The Magic of Intermittent Fasting

Friday Jul 26 | BY |
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According to standard health advice, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Also, we should never skip meals and instead regularly eat small meals every three hours to maintain our blood sugar stable.

Almost all of the diet advice we get seems to have to do around what to eat and not eat.

– Eat protein
– Don’t eat saturated fats
– Eat breakfast
– Don’t eat gluten
– Etc.

But few people talk about exactly when we should eat. Oh I forgot, according to the advice of most diet gurus, we should eat more often, and never skip any meals.

But maybe your own personal experience just doesn’t fit with this modern diet advice.

Maybe you’ve found, like I have, that some time the best thing to eat is… nothing.

Maybe sometimes you are just not hungry in the morning. But yet, you’re told that skipping breakfast is one of the worst things you can do.

Maybe you feel better eating less often as opposed to following the standard advice of eating small meals every 2-3 hours.

Enter: Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is gaining popularity, even though it goes against standard dietary advice. The idea being that extending the daily fast, or occasionally skipping more than one meal in a row, can lead to some extraordinary health benefits.

IF is popular is some paleo and bodybuilding circles, where many people have found it useful to achieve the body of their dreams: low body fat with increased muscle growth.

Some of the researched benefits of IF include:

– Reduced blood lipids (decreased triglycerides and LDL cholesterol)
– Decreased body fat (and overall weight)
– Reduced blood pressure
– Reduced chronic inflammation (CRP, IL-6, TNF, BDNF, and more)
– Reduced oxidative stress
– Reduced risk of cancer
– Increased fat burning
– Increased growth hormone (in later stages of the fast)
– Improved appetite control
– Increased insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin levels
– Improved cardiovascular function
– Improved effectiveness of chemotherapy in cancer treatment
– Improved memory and cognitive function

All over the world, researchers are finding more and more benefits to calorie reduction and intermittent fasting. I will cover exactly why those benefits occur and describe them in more detail in future articles. But for now, let’s focus on the basics of IF.

Some of these benefits only occur after 20 hours of fasting, while others can be reached in as little as 12 hours of fasting. The more active you are in your fasting state, the more you are burning calories and therefore the fewer fasting hours you need to reach the same “fasted” stated.

But Isn’t Skipping Meals Unhealthy?

The type of fasting that counts as intermittent fasting essentially has to do with skipping meals rather than going on long, extended fasts.

Skipping breakfast even just a few times a week or fasting for 20 hours once a week all count as IF methods.

It may sound totally counterintuitive to think that skipping meals could give you more energy, help you lose weight, and prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes, but because fasting appears to be so effective, more and more researchers are studying its benefits today.

One easy way to realize that IF can work starts by admitting that the standard advice given by nutritionists doesn’t work.

For decades now, nutritionists in America have been recommending to eat more frequent meals. In fact, it’s clear that Americans eat many of those small meals, judging by the ubiquity of protein bars, snack dispensers, smoothie bars, eating in the car, eating while walking, and other elements of the snacking habit.

But how is it working?

Many nations have traditionally looked down on snacking as a unhealthy habit. For example, in France, children are not encouraged to snack and traditionally, only three meals a day are consumed, with breakfast being more of a tiny snack (coffee and some bread or fruit) rather than a real sustaining meal. Yet, and in spite of eating rich food full of butter, obesity rates in France have always been much lower than in America.

Throughout history, eating two meals a day rather than three was the norm. In fact, one of the reasons why IF works is because our bodies are actually designed for fasting.

Throughout history, we’ve gracefully alternated between two states:

– Fed
– Fasting

During the “fed” states, our bodies are digesting food and acquiring nutrients.

During the fasting state, our bodies are detoxing and regenerating, as well as burning excess calories and fat accumulated during the fed state.

One of the main reasons why we face many of the health problems we face today is because our bodies are constantly in the “fed” state, eating constantly, without giving our bodies a chance to utilize what it’s digesting and burn off the excess.

12 hours without food is enough to start experiencing some of the benefits of IF.

The Truth About Skipping Breakfast

We are told that skipping breakfast is dangerous and unhealthy. In fact, some research is showing that people who skip breakfast are at a higher risk for obesity and heart disease than breakfast eaters. (

But why is that?

The truth is that there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about skipping breakfast, if you don’t need to eat that meal.

All the studies that showed that skipping breakfast leads to more health problems are studies of “association.”

Typically, men who skip skip breakfast are doing it because of late-night drinking and binging. Men who skip breakfast are more likely to smoke, drink, be sedentary, and work too much.

My father was a typical breakfast skipper, but I’m quite certain that it’s not his morning eating habits that killed him at the too young age of 63. Dad typically woke up really early (around 4 or 5 a.m.), had a couple cups of coffee, and didn’t eat anything until 11:00 or noon. His lunch wasn’t particularly healthy, and most nights for dinner he had spaghetti with meat sauce and too much wine, followed by a rich chocolate cake. He didn’t exercise, and didn’t eat many fruits and vegetables (if he ate them at all).

Breakfast eaters, maybe because they listen to health advice, tend to pay attention to other aspects of their health: like exercise and the quality of their diet. Those people eat breakfast because they are trying to do everything that’s right for their health. Are they healthy because breakfast is healthy or because it’s marketed as healthy and those health conscious people are eating breakfast, among other, mostly positive things?

When it comes to IF, there’s no right or wrong for everybody.

The idea is not that everybody should skip the morning meal, or fast 24 hours a day.

If I’ve discovered one thing about IF in my research about it over the last few years is that there’s not one “right” way to do it.

Many people will need to eat something in the morning. And in fact, I personally eat a morning meal a few times a week (but skip it about every other day). I go with how I feel.

A Few Ways to Follow Intermittent Fasting

There are a few ways to incorporate IF as part of your overall routine. Not all of those will work for you. But through experimentation you may find one that works.

1) No Breakfast Plan — In the early 1900s, Edward Dewey wrote a book called the “No-Breakfast Plan” where he presented a revolutionary approach to health. His book was filled with testimonies from people who had incredible recoveries of all kinds of diseases following his approach. And you guessed it: it was pretty simple, and simply involved skipping breakfast.

Skipping breakfast only means that you eat a “late” breakfast, because the word “breakfast” actually means breaking the “fast” of the night and therefore means your first meal of the day. Depending on when you wake up, you could spend a few hours fasting before you have that first meal.

You don’t need to skip breakfast every day to experience the benefits. Try it occasionally, when you feel the need for it at first.

2) The 8-Hour Diet — A new book now recommends this approach. It’s pretty simple: you only eat during an 8-hour period during the day. For example, you could have your first meal at 11 a.m. and finish eating by 7 p.m. That way, you would be fasting for 16 hours a day.

I tried this approach and found that it didn’t work for me at this point in my life. However, I can do a 10 hour day without problems.

3) The No-Dinner Plan — Some people skip dinner or eat a very early dinner (around 4 p.m.) instead of skipping breakfast, and rave about the results they are getting with this approach.

4) The weekly 24-hour fast. Instead, you could simply fast each week for 20 to 24 hours in a row. I find that fasting for about 20 to 22 hours works just as well as a full 24-hour fast.

5) The 5/2 Diet. This approach developed by a doctor who produced an interesting documentary called “Eat, Fast, and Live Longer.” Every week, you have two “fast” days where you consume about 400 calories only during the entire day. On the other days, you can eat as much as you want. As you can imagine, many people who have tried this approach lost weight and had other great health results.

I’m currently working on a book about Intermittent Fasting, and will therefore cover this topic more in the future.

For now… the question for you is: have you experimented with IF and what were your results?

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. glace says:

    I used to skip lunch since it’s really easy for me, but I added it back in since I started focusing on muscle building. I just wasn’t getting in enough protein in two meals, and I read that the body can only utilize a certain dose of protein at a time. So the lunch is mostly to get in more protein and vits/mins. I’m still trying to understand muscle wasting and whether IF would or wouldn’t affect it.

  2. cindy says:

    I presume you are aware that there is a diabetes epidemic in America today. You do not mention that specifically, but you do say that IF brings increased insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin levels.
    So, do you say that IF is also healthy for diabetics?
    What about the theory of the liver with its stored glycogen self feeding if you go past 5 hours without eating?
    I find my fasting blood sugars are higher when I have not had every 5 hour snacks of some kind, presumably because my liver dumps out more calories with the self feed than I need.
    Can you please clarify if this theory applies as well to people with diabetes who may be on a variety of medications? Thanks~

  3. Judith Lee says:

    At 59, I was getting a little pudgy around the waist, and decided to go back to skipping breakfast. I actually like it, and am fitting into my pants better again. I generally eat a large lunch, and either a light dinner or sometimes none. I don’t really need a lot of calories for my lifestyle. when I exercise or am busy, I eat more. I wish that more people knew that chemo works best when given at night during a fast – but it isn’t convenient for the clinics and doctors. so sad. please do a blog on that to help get the word out. extremely important. Dr. Mercola also is an advocate of intermittent fasting. Thanks!

    • Glen says:

      Judith – I couldn’t agree with you more – it could have been me writing that. – I was a fit and healthy younger person, I skipped breakfast but had lots of energy – I exercised nearly every morning at those fun Jazzergetics classes (remember them?) – and gradually over the years I have realised that by eating breakfast I have slowly been gaining a little weight. I’m not really overweight but am now going back to my old ways of not eating until I am hungry which is usually late morning – it was what came naturally to me and it worked! I still eat as well as possible for the other two meals, and I now try and have my evening meal as early as possible. I still often incorporate what I would have eaten for breakfast (gluten free grains, flaxseed oil, blueberries etc.) – sometimes I just have a brunch and it works GREAT! Should have done it sooner.. Glen, NZ

  4. Darryl says:

    Fasting is a biblical concept which shows our bodies were designed to go without food. Although many biblical fasts were for spiritual guidance, there are some instances where just the lack of eating helped someone get healed. Without food, the body doesn’t have to focus energy on digestion and can then get to healing. If you’re not hungry, that’s the body’s signal it doesn’t need more food.

    In addition, long-term fasts are very beneficial. Going 7, 14, 21 or even more day on just water can help the body get rid of a lot of garbage and give the organs a much-needed rest. Incorporate fasting into your routines and reap the benefits.

  5. sheri says:

    I agree eating less in the morning can be much better. My usual everyday breakfast is homemade raw milk keifer.
    That keeps me going even on heavy work days till noon. Just a glass of that is all I need which is only about a cup.

  6. David says:

    I’ve been following the Intermittent Fasting regime since the BBC televised a programme detailing it this time last year. This programme also had interviews with US/canadian based advocates who have been researching the effects for a large number of years. One of those interviewed eats/drinks a fruit based smoothie each day. Although in his late 50s(?) he didn’t even look 40!

    My personal take on it is that I do it not to lose weight but for the other health benefits such as keeping the brain healthy. I follow the once a week 24 hour fast not eating from 14:00 until 14:00 the next day. I have no ill effects and in fact do not feel excessively hungry after the 24 hours. However my wife who suffers from diverticulitis does not follow any of the IF systems as when she tried the 5.2 system her diverticulitis flared up and did not subside for more than a week. The only concession that I make is that I still continue with drinking the juice of 2 lemons upon awakening.

    On another tack, I have a French book called Ma Bible de la Santé Nature. In it the author, Anne Dufour, discusses the 90 best fruits, vegetables and spices and, in addition herbs, how to prepare them and whether they can be eaten raw. She also gives advice as to the natural food response to minor complaints and ills. I trust that you would find this book as interesting and informative, as I do. Of course with a name like yours Frederic I am assuming that you read French fluently!

  7. Julia Bruce says:

    My daughter, age 27 just found out that she is type one diabetic (insulin dependent) We have been researching various natural supplements and diet strategies to heal this auto immune condition. In your research on IF, have you come across anything with regard to type one diabetes? Is it beneficial for a diabetic to be involved in any type of fasting? Very interested in your findings!!!

    Julia Bruce

  8. Melissa says:

    Yes, fasting has great results!! typically do 12 hours per day with only raw smoothies for brkft and sometimes skip dinner altogether, only regular meal is lunch. My body really needs to fast – it creates greater clarity by far and my memory cycles are much improved, even my hearing!!

    Would highly recommend this for any health concern – i currently have a much more sedentary life style so it helps keep the weight down … but i do continue to cook for others …. learning when your body is hungry and is simply not is crucial. I agree, i think alcohol consumption has alot to do with brkft skipping – but actually if some skip at least a smoothie before they can break for lunch – they will strategically overeat later in the day & then it is nearly impossible to lose weight, unless you’re a growing teenager!! i have certainly learned that all calories are not created equal.

  9. I tried Bert Herring’s Fast5 approach for quite a while. I did find good results with it, I lost weight and felt better. You basically only eat during a 5 hour ‘window’ each day so you fast for at least 19 hours. The only problem is that, since you do this every day, it can become quite restrictive and eventually I gave up. I think this approach of fasting some days but not others would be much more sustainable and I really fancy giving it a go again.

  10. marcia says:

    I tried the 5/2 plan and did not loose. My spouse lost 1 pound in a 4 week trial. I was not impressed with the results. I had lunch at 12 and dinner at 5 for the two days However I am 73 so perhaps I should not plan on ever loosing weight again. I do exercise and lift weights. Perhaps it would necessary to restrict calories also on non fast days.

    • Hi Marcia, I’m 55 and have been doing the 5/2 for 13 weeks now and in the first four weeks, I lost 3 kilos. I think your problem may lie in the fact that you’re eating twice in the day, which isn’t giving your body that “fasting” state. Because on that protocol, you’re allowed 400 calories a day, why don’t you go all day without eating and then just have a small salad at night if you need to. This is what I’m doing and it’s working beautifully and so easy to sustain, I don’t even feel like I’m dieting or depriving myself of anything, because I can eat normally on the other 5 days, although I don’t go crazy and overeat on those days either but I do have little plurges every now and then. Hope that helps. Deborah

      • Christine says:

        Hi Deborah,

        Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to try this also as splitting the meal into 2 didn’t work for me either for the short time I tried the 5/2 version of IF.


  11. Raz says:

    We Muslims have been eating this way for over 1400 years. Fast twice a week, also 3 additional days per month, and the entire month of Ramadan amongst a few other days. It’s so exciting to see science catching up to the Quran when it comes to fasting, black seeds, honey and other remedies. Welcome to the true fasting crew! 🙂

    • Mike Maybury says:

      I’ve always been puzzled by Ramadan- no liquids during all those (hot in Africa etc) days. Has any health research been done on the benefits of this.
      Dehydration is quite serious- what happens with younger people?

      • Raz says:

        The funny thing is, you think that it would be harder than it is! We get up about an hour befor the break of dawn and eat and drink. I usually spend a half hour drinking water and the. Have a smoothie or fruit, sometimes oatmeal pancakes. Then nothing to eat or drink, not even gum or mints, until sun down. At sun down I break my fast with water, many Muslim have dates which is preferred. I cannot handle dried fruits. Then I have a sensible dinner, not too big. Maybe salmon or tuna steak, sweet potato and veggies or salad. Then I drink water until I go to bed a couple of hours later. The hardest part for me is having water so close to meals.

        Recently, a couple of years ago, I did have a dehydration issue for the first time ever. I was not managing my salt intake and water properly. Too much sea salt in foods and not enough water. The good thing is that there are Islamic concessions. The sick do not fast. I had to miss a few days while I rehydrated because I was having health issues. But I’ve been fine since and this year the fast is a out 16 hours a day.

        The key is eating and drinking correctly at meal times. Also not eating too much in general. We practice a form of calorie restriction. There is an Islamic saying “a man never fills a vessel worse than his stomach.” This saying refers to the laziness, forgetfulness, and bad character that can come from overrating. We also say that the stomach should be one third food, one third water and one third air … Similar to the Japanese “hari hachi bu”. And we don’t mean eating and refi king together, which is discouraged.

        Thanks for asking!

      • Raz says:

        This IF article is a part of that research! Dry fasting, whether for spiritual or other reasons, is healing to the entire being. Even dogs do it!

        Children do not have to fast, nor the sick, nor the traveller, nor the menstruating woman, nor the nursing mother or pregnant woman if it would cause her and/or the baby harm.

        Oh and diabetic specifically do not fast. It’s not a religious stipulation but those that I know do not fast.

  12. Rebecca Cody says:

    My former husband never ate breakfast or lunch, but rather started eating the minute he walked through the door at night and finished when he went to bed. He always said he wasn’t hungry earlier. I wonder if perhaps his blood sugar was always too high. He ended up as a hard-bitten alcoholic who died at age 65.

    We rarely snacked between meals when I was growing up, but my blood sugar felt as if it were terribly low by morning. I would be shaky and almost faint before I ate breakfast. It wasn’t from eating a lot of sugar, either. I don’t think skipping breakfast is a good idea for children who are growing or anybody who feels weak and shaky when they wake up, until after they eat.

    To me, it makes more sense to eat morning and night and skip lunch.

  13. I have tried fasting 1 day a week and I love it. I can’t eat all day tried it and I always eat too many calories and end up gaining weight. But if I space my meals 4-5 hours apart I do much better, without any snacking between. I haven’t tried fasting 2 days but I may give that a shot! In fact, I feel much better when I fast! My brain works better also!
    Thanks for a great article!

  14. jim says:

    i just started fasting,,but sure need my sugar levels to come down,,,thanks

  15. Carol says:

    Re: intermittent fasting
    I’ve never been keen on breakfast except maybe 1-2x on weekends – I have a cup of instant coffee and something small to take my vitamins with. Eating breakfast regularly makes me feel bogged down. That’s the main thing.

    Another thing is, I learned to not be so keen for food early in the morning because I remember being given mostly cereal and maybe juice in the morning as a kid, and that was highly unsatisfactory. Like eating Chinese food – as they say, you’re hungry half an hour later. I think parents do that because they figure it’s ‘light’ food – they don’t realize that nutritionally, yeah, it is ‘light’.

    Now, I know that cereals are not good for you – I learned how they are made – even most of the ‘healthy’ cereals – they’re made by a process called extrusion – all the good stuff – nutrition is taken away, then they extrude it (creates the shapes), which involves high speeds and high temperatures, which further kills off anything left that’s good and THEN they try to pump good stuff back into it, which involves fake vitamins, etc. plus the preservatives and worse (aspartame, etc., etc.). My 2 cents.

  16. I have recently bought a book on the 5/2 Diet and I’m planning to start IF on Mondays and Thursdays. I was surprised to find this article sitting in my email inbox regarding IF right after I started researching the subject. I guess it is a trend that is catching on! So much for me discovering something new and different!

  17. JoEllen says:

    Please address the concerns of people with syndrome X, pre diabetes and at least type 2 diabetes. thank you

  18. Mike Maybury says:

    My experience goes back over 60 years.
    I was brought up on 3meals a day at school. At age 15 I went on a course of yoga, an, after that, came across Food Reform and vegetarian ideas. I decided to start the NO Breakfast pan. It took 6 months to aclimatise toit! However, I’ve followed this for 60 years now on a wholefood vegetarian diet.
    At 78 I have had few health incidents in my life. @Flu only once at age 22, and no colds for the last 9 years. I have no aches and pains or major health issues. Every day, so far, is fantastic and pain free! Life is geat! I am really puzzled by how people say they MUST eat or drink or snack for energy. I never feel tired, except when ready for bed-time. For most of my life after 16 I had only 5 hours sleep. However, with recent reading I have increased this to 6 hours and take a siesta most days, not because I need it, but because the science seems to point that way. I therefore make each day into TWO days! That’s great!

  19. Anne says:

    Hi Fred,

    I think it’s worth noting that if you are burn out or suffer from adrenal fatigue, intermittent fasting is not at all recommended and seen as further stress on the body.

    Personally having maintained an intense exercise regiment for decades, I’m cutting that fine line and I do not do well on fasts at all.

    Otherwise the concept is interesting and certainly has merit.

  20. Zyxomma says:

    I’ve always disliked what usually passes for breakfast, and prefer to have a cup of organic jasmine white tea when I rise, and a piece of fruit in season a couple of hours later, when I take a few food-based supplements. I used to fast except for water one day a week, and think I may return to that. Health and peace.

  21. Steve says:


    Re IF, I have been following this regime for a few months now and have seen weight loss benefits as a side effect. The reason I say “side effect” is that it wasn’t my main reason for using IF. I saw a program investigating calorie restriction as a way of increasing longevity and thought I would give it a try. I was also having some health issues around fungal overgrowth and possibly not digesting my food properly, so thought I would also be giving my digestive machinery the benefit of a rest.

    IF is only part of the effort I am making to improve my general wellbeing but I think I feel much better for doing it and will likely continue for the foreseeable future. It is not always easy so you need to make a commitment to stick with it. I started by fasting Monday and Thursday but now fast from Sunday night to Tuesday morning and from Wednesday night to Thursday late afternoon.

    Obviously my method of using IF is a personal choice you will need to adapt IF to a system you find sustainable.

    Hope my experience helps.

    PS Re vegetarianism, while I don’t like the idea of killing animals and if I had to kill them myself I may well be a vegetarian, it seems to me we would all still be living in Africa if our ancestors hadn’t eaten meat as in areas where there are meagre plant resources animals turn things we can’t survive on into things we can survive on ie meat. Just a thought.

  22. Marta G.M. says:

    In my 30th and 40th I had to have breakfast before 11am otherwise I would get headaches that would last for days. But that was time that I was stress out and overtired. I did not have time for myself. Stress was the main reason for overeating and gaining weight.
    Now I’m 50-ty and taking better care of myself. And I find that fasting is a great thing to clean your body and mind.
    I have glass of warm water with lime juice and raw honey before 7:00 am
    do my yoga and meditation, go to work til 3 pm , between I would have herbal tea or coconut water and I feel great.
    Than I have late lunch or early dinner. If I do heavy workout in the morning I do have a late breakfast (usually smoothie) and than 5 pm dinner. My diet is mostly organic. I never eat til I’m “full”.
    I’m 50 now and this keeps my body, mind and health in great shape.

  23. Brendon says:

    I use IF and find it VERY relaxing and great for digestion. 🙂

    I eat between 12PM and 8PM and that’s it.

  24. andrea says:

    So happy to read this article. I am not hungry in the morning and skip breakfast all the time. I am dedicated to taking my dog on a walk every morning. Usually 1.5 to 5 miles. That is usually 45 minutes to a couple of hours. When we return home, I feed the dog and I usually eat between 10 and 12. Then I try to have a healthy snack around 3:00 and dinner in the early evening. I was thinking about fasting today, so the timing of this article could not be better. I really enjoyed it and it was great to read that skipping breakfast or a late breakfast is OK.

  25. Linda dc says:

    What about those who need to put on weight? I could not fast as I struggle to get more weight on me,I eat a vegan 50% raw diet,including fats like banana,avocado,coconut,nuts etc everyday. Fasting to me is like starving,I only fast when my stomach has a clean out (I have digestive issues) and then have grated raw apple with cinnamon and start eating again asap. I listen to my body when it doesn’t want food but I usually have lunch late (raw salad) and dinner (cooked).

  26. Christine says:

    Hello Frédéric,

    I find that I am not that hungry in the morning, and will typically only have tea or chicoree for the first couple of hours of being awake, followed by a green smoothie, oatmeal, or sometimes a couple toasts depending on the day.
    This works great during the summer. Unfortunately, during the school year (I’m a teacher), I do not have that luxury and need to eat before I leave the house at 6:30 am or I can’t make it through the morning with the kids.
    I’m enjoying your articles, thanks for your contributions to this site.

  27. I have read the FAST Diet book, and have tried it, I like the idea alot! What works best for me is to try to fast for a certain number or hours and when I can stand it any longer, I have something low cal and the next day I am back to my normal routine. It seems I have a problem with moderation, if I go into a day iwth a mind set of 400 calories, once I eat, I am hungry all day…. If i go into the the day with the mind set of fasting, I can usually make it until evening and then have a small low calorie something. It is easier for me to have a mind set of abstaining, than moderating. (no will power, I guess). I love the idea and it all meakes sense to me. I will look forward to your new book and work on my will power…. Blessings, Sharon

  28. Lorraine says:

    I think each person is different and no particular diet or regimen is perfect for everyone. The key is listening to your body. I have never been a breakfast person – even as a child. Fortunately my mother never insisted that I have more than a hot drink on a morning which is all my body wants until about 10.00am. I eat when I’m hungry and drink when I’m thirsty. If I’m not hungry today – I guess I fast. My weight isn’t ideal but that has more to do with a lack of exercise over the past few years – I only need to lose about 20 lbs. I’ve started exercising within the past month – pilates, yoga, walking, swimming (30-45 mins a day) – and I’ve lost about 10 lbs already. Haven’t been sick in ages.

  29. INTERMITTENT FASTING: This has turned out to be quite the controversial topic! On the one hand, you have the Bible and the Quran (as well as other religious texts and traditions), some recent scientific studies, and the experience of some people. Included in this perspective are examples of the healing effects of fasting.

    On the other hand, you have established current popular thought, other scientific studies, and the experience of some people. Add to that are questions pertaining to people with diabetes, adrenal fatigue, skinniness, and other issues. And what about the effects of fasting on metabolism?

    Now, I am not about to pretend that I am about to come up with some solution to this controversy that will apply to all people in all situations, and will be the ultimate “final answer” on the entire subject! In fact, I do not even claim “expert status.” However, I have had some experience with intermittent fasting, and fasting, in general. From my first ebook:

    “The other thing that was notable, was my practice of fasting! Even with this, it was not the first time that I had such an experience. But instead of fasting for two or three days in a row (usually drinking only water and maybe herbal tea), I fasted once a week for a number of weeks or months. Those Sundays were memorable! (I’ll bet!)
    This strategy worked quite well, at least for a while. I successfully lost many pounds! By the way, during the weekdays I walked around campus quite a bit. But, all-in-all, I believe that this was too much of a shock to my metabolism, in the way that I did it, for me to recommend it to others as a weight loss strategy. If I were to fast in the future, I would likely try to have an appropriate amount of calories from juices (and given the amount of calories in many juices, this is not hard to do). I do believe, however, that the fasting experiences may have helped to improve a chronic nasal congestion problem that I had (and still have occasionally, but things mostly “flow” these days)! (Huh?)
    As you may have guessed, the rapid weight loss that I experienced through fasting once a week did not last. Again, I gained substantial weight back. Maybe there is something going on such as, “The faster I lose weight, the faster I (re)gain weight!”. While there seems to be at least some truth to that, I hope that it is not completely true, as it implies that losing weight is ultimately futile. (And resistance is futile, too!)”

    Warren Freedlund

    • After writing my previous comment, it occurred to me that I left things on a pessimistic note. It was not my intention to leave such a pessimistic impression, but the comment was getting lengthy, and at least it seemed like an “interesting” ending, with a “humorous” note (for people familiar with a certain TV program).

      I actually have had “long-term” success with my weight loss efforts (if one considers seven years to be “long-term”). But, to contribute more to the topics in this blog, I would like to enter some words about the “early breakfast versus late breakfast” discussion. My focus is on weight loss, not other aspects of health, nor on spirituality. I take (kind of) a middle ground perspective on the topic. From my second ebook:

      “The principle is fabulously flexible in that it applies whether your meal is a mere 100 calories or if you eat a 1000 calorie (or more) binge! The larger your meal, the longer you wait before your next one. Even though (surely) there is some processing going on when you sleep, for simplicity sake, just ignore the asleep hours. In the morning, if you figure that you are still “working on” your big late-night snack, then go ahead and give yourself the appropriate amount of time to process it before eating breakfast (or, dare I say, your lunch!). Why force yourself to eat an early breakfast when you know that you will have a weight gain from the previous day? Forget about that knee-jerk rule that says fat people tend to skip breakfast. On “this” day you know that you have plenty of “fuel” from the night before!
      Now, don’t blindly follow my rules, either. If you know that it will be a substantial amount of time before your next meal and you need a large amount of fuel for, say, intense physical labor, then go ahead and eat your breakfast. The idea is to be flexible and appropriate with your choices, based on your specific situation.”

      Warren Freedlund

  30. Judy says:

    I have been exploring eating only during an eight hour window. What is working best for me is eating between 10 AM and 6 PM. So far I am impressed with how I feel. As long as I minimize carbs –processed foods/sugars and eat lots of whole foods with lots of raw and good fats, I find that I can easily go the 16 hours. According to Ayerveda, our metabolism is at its lowest from 6 AM to 10 AM so it is not the best time to eat for the best digestion. From 10 AM to 2 PM our digestive fires are at their peak and so it is best to have the main/biggest meal of the day during that time for best digestion and assimilation. After 6 PM, I drink only water. To rev up the metabolism in the AM, exercising between 6 AM and 10 AM is the best time (according to Ayerveda). I am also including high intensity, short duration exercise several times a week (Peak 8 — Dr. Mercola, FIT-10, Dave Hubbard). I am 67 and experiencing feeling great with lots of energy. An “old dog” can easily learn new tricks if having life-long health is a priority.

  31. Christine says:

    This is a really interesting topic thanks. I look forward to more coverage in the future. I think when we really listen to our bodies we eat more than is needed anyway. In my family we grew up eating because it was breakfast time, lunch time or dinner time. Not necessarily because we were hungry. As an adult I find myself still eating based on the concept of when a meal time is supposed to be – not on what my body requires. Its a hard habit to break when you are used to eating three meals a day but I realise it is a habit rather than a need – so I am going to give this a try.

    As a side note, although not specifically IF I have also always been interested in the work of Roy Walford and have read his books on calorie restriction – specifically a low calorie, nutrient dense diet. I think there is a relationship there between his work and IF. The way we (society in general eating SAD) currently stuff our bodies with food the body doesn’t need or cant utilise properly isn’t working – the evidence is in the rate of obesity and lifestyle diseases that are seen.

    Cheers and looking forward to your book and reading more.


  32. jenny munro says:

    Reminds me to get back into fasting. I like the short fast idea. When you talk about fasting are you talkig about water fasting?

  33. Thanks for this insight into why it’s important to tend to our health, from the breakfast perspective!

    I tend to eat fruit at breakfast and I feel lighter, for the rest of the morning. If I cheat and go to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin, I always regret it as it’s way too heavy for easy digestion and processing. It holds no vitamins and makes me sluggish.

    I prefer eating light in the morning and taking peppers, celery, salad mixes and almonds, if I happen to get hungry. They’re all easy to prepare and eat.

  34. Lauren says:

    This is just my personal opinion and no offense to promoters of this diet plan. In my personal experience of IF I was able to lose those last few stubborn BF% in the beginning (24-21). However, I eventually became lethargic, unmotivated, bloated and sick when I ate meals, and irritable. I also started to gain belly fat. Come to find out my body was in “starvation mode”. I ended up being diagnosed with a hypothyroid and I’m now on medication and I’m no longer to participate in intense workouts. I would definitely look at some critical articles before trying this out. While it may be for some it’s not for everyone as our bodies don’t react to not eating for 24 hours the same. Not only that but I was miserable being hungry yet didn’t want to break the “fasting rules”. Just eat when your body tells you it’s hungry.

    • I feel you Lauren on this. I can’t do 24 hours of fasting every week without feeling the same effects. I prefer to listen to my body and only fast when I feel the need for it.

      • Lauren says:

        There are days (mainly rest days) where breakfast sounds terrible to me. I get up at 4, but won’t feel hungry till 10ish! What’s really weird is that it’s usually after a tough leg day. Those random fast days feel so good and natural, but when I went against what my body wanted I was pretty much worthless for the day. So glad I listen to my body instead of the clock now!

  35. GI says:

    Hi, I´ve tried a lot different way of nutrition – vegan, high carb raw vegan, vegetarian, frutarian – fasting is now very interesting, and a new step. i really would like to do the “master cleanse” for 10 days. does anybode have some experiences with that?? I´m a bit afraid, that my body won´t get all he needs and will come into fed status afterwards. :/

  36. John says:

    I somewhat agree with this article on IF. I find that when I wake up in the morning I am not always as hungry as I expected. My personal theory is that your body uses its internal clock to determine when to get hungry. It would seem to make sense as your body does clock certain things for efficiency. I also find, though, that I tend to get tired in the morning after I eat a big breakfast, depending on what I ate. Another thing I noticed is that last night I did not set my alarm clock, I just went to bed and my body woke me up when it felt like it. I ended up feeling alright in spite of having no way of cooling my self off because I had to unplug my fan in favor of a thunderstorm. And I had two mildly disturbing dreams. Despite that, if you let your body dicate the timing of things, and you log them, then you may find some easy improvements in your health there.

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