Intermittent Fasting - Is Skipping Breakfast a Deadly Decision?
Intermittent Fasting - Is Skipping Breakfast a Deadly Decision?
Intermittent fasting was the biggest diet craze about two years ago. Internet celebrities like the Hodge Twins were the poster boys for this eating lifestyle. People were reporting epic fat loss results, and my email box was flooded with questions about it.

Admittedly, I have never been a fan of intermittent fasting. I feel that depriving yourself  of food for an extended period is a recipe for disaster. Starving in the morning and then binging at night is unhealthy.

Related: Intermittent Fasting - Is it For You?

And who can live without having eggs and toast at 7am, especially after a night of lovemaking with their significant other?

In general, I hate the word diet but I LOVE the concept of a lifestyle. From my viewpoint, I want people to lose the fat in a sustainable way in which they can see themselves adhering to that for life.

Afterall, any diet guy worth their weight in whey knows that most people who lose fat gain it all back. Usually they add even more, becoming even fatter than when they started.

But I am a nerd, and I love data. So, I read all about intermittent fasting. What I found out was that I LIKE THE HECK out of intermittent fasting… For some people. Read on and find out if intermittent fasting is right for you.

Intermittent fasting benefits and negatives.

The Latest Research - Is Fasting Deadly?

The latest "news" on intermittent fasting is kind of BS, but it's been circling around the Internet. Here is the scoop.

Published in a damn good journal, the American Heart Association Journal Circulation, researchers from Columbia University said that meal timing and frequency are indicated in several health issues including heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, blood glucose levels, obesity, and reduced insulin sensitivity.

In addition, they found that daily breakfast eaters have fewer issues with high cholesterol and blood pressure. Meanwhile, people who regularly skip breakfast are more likely to be obese, have poor nutrition, or be diagnosed with diabetes. [1]

Now, before I get into this, the participants of the study were not really using intermittent fasting. Also, they were making unhealthy snack food choices later in the day.

While not completely a representation of intermittent fasting, this study did match some intermittent fasting protocols and their feeding periods. But for the most part I am not a fan of correlation studies and population studies. This is pretty much a throw-away study.

But here we find data that skipping breakfast is not a good idea. It's good to look at data from all sides of an argument.. After reading so much about the benefits of the intermittent fasting diet, it's nice to read something to offset it!

Intermittent Fasting - The Good

This diet has data up the yin-yang. Without getting too resource heavy, here are some benefits I found hidden within some Pubmed searches:
  • Brain Health: Intermittent Fasting can benefit brain health by potentially increasing a brain hormone "brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)"  and prevents brain damage due to strokes. [2] The data presented here is done on rats. [3] It very well might have some epic neuroprotective benefits.
  • You might live longer: Fasted rats lived considerably longer (83%) than non-fasted rats. [4] Insulin levels drop, which can encourage fat burning and less fat storage. This can also help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. [5]. Study done in humans.
  • Enhanced metabolism: Intermittent Fasting can enhance your metabolism. [6] Study done in humans.
  • Inflammation reduction: Intermittent Fasting can inflammation in the body. [7] Study done on humans.
  • Heart health: Intermittent Fasting can be heart healthy. [8]
You're probably thinking, "Intermittent Fasting is the best diet ever, sign me up!" While I am Impressed with these results and all of this delicious scientific data, I am also looking beyond the data. Because wherever there is one study, there is another study stating the exact opposite.

But after reading all of this amazing gospel on intermittent fasting, what can possibly be negative?

Intermittent Fasting - The Not-So-Good

  • Not good for athletes
  • Not the best for lean mass gains.
  • Creates a potential for eating disorders.
Those are the downsides in this diet-guy's honest opinion.

Eating Issues and Adherence

This is all opinion, so take it for what it's worth. For most of us, forgoing breakfast and meals for an extended period of time is not optimal. Like I said in the opening of this article, breakfast is social. To think that this will be adhered to for life is a bit crazy for most, since it doesn't fit cultural norms.

I also know that purposely fasting all day and then cramming in all macronutrients at night isn't the best for you mentally. With eating disorders a seemingly normal occurrence in fitness and the general population, this is a definite concern of mine.

Athletes

Eating frequent meals can help with a lot of things in athletes, including:
  • Less lean mass loss when on a diet to lose fat. This was done on boxers, very good data here in an extreme athletic setting. [9]
  • Increase in muscle mass and anaerobic power. [10]
  • Increased fat loss. [10]
I look to the ISSN (International Society of Sport Nutrition) for guidance here. They state:

"These trends indicate that if meal frequency improves body composition, it is likely to occur in an athletic population as opposed to a sedentary population. While no experimental studies have investigated why athletes may benefit more from increased meal frequency as compared to sedentary individuals, it may be due to the anabolic stimulus of exercise training and how ingested nutrients are partitioned throughout the body. It is also possible that a greater energy flux (intake and expenditure) leads to increased futile cycling, and over time, this has beneficial effects on body composition.

Even though the relationship between energy intake and frequency of eating has not been systematically studied in athletes, available data demonstrates that athletes (runners, swimmers, triathletes) follow a high meal frequency (ranging from 5 to 10 eating occasions) in their daily eating practices. Such eating practices enable athletes to ingest a culturally normalized eating pattern (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), but also enable them to adhere to the principles of nutrient timing (i.e., ingesting carbohydrate and protein nutrients in the time periods before and immediately following physical activity/competition)." [10]



What Can We Learn From This?

We can learn a lot from all bodies of data.

We see that controlling insulin can be healthy for health conditions. The intermittent fasting diet is very proficient at this, as is the keto diet that I discussed here. Adherence is the key to any long-term weight management strategy. The intermittent fasting diet might not be the best for this.

Athletes seem to do better with frequent meals based on current data, although more studies on intermittent fasting and athletes need to be completed. Sedentary or recreational exercisers can certainly benefit from intermittent fasting if it fits their lifestyle.

If you don't like breakfast, intermittent fasting might be perfect for you.

Most intermittent fasting program are around the 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feeding per day. So your schedule would be:
  • 11pm-3pm: FAST
  • 3pm-11pm: FEED
From what I can tell, it is personal preference as to whether you train after a meal or in a fasted state.

Is There a Middle Ground?



I like a diet that combines some of the benefits from the keto diet and intermittent fasting diet, such as insulin and appetite control, but can also have the nutrient timing benefits of a frequent-feeding diet. I also want something with no deprivation that can be adhered to with ease for years or even and entire lifetime (at least the principles of it).

The closest thing we have to that is a book that combines years of research, experience and application, my book The Drop Factor: Transformation Edition. You can read about it and get yours here.

The Take Home

There is no perfect diet. The best diet is one that works for YOU. if you think Intermittent Fasting is right for you, TRY IT.

You might love it and it is a darn good diet. If you are an athlete interested in performance and enjoy eating frequently, do that! If you like bacon and eggs and feel you can live life best in a state of ketosis, slaughter a cow and get to work with a keto diet.

And if you want to try a diet that I feel is the best of all worlds, read my book at DropFactorBook.com and give that a try.

Whatever you choose, give it some time to work and realize that long-term adherence to a lifestyle is the key to weight management success. Because being sexy and enjoying what and how you eat… That's not a game!
References
1) "Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association." Circulation, circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/01/30/CIR.0000000000000476. 2) "Dietary Restriction Increases the Number of Newly Generated Neural Cells, and Induces BDNF Expression, in the Dentate Gyrus of Rats. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11220789. 3) "Age and Energy Intake Interact to Modify Cell Stress Pathways and Stroke Outcome." PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2844782/. 4) www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/212538. 5) "Alternate-day Fasting in Nonobese Subjects: Effects on Body Weight, Body Composition, and Energy Metabolism. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15640462. 6) "Enhanced Thermogenic Response to Epinephrine After 48-h Starvation in Humans. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2405717. 7) "Alternate Day Calorie Restriction Improves Clinical Findings and Reduces Markers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Overweight Adults with Mod... - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17291990/. 8) "Short-term Modified Alternate-day Fasting: a Novel Dietary Strategy for Weight Loss and Cardioprotection in Obese Adults. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793855. 9) "Effects of Meal Frequency on Body Composition During Weight Control in Boxers - Iwao - 1996 - Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports." Wiley Online Library, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0838.1996.tb00469.x/abstract;jsessionid=F041F6F3BB83DEAEC583C41961B674FE.f02t03. 10) "International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Meal Frequency | Full Text." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-8-4#CR49.