by Mike Bacon
I just can’t take it anymore!
I was at work today. Someone brought in donuts (yes, I spell it the Dunkin way, get off me). I had the following exchange:
Co-worker: Hey Mike, have a donut.
Me: No thanks, I don’t eat breakfast.
Co-worker: But breakfast is the most important meal of the day!!
Besides the obvious fact that a donut for breakfast isn’t the best choice I was still annoyed by their statement. This is most certainly not the first time I have heard this. People have been saying it for years. Whenever someone tells me breakfast is the most important meal of the day I ask them where they heard that or what evidence they have to support their claim. The response, after some stuttering, is generally along the lines of “well I saw something in Men’s Health once that said it” or “some ripped bro at the gym told me.” The insanity has to stop!
The most commonly cited study that people point to is a correlational study. It showed that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less or lose more weight than those that skip it. The thing most people do not stop to think about is that this does not mean breakfast is the reason these people are healthier. The authors of the study even said there was not a cause and effect relationship yet people still use this example all the time.
I have mentioned before my affinity for Intermittent Fasting (IF). When I tell people I fast for 14-20 hours most days of the week they look at me like I am insane. They have been lead to believe that if you do not eat every 2-3 hours from the moment you wake up you will lose muscle and or store fat when you do eventually eat. This myth has persisted in the fitness community for years even though every study on the subject says otherwise.
Do I think that intermittent fasting is the right approach for everyone? Certainly not. It works for me. I like big meals and if I followed the popular wisdom of “eat every 2-3 hours” I guarantee my daily caloric intake would go up by about 1000 calories a day. IF allows me to still eat large meals but by keeping my eating window to a certain part of the day I am able to keep my total intake to reasonable levels. IF is also not an excuse to eat whatever you want just because you fast for part of the day. I have learned this the hard way. Total calorie intake, macronutrient ratios, and all other aspects of nutriton still apply. I struggle with this, especially on the weekends. The point to be made is that not eating for a day is not detrimental to your health (in fact there are many benefits).
The approach I follow to Intermittent Fasting is called “Leangains” as developed by Martin Berkhan. Check out leangains.com for his description of the program and a lot of other awesome articles on nutrition!