How important is breakfast, how intermittent fasting is involved in it and finally is it worth limiting yourself in calories for the sake of higher productivity?
With intermittent fasting, you extend the time between meals, typically the hours between dinner and the next meal the next day. The most popular and everyday option is to skip breakfast and only eat lunch again. For example, if you finish your dinner by 8 p.m. and only eat again at noon the next day, you do a 16-hour fasting period followed by an 8-hour phase of food intake. Water is allowed throughout the day.
Of course, other time variants are also conceivable. Other forms of intermittent fasting are also being experimented with, for example, eating only one meal a day (24-hour fasting), or alternating a day without a meal with a day with food (every other day fasting).
I recently read a very interesting article posted by Bloody blogger about Intermittent fasting,
which intrigued me to make my research on this topic. What I found was very interesting.
For some people, intermittent fasting is an unpleasant condition, a kind of food manipulation. This is a serious situation that opens the door to the world of diabetes or weakens the functions of the kidneys and liver.
Since this is not a personal experience, this article will, for the most of its part, be based on scientific data. Unfortunately, research on skipping breakfast is limited or conducted on people who are overweight and have diabetes. But let’s try to figure it out anyway. So let’s dive in…
What Studies have to say
“Breakfast speeds up metabolism”, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” — you have probably heard statements like this, especially in cereal ads. Harvard Health Publishing claims that the research conducted to examine whether eating breakfast is linked to good health isn’t particularly strong. Breakfast doesn’t fire up your metabolism, make you healthier, or help you lose weight.
So, does omitting breakfast make sense? Simple logic says that the lesser the daily food consumption the easiest not to gain the required amount of calories. There are 13 studies on this topic, and they all differ. In one study, participants lost weight, and in another, they had no change.
At the moment, scientists are sure of one thing:
If you don’t like breakfast, just don’t eat it.
There are many confirmations of this. If a person was used to eating breakfast and then had to skip it, his glucose level increased, and insulin production slowed down. But for those who were used to not eating in the morning, their glucose levels did not change. Here is a study (on overweight people).
In another study, breakfast-haters were forced to eat in the morning for a month and gained weight. In this case, the common idea that a hearty breakfast helps you eat less throughout the day seems dubious.
Skipping breakfast most likely doesn’t make people eat more during the day. But only if they are used to such a regime.
So if you’re used to not eating in the morning, just don’t eat. Nothing bad will happen. But if you can’t live without breakfast, then include more protein in your breakfast.
“Not fasting, but biohacking!”
Silicon Valley regularly sets trends, including in terms of a healthy lifestyle. In 2017, the most fashionable phenomenon in this place was just a strict restriction on food. Intermittent fasting is credited with magical properties, dozens of studies talk about it, and several celebrities call it their main secret. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey eats only once a day calling the practice a source of energy, and former head of Evernote Phil Libin lost 36 kilograms in 7 months.
Intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss, prevention of diabetes and liver disease, and even a likely increase in life expectancy, but so far it has only been proven in animals.
Scientists attribute many of the positive effects of intermittent fasting to “metabolic switching” — after 10 or 12 hours of fasting, the body depletes its stores of glycogen (a stored form of glucose) and begins to burn ketones (fuel made by the liver from fat).
In November 2021, Harvard Health Publishing published an article on intermittent fasting. Here are the most important points:
- Dozens of animal and human studies have shown that fasting improves metabolism, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces inflammation from arthritis pain to asthma, and speeds up the elimination of damaged cells. The results ended in higher productivity and lower risk of oncology.
- There is some scientific evidence (more often in mice) that circadian fasting (no nighttime snacking) combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle is an effective method of losing weight. Especially for people at risk of diabetes.
- Try a simple form of intermittent fasting. “Limit your meal times, and for best results, do it early in the day (7 am to 3 pm, or even 10 am to 6 pm, but definitely not in the evening before bed).”
- People who suffer from eating disorders, diabetics, pregnant and lactating women should not try it out.
The simplicity and efficiency of the abstracts above can impress anyone. Just don’t eat after six and you’re great! But if you look at the scientific sources, it turns out that there are almost no long-term studies, and those that exist are mostly tested on mice or limited to the number of participants.
In addition to the damage that can be done to people with diabetes and chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (they can fast only on doctor’s advice), there are consequences for healthy people. Let’s see what research has shown so far:
— Reduced REM sleep
Several studies have shown that during intermittent fasting, the phase of sleeping responsible for learning, memory, and creativity is getting shorter.
— Long-term fasting includes health risks
As I mentioned above, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey only eats 7 meals a week. The National Institutes of Health of the United States believes that such practices increase the risk of gallstones, and John Hopkins Medicine writes that when you fast for a long time, your body begins to store fat.
— Intermittent fasting may contribute to mental illness
The more anxiety, calculations, and thoughts about food, the more mental health suffers.
Originally posted on Medium