If I have learnt one thing through the past 8 years, since I started experimenting with different nutrition plans and training methods, it is that diet and training are not static. They constantly change, depending on the situation and the goal we have. I once read that every direction is the right one. The right one as long as it is your own. Everybody is walking on his own path. You find it and you walk on it. It takes you where you wanted to arrive and even further away. The direction might be just a vector with an arrow, but in reality direction is a compass, which is constantly changing its data depending on our longings and discoveries.
Words that stayed in my mind. Words that carry so much truth and in reality they show us how we are supposed to live – free of principles and convictions, which are actually our limitations.
Today, for me food and exercise are a tool – to achieve the goals I have. Depending on the goals, the tools change. I am writing all of this to tell you that if something doesn’t work for you, but it helps to somebody else, this doesn’t mean that you won’t achieve your goals. It means that you need to search for different tools.
I started this post with the intention to give you a different perspective on fasting. A couple months ago I wrote a sequence of posts on the topic. Back then, a lot of people wrote me that they have started the fasting protocol and they have achieved the best shape of their life. Still, a lot of people wrote me that it doesn’t work for them and they are getting just the negatives.
My searching never stops and I am constantly reading. As you know, at the bases of my nutrition is the connection with nature. This makes me constantly read for the circadian rhythm, chronobiology and how our body synchronizes with natures rhythm. During the last couple months I’ve encountered a lot of interesting reads on the topic. This made me review my state on fasting. I think that there is a better way to use the positives of fasting, without enduring the negatives.
Fasting, the way I used to follow it, suggested a fasting window (14-16 hours) and a feeding window (8-10hours). The fasting period continued throughout the first part of the day and the feeding window usually started in the afternoon.
From everything I’ve learnt through the last couple months, I think that there is a better way to follow the fasting protocol – with the exception of people who don’t like having breakfast, because they naturally don’t feel like eating until noon. For everybody else, who is forcing himself to fast till noon, this is just a compromise – with the way we feel, the quality of our workouts and what we could possibly achieve.
I thought a lot on the topic of skipping breakfast. From my present point of view, this compromises with the results we get, because in the morning, cortisol (the stress hormone) is the highest. The lack of breakfast, accompanied by an intense physical activity, increases cortisol levels even further.
For me nutrition and training are just another signal from the environment, which makes the body synchronize with it. We are what is our circadian biology or to be more precise the rhythm that is encoded in every living organism. In order to be healthy, the biological clock needs to be “rewired”. Our body obeys to the cycles of darkness and light. It obeys to the constant chase between day and night. What we do on a daily basis is a signal, which rewinds our biological clock. The thing is that some of our actions are just making the biological clock stop or delay. Such an action from my present point of view is skipping breakfast.
The sunrise, breakfast, the level of physical activity are all signals that “tell” the body what part of the day is and what it should be prepared for. Signals which indirectly influence our hormones and shape our inner environment.
Probably, since ancient times, the day was a signal that comes a stage with an increased level of physical activity, which requires more food. That is why, eating in the morning rewinds our biological clock and gives signals for the release of hormones, which can bear the requirements of the long day.
Here, I could dig deeper into more complicated explanations, but I won’t do it. If you give it a thought, you will realize that it is so logical.
Lately, I am getting more convinced that clichés are not so powerful by accident – they have just endured the test of time. Everybody keeps saying how breakfast is the most important meal of the day – maybe it is not by coincidence.
And still, if I go back to fasting – I think that the better way to follow it is by shifting the fasting window – i.e. instead of stop eating later at night and start eating later into the day, we better do the opposite – to stop eating around 6-7 p.m. and start eating on the next day around 7-9 a.m. This gives the body a bigger window without food, but it is still synchronized with nature’s rhythm. Besides that, eating earlier into the day, increases physical activity outside of workouts – i.e. when you eat in the morning you feel a stronger drive to move. When you do not eat, it is like your body is trying to conserve energy and it is instinctively avoiding physical activity.
Here, I once again thought about the cliché “do not eat after 6 p.m.”I once again realize how much wisdom is encoded in cliché. This doesn’t mean to be hard on yourself if you eat after 6 p.m. Still, I think that there is a much deeper meaning in this suggestion.
During the past month, I am doing exactly this – I stop eating before 7 p.m. and then I have breakfast between 7-9 a.m., even though my schedule is such that on some days I need to have breakfast before 6 a.m. But what matters is the strive to do the best for my body.
What do I observe in the way I feel?
- My workouts are better. I once again train in the first part of the day, but now I have one meal inside of me, a couple hours before training.
- In the morning I have more desire to move – and I am not talking about working out, but about simple physical activity – even walking. Here, I once again think about the chicken and the egg – you don’t really know which one is first, as it is with food and physical activity – is it more food that makes you move more or more movement makes you eat more.
- Even though, when I used to fast during the day, I built a habit to skip breakfast, more often than not this was a matter of will and not an instinct. Now I do not need to show will and waste the strength of this valuable muscle for this. 😉
- I like eating three or four times a day. My food intake is distributed evenly and through windows that are big enough to keep my thoughts away from food and small enough so I do not need to starve.
- I once again feel hunger in the morning. I am sure that one of the reasons to not feel hungry in the morning are higher cortisol levels. So, even if you are not hungry in the morning, sometimes this might be an indication for hormonal imbalance.
- I do not deny the multiple combinations and variations to distribute your food intake. As I told you in this post (HERE), everything depends on the goals we have.
The goals I have for my physique right now and my performance, do not suggest eating once a day or skipping breakfast.
And still, we go back to the cliché – three meals a day, with a breakfast and a dinner before 7 p.m.
This is the way I eat now and it completely backs up my goals. After all I am trying to grow some muscles and not just to be skinny. J