*Cue the gasps*
I was at a bar with my friends the other night and we were talking about counting calories. I mentioned how skipping breakfast for the past four months has helped me lose weight. “But you’re supposed to eat within thirty minutes of waking up,” my friends argued. I opened my mouth to explain my reasoning and clamped it shut again because I realized I had no idea why it helps. It just has.
I went home to research intermittent fasting and now I will tell you what I’ve learned and why it works for me.
P.S. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is a myth. Tony the Tiger lied to you.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It's the practice of fasting for a good chunk of every day where you have a small window designated for eating. When you eat, insulin is released in your body to move nutrients into the cells. When you are digesting food, your body is in the "fed state. Once your body has finished absorbing what you've eaten, your insulin levels drop and your body is in a fasted state.
Ideally, IF requires 16 hours of fasted state and 8 hours of fed state. So your window of eating would be similar to 12-8 PM daily. I don't follow this window very strictly. I will usually eat between 1 and 10 every day because I like to sleep on a full stomach. 10 hours of fed, 14 hours of fasted.
*I ALWAYS work out in the morning on an empty stomach*
reasons why I do
It helps me lose weight
When I lift weights in a fasted state, I'm forcing my body to use stored energy as fuel.
Think of this—If you go to the gym just after eating a sandwich, you’re using that sandwich as energy. But if you go to the gym in a fasted state, you’re using your stored fat as energy. See you never, love handles.
Eating less isn't as hard
To lose weight, I need to put less calories into my body than the calories I burn daily.
For example: After calculating my total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), I expend roughly 2,043 calories per day. To lose weight, I'll need to eat less than 2,043 calories per day. For those of you who are new to fitness and are wondering why your hard work in the gym isn't paying off, consider how much you're eating.
I GET SHIT DONE
I am on high alert in the morning on an empty stomach. It gives me the energy to knock out a thousand words of whatever I’m working on before the clock even hits 11am. When I was writing my dissertation for my Masters last year, I would break for lunch, eat chicken pad thai at my desk, and then try to begin working again.
I say try... because I ended up scrolling through Facebook and watching YouTube clips slouched over at the desk. My body was tired and lazy as it digested the food I had just eaten.
Picture American-football fans on Thanksgiving Day: After eating their weight in turkey and stuffing, they recline on the couch and watch the game or take a nap. A cat nap, perhaps?
It's a lifestyle
Skipping breakfast wasn't easy at first. I didn't mind not having to worry about what to eat in the morning, but I would get stomach aches as my body tried to tell me "Hey! I'm used to eating right now. Why haven't you fed me?"
As the months went by, it got easier and easier. Bodies adjust to their surroundings, that's the beauty of life. I can now outlast the morning and then some, as long as I have black* coffee to keep me going.
I'm not trying to tell you that you should live a fasting lifestyle but if you do want to lose weight and build muscle, paying attention to your calorie intake is very important. It's not about eating less, it's about eating the right amount of protein, carbs, and fat to reach your personal fitness goals.
*Black coffee, black tea, and water are all okay to have while fasting. The second you order a latte, I hope you're counting those milk macros
If you want to learn more
Comment below or send me an email and I'll answer any questions you may have.
Otherwise, you can check out Brad Pilon's site and read what he's got to say about IF. I promise it'll be a lot more informative than this post.
Also, Mike Vacanti has a very helpful post about how to calculate calories or you can download his free app . It'll calculate your calorie-intake for you and you can track your macros there without having to know math!