I’m a proponent of intermittent fasting because I believe in its health benefits, but I’ve not always been that way.
When I first started as a fitness professional, I used to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Like many other well-meaning fitness pros, I preached the message of “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” It was the dietary philosophy I believed and lived.
Just like our brain needs, 7-8 hours of sleep, almost every organ in our body needs 12-14 hours of downtown, to repair, reset and rejuvenate.
Dr Satchin Panda.
Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal of The Day?
The answer depends on your definition of the word, breakfast.
Breakfast comes from two words, break and fast, which can be defined as “break the fast” or “stop fasting.”
Every morning you wake up in a fasted state. How many hours you’ve fasted depend on when you had your last meal the previous day, and how many hours of sleep you had. You break your fast with the first meal you have after those long hours of fasting.
Breakfast, therefore, is not the meal you eat in the morning. It’s your first meal of the day, and when you have the first meal or break your fast is a matter of personal preference!
You’re not skipping breakfast if you choose to break your fast at 11:00 am or 12:00 pm. You’re just extending your fasting window.
Maybe you’re thinking, “If it’s okay to extend the fasting window, why then do some weight loss experts advise people to eat early breakfast?” Good question!
The primary reason some weight loss experts recommend that those who want to lose weight should break the fast early is that many people tend to overeat later in the day when they skip breakfast. While traditional breakfast skippers tend to eat more later in the day because of overcompensation, those who follow the intermittent fasting (IF) nutrition strategy stay within their daily calorie need. They don’t overeat during the feeding window.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a method of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and feeding known as fasting window and feeding window respectively.
There are different intermittent fasting methods. The most popular ones are:
The 16/8 Method: In this method, you’ll fast for 16 hours and have an 8-hour feeding window. Your fasting window includes your sleeping hours. Examples: Eat your first meal at 11 am and stop eating from 7 pm. Or eat your first meal at 10 am and stop eating from 6 pm. Or eat your first at 12 pm and stop eating from 8 pm.
Eat-Stop-Eat: In this method, you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. During your 24-hour fasting window, you’ll take a complete break from food. The fasting period is then followed by a feeding window where you eat whatever you like.
Be careful not to compensate by overeating during the feeding window. That will undo whatever progress you made during fasting.
Which protocol is the best? I follow and recommend the 16/8 method because it’s easy and doable for most people (some days I extend my fasting window to 18-20 hours).
Intermittent Fasting Increases Fat Metabolism
Contrary to what advocates of the 5-6 meals a day want you to believe, intermittent fasting does not slow down your metabolism. This study here and this one here and several other studies have shown that short-term fasting increases fat burning.
Eating 5-6 meals a day will not turn your body into a fat-burning machine, and fasting for a few hours a day will not give you a sluggish metabolism. Your metabolism isn’t going to slow down if you BREAKFAST at 12 pm instead of 8 am! And you’re not going to die if space your meals by 4-5 hours.
Intermittent Fasting or Traditional Feeding
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a proponent of intermittent fasting. I do it more than three days a week and recommend it to my clients. But, I also understand that everybody’s body is different and different people respond to the same programme in different ways. What works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, you must find what works for you and be consistent with it.
Some people do well eating three meals a day, and some do well on intermittent fasting. Both methods of eating have been researched and found to be effective for weight loss.
When To Try Something New
If the way you’re eating right now is not giving you the results you want, maybe it’s time to make a few changes and try a new thing. Give intermittent fasting if eating breakfast isn’t working for you.
And if you are a breakfast skipper, try eating regular breakfast or switch to the proper intermittent fasting protocol.
You’ll see the most result where you make the most change.