Supercharge Your Health By Skipping Breakfast

Jess and Xandra say: Neither of us have eaten breakfast now for over six years (except Jess, when she was pregnant). Many of our patients are also doing the same, as intermittent fasting has become more popular. Once you get used to skipping breakfast, it becomes normal and you feel the benefit to both your mood and your concentration. Giving your digestive system a break helps to heal your gut and improves your energy levels. Both of us are often busy until lunch, so it isn’t unusual if we extend our fasting window a couple of extra hours. 

Paired with a balanced and healthy diet, intermittent fasting can be a great way to maintain or lose weight. Once you decide to break your fast, it’s important to consider what you eat, choosing a meal that is high in healthy fats and protein. If you can’t break your fast with a meal, carry nuts, meat, cheese, eggs or other high fat or high protein foods that will help you feel full until you are able to eat.

contrary to popular belief, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day!

Nor does it boost your metabolism or kick-start your day. This myth (and it is a myth) was created by cereal companies in the 1900’s1, as part of a campaign to encourage cereal consumption amongst workers. There is no evidence to suggest that eating breakfast helps you to eat better throughout the rest of the day, to lose weight, or to have better concentration or mental function, or that it improves blood sugar levels. It was simply a marketing ploy. 

Unless you are pregnant, under 16, underweight or have a medical condition that requires you to eat regularly (consult your doctor if you are not sure), then regular fasting periods could benefit you.

Fasting has been shown to be great for our health and can help with weight loss, weight maintenance and reducing body fat,2 as well as improving insulin sensitivity,3 which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

The easiest way to make fasting part of your life is to keep all food consumption within an eight-hour period each day. While you could structure this to not eat dinner, many people find not eating or snacking at night difficult if they haven’t eaten since mid-afternoon. By choosing to finish eating after dinner and skipping breakfast the next day, this becomes far less of a challenge and easier to manage for most people. 

Try to fast for 16 hours each day. If you stop eating at 8pm, you would eat the next day at 12pm. Find a timeframe that works for you. You must consume lots of liquid during this time, such as water, herbal teas, black tea, or coffee. Milk in a hot drink will interfere with the fasting process. 

why is fasting good for you?

Logically, we weren’t designed to have convenience food on hand and eat regular meals three times a day. In the past, we would have to find our food, by foraging or hunting, or we would have experienced times when food wasn’t abundant, and so would have periods without eating. Our bodies are designed to go through short periods without food, and it is good for us to mimic this ‘famine’ in our modern lives.

Fasting allows our body to break down any excess fat,4 get rid of toxins and stabilises our blood sugar5 and blood pressure.6 Evidence now shows us that fasting may improve the risk of diabetes,7 cancer8 and even Alzheimer’s.9 It may even help you to live longer.10 

Scheduled eating or the 16:8 as this way of eating is also known, has many of the same health benefits that are reported on diets like the 5:2 diet (fasting for two days a week) and, alternate day fasting.11 

can I fast and exercise?

It is perfectly fine to exercise if you are fasting. Studies show that working out in a fasted state forces the body to burn fat12 more effectively, aiding weight loss. 

The only word of caution is to make sure that you keep hydrated. If you start to feel dizzy or unwell, do make sure you eat something. It’s also important to eat a meal that is high in healthy fat and protein after exercising, and if that exercise is intensive to break the fast earlier if you need to. 

Jess says: When I first started fasting, I used to have a tennis lesson on Thursday mornings. My tennis coach was pretty tough – I used to burn around 700-800 calories in just a one hour lesson. When I started fasting, we both noticed a huge change in my performance, I played much better and I didn’t seem to tire as easily.

I’ve noticed this phenomenon many times. Now, I do two hours of karate each week and I definitely find it easier when I’m fasting during my morning session, than I do in my after-lunch session, later in the week. On the very rare occasions over the past few years that I have had breakfast, I’ve felt sluggish and tired all day.

If you are weight training or heavy lifting, it may still be useful to skip breakfast to help reduce body fat, to build muscle. Once you are in the bulking phase, it may be better to add a high-quality protein shake, before working out.

if you feel faint or dizzy skipping meals

Firstly, it’s important to get checked out by your physician, to exclude a more serious problem like diabetes, but once you have ruled this out, feeling dizzy when skipping meals is likely a sign of unstable blood sugar, which shows you already have a problem with your insulin levels (the hormone that helps cells to use sugar). This can be a sign of insulin resistance, which can later increase your risk of cancer and diabetes.

If you are underweight, fasting may not be the right choice for you, but, if like two in three of the UK population, you are overweight or even obese, then fasting is a great way to stabilise your blood sugar and reduce the risk of disease and may help aid weight loss. Any dizziness and faintness should pass quickly if you stay hydrated. 

the easy way to fast

Check that fasting is right for you. You shouldn’t fast if you are under 16, underweight, pregnant or have a medical condition that requires you to eat regularly. Check with your healthcare provider to make sure it is suitable for you.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Herbal teas, water and black tea or coffee are all fine whilst fasting. It’s really important to avoid dehydration. 

Fasting usually gets easier with time. When you first begin fasting, you can feel weak, hungry and grumpy without food, and training your blood sugar (and your brain) to fast can take time. If you’re finding it too difficult to fast for 16 hours, start at 12 hours and add an hour, every few days. Soon, skipping breakfast and fasting for 16 hours will be your new normal, and you’ll feel better, not worse for fasting. If you have any underlying medical condition you should consult your healthcare provider. Do not fast if you are pregnant or if you are on insulin, without consulting your medical provider.

Plan a good brunch or lunch. Have a healthy fat and protein-rich meal when breaking your fast, so that you are not tempted by sugary or refined carbohydrate snacks, when hungry.

Don’t stop exercising while fasting. Exercise can be much more effective when blood flow is not diverted to your digestion. Exercising while fasting is fine, though you may want to have a post-workout snack a little earlier, after heavy exercise.

Don’t continue to fast, if it makes you feel unwell. If you regularly feel fatigued, anxious or dizzy while attempting to fast, and those symptoms are not improving, stop and consult a healthcare provider, to check there are no reasons why you shouldn’t be fasting and to measure your blood sugar and possibly your hormone balance.

Consider starting your day with bulletproof coffee. There is some evidence that eating healthy fats like MCT C8 oil in the fasting period can boost energy, stop you from feeling hungry,13 support your microbiome and may aid weight loss.14 Biohacker Dave Asprey is the proponent of bulletproof coffee. It is made with black coffee, a little grass-fed butter and some MCT oil, whizzed in a blender to make a lovely (and tasty) rich, creamy drink.  If you can’t face your day without something, bulletproof coffee is ideal to keep you going until you eat your next meal. 

q&a with Jess:

Do I still have to eat diet food to lose weight if I skip breakfast?

We don’t like the term ‘diet food’ – it can mean so many things, and not all of them are good! Both Xandra and I eat a diet that is low in carbohydrates and free from wheat, as we feel this is the best way to eat for both our health and our weight. So, when we break our fast with lunch (or sometimes dinner) we eat foods that are high in fat and protein. Good examples would be smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, or some satay chicken with salad. If we don’t have time to eat lunch, we will have handy snacks like protein balls or nuts to keep us going until we can eat a proper meal. If you are trying to lose weight, then reducing your carbohydrates will mean that you don’t need to focus on counting calories, but instead focus on eating whole, nutritious food

Will a cup of tea really break my fast? 

The problem is that milk is high in sugar, thanks to the lactose it contains. If you really need a hot drink, choose either black tea or coffee or you could try a bulletproof coffee, which blends coffee with MCT C8 oil, butter and coffee. It tastes creamy and indulgent and can fill you up without interrupting your fast. 

references:

  1. How lobbyists made breakfast ‘the most important meal of the day’
  2. Varady KA. Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Obes Rev. 2011 Jul;12(7):e593-601. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00873.x. Epub 2011 Mar 17. PMID: 21410865.
  3. Barnosky AR, Hoddy KK, Unterman TG, Varady KA.Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings Transl Res. 2014 Oct;164(4):302-11. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 Jun 12. PMID: 24993615.
  4. Varady KA. Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Obes Rev. 2011 Jul;12(7):e593-601. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00873.x. Epub 2011 Mar 17. PMID: 21410865.
  5. Barnosky AR, Hoddy KK, Unterman TG, Varady KA. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings Transl Res. 2014 Oct;164(4):302-11. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 Jun 12. PMID: 24993615.
  6. Klempel MC, Kroeger CM, Bhutani S, Trepanowski JF, Varady KA. Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women Nutr J. 2012 Nov 21;11:98. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-98. PMID: 23171320; PMCID: PMC3511220.
  7. Barnosky AR, Hoddy KK, Unterman TG, Varady KA. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings Transl Res. 2014 Oct;164(4):302-11. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 Jun 12. PMID: 24993615.
  8. Rogozina OP, Nkhata KJ, Nagle EJ, Grande JP, Cleary MP. The protective effect of intermittent calorie restriction on mammary tumorigenesis is not compromised by consumption of a high fat diet during refeeding Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Apr;138(2):395-406. doi: 10.1007/s10549-013-2464-7. Epub 2013 Feb 28. PMID: 23446811; PMCID: PMC3610797.
  9. Halagappa VK, Guo Z, Pearson M, Matsuoka Y, Cutler RG, Laferla FM, Mattson MP. Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction ameliorate age-related behavioral deficits in the triple-transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease Neurobiol Dis. 2007 Apr;26(1):212-20. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2006.12.019. Epub 2007 Jan 13. PMID: 17306982
  10. Brown JE..Can restricting calories help you to live longer? Post Reprod Health. 2014 Mar;20(1):16-18. doi: 10.1177/1754045314521553. Epub 2014 Mar 13. PMID: 24879775
  11. Stote KS, Baer DJ, Spears K, Paul DR, Harris GK, Rumpler WV, Strycula P, Najjar SS, Ferrucci L, Ingram DK, Longo DL, Mattson MP. A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):981-8. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.4.981. PMID: 17413096; PMCID: PMC2645638.
  12. Why exercising on an empty stomach is the secret to weight loss
  13. Lemarié F, Beauchamp E, Legrand P, Rioux V. Revisiting the metabolism and physiological functions of caprylic acid (C8:0) with special focus on ghrelin octanoylation. Biochimie. 2016 Jan;120:40-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2015.08.002. Epub 2015 Aug 4. PMID: 26253695.
  14. Mumme K, Stonehouse W. Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Feb;115(2):249-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.10.022. PMID: 25636220.

Related Articles

Responses

Your email address will not be published.

Powered By MemberPress WooCommerce Plus Integration