Growing up you were told that you should eat breakfast every morning because it’s the most important meal of the day.
Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast, you were told, helps set the tone and gives us much needed energy for the day ahead.
For years the media would peddle this myth to sell us cereals and other breakfast items. But that’s all it was, a myth.
This myth, which has become so ingrained into society, didn’t come from any scientific studies but by marketers working for the companies that sell the sugar coated cereals you see on shelves today.
The most important meal of the day is not breakfast and neither is it lunch or dinner.
When it comes to good nutrition you need to focus on three things:
- Eat nutrient dense foods. Green vegetables, coloured vegetables, fruits (mainly berries), beans, legumes, seed and nuts
- Don’t over-eat. Weight management is basically calories in / calories out so don’t over-eat foods that are calorie dense such as meats and dairy food
- Stay hydrated. The adult male body is made up of around 60 percent water so it makes sense to consume adequate amounts of it
Everything else is just folly.
Especially in the age of today’s current protein obsession. Protein shakes, protein bars, protein pancakes, protein waffles.
No one has ever died (in the Western world at least) of protein deficiency. It’s just another fad in the crooked world of fitness and nutrition.
Eating breakfast (which means ‘breaking fast’) can hinder your health more than help it.
But let’s get some common myths out the way first:
- Skipping a meal won’t make your body hold on to fat
- Eating frequently won’t speed up your metabolism
There is no scientific evidence to support either but once again they become ingrained into society as false truisms. Forget them.
Fasting (going without food) intermittently has shown to have numerous benefits to it.
- It optimises hormone levels: your insulin levels drop and your HGH (human growth hormone) levels rise when you’re in a fasted state
- It helps lose weight and belly fat: the lower insulin and higher HGH helps break down fatty tissue especially in the belly area
- It helps with calorie control: when you have a shorter eating window it makes it easier to consume less calories in the day
- It lowers risk of type II diabetes: fasting lowers blood sugar levels
- It promotes cell self-cleaning: cells are the line of life and fasting causes autophagy which is when the cells in the body clean out all of the waste
- It’s good for brain health: it helps the brain produce new neurons and protects against brain damage
- It reduces inflammation: when you eat all the time your intestines have to constantly work. Fasting provides them a break allowing the gut to clean itself and reduce inflammation
- It regenerates the entire immune system: fasting kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells which fight off infection
To reap all the benefits above through fasting is more nuanced than you might think. The key to optimisation is through time spent fasted.
Nutrition scientists are still discovering what the fasted time sweet spots are but, at the very least, fasting for a minimum of 16 hours a day will provide you with a range of these benefits.
Fasting for 24 hours will show even greater results and likewise 48 hours even more so.
Most people would never consider fasting for that long because they’ve been so indoctrinated with bad science.
Remember: We need air within minutes, water within days and food within weeks.
My intermittent fasting routine is broken down as this:
- 17/18hr fast
- Stop eating at 8pm (the time of my last meal)
- Start eating at 1pm the following day
- I allow myself water and coffee (black or sometimes with only a splash of milk) during the fast
- Do three times per week
This seems to work well for me even when I’m training hard and consistently. The benefits I’ve received doing this method were:
- I lost body fat quickly
- My sense of wellbeing heightened
- Helped with calorie restriction as I was consuming around 2,000 – 2,300 calories per day
- I stopped craving food and learnt to differentiate when I was genuinely hungry and when I wanted to eat through habit
- My resting heart rate dropped from 57 to 49bpm within a week
— Stephen Davies (@stedavies) July 2, 2016
Some negative effects were:
- I lost strength in the gym. Though I looked more ripped and the strength came back as soon as I ate more
- I did 20 days of consistent intermittent fasting and developed a flu like I’d never had before. Whether this was to do with the fasting or I just caught the flu through other means is not clear
I plan on introducing a 24 hour and 36 hour fast into my regime. The longer the fast the more you should prepare the body by building up to it.
Not eating for 36 hours when you’ve had no experience of fasting in the past will likely make you feel terrible.
Fasting should be an integral part of your health and longevity protocol
There are simply too many benefits for it not to be.
If you live in a seasonal climate it should be easier to fast during the spring and summer time as the body doesn’t crave food as much during the winter months.
Now that it’s in winter as I write this I’m not fasting but slowly increasing my calories and lifting heavier weights.
Once the sun starts making a regular appearance again my routine will change and I will begin fasting again.
I train and eat differently depending on the season I’m in. This seems to work for me.
One thing I’ve discovered through my own experience of doing it and the scientific evidence that supports it, is that intermittent fasting will always be an integral part of my health and longevity protocol for life.
If you care about maximising your health for as long as possible then it should be part of yours too.