I want to share with you a concept about skipping breakfast (and other meals), and how your health will benefit as a result. Intermittent fasting is a technique that incorporates a weekly fast into your routine. This method is great because it allows you to reap the benefits of fasting without leaving you feeling weak or deprived. Research has shown a ton of health benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently. For many different physiological reasons, fasting can help promote fat loss when done properly.
By fasting and then feasting on purpose, intermittent fasting means eating your calories during a specific window of the day, and choosing not to eat food during the rest.
There are a couple different ways to take advantage of intermittent fasting:
- Regularly eat during a specific time period. For example, only eating from noon-8 PM, essentially skipping breakfast. Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window.
- Skip two meals one day, taking a full 24-hours off from eating. For example, eating on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then not eating again until 8PM the following day.
From a fat-burning perspective, intermittent fasting is a powerful tool. When you’re in a fed state, the body has to produce insulin to keep your blood sugar at a safe level. Insulin’s main job is to shuttle excess glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream over to the muscle, liver or fat cells for storage. But insulin doesn’t only take sugar out of the blood – it also increases fat storage.
Many experts have led people to believe that eating five or six meals a day is the only way to eat for weight loss. However, when eating 5-6 times per day, the body is consistently releasing insulin to facilitate the uptake of sugar from the blood into the cells after every feeding. Along with allowing the glucose to enter the cells for energy, the cells also tend to hold on to existing fat stores as long as insulin is high. Chronically elevated blood insulin levels is a problem if your goal is efficient fat loss and you have insulin resistance.
Blood Sugar Issues
Intermittent Fasting can be complex for people who have issues with blood sugar regulation, suffer from hypoglycemia, have diabetes, etc. If you fit into this category, I highly recommend you check with your doctor before adjusting your eating schedule. You should first work on improving the quality of your foods before introducing fasting. Once you get your blood sugar under control by reducing the amount of refined sugars and processed foods you eat, you can try eating less to see how you feel.
Eating 6 Times a Day May Not Be Ideal for Fat Loss in All Individuals
Martin from LeanGains points out two important quotes from the study:
“…The premise underlying the present study was that increasing meal frequency would lead to better short-term appetite regulation and increased dietary compliance; furthermore, it was hypothesised that these predicted beneficial effects of increased meal frequency could have resulted from more favourable gut peptide profiles, potentially leading to greater weight loss. Under the conditions described in the present study, all three hypotheses were rejected.”
“…We had postulated that increasing meal frequency would enhance the compliance to the energy restricted diet thus leading to greater weight loss, an effect possibly mediated by increased fullness. The present results do not support this hypothesis.”
Why Intermittent Fasting
Because it works. Although we know that not all calories are created equal, caloric restriction plays a central role in weight loss. When you fast (either for 16 hours per day, or 24 hours every few days), you are also making it easier to restrict your caloric intake over the course of the week. This will give your body a chance to lose weight as you’re simply just eating less calories than you were consuming before.
Because it simplifies your day. Rather than having to prepare, pack, eat, and time your meals every 2-3 hours, you simply skip a meal or two and only worry about eating food in your eating window.
It requires less time (and potentially money). Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals. Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice. Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice. Rather than having to purchase six meals a day, you only need to purchase two.
It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, two keys for weight loss and muscle gain (if done with exercise that promotes muscle growth). Along with increasing insulin sensitivity in your cells, growth hormone is increased during fasted states (both during sleep and after a period of fasting). Combine this increased growth hormone secretion, the decrease in insulin production (and thus increase in insulin sensitivity), and you’re essentially priming your body for muscle growth (in conjunction with proper exercise) and fat loss with intermittent fasting.
- Effects of meal frequency on energy utilization in rats.
Hill JO, Anderson JC, Lin D, Yakubu F. Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University
- Meal frequency and energy balance.
Br J Nutr. 1997 Apr;77 Suppl 1:S57-70.
- Thermogenesis in humans after varying meal time frequency
Wolfram G, Kirchgessner M, Miller HL, Hollomey S.