For over 20 years, well-known naturopath, nutritionist, and chiropractor, Dr. Damian Kristof, has seen all kinds of food fads come and go. The current fascination with regularly fasting for extended periods is not Dr. Kristof’s favourite fast! Here’s why:
The current trend of intermittent fasting where you may fast for two days out of seven uses a dramatic reduction in calories to create stress and calorific deficiency, with the net result being a “cleaning up” of the storage of calories in the body (i.e. fat). In essence, this translates to a detox and weight loss. When you break your fast, you signal metabolic functions that the body utilises to manage stress, decrease inflammation, boost your immune system and wake you up with fuel, ready to tackle your day.
Which is great right?! However, when we signal metabolic processes involving multiple systems including the brain, the nervous system, digestion, the respiratory and alimentary tracts, the endocrine and exocrine systems (and more) outside of what your body would normally do, it may result in unpredictable consequences.
Let’s face it; we don’t yet know the long term implications of intermittent fasting and the severe macronutrient restrictions it involves. Like with everything in health care, one size doesn’t fit all, unless of course we are talking about the basic human physiological need to eat nutritious food and to regularly fuel and hydrate our body.
Continuing with this thought, if we were to recommend a vegan diet (i.e. low fat, high carbohydrate) to someone who is genetically designed to consume more of a keto diet, i.e. high healthy fat, low carbohydrate, the result would be suboptimal. Given the person would not be getting the macronutrients they need they would almost certainly suffer fatigue, muscle loss, hormone disruption, and agitation. So it is important that we consider the individual before starting to restrict major food groups or indeed as in the previous example food in general! So how about we take a look at what we know to be true at this current time:
- Breaking your fast (i.e. every day with breakfast) is an essential step to regulating metabolism, triggering elimination, fuelling the immune system and switching the body from a sympathetic nervous state into a parasympathetic state.
- Those who consume the least – live the longest.
- Those who consume whole foods have better digestion and better stool mass.
- Long term studies around intermittent fasting, severe calorie restriction and skipping meals are not available in abundance. One size doesn’t fit all.
- Breakfast can be a healthy way to start your day and it is far healthier to start your day with food than with caffeine (fuel vs hormones).
What should you eat for breakfast?
Breakfasts rich in plant-based fibre, protein and high-quality fats will kick start your day and fire your metabolism allowing you to better navigate the stressors of the day. High quality and low processed muesli such as the range from Forage contain easy-to-digest high protein ingredients like quinoa, rice, buckwheat, millet and amaranth, sprouted seeds for better absorption of nutrients and raw nuts rich in omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. When seeds sprout, parts of the seeds that were tougher to digest beforehand are broken down; the seeds, as a result, have a higher nutrient activation and bio-availability. Mix these ingredients with your favourite probiotic-rich yoghurt, plant-based milks, and some berries and you have the breakfast of champions, with the added bonus of sustained energy, and improved mental performance.