If the thought of skipping a meal makes you nervous, you are not alone. We have all heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, and the advice that you shouldn’t miss meals because your metabolism will slow down, you will eat more later than if you didn’t miss the meal, you will lose muscle, and on and on.
While there are some people that have health conditions that make it a bad idea for them, skipping meals now and then turns out to be good for many of us, and the newest research on healthy eating is focusing almost as much on when you eat, as much as what you eat.
For instance, research has shown that if two groups of people ate the same number of calories in a 24-hour day, but some ate them only from 12 noon – 6 pm while the others spread it out over the day – the limited schedule folks lost weight and the others didn’t.
Research has shown that while you may eat more calories after missing a meal – it usually ends up being less total calories than if you had eaten both meals. It also turns out that snacking isn’t a good idea for most people. Trying to keep all your food intake to meal-time only is important.
After a period of fasting, our metabolism may actually speed up – not slow down as previously thought. And we don’t lose muscle right away either. While fasting, after a period of burning up all the stored, quickly available sugar in your body – your metabolism mostly goes after fat next.
Intermittent fasting is all the rage right now. Fasting turns on a cellular clean-out mechanism called “Autophagy” and helps keep us healthy, as our cells get rid of old and damaged parts. Over time, fasting also decreases overall appetite so people eat less even when they aren’t fasting.
Fasting helps to lower the two main hormones that trigger weight gain – leptin and insulin. It is essentially impossible to lose weight unless those hormones are brought under control.
Think of our caveman ancestors. Did they eat 3 full meals every day? Definitely not. Our bodies had to evolve to tolerate and even thrive on periods of low food intake. The concept of feasting after “famine”, has turned into feasting all the time.
Many people are afraid of the hunger that can come from fasting, but most find that it isn’t as bad as they thought, and small waves of hunger often quickly pass. There are medications and supplements that can help people through these periods as well if they need it.
It is hard to fast while under stress, or when exposed to food sights and smells – so finding the right time and place is important. Drinking enough water is critical, and there are several tips and tricks that can help people get through it. There are also many good books on this subject now which can be very helpful.
Many start their journey into intermittent fasting by just trying to move their first meal of the day back until they have skipped breakfast entirely and start eating at lunch time. It is often possible to do this almost every day. Then once or twice per week, some move lunch later in the day as well, until they are going 24 hours without food – dinner to dinner. Longer fasts that are less often are also helpful, but again, most people need to be in a relaxed non-stressful state to be able to do that.
Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Insulin Resistance, and Metabolic Syndrome are conditions that often respond well to intermittent fasting. People who have hypoglycemia, or who are on diabetes and blood pressure medications, need to be careful when they fast and monitor their blood sugars and blood pressure. It is best to always check with your health care provider before taking on a fast.
If you think that intermittent fasting might be good for you, give us a call at Optimal Health Spectrums and we can help you design the right fasting protocol for your health situation!
Author Dr. Lynne Mielke Dr. Mielke takes a whole-person approach and uses specialized testing to determine the underlying cause of each person’s health condition.