A new Australian study challenges the belief that breakfast is good for weight loss and suggests that intermittent fasting can help to boost the metabolism. We’ve spoken to health expert, Vanessa Ascencao for her expert advice on intermittent fasting.
Should we be eating breakfast and if so, what should we eat?
I’m a firm believer of intermittent fasting and if you look at the word ‘breakfast’, it’s essentially ‘breaking the fast’, so I feel that most people would benefit from a 12 -16 hour fasting period from their last meal to breakfast.
It’s a good idea to start the day with fibre, good quality fats and a small amount of protein instead of a sugary breakfast. The type of breakfast I’ve outlined will help to regulate blood sugar levels, nourish the body and result in long, steady bursts of energy throughout the day, rather than energy dips here and there.
Many of us start the day with coffee or tea with sugar and/or milk, followed by sugary cereal, sweetened yoghurt or toast – these are not only void of nutrients, but they will affect our blood sugar levels, which will have a negative impact on our energy levels and mood. Also, sugary foods can increase our appetite.
What is intermittent fasting and how does it help with weight management?
Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle where you eat within a certain window period and fast for the rest of the time. It isn’t new and traditional cultures and religions do fasts for religious and health benefits. With the rise in obesity rates around the globe, it’s evident that we eat too much and don’t move enough. So, there’s no need to constantly be grazing and eating. Every time you eat, you produce insulin – the main fat storage hormone and this can prevent fat loss.
Fasting, on the other hand, can help to regulate blood sugar levels. So long as your meals after the fast are nutrient dense, you won’t starve or miss out on essential nutrients. Your body functions best with nutrients, not kilojoules. Some kilojoule-laden foods have no nutrient value whatsoever. Try to eat in a way that will keep you fuller for longer. Eat plenty of fibre-rich foods, essential fats and some high-quality protein. This will help your weight to stabilise naturally.
Once your body adapts to fasting, you’ll be able to tap into fat stores for energy and burn even more fat for energy. You’ll also have more control over your appetite and have better mental clarity and focus.
What’s the difference between nutrients and kilojoules and what’s your take on this?
Some of the most nutrient rich foods in the world are extremely kilojoule dense such as coconuts, nuts, olive oil, seeds and avocado. When you eat natural, whole foods, as close to nature as possible, it’s very difficult to over eat. This also helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, reduce cravings, increase energy, improve mood and overall health. Achieving overall health is important as weight loss is simply a result of good health.
Is intermittent fasting safe and effective long-term?
Intermittent fasting is considered safe if you’re ensuring that you eat wholesome, nutritious foods during your eating period. The key is to take in all the optimal nutrients required for good health. However, intermittent fasting is a personal choice, and everyone experiences it differently. Long term, there are various views and research conclusions. Women and men seem to respond differently to fasting too. So, it’s about listening to your body. If in doubt, see a registered dietitian or healthcare practitioner who can advise you on what’s best for your body type.
What happens if you consume too many kilojoules in your ‘eating window’?
If you remove sugar and processed foods from your diet and eat whole natural foods during your eating period, it’ll be very difficult to become overweight from eating this way. Fasting also helps to balance blood sugar levels and control hunger and appetite. The aim is to focus on eating healthily and try not to obsess about your kilojoule intake. If you’re eating for emotional reasons, that’s different to real hunger and needs to be addressed on another level.
Which specific supplement helps with weight management and good health?
My top two for weight management and overall health are Berberine and Origine 8 (green tea).
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and superfood that helps regulate blood sugar levels, utilises stored body fat for energy and is beneficial as a liver detoxifier.
Berberine has so many impressive health benefits. It has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, aid weight loss, decrease insulin resistance and help make insulin more effective in the body. It has also shown to help decrease sugar production in the liver, slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut and help increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
What’s the best way to live to maintain your optimal weight?
Take the focus off weight loss and focus on health as weight loss is be a byproduct of optimum health! Educate yourself what good nutrition is for longevity. Invest In your health and take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Many people who focus on weight loss alone often fall short in the long run. Involve your kids, start cooking at home, source organic produce from a farmers market, get outside more, watch less TV, get off social media, learn to manage stress and mindful about your body and yourself.
Ensure that you’re eating in a way that’s nutrient dense, beneficial for your mood and energy levels. Remember that every time you eat, you produce insulin, the main fat storage hormone and this can prevent fat loss, so rather eat in a way that keeps you fuller for longer. This means a diet high in fiber, good fats and a little good-quality protein and your weight will naturally stabilise.