% as much as those other guys? Just because I have only loaded the page once?

You can't pay wall it, because then you don't get the 50,000 visits from HN. It sounds like a really tough position to be in.

High-quality educational content has never been popular. So it seems a bit silly to try to monetize high-quality educational content through a popularity measuring platform, doesn't it?

It would be nice if HN as a community could agree to take bike-shed issues like this "as read", and not quite so often re-argue them in the top comment spot.

Sure, annoying things are annoying, but maybe the site has their reasons, but maybe those reasons are misguided, but then again maybe not, etc. That's all a great discussion to have, but let's have it in the comments on an article that's actually about such issues.

Maybe that's a hint that links from such sites aren't mostly welcome here?

I think there's something in this. Constant complaint discussions are a way of applying social pressure.

If every discussion on an article with an egregious anti-pattern gets hijacked, people might tend to submit such articles less, or find alternate sources that don't have those anti-patterns. This costs page views for the sites that do them, and rewards the sites that don't.

Firstly, the way to show what sites you approve of is with votes, not by hijacking comment. Degrading HN comment pages doesn't apply social pressure to anyone.

Secondly, I doubt there's a site on the internet that doesn't have some technical or design issue that someone finds egregious. If everyone did what you're suggesting then every comment thread on HN would get hijacked.

My best friend is printfriendly.com

(Chrome even support url query generation from the url bar http://www.printfriendly.com/print/?source=homepage&url=http...)

Beautiful, thank you. I've added it to my bookmarks bar next to my Google it! bookmarklet.


I believe most people adds the readability extensions. Which is a more sophisticated and produce more elegant results, but printfriendly is very fast, non invasive, and very effective at getting content without clutter. 0.01% errors, and the team reacts rapidly when it happens.

I can't install extensions here, so that's unfortunately a no-go for me. This looks like the next best, least intrusive option

Completely agree with this. I think there is an analytics blindspot underpinning it. We don't measure the amount of people inclined to just close the tab when they see this, or the negative sentiment it incurs. We might see a nominal rise in email addresses from bots and other braindead folks who fill in these forms, but the negative effect isn't measured.

I wonder if the time delay on these pop-ups is set to avoid being measured by the "bounce rate" or "0-10 second session duration" analytics tools.

This would be especially interesting to measure. While the 0-10 second bounce rate on any site will be somewhat high due to people just looking for something other than the page you give them (I see 50% bounces on a small business site with zero ads), and it's difficult to distinguish these from people who didn't like the ads or format, you could get a precise measurement of exactly how many people close the page within 3 seconds of the pop-up appearing.

> fucking light-box

I completely agree.

I turn off javascript for sites that have light-boxes or large top-bars. It's worked well for sites like priceonomics, which appear on HN intermittently. In case it's helpful, the one I use is "quick javascript switcher":


Before Reading any article, just hit the "reading mode" Button of safari/firefox.

This eliminates every Source of frustration very effectively and removes distractions alltogether.

It's a pain to do, not always available, and doesn't always work properly when it is available (it's all heuristic based).

Far better if sites were readable to begin with.

Firefox article reader mode kills pretty much all of that s*. It also makes articles much nicer to read, IMO.

I read an interesting article [1] on the topic of these annoying boxes recently. Very thought-provoking ;)

[1] http://www.moneylab.co/email/

NoScript fixes this and does not break the site in any appreciable manner.

A secret underground cabal of rogue developers is optimizing their sites for NoScript users...

It's just amazing how much "common knowledge" about food has been shown to be completely wrong:

  * Breakfast is the most important meal [0]
  * Saturated fat is bad [1]
  * Carbs are evil [2]
  * You regain more weight after a fast diet [3]
Many will argue but studies have show each one of these to be wrong.

[0]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/08/10/the-s...

[1]: http://www.eufic.org/page/en/show/latest-science-news/fftid/...

[2]: http://www.nature.com/nutd/journal/v6/n2/full/nutd20162a.htm...

[3]: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-85...

I think if there's one big idea about nutrition, it should be that there are no one-size-fits-all answers. I skipped breakfast for most of my childhood, and I had no idea why I was so lethargic all the time. I was typically anxious from undone schoolwork, etc and had no appetite in the morning. I'd self-medicate with cigarettes.

I started forcing myself to eat breakfast about a year ago and my mind is so much clearer, seemingly as a function of relatively-stabilized blood sugar levels.

But that's just me. It could be totally different for someone else.

>> But that's just me. It could be totally different for someone else

It is. I haven't eaten breakfast for 20 years, and I don't suffer from any kind of lethargy, tiredness or hunger. I even cycle to work for 30 minutes each day, on an empty stomach, and often don't eat until 1PM. For me, it's actually the other way around: if I eat anything before lunch time, especially sugary things, I often get nausea.

So I guess that confirms your point, there simply is no 'one-size-fits-all answer', everybody has different metabolism. Obviously some things are clearly bad for you, like overeating, insufficient dietary variation, lack of essential nutrients, etc. But these are simply solved with just common sense. For the rest, 'nutrition science' is completely worthless IMO, and more often than not driven by marketing or scientific echo-chambers.

> I started forcing myself to eat breakfast

I tried that when I was having lethargy problems mid-morning, but my digestive system doesn't seem to switch on until a while after waking up and if I consume anything more solid than milk before it tells me it is ready I get unpleasant indigestion feelings.

I tend to get hungry and have my first food at ~1030 or a little before. The exception is the days I have a long run into work (a 7.5-to-10K slow run, instead of the usual 2ish Km walk) - I want food as soon as I've showered in that case.

Exercise before work has itself cured the lethargy problem it would seem and it doesn't need to be as strenuous as a 7+K run. Just the difference between the old routine of cycling in, to doing a few situps & dips before getting dressed and briskly walking in, seems enough to make a marked improvement even into the late afternoon.

So very true. We're all crazy variable as humans.

I'm 6'2" and broad, and thick. I've had a great friend from childhood who's 6'2" and skinny as a rail. We could not have more dissimilar ways of eating healthfully, but doesn't that make sense when you think about it? He basically eats little meals all day, and I concentrate my calories so that I don't stay constantly hungry and engaged in eating.

The only advice that's truly universal, is that you can't lose weight unless the equation is (Calories-In - Calories-Out) = Gain/Loss. How you get there is totally individual though.

That was also my case as an adult. Solved by eating much more at night, carbs included. I was just not consuming enough calories.

So, another myth - carbs are bad at night - that did not apply to me.

Carbohydrates are bad for me, period. I'm diabetic (type 2), and even the American Diabetes Association says I should be eating around 60g carbs/meal.

After some rudimentary data science liberally using the glucometer, I can tell you what my body does after all types of simple sugars as well as some complex sugars... And my limit per day is around 10g carbs. I will change this up to reintroduce some foods I may not normally eat (like high fiber low carb bread, or Ryvita rye crisps).

When I was initially diagnosed, my fasting was 161mg/dL and a1c=7.1 . Now, my blood sugar when I wake up in the morning is around 85-105, which is normal. I've also lost 50 lbs

If that's what you can get from ad-hoc data science on yourself, I'm looking forward to what we will learn a couple of years down the line from fitbits and what will come after them. Scary, yes, but there's also an immense upside.

Sample of one without correction for caloric intake?

See, losing weight fixes many numbers.

Correct. I only controlled for carbohydrates (total and [carb-fiber] for net carbs )

After 6 days of low carb diet, my hunger went down dramatically, and I started to feel better. I started to notice weight loss around day 10.

Now, the more I study about T2 diabetes, my 'guess' is that it's a metabolic disease. Someone who's T2 gets high blood sugar, the sugar is eventually processed to fat, causing extreme hunger when the glucose is out of the body (back to normal levels), causing the person to eat more carbs.

That would also explain why things like the Atkins diet does work for certain people; it works for those whom are predisposed to T2 diabetes. It doesn't work and can harm greatly those whom aren't susceptible to T2...

But that's my pet theory.

It's obviously a metabolic disease. Insulin is well described as a metabolic hormone. T2 diabetes is the signal not getting processed.

The big open question is what causes it.

To which you might add 'at this period in my life'. Your requirements may well change. For many older people, 'carbs are bad at night' is not a myth.


I do believe that carbs are bad with people with broken metabolisms (poor insulin sensivity, poor glucose control, etc), but once you have that fixed, carbs are an excellent source of nutrients and energy. Again, that was my case (38 years old at that time; 45 now)

A balanced diet where you don't eat too much seems to be the other big idea.

Of course, both of these big ideas don't make good books or TV shows or special diet products.

Au contraire! That idea makes an excellent book, and also a pretty good free article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t....

The ad playing for me in the margins is, appropriately, for some crunchtastic version Kellog's Raisin Bran. Now with more sweet raisin clusters!

Ideas, shmideas. What we need is prospective studies of good quality. Mostly because hindsight does not work due to way too many correlations which cannot be untangled even with best statistical methods.

There are very few of those good prospective and long term studies. And way too few have follow up study.

This is true for parenting too. You cannot take cookie cut wisdom and apply (CROSS APPLY t-sql style) to all.

The wisdom has to be applied "Bayesian" style ... "Given subject with attributes x, y and z, apply optimisation function."

You don't have valid data to do that, because almost nobody does. The best data driven result is to eat much more fresh fruit and vegetables. Skip highly processed ready to eat food.

Perhaps eat much less meat that Standard American Diet. Sure, high protein diets tend to cause rapid weight losses, but there is not enough trustworthy data to ascertain their long term safety and effects.

My bike ride into work usually feels significantly more sluggish if I skip breakfast and/or coffee.

The coffee and the timing of your last meal on the previous day(6pm? 10pm?) probably has a lot more to do with it than the breakfast.

If you eat breakfast at XX:XX and start cycling at XX:XX+30, you won't actually be using the energy from the food you just ate, whereas the caffeine will take effect almost immediately.

In some cases you are correct while in some you're making the same types of errors seen in science reporting.

* [0] Completely agree. This falls into folklore: was never really scientifically investigated, and all recent findings don't support it.

* [2] This is a single study on a very particular mechanism. The null hypothesis wasn't "Carbs aren't evil". The experimental setup was designed to determine if there was a benefit in LCHFD diets for NZO prediabetic obese mice eating ad-libitum compared to traditional rodent feed (which by no means mirrors the type of high carb diet humans eat). They failed to demonstrate that. Some carbs are probably evil. Like sugar.

* [3] This is how science works: You make an observation: "You regain more weight after a fast diet." Yet a controlled laboratory environment doesn't show the same result. You're missing something. Reality is almost always more complex and subtle than we'd like it to be. The medical field right now is starting to focus on lifestyle changes and lifelong treatment. The shred of truth here is that slow weight loss is probably associated with creating long term habits. https://www.medweight.ca/.

That's why I don't put stock in any of it and just eat what I like.

I thought the jury was still out on saturated fat? Can I start eating butter with abandon?? I'm excited.

On mobile so I won't look up sources now, but from memory you can add "diamonds are rare" (no, they're monopolized) to the list.

Dropping breakfast from my diet as a regular thing, something as simple as just getting started later in the day on eating, has been incredibly helpful in losing (and maintaining lower) weight. It's not the only thing of course; generally eating smaller portions, and moving my butt more are the other two keys. Obsessing over exactly what I'm eating and how much has never helped, but just eating less... it sounds simple, but it's what works.

Even as a kid, I had to drop breakfast. For literally decades, the several hours after I woke up, I'd be nauseated. I cut out certain categories of foods, and now I can eat whatever I want from the remaining categories, but I've also picked up intermittent fasting in the meantime. So now I typically don't eat until sometime after 4pm, with the majority of my intake at dinner. It's working well for me, but my wife just can't handle it.

Yes I used to feel exactly the same as a kid, and into my teenage years. Only really cared about having something to eat in the morning once I got into my mid 20s.

I work with a guy who says he still feels the same now, well into their 30s.

When I had a physical job, I had two breakfasts (6:00 before work, then 9:00). And I needed it, or I'd be super hungry. Now, at my desk job, I have a single breakfast.

And in warm weather, I have difficult to eat in the morning at all.

I'm on the same boat, except I had to drop both breakfast and dinner (2-course lunch, with fish and oranges in the evening) to maintain body weight without gaining fat!

I do this despite doing compound lifts (pull ups, dips, squats) while successfully gaining muscle strength.

Also, "Caloric Restriction: A Fountain of Youth for Aging Muscles?" http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/2015-15....

Thanks for sharing. I like your idea and noticed that big lunches help me through the evening. Can I ask: What percentage of your weight are you losing per week? I'm doing diet and exercise at the same time and was reading some ideas on percentages to expect/aim for.

My plan so far has been to lose fat in moderate amounts. I found that aiming to maintain the body weight while doing resistance training easily achieves that.

So every week I gain equal amount (in weight) of muscle to the fat lost. The difference is also visually noticeable (increased upper body muscle tone; decreased belly and lower back fat).

In regards to "doing diet and exercise at the same time" (academically referred to as: resistance training under calorie restriction) you may find this article useful: http://cristivlad.com/resistance-training-under-caloric-rest...

Thanks! I'll check out the link.

Also losing weight. I just cut my breakfast way down, to a breakfast bar, and coffee.

I've done the opposite actually. My breakfast is my single largest meal, with every other meal throughout the day being small. For me, my body prefers to have energy throughout the day, and doesn't like having food in my stomach when I sleep. Sometimes I go to bed "hungry" but at least I don't get indigestion or heartburn.

I tried the "breakfast as the largest meal" before, but I couldn't get by not eating much for dinner. A large breakfast made me hungry by mid-day, and so I'd eat more, by the time dinner came around, it was a light salad or some other low calorie food, which affected my insomnia. I can't sleep hungry, I'll stay awake, and miserable all night.

On the other hand, I found being hungry in the morning is short term, and once I got into a project at work or something, I just forgot about it. A light, later lunch (up at 4am, lunch at noon), and a big dinner, and It's not hard at all.

I think this just illustrates that there are actual differences between people. Maybe the primary difference for me is my insomnia. Some people don't have crashes several hours after eating a big breakfast, and they stay satiated longer.

I've found that sticking to a regular schedule causes your body to adapt. You get hungry when you expect food.

Personally, if I don't eat in the evening, I get tired and want to go to sleep, so I'll turn in at 9pm or so and then I'll get up at 2am and won't be able to sleep until 5am. Whereas if I eat, I'll stay up to 1am or so, and then sleep until 8am. Food primarily affects how much energy I have. More food, more energy.

There is definitely no one routine that works for everyone, and learning what it is that fits you best has to be it. I imagine there is a huge lifestyle factor at play too, not to mention general things like a tendency to some acid reflux.

What kind of things do you eat? And how do you find the time? Breakfast seems like the meal there's the least time for and hard to find by portions.

For me it's scrambled eggs, a bit of cheese, and coffee. Takes less than 15 minutes to make and clean up after.

But that's not your largest meal right. I think one egg is something like 90 calories. You'd have to eat ten eggs to have a large meal, no?

It's great, isn't it? I also like to get a bit of fiber and complex carbs in, and like you, some caffeine. Nothing huge, just something to keep the stomach remembering what it's supposed to do for the rest of the day. After the first week or so of doing it, I haven't wanted more either, how about you?

I go for one 5oz Chobani for protein (12g), and one pack Quaker High Fiber (10g + 4g protein) instant oatmeal. Total 290 calories, and it keeps me going for hours without wanting more (with coffee, of course). I don't track carbs, only portions, but it's (only?) 23g sugar. I sometimes almost forget to eat lunch. And yes, it is great!

Dropping dinner instead of breakfast would be even better.

I just stop eating earlier, which accomplishes the same thing for me. If I lived different hours, I'd probably switch up my routine just like you suggest. This all started for me though, because once I got out of my teens I stopped being hungry in the morning. I think we all have to do what works best for us, in the long run in terms of health, but also comfort.

In Japan, I learned what a truly healthy breakfast is.

Most days I eat a bowl of brown rice with a raw egg stirred in and a dash of high-quality soy sauce and topped with natto. Some days I'll also grill salmon or smelt. On the side, I usually have tsukemono (pickled vegetables) and miso soup.

Protein, probiotics, pickles...once you get used to it, the idea of eating sweet desserts for breakfast (which is what most people eat) seems counterproductive.

(By the way, it's probably true that many people in Japan eat the same crap as Americans do for breakfast——there's no shortage of bread, donuts, etc.)

I think the issue is that most people don't have time in the mornings to cook and eat a full meal. I think in Japan, the regular workday and school day start later to accomodate a longer breakfast.

I personally hate western "breakfast foods". For breakfast I usually make noodles (not the instant kind) and eat it alongside a fried egg and maybe some leftover veggies. Or I'll just microwave some leftovers (including rice) from the day before.

You might be right. I set the rice cooker on a timer the night before so that it's finished before I get up. Miso soup takes not much longer than the time to boil water, and I often leave it overnight and just re-heat it. Almost every kitchen in Japan has a fish grill/oven, so that only takes a few minutes to wrap the fish in foil and turn it on...ready in about 5-10 mins.

Back in the USA, I used to eat oatmeal with fresh fruit and honey every morning, and it took longer to prepare.

I was curious if raw eggs were actually healthy after reading your comment. I was never allowed to eat raw eggs growing up. A little google-fu says he risk of salmonella is overstated and extremely rare, but the USDA and others still suggest avoiding raw eggs. Not much definitive on cooking vs. raw though.

It's pretty common to eat raw eggs here. I would hesitate to do it with the wan-looking eggs in American grocery stores, though.

Japanese people eat a lot of eggs in general: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/09/16/food/raw-appeal-...

The Danish Food Administration has per 2013 officially declared raw eggs safe to eat for consumers. The food industry still has to use pasteurized eggs though.

Even though I knew the risk of Salmonella was already minuscule, I use raw eggs in my cooking a lot more now (e.g. dressings, mayo, etc.). It is just a lot more convenient than having to buy pasteurized yolks and egg whites.

I don't know if raw eggs are truly safer to eat here in Denmark, or if the food administrations from other countries are just being overly conservative.

I can't find the source, but egg protein digestibility is increased by heat treatment, boiling being the most effective preparation method afair.

Eggs won't get salmonella if they are refrigerated promptly after they are laid. Japan has higher food safety standards, so eggs produced in Japan are less likely to have salmonella than those produced in the US.

Eggs will also not get salmonella if their natural protective coating is not washed away as per regulations in the US (vs Europe.) In fact, American eggs would be illegal in most European countries and vice versa - American eggs must be washed and refrigerated, whereas washing European eggs is prohibited.


The rationale behind it being that European egg producers will put more care into making sure the raising site is actually clean.

I'm not so sure about that, we hear the same horror stories about factory farms as well. However, the chickens are vaccinated against salmonella, and that might have something to do with it.

I eat cereal and milk as a dessert at night in place of something like ice cream, because that is what it is. People who eat cereal for breakfast are no better than people eating donuts or other sweets, it is just an awful way to start your day because of the blood sugar spike and then drop which creates hunger pangs.

You can combat it by having a proper breakfast focusing on protein and low glycemic index carbs, eggs, steel-cut oats, omelettes, etc. A favorite of mine is proatmeal, make some oats and then mix in BSN Syntha-6 vanilla ice cream protein powder, absolutely delicious. The other way to combat it as suggested by people in this thread is to drop breakfast all together besides maybe having coffee and a granola bar.

I don't usually eat breakfast, but one of the cereals I really like is Heritage Flakes from Nature's Path: http://us.naturespath.com/product/heritager-flakes

I wouldn't consider it the same as "eating a donut" (the cereal has 4g sugar and 5g fiber per 3/4 cup serving).

I was actually eating cereal as dessert for a while and got into as bad a habit with it as I previously had with ice cream. It took a concerted effort to break myself of the habit.

I think I even enjoyed it more than ice cream, even if it was raisin bran or something. (Though I usually add a sweetener, currently Stevia rather than sugar.)

I also eat cereal at night for a snack. My idea of cereal is not what most people on here are hating on though. I am not a sweets person so I gravitate towards the cereals with plain flakes, nuts, and dried fruit.

As far as breakfast goes, when I was in my prime weight lifting days skipping breakfast was never an option. Now that I'm older, coffee with milk works on mornings I do not go to the gym. On mornigins I do go I just have a protein shake after the gym.

I also eat cereal at night for a snack. My idea of cereal is not what most people on here are hating on though. I am not a sweets person so I gravitate towards the cereals with plain flakes, nuts, and dried fruit.

As far as breakfast goes, when I was in my prime weight lifting days skipping breakfast was never an option. Now that I'm older, coffee with milk works on days I do not go to the gym. On days I do go I just have a protein shake after the gym.

I eat muesli at 7:15 and don't feel hungry until 12. Maybe people don't think of muesli when they hear the word cereal.

Depending on the composition, muesli is either close to oats, or packed with sugar ("45% fruit!").

Which is why I prefer to make my own. Candied and most kinds og dried fruit are nutritionally negative worth compared to fresh or frozen.

How did priceonomics become a thing.. this seems like a clickbait site for the more intellectual crowd, less trashy than say buzzfeed, but ultimately not really delivering much in the way of genuine insight. It probably doesn't hurt that the name recalls "freakonomics", another brand which, while occasionally interesting, is far past its pull date as well..

What would you categorize as "genuine insight", then? I found the article pretty good, well written, and it actually taught something about the history of cereals in America that I didn't know (the fact that Kellogg had purely moral reasons for inventing what later evolved into the sugary Kellogg's that we know today was pretty interesting!)

Articles that can be called "clickbait" are generally not very well written, misrepresents information, and leave you with a feeling of not getting what the headline promised. That is not the case here, at all.

They tell their own story pretty well. Informative and interesting, pretty decent advice in there. Of course, no secret sauce, but that's overblown anyhow.

I find their articles very interesting, almost every time. Really high signal to noise, even if their content isn't always about weighty matters. I rather liked this one about breakfast, for instance: it taught me a lot about the historical development of breakfast.

Anyhow, not to tout these guys too much, but I do respect them for what they've done.


Please refrain from labeling any article with a less-than-literal headline as "clickbait". I feel this lies somewhere between "avoid gratuitous negativity" and "complaining that a submission is inappropriate" guidelines; maybe I'm just tired of seeing the word slung at any headline even remotely designed to engage its audience.

I believe Priceonomics went through YC, so I assume that's partially why it pops up on HN so frequently. From my understanding they started out as more of a data-driven guide for pricing things but seemed to have pivoted to being another media company.

I was just bringing this up as a possible thing the other day at work. It was always weird to me how marketed breakfast was. The irrational vitriol I received only further convinced me how much breakfast (specifically grains heavy) is due to marketing.

There's this idea that markets just discover and serve peoples' wants and preferences. It has to be tempered with the fact that our perceptions and even our identities are shaped by the information we are served with from birth. In this era, culture serves capital as much as capital serves culture.

Caffeine too. People are proud of how addicted they are. I used to get headaches from it, I think a lot of people do, and there was just this wtf moment of "why do I abuse this stuff"? Great PR.

I say we ban caffine and tobacco.

The war on drugs would be over in a week.

Who would win? In all seriousness I think you'd undo the last couple decades worth of productivity gains in just a couple days..

I think gp means if caffeine and tobacco was included in the list of drugs the "war on drugs" would end because nobody would enforce it, thereby legalizing everything.

Of course this won't happen and I think that is to a certain degree a good thing.

For mice (and presumably for certain other mammals), 12-hour daily fast seems to have positive outcomes.


The study suggests this is true even if you cheat on the weekend.

I'm super-dubious of evidence showing that breakfast improves school outcomes (except where it helps meet kids' calorie needs). You know what else boosts school outcomes? Sedatives, because school is hella boring. That doesn't mean sedating kids or adults is a good idea.

I need to eat around 3000 calories per day to support my powerlifting training, and if I don't eat something first thing in the morning with a shitload of carbs -- usually something like rolled oats, berries, and a few bananas -- then I'm usually gassed and feeling like crap by 10.

A few friends of mine fast intermittently and train in the morning before eating but it's beyond me how that is not just pure torture.

> train in the morning before eating

Welcome to the Army, perhaps. Ask them if they're ex-mil, or are copying someone who's ex-mil.

25 years later the concept of exercising on anything but an empty stomach feels weird to me. Like if you put forth a true 100% effort how do you not puke?

> A few friends of mine fast intermittently and train in the morning before eating but it's beyond me how that is not just pure torture.

Practice. If you've never done it before, it takes a few days/weeks to get used to. Also willpower.

Saying that willpower is a factor implies that it is unpleasant, which is actually agreeing with the implication of "pure torture" that the parent comment implied.

Not really, it has nothing to do with it being pleasant or not. It means that you need to commit to actually doing it (like anything in life).

I'm absolutely fine with it and prefer it, like many other people. It's definitely not "torture".

Maybe it isn't for some but mostly it's about overcoming the change in routine and there's no shortcut to changing or building habits, it's just willpower.

Generally we throw a lot of words around sometimes:

Like calling something torture - that you voluntarily do to yourself because of an expected net positive outcome.

For the respect of people who suffers or have suffered from torture I think we should avoid that kind of hyperbole.

Same goes for calling sexism on any joke about gender differences. It's kind of disrespectful to everyone who has suffered from the real thing.

Usually something only requires willpower if it's not pleasant. I.e. It doesn't take willpower for me to eat, but it does take willpower for me to avoid eating unhealthy foods.

What effects do you experience in lifting performance vs. eating beforehand?

> A few friends of mine fast intermittently and train in the morning before eating but it's beyond me how that is not just pure torture.

It's just habit. I stopped eating breakfast in primary school and always preferred doing sports in the morning. Currently doing fasted weightlifting/cardio 5x a week first thing in the morning.

I'm currently doing only one big meal a day for lunch so technically that's fasting since 2pm the previous day.

Same here, rolled oats w/ banana in the morning, I'm surprised that I don't feel hungry after eating that for a couple hours. I have to leave a gap of around 4-5 hours between eating, and lifting.

with late dinner the night before this is totally doable even when lifting heavy in the morning. some competetive lifters especially if they were cutting to make weight 'go for the bloat' after the weigh in - pizza, whole milk, pedialyte :) and then all they have before the meet in the morning is coffee.

then there are the 'early birds' who get up at 5 am and have a 4 egg omelet before the meet. they disgust me :)

It's just pure torture. I've IF and exercised around noon for some time and it's a struggle. Coffee compensates somewhat.

I've dropped breakfast for about a month now and I feel so much better. I'm eating a heavy lunch and then dinner. Lost weight and it wasn't on purpose. As a result I've been questioning a lot of our norms. Not only when we eat, but what we eat and why. Loved the article.

This was my conscious weight loss strategy. Stop eating at 7-8pm in the evening and hold off eating any food until noon or so, which gets a 16+ hour fast. I ate whatever I wanted (not crazy, but not spartan) and lost about 70g per day over a long period (110kg -> 95kg). This was in conjunction with exercising but I was exercising before without losing much weight. Not a very original idea but I was amazed at how easy it was (relative to 5:2, which gave me two workdays a week of 'thinking about food way too much').

3x meals a day feels absolutely preposterous for any sedentary profession. There's just no need to eat that much (or that often) unless you have an actually physically demanding job.

When I was multiday camping and bicycle touring over mountainous terrain, I tried skipping breakfast once (it takes extra time), and it left me strikingly weak.

Very different energy demands from office work.

I had a similar experience when I was a bicycle-riding missionary in Japan. I unwittingly reduced my calorie count drastically one day by switching up my breakfast menu and had to return and refuel early. At the time we were riding about 60-80km a day.

I had the exact same experience. I was totally outmatched. Interestingly though, in my typical life as a guy with an office job, I average about 1 breakfast per month and have no problems with energy in the morning.

Misleading title. Many cultures have a concept of a morning breakfast meal.

Title should be: How cereal became a thing in America.

Where I grew up, breakfast was just eggs, bread, and tea (or milk-tea).

It does address the question of when and why people started eating breakfast. It just concentrates mostly on the foods eaten by Americans for breakfast.

Obesity problem as well. I know some people don't like to hear it, but breakfasts can easily go 800 calories and up. You are starting off the day in surplus.

If it's 33% of your meals then 33% of your kcal isn't an unreasonable place to start ;)

I'd be surprised to hear that this is common, though. I was actually going to suggest that for this supposed most important meal of the day, the options for breakfast are not very substantial. I have a bowl of cereal (2 x weetabix + semi-skimmed milk) - all of 150kcal. Add a cup of tea and it still won't be past 175kcal. Suppose I have to get up early for whatever reason and treat myself to an extra weetabix to make up for it - 250kcal.

This seems to be enough for me (suggesting that perhaps breakfast's importance is indeed overblown - not that I'd like to go without it), but it's not very much. I ate a slice of quiche for lunch today that was more than that.

A lot of people on the go tend to grab donuts, bagels and the like which can add up to a lot more.

> You are starting off the day in surplus.

Generally breakfast comes after a 10-12 hour fast for most people, so I don't think this is the way to think of it.

True, I think a good policy is to eat when you're hungry. Not sure the body was necessarily meant to be constantly processing food all the time anyway.

Totally agree, and also breakfast is the 'easiest' meal to skip as well, along with mooted benefits of extending your overnight fast.

I would be shocked if most people in our obese country don't eat after dinner.

Fasting, while accurate, is kind of deceptive too, since most of those hours are spent asleep. Very few people burn of their previous day's intake by the time they've woken up, or even close to it.

And an insulin spike.

I'm more interested in how breakfast food became mostly garbage for so many Americans. May as well eat a Snickers, chili dog and a Coke from the gas station when you get up.

I'm pretty sure that's the primary question the article answers. Heavy marketing of highly sugary cereal.

I find more insight and less conspiracy in "History of breakfast" from Wikipedia[1]. The Wikipedia article talks about different perspectives before 1800 since it is not clear why the article is talking about the American breakfast instead of focusing on different cultural perspectives (e.g. "Before cereal, in the mid 1800s, the American breakfast was not all that different from other meals").

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_breakfast

I don't drink coffee at all. I eat a vegetarian sandwich every morning when I go to work, it gives me a good start for the day, I feel sharp and focused all morning. Sometimes when the sandwich shop is closed I buy something like a chicken sandwich, and that makes me more sleepy and tired.

Lunch is usually a big pile of rice with some vegetables and meat. Wow, this makes it reeeally hard to stay awake at the afternoon, but there aren't many options for lunch near the workplace.

For dinner, my wife cooks something also usually rice with some meat and veggies. But about 1 hour before I plan to go to sleep I eat 1 or 2 bananas. I always had hard time sleeping, and I read that bananas are good for sleeping because it contains potassium. For me it works. Although this might be completely placebo, because bananas don't work for my wife.

This may be an argument against breakfast for the sedentary, but athletes on extended training programs usually need to eat in the morning. You're much more likely to hit the wall on an empty stomach, a few hours into your training.

That's totally true, but I would argue the second half of your statement covers approximately 5% of the U.S. population, while the first half covers the other 95%.

I'd also add that I am an amateur long-distance runner and just completed a medium distance run after fasting all day and performed fine. Had it been a race, probably less so. But the myths of caloric necessities have been greatly exaggerated.

That is very much unsubstantiated, all kinds of athletes enjoy and thrive training fasted. It's probably much more complex in what's best for whom than just "much more likely to hit the wall". Type of metabolism, levels of fat adaption, type of activity, length of activity, etc all matters.

As an personal anecdote, I enjoy climbing in the mornings before having food, that's a few good hours of intermittent sprint type activity.

Sure it's more complex, but it you're still more likely to hit the wall. Also, correct me if I'm wrong but climbing isn't quite as cardiovascular as cycling for instance, and I'd be hard-pressed to find an endurance athlete who can survive with no breakfast.

Not just athletes but also people who exercise better in the morning.

I have to head out running before 06:00 ( ex-farm border collie dog still has early-rising demands ) so need to eat about 05:30. On a couple of occasions I overslept and skipped breakfast. It was terrifying, I barely had enough energy to make it back home and was shaking. All my body wanted when I returned was sugar, now.

So in my case at least a bowl of museli / milk / yoghurt and a banana is the minimum possible breakfast.

You can escape from this it you want. I'm mostly on ketogenic diet now, no sugar whatsoever and only minimal carbs-- I'm just leaving for a 20k run, and most probably I won't be hungry when I return.

Title is misleading. It should be titled "How cereal became a thing". But that is kinda obvious and no one would probably click it then.

If you have ever chance to read any ancient Greek historian, you would notice breakfast was a big deal back then. Xenophon for example mentions it about every time he describes how the morning starts in an army camp. This is just another click-bait article, don't fall for it.

I was surprised to see no mention of Edward Bernays:


Breakfast is not a new thing, or it has anything to do with cereal or milk or donuts.. Just google image search Turkish Breakfast...

I dont know why but if I skip breakfast I will 100% get a headache later during the day. Not sure why it's happening...

Do you eat a lot of sugar? I used to have pastries or cereal and sugar with my coffee at breakfast and sometimes throughout the day. Like for you, a skipped meal or snack meant headaches. I've since weaned off sugar and I can easily go many hours without eating or snacking. I no longer eat breakfast.

I suspect that the blood sugar spikes were addictive, i.e. my body desensitized and needed me to frequently consume sugar to keep my blood sugar level high.

Try gradually reducing the amount of sugar that you consume, and/or the total amount that you eat at breakfast, as well as the frequency of your snacks throughout the day. Eventually you should be able to do fine on two good meals a day and nothing else.

Interesting thought thanks, however I mostly eat cottage cheese or greek yogurt with granola in the morning, I almost never eat sweats in the morning.

For what it's worth, granola is heavily sweetened (with honey or maple syrup, which are effectively sugar).

yup, but I honestly only add like a tablespoon of it to add texture to yogurt. It's more like a stress sort of headache that comes from not having food, I feel muscle stiffness in the neck which causes a headache, really weird

Most yogurt in America is heavy on sugar as well.

Yep, but not the greek one, I am eating this one: http://usa.fage.eu/yogurts/fage-total-plain#fage-total loads of protein and tastes great

I get the same thing if I don't eat something mid afternoon... usually try to have a few apples at my desk and have one around 10am, and another at 3:30, having lunch around 1... I can skip any given meal, but if I don't have something in the afternoon, I really loose it later in the day.


Not really, I drink plenty of water

Sounds like caffeine withdrawal.

Personally I feel best with a very small breakfast (maybe just a coffee), large lunch and small or no dinner.

this article kind of lags for a while (at least several months) as in march 2015 Bloomberg business wk just ran a cover story of the declining cereal sales across the board:


and the last several paragraphs about "breakfast-denying" seem biased as there are more studies to support the importance of breakfast.

And yet, cereal is in decline, apparently because pouring two things into a bowl is too much effort, among other reasons. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/business/cereals-struggle-...

Cereal is a sugar delivery vehicle, but juice is good as gold.


He probably means juicing, as in sticking fruits and veggies in a juicer and making something akin to a smoothie.

Since the article stated that 50% of adults account for cinnamon toast crunch I'm thinking it's because we're realizing that even if we do eat it, we're still hungry within an hour.

After building the habit of eating a solid breakfast, I noticed others followed the same pattern I did; eat two big meals and feel too nauseated in the morning to eat.

edit: the eating two meals part was during my cereal phase.

It's really freeing to realize you won't die if you skip a meal.

Your mental and physical stamina will be reduced though.

If you have trained your body to expect food every 5 hours, sure. If humans could not survive short (letalone prolonged) periods of fasting, we would not have survived very long.

How are you supposed to hunt an animal if you get light headed and lose mental faculties when hungry?

Not really no. Our bodies have not evolved since the point in time where the access to food was much more difficult, it is perfectly adapted to not getting energy intake regularly.

That's just not true.

I can run much farther if I ate my previous meal than if I didn't.

And the effects of skipping breakfast on the cognition of children have been studied ad nauseam. A lengthy list: http://frac.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/breakfastforlearn...

> I can run much farther if I ate my previous meal than if I didn't

If anything I would think the reverse to be true. Runners and cyclists eat sugar gels instead of 'real food' because gels are easier to digest, and all the energy you spend on digestion isn't spent on the activity.

They generally only do that during activities or shortly (30-60 minutes) before. Gels are eaten rather than "real" foods to match the glycemic index to the rate of energy expenditure.

In any case, this really only applies to lengthy activities, where glycogen is exhausted. It doesn't matter for a 5k or even a 10k run.

Depends on what your body is accustomed to.

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