Trying to figure out exactly how to structure your daily breakfast can seem daunting, especially if you want to stay in shape or build muscle. This question becomes even trickier if you decide to go on a special diet or try intermittent fasting.
The science around intermittent fasting has indeed been controversial. Dietitians and scientists have focused on this latter way of eating in recent years. A study found in the Annual nutrition review that this way of eating helped participants accelerate their weight loss by increasing their metabolism while limiting the number of calories they actually consumed. Another research taken from International Journal of Food Properties noted that intermittent fasting also has the potential to increase the amount of oxidative stress a person’s body can handle, potentially reducing inflammation in the process.
This style of eating is not perfect. A study published by Nutrition Frontiers noted that participants who followed this eating pattern generally noted more frequent headaches, especially in the first few days as they adjusted to the new eating cycle. Another study of PLoS One noted that intermittent fasting can lead to digestive issues, like constipation and diarrhea. Another key piece of research explored how intermittent fasting has affected dieters who also want to simultaneously gain weight and build muscle mass, and the results don’t seem good.
A JAMA NetworkA study explored how a time-restricted eating pattern, such as intermittent fasting, affects weight loss in obese and overweight populations. Participants were instructed to eat as much as they wanted between noon and 8 p.m. each day, but had no particular restrictions on what they could eat. The researchers noted that this style of eating did not noticeably affect the trial participants’ weight, but also revealed another crucial drawback of the diet. It seems like the group that lost weight in the study primarily lost lean body mass, or muscle mass, instead of stored fat.
The limitation stems from the fact that participants could eat whatever they wanted, and results may or may not look different if individuals followed stricter diets or had to count calories in addition to fasting. In the meantime, it looks like this particular no-limits diet could spell disaster for those who want to bulk up while burning extra fat.
Harvard Medical School reviewed the study and noted that the pitfall of intermittent fasting indeed stems from the fact that anyone on the diet needs nutritional guidance and must follow certain exercise regimens in order to see real results. They also noted that without resistance training or proper diets, like the Mediterranean diet or the Paleo diet, intermittent fasting has a high potential to fall flat.
Whether or not you practice intermittent fasting, just make sure to avoid skipping breakfast or you may end up seeing your gains slowly diminish over time. Don’t let your muscles get weak by skipping breakfast – try The Best Breakfast Recipes For Stronger Muscles for ultimate gains.
Erich Barganier is a columnist specializing in health and food. Read more