“A number of studies show that people who successfully maintain a significant weight loss eat breakfast just about every day.”
-Amery Regional Medical Center
“Experts believe that breakfast keeps your metabolism running higher because skipping meals causes the body to kick into ‘starvation’ mode”
“Some people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity”
“The consumption of an early morning snack increases the metabolic rate and kick starts your body into gear. If breakfast isn’t had, your body doesn’t process your next meal as quickly and tries to hold onto those nutrients. … instead of burning it right away.”
“If you miss breakfast, you could go up to 18 hours without putting anything in your body. That’s unhealthy for everyone.”
But is this conventional wisdom really the truth?
Not eating breakfast is the Joseph Goebbels of dietary missteps. If you don’t eat breakfast, you’re obviously a lunatic, a member of NAMBLA, you hate puppies, flowers, and athleticism, and you have most likely seen every season of South Park. <shudder>.
But where did this law of nature come from? Where are the studies that show not eating in the morning will turn me into a half-ton card carrying member of the Westboro Baptist Church?
I looked around on the onlines, but couldn’t find anything that would substantiate these vilifying war cries against breakfast non-eaters.
(As a caveat: There is substantial research that shows that people who don’t eat breakfast make worse choices for the rest of the day due to hunger. This makes sense to me. There is also research that shows that people who drink more than 10 sodas per week have an increased chance of getting type II diabetes. Let’s keep thinking critically, and move on.)
Spending the Majority of the Day in a Fasted State can be Extremely Beneficial.
One of the biggest flaws in the argument for breakfast is saying that during sleep people use muscles as fuel, and that by breaking this fast, we promote a faster metabolism and reverse muscle loss.
This is simply not true.
The human body can go up to 72 hours in a fasted state before entering the dreaded “starvation” zone.
It wouldn’t make sense from an evolutionary perspective to have us start slowly dying after a paltry 8 hours without food.
Adding fasting to your current nutrition plan will make you leaner, more energized, healthier, and more muscular.
During an extended fast a few different things happen at the cellular level:
1) our metabolism increases, and we become more sensitive to insulin production, which is the hormone that decides whether to store excess sugars as fat, or as muscle.
2) We undergo a process known as AUTOPHAGY, which is the bodies way of getting rid of cells that are broken, beat up, or run down, and enabling your body to grow new cells and replace the bad ones. This is a process that is integral to muscle growth. It has also been shown to help halt the development of cancer.
Hey breakfast champions, shut up. We’re curing cancer over here.
For a more in depth look at some of these breakfast myths, click here. Otherwise, I’ll assume you’re on the same page as me, and will tell you how to fast in the most productive way possible.
Step 1) pick a type of fasting that works with your lifestyle.
20 hour fast
This is the difference between success and failure. If you wont/can’t do it, don’t try it. simple as that. For my fasting experiments, I tried two different methods, 2 years apart. I tried the 20 hour “undereating” followed by the 4 hour “feeding” period that is recommended in The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler. This turned out to be (for me) eating leafy green veggies all day, then eating an ungodly portion of food at night in one meal. The one I remember best was 18 eggs, 1.5lbs of pollo asada from Sprouts, 4 red potatoes, and 2 glasses of milk. Truly epic feasting.
Full Day Fasting
Another good option is an occasional 24 or 48 fast. This serves as a chance for your body to heal and filter out much of the crap you’ve been absorbing from the environment around you. This is a great way to try out fasting without committing too it. You’ll feel great afterwards. As a warning, you will be hungry, but have a glass of water, and then go do something to take your mind off of it..
16 hour daily fast
I also tried (and loved) the 16 hour fast with 8 hour feeding window as promoted by Martin Berkhan of LeanGains.com. I have had a great deal of success on this program, once I adapted it to my own needs.
As an aside, in the last 45 days since I have been doing this program, I have gained roughly 4lbs, and dropped about 3/4ths of a percent bodyfat. I have also been able to maintain great energy levels, my workouts have been fantastic, and my clients often ask me to quit yelling. That’s a win-win.
Step 2) Figure out What You’re Going to Eat and When
Just because you’re undergoing autophagy, and have increased insulin sensitivity doesn’t give you a shooting license to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. Everyone always wants the magic pill. This is not it. ….Unless you’re willing to plan your foods and not cheat yourself. Then it’s like the magic abs fairy came and got you shredded over a period of 8 weeks.
The biggest issue is that you might be hungry, and when you’re hungry, you want to eat Dairy Queen. But you shouldn’t. You should eat the foods that you made, and you should eat them at the time you’re supposed too.
Step 3) Make Sure You’re Timing your Eating Around Your Workouts.
If you’re normal, and you work, this is the hardest one. But it’s imperative that you take advantage of the hour after your workout to eat the majority of your calories for the day. When I say workout, I mean, weight training, strength building, and muscle developing. I don’t mean Zumba, and I don’t mean bosu ball nose touches.
I’ll give you a rough outline of what it looks like for me, (my workout being in the middle of the day) and you feel free to tweak it however you want. I also read every comment, so please post questions if you’re curious. If you want a custom built plan for your schedule and your body and your goals, I’m currently taking on new web-based clients.
If you’re not interested in trying this method out, please zone out now. It’s going to get boring.
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
Find out your BMR using this formula. This will tell you how many calories you need every day to stay the same weight.
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM)Where LBM = [total weight (kg) x (100 - bodyfat %)]/100
You then multiply these by an ‘activity variable’ to give total energy expenditure.
1.2 = Sedentary (Little or no exercise + desk job)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Little daily activity & light exercise 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderately active daily life & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.0 = Extremely Active (Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job)
If you’re looking to lose weight, subtract 500 calories from this number. If you want to gain lean muscle, add 500 to this number.
Then, plug your total caloric intake into these ratios to find out how much you should be eating on days you train, and days you don’t train:
Training Days Macronutrient Ratio
Carbs 45% DCI (daily caloric intake)
Fats 25% DCI
Protein = 30% of DCI
12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Meal one. Pre Work out meal. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
4 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).Cal = 50-60% or
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake. Cleaner.
Non-Training Days Macronutrient Ratio
Carbs – 25% (complex carbs)
Protein 35% of DCI
Non Training Days
12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Meal one. Largest Meal. Approximately 35-40%% of daily total calorie intake.
4-5 PM:. 30% DCI
8-9 PM: 30% DCI Cleanest Meal of the day.
Don’t be stupid. Do it right or don’t do it. If you choose to disobey that directive, please don’t tell people I told you to do this.
Try it out, tell me what you think, and get your abs on ladies and gentlemen.