Remember the days when your mom would not let you have an after-school snack because it would ruin your appetite for dinner? In the 1970s Americans only ate three meals a day and we were not an obese nation. Your body does not need to be in a constant fed state; you do not need six meals a day. The old wives’ tale that you need to eat breakfast has never been proven, and a high-carbohydrate breakfast will make you hungry throughout the day. Eat if you are hungry. However, every time you eat your body releases insulin. Insulin is a hormone that tells your body to store food as fat. When you are eating or sipping on a beverage full of calories all day, your body never gets a break from the hormones telling it to store fat. That’s right, you need to be drinking water—black coffee, tea, and everything else including your Diet Coke is messing up your hormones. When you are constantly releasing insulin, your body never gets a chance to use the fat you already have stored and this leads to weight gain.
The concept behind intermittent fasting is that if you are not eating for a period of time your body can reset its hormone imbalance and use your fat stores for energy, allowing you to lose weight. There is some debate on how long you have to fast for in order to see results. The easiest place to start is to eat for 8 hours a day and then fast for 16 hours. Yes, 16 hours of no eating. That sounds difficult, but if you finish dinner at 7 p.m., actually sleep 8 hours at night, and do not eat a morning meal until 11 a.m., that is 16 hours of fasting. The biggest adjustment for most of us will be the mindless after-dinner snacking, drinking wine, and the sugary morning coffee. Once you have had success with this pattern, you may decide to add two 24-hour fasts into your week or even a prolonged fast that is 72 hours long. You will be amazed by how great your body feels when you do this and how nice it is to not have to meal plan!