The maxim, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has really started to become mundane and hangs on the neck as an unquestionable fact. But then, hey? what’s with fitness enthusiasts all over the place with this intermittent fasting? (And mind you, it does involve the blasphemous skipping-the-breakfast!) So, is it really a war between the conservatives v/s the liberals of the breakfast club?
Here are the two most common facts that have been accredited to the healthiest people alive on the planet. (..and how I crush them!)
Fact number 1- “Breakfast of the kings”, stating that eating in the mornings is associated with losing weight than those who eat at night.
Fact number 2- “6 small meals a day”, stating that smaller meals throughout the day can keep your metabolism top-notch.
So… it all boils to the fact that eating king-sized breakfast and snacks throughout the day is THE way for optimal health?
Sorry to burst your bubble…
But that’s where Intermittent fasting tags along, turning tables on all the breakfast lovers. First of all, Intermittent fasting is not a diet, (and just like any bougie fitness enthusiast,) IT’S A LIFESTYLE!!! In laymen terms, you gotta skip meals…on purpose.
By combining feeding and fasting, you consume the same amount of calories (or less if you aim to get summer ready) that you eat throughout the day in a specific time slot (which is called in the intermittent community as the “feeding window”). The benefit you ask? You can meal prep more healthily and choose not to dig your face in that pie.
THE INTERMITTENT FASTING 16/8 PLAN
Deconstructing 16/8, the 16 hours is the fasting window out of 24 hours, leaving the 8 hours for you to feed. For example, you may choose to start eating from 12 pm and end your last meal by 8 pm; which without mathematics, simply means to skip your breakfast!
While this is the most common fasting window, you can even get some guts and try to reduce your feeding window to 6 or even 4 hours.
Personally, I choose to fast for 18 hours and feast for the next 6 hours. However, the beginners must not jump right away and begin by the 16/8 method.
How do you know you are your own boss in this lifestyle? You get to choose your own time (unlike, “9-5”.)
So, if you start at 8 AM, stop at 4 PM.
If you start at 10 AM, stop at 6 PM.
If you start at 2 PM, stop at 10 PM
If you start at… ah well, I have faith you can take it on from here yourself!
INTERMITTENT FASTING 24 HOUR PLAN
This method is also called the 5:2 plan where you fast for two days in the whole week and eat normally for the rest of the days. So if you put your forks down at 8PM, you must not pick them up until 8PM the next day.
Make sure you are not doing it for two consecutive days and have a “normal eating day” in between.
All in all, set different time frames and see how your body responds. I can’t stress enough, but the KEY TO STICK TO A DIET IS TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
Intermittent fasting is super flexible and because it has many variations and countless time frames, you can modify it further.
- You can pick from a 4 hour, 6 hours or an 8-hour feeding window.
- Hell yeah, fast for 24 hours too! (..and I promise, you won’t starve yourself because that’s not how really starvation works.)
- OMAD. (This is no terror group but “One Meal a Day”..which can be terrifying for some.)
The bottom line is, you need to experiment and see what works the best for your body, your lifestyle and your fitness goals.
This takes us to the next step of how our body functions when in fasting v/s when it is fed.
When we eat, our body functions to process that food and generate energy and you burn what you just consumed (rather than the fat.) While when you are fasting, the body does not really have any source of instant energy to burn up and so it falls back to its reserve, A.K.A, the stored fat (from all those cookies you had during the holidays) to use as fuel.
The fat-burning logic can not be simpler than this.
Let me just pause and point it out for all the ones who are rooting for their “pre-workout” snack during the morning hours A.K.A blasphemy number 2, the fasted workout.
Because you have depleted your glycogen and glucose levels from the night before while on your fast and do not have a pre-workout snack, your body will again fall back to its secret chambers, and by now you know that I mean the fat reserves…yes, from the cookies you ate! and ta-da! you can now use your fat as your fuel.
Enough with that science crap but why should you even consider Intermittent fasting?
- More focused on your goal. We know that restricting calories is one of the major reasons for losing weight and when you fast, it is pretty easier to keep your calories in check. You can easily shift from losing weight to maintaining it too.
- It simplifies your life. With a million decisions to make throughout the day, picking what kind of food you wanna have is rather annoying. Elementary Math: Skipping one meal= one less decision= simpler life. (Also great for people who think smaller portions are for babies!)
- Saves time. It is an immediate shift from the wise 6 meals to the blasphemous 2 meals. Less meal prep. Fewer dishes. You decide.
- Stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone. Either you pick the science book up or trust me that they are great for weight loss.
- Level up your brain game, mate. Intermittent fasting has been proven to counteract the feared conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia.
FAQs about Intermittent fasting:
1. Would you be really hungry if you skip the meals?
Wouldn’t wanna keep you in dark, so, hell yes. But that’s most likely because your body is accustomed to eating a certain way. If you eat at the same time of the day, it is natural for your body to develop a certain pattern. However, the magical thing about the human body is that you can break the habits and form new ones.
It is not as hard as it seems but the more overweight you are and how often you eat will determine your initial struggle.
2. Will it affect your workouts and make you more sluggish?
I, personally, am a living example of what science says, “Training with limited carbohydrate availability can stimulate adaptations in muscle cells to facilitate energy production via fat oxidation.” So, as I said before, your body will find fuel in your stored fat reserves.
3. How do you manage with a 9-5 job?
It is all about creating the window that suits your lifestyle and goals, and as I said before, listening to your body.
4. Isn’t Intermittent fast forcing me to starve myself?
What most people think (which might not be the truth): If I do not feed myself every 3 hours, my body will starve, and as opposed to using the reserved calories, it will begin storing fat.
What most people don’t know (which is the fact): Because of the increased “fad diet” trend, starvation has been sensationalized. For the body to go into starvation mode, it takes a super long amount of time and we are talking about just 16-24 hour fasts here. Therefore, will you be starved to death isn’t really what you should be worried about here.
5. How much should you eat?
That’s very simple. Just about how much calories you eat every day. The focus should be on tracking your calories. The logic is regular: If you want to lose weight, eat in a calorie deficit. If you wanna bulk like the Hulk, you gotta eat more than you burn. It is really NOT THAT COMPLICATED.
Some tips that would come in handy for the beginners:
1. You must not freak out. Do not worry about the extra apple slice you ate at 3.01 PM when you should have started fasting or if you can push yourself to fast for 20 hours instead of 16. Always remember to listen to your body and know that it is okay. So forgive, forget and move on.
2. Try Fasted cardio ( even if it is a morning walk): Moving your body during your fasting period might seem terrifying but not only does it help in detoxifying your body, but it de-clutters your mind too.
3. For the fifth time, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you get light-headed or dizzy during your workouts, make sure you are hydrated well. Reflect back on your diet and make sure if you have had enough macros during the feeding window. The best way would be to ease yourself into the routine because we all know that the little turtle won the race.
4. Watch out for the breakfast eaters. So, you are no longer apart of the breakfast club but do not worry, you are working towards a higher goal, right? Other members of the club might find it dumb or funny, but you gotta embrace all that comes in the package.
5. Staying busy. It is all good until and unless you are staring at the clock with your fork and knife ready. So keep yourself busy.
6. Make zero your new best friend. I completely understand you will have zero friends after you quit your breakfast club, but make friends with zero-calorie beverages like black coffee, green tea, and water.
7. Track your results. If you are concerned about losing muscle mass or want to lose weight, you will have to keep a track of how much calories you intake.
8. Intermittent Fasting is not a miraculous panacea. While intermittent fasting can have plenty of health benefits, excuse me for sounding like a relationship expert here, but you must not expect a lot because expecting too much often leads up to heartbreaks….and eventually, you might even wanna break up. Ain’t nobody got an 8 pack abs by skipping breakfast.
Everyone is different and would adapt differently to different kinds of lifestyles. It is best to stay 80 percent consistent and make it till the end of the year, instead of giving your 100 percent for just a month.
Here’s a more fun way to learn about it:
Let me know what confuses you about this trending diet?