What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting requires having times of reduced or zero calorie intake and periods of normal eating.  Ideally it is good to fast for at least 12 hours overnight, but some people aim for 14-16 hours, breaking their fast with a late brunch or early lunch the next day. Research has shown health benefits associated with intermittent fasting that include improved brain health, better sleep quality and increased weight loss.

With all the hype around intermittent fasting, many people are confused about whether the health benefits really are worth it or if breakfast is still the most important meal of the day?

This article will discuss if intermittent fasting may be right for you (even as a short-term strategy to get your metabolism pumping again) as well as the known benefits of eating a wholesome breakfast.

Is Intermittent Fasting right for you?

The human body is more likely to store calories consumed throughout the evening and night so clearly makes no sense to eat first thing in the morning if you are still full from the night before.  If you find yourself consistently eating late at night you will most likely benefit from fasting until you feel hungry the next morning.  

Research also suggests that people who suffer from hormonal health issues related to cholesterol, blood glucose and insulin levels will benefit from the positive metabolic effects offered with intermittent fasting.  Signs that your hormones could be connected to an inability to lose weight include abdominal obesity, bad skin and high cholesterol, however it is always best to seek professional healthcare advice if you have concerns.

Do you feel hunger?

Hunger is an important physiological sensation that lets you know that your body is burning calories efficiently.  If you fail to experience hunger every 3-4 hours it may be a sign that your body is not working efficiently.  If this sounds like you, you may benefit from intermittent fasting.  Once you have gone a relatively long period without food (12-16 hours) you will reconnect with what it’s like to actually feel hungry again. 

If eating out is a regular thing for you, fasting until lunchtime the following day can help manage your overall calorie intake, and minimise weight gain. For various reasons when you eat out you take in roughly double the amount of calories compared to eating a meal that you have prepared at at home.  Eating out also commonly happens during the second half of the day when calories are burned slower or even stored by the body.

Is your mealtime routine stagnant?

Changing things around has a positive effect on weight loss and metabolism.  If you tend to eat the same of meals at the same times it could be good to mix things up a bit.  One way of doing this is by incorporating intermittent fasting into your daily routine, by changing your meal times to allow for longer periods in between dinner and breakfast, or even adopting a couple of lower calorie days each week.  Changes like these can give your metabolism a jump start and help burn extra calories.

What’s so good about having breakfast?

There are known benefits associated with consuming a healthy breakfast.  Breakfast contributes to your daily intake of dietary fibre and Vitamin B which are essential for appetite control and metabolism. Plus research shows that people who consume a wholesome breakfast burn twice as many calories as those who consume a larger dinner.  

The verdict

In summary, eating should be based on hunger and fullness cues, some people naturally don’t feel like eating in the morning so can benefit from intermittent fasting instead of trying to force food at that time. 

However intermittent fasting is discouraged for athletes requiring to perform at high intensities in the morning.  These people should instead opt for small amount of quick-release carbohydrate (e.g. banana, fruit bread) before training.

The first meal of the day, at whatever time that is for the individual should be balanced and include a good quality lean protein, multigrain carbohydrate, healthy fats and plenty of fruits or vegetables. 


This information is general advice and should not replace professional advice from your healthcare practitioner.

For more information about healthy eating