Did you sleep well, did you wake up fully rested and ready to start the day, was your morning rushed or flowing flawlessly? Do you need a hearty breakfast to get your through the morning hustle or do you crave something creamy and cozy to go with that steaming cup of coffee or tea? Whatever your night or morning has been like, this breakfast will bring a little festive feeling to your day and I’m sure will put a smile on your face.
It’s no secret that I love breakfast. I always have. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I wake up hungry most mornings but even more so with the types of food that is served at breakfast: protein smoothies, pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit bowls, warm porridge, overnight oats. I was never one to have dinner leftovers for breakfast. No, I crave breakfast food! I’ve actually been know to have breakfast for dinner many times, mostly when my husband is out and I’m home by myself. He doesn’t really fancy pumpkin pancakes with strawberries for dinner. Funny enough, I consider that a treat! Hahaha
That being said, I did, at one point in my life, try intermittent fasting or IF. It was all the craze back in early 2010, when the paleo/warrior/primal diet was all the rage in the dieting/health scene. After reading quite a bit on the subject, including the popular Eat Stop Eat book by Brad Pilon, I thought I’d give it a try. According to some scientific research, intermittent fasting has a lot of benefits for your body such as improving biomarkers of disease, reducing oxidative stress and preserving learning and memory functions, according to Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, part of the US National Institutes of Health. According to M. Mattson, there are several theories about why fasting provides physiological benefits. The one that him and his team has studied a lot, and designed experiments to test, is the hypothesis that during the fasting period, cells are under a mild stress,” he says “And they respond to the stress adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and, maybe, to resist disease.”
So what is intermittent fasting? According to an article written by Greg Nuckols over at Stronger By Science, Martin Berkhan, was one of the pioneers for bringing IF mainstream (Leangains, as he termed it), and his approach is pretty straightforward: Eat all of your daily calories in an 8-hour window and fast the other 16 hours of the day. During the fasting window, you can drink zero-calorie beverages (and you can sip some BCAAs around your workout if you have to train in the middle of your fasting window), but restrict anything with any caloric content.
So how does this apply to your daily life? Well your day would look something like this:
6 am -7 am: wake up
8 am: water and coffee or tea but no sugar or vegan cream added (no calories)
12 pm: breakfast
3 pm: lunch
6 pm: dinner
7:30 pm: snack which is your last bite of food for the day
10 pm – 11pm: bedtime
Essentially, you’re skipping breakfast and eating around lunch time!
If you workout in the morning, you would do so on an empty stomach and could sip on BCAA during your training. If you workout later in the day, you’d have food in your belly to fuel your workout.
Now most people apply IF for weight loss purposes as some experts believe that working out in a fasted state forces your body to release fat stored in your fat cells for energy. This is still up for debate.
Now here’s the tricky part that very few experts discuss: you still need to eat within your caloric range and the proper foods if weight loss is your goal. If you are so hungry by the time the clock hits noon that you scurf down twice the size of your regular breakfast and can’t stop yourself from snacking the rest for the day because you are still so hungry, well you’re missing the point and you won’t see much result, at least in terms of weight loss. Improved health, perhaps. But weight loss, no. You might actually experience the opposite and notice your waistline is expanding instead of shrinking. IF is not about eating all you can shove in your mouth within a smaller window of time, it’s about eating the same things you would normally eat, or preferably less, within a set, narrower, timeframe.
And that was exactly my downfall: I would be so hungry by the time lunch rolled around, that I would eat twice and even three times the amount of food I would normally eat at one sitting and I would still eat my regular portion meals and snacks for the rest of the day. Actually, I was simply hungry all day. As if I was never fully satisfied and my body was trying to catch up to my missed meal. The worst days were when I trained in the morning (which is pretty much the only time I have in my day to exercise!). Those days, I could eat continuously! And I felt like it was just not never enough food…
So after a few months (yes, I did stick it out for about 6 months – I wanted to see if my body would finally adapt to this new way of eating – it didn’t!) I came to the realization that this IF thing was just not for me: I need my breakfast in the morning, preferably within one hour or so of waking. I need fuel to start off my day and I need more fuel to sustain me throughout the day. So I would say my eating window is 11 hours: from around 8am to 7pm. That’s what works for me. And if there’s one things I’ve learned through my years of reading science articles on the latest diet and nutrition trend is that no matter what experts say, your body knows whats best. I’m not talking about your cravings, I’m taking about your actual body needs to strive. I’ll discuss Intuitive Eating in a later post.
In the meantime, if breakfast is as important to you as it is to me, here’s a festive overnight oats recipe to get your day started off right.
Hope you guys enjoy this recipe. Leave me a comment to let me know if you’ve tried intermittent fasting and if it worked for you.
- 3 Cups gluten free rolled oats (I like instant oats better as I find they absorb liquid faster)
- 2 Tbs chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 12 drops of liquid Stevia
- 4 Cups nut milk (I use pea milk for added protein)
- 1/2 Cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/3 Cup dried cranberries (try to buy sulphite free)
- 1/3 Cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
- 1 Cup fresh cranberries or other fresh or frozen fruits such a bananas, pears, peaches or blueberries
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds and cinnamon.
- Divide amongst 4 glass jars.
- Divide and add the milk and 3 drops of stevia in each jar. Stir to combine.
- Let set overnight in the fridge or at least for 4 hours.
- In the morning, top each jar with walnuts, dried cranberries, shredded coconut and your choice of fruit.