I love breakfast. I mean… I LOVE breakfast. French toast stuffed with cream cheese, crispy salty hash browns, sausage, eggs… don’t get me started. We were told as kids that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Why wouldn’t anyone rejoice at these words? But alas, as more research emerges, it is becoming more and more clear that, at least in the traditional sense, the old adage is only wishful thinking.
Despite my love for breakfast, I rarely eat during this time of day anymore.
When I was a kid, the debate was whether we should eat 3 square meals a day or eat light snacks throughout the day. It seems modern society has finally found an answer to this question: 3 meals a day PLUS snacks all day! We simply eat all.. day... long.
When we stay in a pattern of constant satiation, our entire body—especially our digestive system—becomes overworked. Our bodies expend more energy on processing food and not enough on detoxifying and healing. Under these conditions, the digestive system will eventually begin to function abnormally. Our bodies will produce too much insulin and cortisol (among many other things), leading to metabolic havoc and skyrocketing our chances of chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, chronic pain, and obesity. The list goes on.
When we are constantly in a fed state, the body always has a surplus of glucose and adapts to use that as its primary source of energy. It also stores this excess glucose in the liver and muscles. This means when we need energy, we are going to use glucose from these tissues before we use any fat. This means less fat burning.
By simply changing WHEN we eat we can shift this balance and create a situation more conducive to use of fat as a primary energy source, which is much safer and closer to the way we were designed to function.
Intermittent Fasting helps the body reset its metabolic processing and shift back to using fat as a primary energy source. This results in a vast array of health benefits:
It's pretty simple, really. Just pick a time during a 24-hour period where you do not eat for 16 hours. It may sound extreme at first, but if you consider that a large chunk of your fasting period can be done while you are asleep it doesn’t seem so hard. I suggest 7 pm to 11 am the next day. This gives me the easiest window of conscious fast because it's either at the very end of the day or the first few hours of the morning. You can drink water, tea, or coffee during the fast. No creamers, sweeteners, etc. though.
When you are in a non-fasting period, you can eat whatever you want within reason. This doesn’t mean eating 3 meals worth of doughnuts and beer at 16 hours and 1 minute. You have to give your body good building blocks to use for repair. The detoxification happens during the fast, but the rebuilding occurs during the eating period. Obviously the better you eat, the better this will work! Low sugar, whole and unprocessed foods, lots of good fats and clean meats is a good place to start.
The following conditions may make intermittent fasting less suitable or even unsafe for you (consult your healthcare provider first!)
If you have ANY doubts, consult your healthcare provider to confirm this is a safe option for you.
Once feeling more normalized--combine with exercise, preferably challenging exercise--for a huge boost of healing power, energy, and body toning.
There is recent data to suggest that combining intermittent fasting with a keto-type diet may have synergistic benefits. Work on relaxation strategies such as meditation, journaling, and diaphragmatic breathing. Get enough quality sleep while fasting. Your body needs to rest!
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