Intermittent Fasting: Is it better to fast or eat 6 meals a day?

There is so much conflicting information when it comes to healthful eating. While it has been ingrained for most people to eat 3 meals and two snacks daily, they are often not helping themselves. Many times the three meals are too heavy and the two snacks are unnecessary. In fact, eating in this manner can lead to more cravings and weight gain. Over the past 40 years I have practiced some form of calorie restriction and Intermittent Fasting and can attest to the fact that it really works! I have no problem enjoying food and eating out regularly. But I do practice discipline, eat high quality foods and generally don’t overeat.

Do you have to avoid carbohydrates when Intermittent Fasting?

You don’t have to avoid carbohydrates when doing intermittent fasting but following a high fat, low carbohydrate diet helps to suppress hunger in addition to suppressing the hormone ghrelin AKA the “hunger hormone”. This is why a ketogenic diet can work wonders on an intermittent fasting program. If you are having trouble sleeping, you may find that a low-carb diet can sometimes lead trigger insomnia. This is due to lower serotonin levels. (Carbohydrates secret insulin and in turn can increase serotonin levels).  Rather than deal with the highs and lows from an over-consumption of carbohydrates, it’s better to integrate moderate levels of healthy carbohydrates like fruit, quinoa, yams, sweet potato and rice into your diet (preferably at night) just a few times a week.

Is eating breakfast necessary to be healthy?

While a good breakfast can help to stabilize blood sugar and keep energy levels up for some people, I have many clients (including myself) that practice intermittent fasting, which often has us skipping breakfast and not eating our first meal until the afternoon. An easier way to manage Intermittent Fasting is to limit your meal timings to a period of 6-8 hours.  It helps to improve metabolism, assists in weight loss, improved longevity and an overall sense of well being.  One way to do this is to have an early dinner, don’t eat for the rest of the night and then eat your next meal around noon the following day. During that 6-8 hour window you can have your lunch and dinner.

Now if you are someone that absolutely craves breakfast, don’t panic.  You can have a morning meal, skip lunch (with the exception of juices or broths in between) and then eat an evening meal. For dinner, have a high quality meal with mostly high fat and protein. Even if you have a later breakfast and don’t have dinner until 8pm, that’s not a problem if all of your meals are nutrient dense.

Is snacking ever a good idea?

Even though it’s tempting to have a late afternoon snack, you should try to break that habit. Snacking can actually increase your appetite. It will often result in consuming too many calories throughout the course of the day. Thinking that you require a snack can leave you more likely to overeat or eat unnecessarily. Sometimes you are not actually even hungry but are eating out of boredom or routine. It’s better to have fresh filtered water with lemon or apple cider vinegar or any variety of herbal tea.  Snack foods (even the healthy marketing kind) such as granola, certain protein bars, and gluten free pastries are often loaded with sugar and calories.


You may also like: Intermittent Fasting. Is It For Me?