Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…or is it?
There is a growing movement to actually skip breakfast and instead choose to eat meals between certain times of the day in a pattern of intermittent fasting.
But what is intermittent fasting?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Conventional wisdom is that you eat a healthy breakfast to kick-start your metabolism and get the day going. You may have heard the saying…
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”
Some studies even suggest that people who eat breakfast lose more weight than those that don’t.
However, there is a growing belief that by skipping breakfast you can increase fat loss and lose more weight, and this is where intermittent fasting comes into play.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern whereby you only eat for an eight-hour window in the day, leaving 16 hours where you only consume water and no other calories. You still get your daily calories; they are just compacted within a smaller window.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
One-way intermittent fasting works is by cutting down the calories you consume. Consider the following…
Breakfast: 750 calories
Lunch: 1000 calories
Dinner: 1000 calories
Total: 2750 calories
Lunch: 1000 calories
Dinner: 1000 calories
Total: 2000 calories
Cutting out breakfast and only eating lunch and dinner means that you could cut out 5,000 calories a week which would be over a pound of fat each week.
The second way intermittent fasting works is by the way the body digests food. When you eat food, your body will use the digested food as energy as opposed to the fat you have in reserve. This means you don’t burn fat…but when you fast, during the fasting stage your body uses fat it has stored instead of digested food which means you lose fat.
The non-science version is that intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently, and your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of new calories to constantly pull from (if you eat all day long).
Should I Try intermittent fasting?
This very much depends on your goals and objectives but it could have the following benefits…
- Weight loss – By cutting out a meal every day and training your body to better use its energy reserves you will lose weight. How much over how long depends on a number of factors, but if you use intermittent fasting it will help you lose weight.
- Simplified day – Cutting out a meal will give you less work to do meal prepping and less to think about throughout the day.
- Saves money – By eating fewer meals a day, you will spend less on food. Simple.
- Hormone response – It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, two keys for weight loss and muscle gain.
- Psychological benefits – It can level up your brain, including positively counteracting conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
What Are the Negative Effects of intermittent fasting?
When intermittent fasting, you may get the following side effects…
- Hunger and cravings – Because you are given only a small window to eat, expect to feel hungry and be more tempted to give in to cravings throughout the rest of the fasting period. This is especially challenging if you’re on the hardcore 20:4 or challenging 16:8 diet.
- Feeling overly full after eating – Because your body is so used to not eating for the most part of the day, you might feel uncomfortable by the time you do get to have your major meal.
- Heartburn – Most people who practice intermittent fasting identify heartburn as a common side effect. Usually, this fixes itself in about two months, but if it doesn’t you should go see your physician.
- Being too reliant on teas and coffees – Because you can’t eat during the fasting period, you might become too reliant on coffees and teas. However, it can also lead to dependence. Drinking too much coffee or tea can also wreak havoc on your sleep quality and cause anxiety and stress, which will then result in rebound weight gain.
- Headaches – Headaches are a common side effect of IF because the body is used to having food in the stomach. Some intermittent fasting practitioners experience it once in a while, while others have it throughout the entire course of the program.
- Low energy – This is one of the top side effects of intermittent fasting. Because you don’t eat, you naturally feel weak and have low energy, which can stop you from being physically active. Some people tend to become irritable, even.
Intermittent fasting can potentially have some very positive benefits for somebody trying to lose weight or gain lean body mass.
Men and women will tend to have different results, just like each individual person will have different results. The ONLY way to find out is through a conversation with your doctor and self-experimentation.
There are multiple ways to “do” an Intermittent Fasting Plan:
- Fast and feast regularly: Fast for a certain number of hours, then consume all calories within a certain number of hours.
- Eat normally, then fast 1-2x a week: Consume your normal meals every day, then pick one or two days a week where you fast for 24 hours. Eat your last meal Sunday night, and then don’t eat again until dinner the following day.
- Fast occasionally: Probably the easiest method for the person who wants to do the least amount of work. Simply skip a meal whenever it’s convenient. On the road? Skip breakfast. Busy day at work? Skip lunch. Eat poorly all day Saturday? Make your first meal of the day dinner on Sunday.