I’ve always naturally skipped breakfast. I found out a couple of years ago that this is a new trend called intermittent fasting, but for me it was just listening to my body. A lot of people are finding that breakfast is not the most important meal of the day and are intentionally turning to intermittent fasting.
The concept that you need to constantly eat to “boost” your metabolism is outdated and not backed by sound science. Unless you are regularly consuming too little food (thus telling your body to burn fewer calories) your body doesn’t need a heads up from food to turn on. Basically, your body cares about how many calories you are eating in a day, not when or how often you are eating them. You may however find that you respond better emotionally or physically to eating in a certain pattern and that’s a different story.
What exactly is intermittent fasting?
It’s intentionally creating a longer break between your last bite of food today and your first bite of food tomorrow. Usually this fast lasts from 12-18 hours, but some will go full 24 hour periods or longer (not for me, personally).
Why do this?
A few studies have shown promise in the health benefits of regular fasting: weight loss, improved blood pressure and sugars, and brain health benefits. One recent, larger study from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) confirmed these results, but it’s important to note that these results were also seen in individuals who restricted overall calories (whether intermittent fasting or not). Basically, most of us need to eat less — intermittent fasting is simply one way to do that.
Why I Love Intermittent Fasting
Beyond the health benefits, I find it makes the start to my day less stressful. I like not having to think about what I’m going to have for breakfast or having to prepare it. I always start my morning with a matcha. Yes, you can have unsweetened tea or coffee without “breaking” your fast, but sometimes I sweeten it – shoot me! My matcha takes no effort, it is ritualistic. It gives me a boost of energy without my body being bogged down by going into digestive mode the second I wake up. My body needs a hot second to wake up before being stuffed with food again. I also like exercising on an empty stomach. And for my body personally, I get the best workout when I do it fasted in the morning.
How do I start?
You may already unintentionally be doing a 12-hour gap between your last bite at dinner and your first bite at breakfast (an 8 PM – 8 AM, for example). If that’s the case, try intentionally extending that time. I find keeping dinner at the same time and making your first meal later works the best. I personally do 16 hours each day. Finishing dinner around 7 and eating my first meal between 11 and 12 the following day. There are some great apps to record fasting.
How to find your sweet spot.
Stick with a timeframe that feels right in your body. Pay attention to hunger cues; you should be hungry but not dying by the time your first meal starts. You should never feel weak, shaky, or sick from intermittent fasting. It might be mentally challenging since our mealtimes are habitual for many of us. But physically it should feel good, not tough. Don’t go from 12 hours straight to 16. Aim to extend your time slowly (like 30 minutes at a time until it feels comfortable).
How to break your fast.
I find that when you eat fewer meals (I personally eat two meals per day), you need to be more cognizant of getting proper nutrition into each meal. The first meal that I break my fast with is loaded with vegetables, especially leafy greens, high-quality protein like eggs or salmon, and good fats like avocado, ghee, and olive oil. I typically keep my first meal lower on starchy carbs because this is how I’ve found my energy to stay the highest.
On a separate note: I recommend playing around with different types of meals at different times and figure out what optimizes your health. Self-knowledge will always be the most powerful way of figuring out an eating type that works best for you.
So have you tried intermittent fasting? Let me know your thoughts!