Intermittent Fasting: Why I haven’t eaten breakfast in over two years!

22 Jul

Breakfast can be amazing… I’ll be the first to admit it.

Seriously, what could be better than waking up on a lazy Sunday morning and going out for a slap-up breakfast of fried pork-parts and pancakes?

That said, I don’t (regularly) do breakfast anymore. I have almost completely eliminated it from my life and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made (and that includes my decision to switch from boxers to boxer-briefs).

IFs and buts and why’s…
For the past two years I have been practicing a form of eating known as Intermittent Fasting (IF) that has steadily been growing in popularity in recent years.

IF basically means you go without food at regular, defined time intervals to reap the health benefits of fasting, evidence of which is starting to appear in recent scientific literature, including:

  • Better blood sugar levels, lower insulin and prevention of diabetes
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Treatment of certain cancers
  • Improved concentration
  • Weight loss
  • Prevention of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimers
  • Increased longevity

I’ll take a slice of that pie please!!!

In particular I have been fascinated with research on increasing longevity through diet for as long as I have been interested in nutrition. I like the idea of being able to live a long, healthy, dementia free life and there’s quite a bit of science that says I can help myself achieve that through diet and fasting. The only problem is: I love food way too much to not eat!

This is where IF comes in. IF allows you to achieve the benefits of fasting while still eating regularly. Read on and find out how.

Variety is the Spice of life…
… and accordingly there are a few different forms of fasting that include:

  • fasting every other day
  • fasting two days a week
  • prolonged (modified) fasting for up to a week or more (under medical supervision)
  • daily fasting

The type of fasting I’m going to talk about here is a form of daily fasting known as the Leangains method which was developed and popularized by one of my favourite Diet & Fitness bloggers, Martin Berkhan. His blog, aimed at serious diet and fitness enthusiasts,  goes into serious detail about many aspects of IF. It is a very worthwhile read!

Just so you have proof that Martin knows what he’s talking about here’s a picture of him and his body, all produced by IF.

That is the year-round lean physique of the one and only Martin Berkhan (about 5.5% body fat)

This is the year-round lean physique of the one and only Martin Berkhan (about 5.5% body fat)

The Leangains approach can be (over) simplified as follows:
Fast for 16 hours a day and eat within an 8 hour “Feeding Window” (FW).

Now, there’s much more to Leangains than that but lets just focus on the simplest aspect for this article.

In practice (and to make it infinitely more understandable) what that means for me is that I skip breakfast, have my first meal of the day at 12pm and finish my supper by 8pm (my 8 hour FW) and then fast (don’t consume any calories) for the next 16 hours.

The magic happens during the later parts of the fasting period. First off, your body starts to eat into its fat-stores to provide you energy which helps you reduce body fat and secondly and more importantly fasting causes your body to rev up its cellular defenses against molecular damage. That’s where many of the benefits of fasting come from.

“No Breakfast!!! Madness…Why, it’s the most important meal of the day…”
… I hear you roar! Once again my dear friends, this is not madness, this is SCIENCE!!!

I could write a few paragraphs explaining why everything you think is wrong with fasting/skipping breakfast is pure bulls#!t but Martin does it much more eloquently and in detail in his Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked. Read and learn.

Besides, many of the people who consider breakfast sooo essential to one’s health are probably eating cereals for breakfast and the majority of breakfast cereals are nothing more than morning candy. I’ll happily go without that, thank you.

Why I do IF
On top of the amazing health benefits I’ve mentioned above, IF has given me two major benefits:

1. It keeps me lean. I’ve always had trouble keeping my weight under control but IF makes weight management so easy that I think I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life. As proof, here’s a few photos from the day before my 30th birthday earlier this month.

OK, so apart from being the whitest human being on Earth, IF has helped keep me leaner than I've ever been before!

OK, so apart from being the whitest human being on Earth, Intermittent Fasting has helped keep me leaner than I’ve ever been before!

I’m lean, stronger than I’ve ever been in my life and my birthday health check showed my blood work (glucose, lipids, liver function etc) results are on the good side of perfect 😉

Obviously, getting lean wasn’t the result of IF exclusively, my actual diet and exercise plan played a role but the great thing about IF is how easily it fits around other diets and exercise regimes. I wouldn’t have stuck with IF for so long if it had interfered with my gym routine.

2. It saves me time. I now only eat twice a day meaning this form of eating is more time efficient than the standard 3-meals-a-day (which is a relatively modern and artificial concept anyway) and especially more efficient than the 6-meals-a-day taken by some people who believe in such madness. In fact, anyone who I have converted to the IF Life has commented on how easy it makes life.

I can now wake up later knowing I don’t NEED to eat breakfast first thing in the morning. I still have lunch and a huge dinner (especially after the gym) and it still allows me to go out for dinner with my friends every now and then. If I eat later one evening I can just eat lunch later the next day. On top of that I now feel more productive in the mornings (another well known benefit of fasting).

Why would I ever want to go back to eating breakfast!

I can’t skip breakfast, I’ll be hungry
Boo F@¢king Hoo! Did that seem callous and uncaring? Good, it was meant to.

Amazingly, I rarely feel hungry anymore. My body adapted after a few weeks of IF. Even if you think you couldn’t handle skipping breakfast regularly, I recommend you adhere to it for just 2 weeks. That’s enough time for your body to get used to the new eating schedule. Your body can adapt to whatever meal-times you follow regularly; you just need to show it who’s boss for a couple of weeks.

Even if you do get the odd hunger pang at the start, here’s a newsflash: it’ll last for less than than 5 minutes and then you’ll forget you were even hungry at all. You can also have as much coffee, tea and water (with no milk and sugar, obviously) as you like during the fasting hours. As an added benefit, the caffeine in tea and coffee helps liberate fatty acids into your bloodstream, helping you burn more fat for fuel.

This is especially true if you keep yourself busy (idle hands and all that jazz). That’s why I recommend fasting during the morning up until lunch; most people with a standard schedule should be able to keep relatively busy with work/study/play until at least lunch time.

Life After Breakfast
As I’ve said, the benefits that I’ve received from IF mean that I don’t give a second thought to skipping breakfast anymore and the life-after-breakfast looks like it has a very bright future indeed . I’m healthier and have more free time than ever before. What’s not to love?!

I may get a craving for breakfast once in a blue moon but other than that I can happily say that it's gone from my life.

I may get a craving for breakfast once in a blue moon but other than that I can happily say that it’s gone from my life.

So why not dedicate a few weeks to the IF-Lifestyle (and it is, very much, a lifestyle). At the very least you’ll gain some extra free time in the mornings and you might feel so good you might say goodbye to breakfast for good.

Eat well folks.

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Have you been working-out lately? Because you look spectacular 🙂 If you liked this article go ahead and share it with your friends via the Facebook or Twitter buttons below and if you use Stumbleupon please give it a “Thumbs Up”I’d really appreciate it 😉

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6 Responses to “Intermittent Fasting: Why I haven’t eaten breakfast in over two years!”

  1. Brendan Murphy July 23, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Yes yes and more yes to IF.
    Introduced to it by Richie around 3months ago and now on it I think approx 10 weeks.

    Cant attest to fat loss on it as yet. However, with my maintenance being ~1700cals, I’ve been taking in ~4300-5200 on gym days, and ~2500 on non gym (Salsa) days over all of that time. While I’ve increased a kg or so in weight, I see no noticable increase in Body Fat, which would suggest some influence as Salsa is my only cardio,

    More importantly though – it is incredibly practical as mentioned. Easier to manage one or two bigger meals than my previous 5-6 and allows one to focus on other stuff in the mornings/early afternoons. It also proved great to allow the body to detox a little each day during a recent 11days away, of which 10nights involved significant amounts of alcohol & some fast food in the early morning hours – not eating until late afternoon each day definitely left me feeling a lot fresher by each night than I have during previous such trips.

    One caveat – the amount of sleep you get is crucial. Both as this is extra time fasting with no effort, and as it makes the awake fast time easier. Coffee has been my saviour the morning after insufficent sleep.

    Finally – because I am packing more calories into the meals I do eat – they are all the more satisfying, so you have this to look forward to during the fast – not just some small low-calorie snack at the end!

    • The Dancing Irishman July 24, 2014 at 6:05 am #

      Thanks for the comment Bren and I’m glad it’s been working out for you.

  2. laurenmulcahy1984 July 30, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Rich, Id intended on reading this properly when you posted it but its only when i went to your wall to ask you something i rememberes. This is v interesting! I know of the 5:2 plan..my eating and work routine is way to scattered for that, but didnt realise IF also meant skipping brekkie? This is a revalation! I crucify myself because i always skip brekkie in favour of a coffee and water..does this mean im doing ok? Im superchuffed by this! You look splended by the way! Trying to work on my body a bit and its not working!! Gettin smaller but so are my muscles but’ll hang in there 😉

    • The Dancing Irishman July 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

      Yeah Lauren, there are a few different forms of IF. Skipping breakfast is not detrimental to health like mass media would have most people believe and can even be good for you. Sounds like you’re doing the right things with your coffee in the morning.
      As for the muscles, consider doing weights. They help to preserve muscle mass if you’re dieting and shapely muscles mean a shapely body. There’s also no worry of women becoming “too muscular” with normal training. You would need steroids to look like that!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cheat Day Diary (A Photographic Record of a Day of Pure Food Hedonism) | The Dancing Irishman - July 22, 2014

    […] week. Three large glasses of ice-cold water followed by two large mugs of strong, black coffee. I “intermittent fast” so I don’t take any calories before at least midday which means I don’t use milk or […]

  2. Macros, IIFYM, Clean Eating & Enjoying Food over Christmas and Forever | The Dancing Irishman - December 23, 2014

    […] nutrition and fitness and that I’ve written about the Paleo Diet (and why I don’t follow it) andIntermittent Fasting (which I still love) and how I apply aspects of each to my eating […]

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