I’m going to tell you to do something, and you’re going to think I’m insane.
You should skip breakfast every day. You can also skip lunch, honestly.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet. We’ll say it’s a lifestyle choice for now, or a tool. For one portion of the day, you fast, and you don’t consume any calories, and for the other portion of the day, you eat. This translates to about sixteen hours of fasting and eight hours of eating every day.
I know what you’re saying, but it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Eight or more hours of sleep counts for half or more of this fasting window. When you get up in the morning, you don’t eat or drink anything with calories for four hours, and at night, four hours before you go to bed, you stop eating. And that’s it. There are no surprises.
But … why? My doctor told me to eat three meals a day, and my friend said five.
You know that feeling you get, that impossible feeling, where you eat a big meal and then you’re hungry again forty minutes later? That’s because every time you eat throughout the day, your insulin levels go up. Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use the glucose (sugar) you consume from food for energy. If you have too much, it gets stored for later. So, what do you do throughout a day? You eat five meals: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Boom, boom, boom. It’s too much. Grocery stores haven’t been around forever, you know.
So, in comes intermittent fasting and another hormone called growth hormone. Growth hormone does all this great stuff (helps build muscle, burns fat, libido), but he can’t do his job because insulin is around. Solution? You fast. Your insulin levels don’t go crazy, you get one big spike during your eating window, and you give time for our man growth hormone to do his job.
Okay, but I have a few questions.
Sure. I’ve been fasting daily for close to seven or eight months now, and I remember how it was at the beginning. Going even an hour or two without food when I got up was hard. My morning routine was usually some form of bathroom, toast and orange juice, social media, start my day. But honestly, not eating in the morning is so, so liberating.
You got up at six in the morning for that shift in a few hours? I know. You hate being alive. You have to shower, shave, be pretty, eat, get dressed, commute, wave to your boss, wave to the one colleague you still like. It’s hard. Don’t make it any harder. Your whole routine and commute is like three hours. It gets easier and easier to forget about breakfast when you don’t have to worry about it. Get to work, and then have lunch.
Muscle is another big one that comes up fairly often if you’re a guy. “I’m trying to get bigger, Colin, not smaller.” Studies have shown that long-term fasting can have effects on muscle retention, but not intermittent fasting. The fasting window is long enough for the good stuff to come in, but not long enough for it to come out. Additionally, because intermittent fasting is simply a way of eating, and not a diet, you can still build muscle if you’re in a calorie surplus.
On days that I exercise, I fast for twenty hours, and then eat for four. During the four hours, I get all of the macro-nutrients I need across a few big meals, and in total, I’m wolfing down a little more than my calorie maintenance levels for muscle growth.
This sounds great, but what if I want to live a little?
Intermittent fasting is great because it doesn’t have to hold you down. You hold yourself down. You can decide what your hours are, and if it’s necessary, skip a day, or make your window a little bigger. When I know that I’m going to be eating late – ten or eleven, we’ll say – I’ll adjust my window to meet that. I’ll wake up and fast until two or three, have my first meal, and then later, at the bar, I’ll have my last meal. And because I’ve been doing this for so long, I don’t get hungry before my eating window - honestly.
I can’t imagine living without fasting at this point, and I know it’s a pretty big topic, so I’m going to link some videos here if you’d like more information. Happy fasting.
Colin Baines is a sloth masquerading as a human being in Algonquin College's two-year professional writing program. He eats a lot of vegetables, tries not to swear during class, doesn't own a phone and will often write articles loosely based on minimalism, nature, fitness, film, art, music, etc.