Break the Fast vs. Breakfast
During our TIGNUM programs, the very first experience we have with our participants is enjoying a High Performance breakfast together. This first meal is a great start to the day for many reasons: I get to share it with people I'll work closely with over the next few months, it provides the participants with the fuel their brains and bodies need to kick off the day, and it leads naturally into the discussions of linking what they eat, how it makes them feel, and how this impacts their brain's performance.
One of the first questions I ask in the program is, "How many of you ate breakfast this morning?" I don't do this to harp on our participants about not eating breakfast; I do it to see how they are experiencing breakfast in a different way or time with foods they may not typically eat at home. More recently, this inevitably leads to someone asking how intermittent fasting (eating for a limited number of hours per day) fits into having a High Performance breakfast and whether or not it's ok to skip breakfast if you are intermittent fasting.
Many of our clients do, indeed, use intermittent fasting as part of their core nutritional strategies. At TIGNUM, we call it intermittent feeding so that you focus on when to eat rather than when to fast. This shifts your mindset to connect with the why behind the strategy. We eat to give us energy, stabilize our blood glucose, improve immune resilience, and support our cognitive performance. People find that intermittent feeding improves their metabolic flexibility and they experience all these benefits of food more with this strategy than a typical eating schedule.
That being said, we are all individuals. If you want to try intermittent feeding, be strategic about it. Pick a day or week in which your load is a bit lighter or predictable, when you are feeling well, and when you're not recovering from illness, surgery, or injury. The two most common ways our clients use intermittent feeding as a performance strategy are:
.01 Five days of regular eating and two days of intermittent feeding with limited caloric intake (5:2 plan). Clients who are looking for a metabolic reset often implement this plan. They eat regularly 5 days per week and choose 2 non-consecutive days per week where they eat 500-600 calories per day.
.02 Limited feeding schedule on a 24-hour basis of 8-11 hours. The most common intermittent feeding schedule we see is the 8:16 plan (8 hours of eating and 16 hours of resting/fasting). Pick a time of day that works best with your load and/or family schedule. If you really enjoy early morning meals, you can start your feeding period at 8 am and end it by 4 pm. In fact, there's substantial evidence an early feeding schedule provides the most benefits of intermittent feeding. If you eat dinner with your family each night, a feeding schedule of 11 am - 7 pm might work better for you.
If you try one of these intermittent feeding plans and find that your energy levels are more stable throughout the day, you experience less brain fog, and you have fewer cravings (all of which help you focus and perform throughout the day), then you'll know it's right for you.
Life is made up of moments. Success is about multiplying your impact in these moments. This doesn't sound like a little thing to us at TIGNUM, but these impactful moments happen by doing the little things.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. You should first seek professional healthcare practitioner advice for your personalized nutrition requirements if:
_you struggle with blood sugar issues and/or are diabetic on medications.
_you have adrenal function and/or thyroid issues.
_ you are lean with low stores of essential body fat, prone to eating disorders, and/or have adrenal fatigue or hormonal imbalances (these are more common in women).
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