What Is Intermittent Fasting?

28 Feb

I had heard of “fasting” before, but usually equated it to not eating anything for blood testing purposes or religious reasons. The first time I really read about intermittent fasting was through trainer Jason Ferruggia.

intermittent fasting

Jason has a book called, “The Renegade Diet.” In the book, he promotes intermittent fasting – where you don’t eat for 12-16 hours. “What??!” Yes it sounds extreme, but it’s actually 12-16 hours after dinner (your last meal), so most of that time is while you are sleeping.

In the book, he outlines how intermittent fasting can help you lose body fat and feel better all around. Here are a few reasons intermittent fasting may help you lose fat, according to nutritionist Brad Pilon:

  1. Increases fat burning hormones
  2. Increased fat burning enzymes
  3. Burn more calories
  4. Burn fat instead of sugar
  5. Eat what you want guilt free

“But aren’t you supposed to eat every 2-3 hours?” I have read that in numerous places too. However, I’m not claiming to know the right answer. Jason states that the whole “eat every 2-3 hours” is a myth. He says:

“Most people stuff their faces every 2-3 hours to “crank their metabolism” or “stoke the metabolic fire,” and end up eating way more calories than they need.”

In his book, he explains the science behind it more, as well as meal timing (when to eat carbs, etc.). He also discusses breakfast, since if you’re fasting for 12-16 hours, you probably will not be eating breakfast.

Is Breakfast Necessary?

Everywhere you look, health sites are saying to eat a nice, big breakfast and make sure you include protein. But is it really necessary? Ergo-Log wrote about this, and a study that was done:

In the 1970s researchers did experiments in which they gave their subjects just one meal a day. [Chronobiologia 1975; 2(suppl 1): 33.] The meal provided just enough calories to maintain body weight. When the subjects ate their meal in the evening they maintained the same weight. When they ate their meal in the mornings they lost a little weight.

Losing weight is a good thing though, right? Ergo-Log goes on to show other similar studies that showed that the weight lost is muscle mass, which is not a good thing. It’s a pretty interesting read so I encourage you to check it out!

Here are a few reasons to “skip breakfast” according to Dr. John Berardi (and he also touches upon intermittent fasting):

1. It’s not required to boost metabolism. The idea that metabolism slows radically in response to not eating certain meals in a single day just isn’t accurate. The amount of calories you’re taking in and the composition of those calories—proteins, carbs, and fats—are really what impact metabolism.

2. It may lead to eating less overall. If you skip breakfast you can eat fewer, larger meals beginning later in the day, rather than six smaller meals throughout the day, which may be less satisfying. This can lower your total caloric intake for the day and may lead to weight loss.

3.There’s a payoff even if you’re only an occasional skipper. Intermittent fasting reduces insulin levels, so you can actually increase your insulin sensitivity for better blood sugar management. At the same time, your body will release more growth hormone, which helps to preserve lean tissue and burn fat tissue.

4.It can help lower your total carb intake for the day. Most of us are over-carbed. We eat too many refined carbs, too little protein, and too much fat. Skipping breakfast can steer you away from the typical high-carb breakfast foods (toast, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes) that may trigger an insulin response that kicks you out of fat-burning mode.

5. It can help you tune in to your body. You just might feel better sipping water with lemon or a green juice instead of forcing down food first thing every day. If you’re one of many people who feel nauseous early in the day, you’re better off listening to your body’s cues. Sure, you’re co-workers come into the office, bagels with cream cheese in hand, but at the end of the day (and the beginning), you want to figure out what works best for you.

I would list all of the reasons you should eat breakfast, but through Google and other resources I think we know what reasons we are constantly given: It helps you lose weight, boosts your metabolism, you won’t be starving and eat a ton a few hours later, etc.

I actually did try intermittent fasting for a month or so, and surprisingly didn’t mind it. You would think that if you get up early, you are going to be hungry, especially since you’re not breaking the fast until around 11AM-12PM. But your body gets used to it. Each day, I would break the fast either with a green smoothie, or with eggs. And I ate bigger meals for lunch and dinner, and actually got in MORE calories than when I wasn’t doing the fasting thing.

I always thought it was so hard to get in enough calories with eating pretty clean (because what do you snack on?), but with the fasting, the bigger meals with more protein, carbs and veggies kept me full and helped me hit my numbers.

So am I promoting intermittent fasting/not eating breakfast? Not necessarily. But I did want you all to know both sides, because sometimes if you’re in a plateau, something like this could help you break through.

Perhaps try it out and see what works best for you! Doesn’t it always seem like health professionals contradict a lot of things? Eggs (good or bad?), coffee (good or bad?), Cardio protocol? That’s why I like writing about these topics, in order to explore both sides deeper.

Do you eat breakfast or have you tried intermittent fasting?

Are you curious about trying intermittent fasting?

What do you think about these viewpoints?


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3 Responses to “What Is Intermittent Fasting?”

  1. Stephanie February 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    I’ve heard so much about this and honestly don’t know how I feel about it still. Thanks for breaking it down for us and telling us your experience with it!

  2. Andrea @Pencils and Pancakes February 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    I’ve been playing with trying this for awhile….but I love breakfast so much!!

    • reach-yourpeak March 3, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      Same here but I just view it as a delayed breakfast 😉

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