Yes! You read the tittle correctly. For maximum fat burning and overall health benefits I am a strong believer in skipping breakfast. But how could this be? I mean unless you live in a cave you’ve probably heard over and over again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I mean most people are told to eat like a King for breakfast, a Queen for lunch and a Pauper for dinner.
Well I tried that approach and it never seemed to work for me. For one I wasn’t particularly hungry in the morning and stuffing food in my face when I wasn’t hungry in the morning seemed to be illogical especially when trying to get lean. (Sometimes I would feel hungry in the morning but that was false hunger that would go away soon after). Secondly a big morning breakfast would make me hungrier throughout the day. I thought this was unusual but after talking to a bunch of people they’ve had similar experiences. Wow talk about counterproductive. In addition a big breakfast would make me sluggish and tired. Lastly eating like a king for breakfast and a pauper for dinner isn’t very convenient. I love to have big dinners with my friends or family. Rarely do people get together for breakfast (except maybe the occasional weekend brunch).
For a 2 week period I followed the shake / salad diet. This is where you have 2 shakes and 1 big chicken salad. This is a super strict diet but it gets results. What I found was that when I had my first shake in the afternoon (around 1-3pm) it was much easier to stick to the diet. Whereas when I had my protein shake in the morning I would go crazy.
But if you don’t eat in the morning won’t your metabolism slowdown and won’t you lose muscle?
The short and sweet answer is no. You won’t lose muscle and your metabolism will not change. In fact in one study, researchers found that when they made people fast for 3 days, their metabolic rate did not change. In addition fasting for 72 hours did not cause an increased breakdown in muscle, nor did it slow down protein synthesis. This is 72 hours without food. So much for needing to eat every 3 hours.
NOTE – I found out all of this info from Brad Pilons book Eat Stop Eat. Eat Stop Eat is definitely a great read and allows you to let go from all the dieting myths that have been holding you back.
The Warrior Approach to a Chiseled Spartan Physique
Ori Haufmekler, author of the warrior diet explains why humans are inherently night eaters and why eating big meals in the day will shut off fat burning and cause you to be tired.
- Humans are better off using fat for fuel not food. This is because using fat for fuel stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) which promotes alertness, focus, creativity, energy and strength. This makes complete sense because back in the hunter/gatherer days humans had to hunt for food. They did not have a bowl of cheerios waiting for them when they woke up. They had to rely on their fat stores (stored energy) to provide them with energy to catch their prey.
- When you have a meal you shut down the sympathetic nervous system and turn on the para-sympathetic nervous system which promotes relaxation, rest, recuperation. This is why when people have big breakfasts or big lunches they become tired and sluggish a couple hours after.
A little spin on the warrior diet
In the book the Warrior Diet. Ori Hofmekler recommends having one major meal at night. I prefer to split that up into 3 separate meals spaced 3 hours apart. The first meal is the post workout meal and should be your biggest meal. The second and third meal should be slightly smaller consisting of mostly protein and fat. The benefit of this approach is that by having your biggest meal post workout there is practically no fat absorption. This is because exercise stimulates GLUT-4 (glucose transporter type 4) which causes your calories to be stored in your muscle cells. Another benefit is that by spacing your meals out you won’t be as full and your stomach won’t increase in size. That is one of the problems with the warrior diet. Eating one huge meal at night increases your capacity to eat bigger and bigger meals.
What is the optimal Daily Fast Length?
I have found that 16-20 hours is ideal for me. Usually my fasts last around 18 hours. So if my last meal was at 9pm than I would have my first meal at 3pm the next day. In Brad Pilon’s book eat stop eat he explains that the ideal fasting period is 24 hours. This is because from 18 hours to 24 hours HGH levels steadily increase. Brad only recommends doing these 24 hour fasts once or twice per week. Whereas 16-20 hour fasts can be done easily every single day. And since you are going to be working out on an empty stomach your HGH levels will already be maximized therefore you won’t need to fast the full 24 hours. (You can throw in a full 24 hour fast once per week if you are up for it).
Empty Stomach Training
One of the greatest benefits of daily fasts lasting for 16-20 hours is that you get to perform your workouts on a completely empty stomach. In fact working out on an empty stomach causes you to use fat for fuel (thereby stimulating the sympathetic nervous system which will give you a kick of energy) and Human Growth Hormone is maximized (HGH is the strongest fat burning hormone in the human body and HGH is also beneficialfor building muscle). In addition when you workout on an empty stomach protein synthesis is higher during your post workout meal. NOTE – I like to have some caffeine before my workouts to give me some extra energy. I find this very helpful.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Meal 1 (30-90 minutes after workout – I have this meal around 3pm)
- Chicken, Fish or Beef with brown rice, wild rice or sweet potatoes and veggies. (600-800 calories)
Meal 2 (2-3 hours later – I have this meal around 6:30pm)
- Chicken, Fish or Beef on a Salad with avocado (400-500 calories)
Meal 3 (2-3 hours later – I have this meal around 9pm)
- 3-4 egg omolettle with veggies and berries (400-500 calories)
TOTAL = 1400 to 1800 calories
I have fine tweaked this eating style after only a few weeks but it has helped me tremendously in terms of getting leaner. Here are some recent pictures of me.
As you can see there I haven’t lost any muscle and I have become quite lean. I am going to continue this style of eating to drop another 5 pounds of fat. From there I will increase the size of the meals slightly to maintain.
Tips if you are Hungry
- Drink tea or coffee throughout the day. Helps reduce appetite and increase energy
- In addition working out before your first meal is helpful as exercise temporarily shuts off hunger.
- Pay attention to whether your hunger is real or whether it is psychological. If you are craving meat and vegetables than your hunger is probably real. However if you are craving high carb processed foods than that is a false hunger.
I strongly recommend reading Eat Stop Eat. When I first read this book it completely freed me from the need to eat breakfast, the need to eat every 3 hours and many other dieting myths. In fact after reading Eat Stop Eat thats when I began to become much leaner without having to give up my life. Eat Stop Eat is one of the few diet books backed by scientific research and studies.