If you want to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle and wonder if intermittent fasting is just skipping breakfast; this post will explain the oh-so-vague “it depends” answer you’ll get when you search or ask the experts.
When I first began intermittent fasting, back in 2009, I asked this same question to my then nutritionist who oversaw my intermittent fasting protocol with my physician.
Intermittent fasting isn’t as much about what you eat but when you eat.
First, you should consult a licensed medical physician before jumping into intermittent fasting. IF isn’t for everyone, and therefore, it’s something to discuss with a licensed professional.
The purpose of this post is to give you a simplified version of the fasting process from my experience; it is not to provide any professional/medical advice.
Skipping Meals vs. Intermittent Fasting
Skipping meals is not recommended while practicing intermittent fasting safely. When you skip a meal, you typically reduce the caloric intake for the day. With this, you also give your body less of the nutrition it needs to function optimally; this includes at a macro level (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and at a micro level (vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients found in food).
When intermittent fasting, you eat the same amount of foods you would normally eat in a smaller time frame (your eating window). For example, if you want to follow a 16:8 intermittent fasting routine, you will eat all your meals in the 8-hour eating period and fast (not eat) the other 16.
I can see how this might be confusing when starting out since, for example, you might have a noon to 8 pm eating window. Because you break your fast at noon, this might leave you wondering “what happened to breakfast?”
Well, you can still eat scrambled eggs and toast at noon, a salad and soup at 3pm, a snack at 5pm and dinner at 7pm -all while providing your body with a variety of foods it needs. More about what foods to break your fast with here.
Skipping Breakfast or Dinner
Skipping breakfast or dinner when intermittent fasting can lead to reduced energy and a general feeling of sluggishness –a common complaint when people begin their intermittent fasting journey.
Skipping meals deprives your body of nutrition which your body needs to give you energy. Skipping dinner can lead to feeling hungry in the middle of the night and reducing your quality of sleep.
Some people choose to “skip breakfast or dinner” to make their cut-off times. While it’s usually ok to do occasionally, it’s not a good idea to practice often.
The best way to make sure you don’t need to skip meals and you feel the benefits from intermittent fasting is to plan your meals.
Related: Intermittent Fasting PDF Meal Plan
Intermittent Fasting Schedule
The best way to not skip meals is to choose an intermittent fasting schedule that fits your lifestyle best. Whether it’s a 12-hour, a 16-hour, or an 18-hour fast; there is a schedule that can be incorporated into your lifestyle.
Instead of cramming your already busy lifestyle into a strict intermittent fasting schedule, think about how intermittent fasting can fit into your average day without major disruption.
If this is the beginning of your intermittent fasting journey; check out the Intermittent fasting eBook; a complete guide to intermittent fasting for women with a meal plan and recipes to help you get started.
Intermittent Fasting for Women
If you want to dive deeper, I’ve created a book with everything you need to know about intermittent fasting & a 1-week meal plan so you know exactly what to eat during your eating windows. Check out my Intermittent Fasting Guide here.