I am an early riser. So, it is no surprise that I love breakfast. In fact, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Most little girls daydream about owning a pony or living in a castle. When I was a little girl, I daydreamed about visiting a farm and enjoying a big breakfast after doing farm chores. 

So, when I started to hear about the benefits of intermittent fasting, I became distressed. Intermittent fasting is a type of eating behavior that specifies certain windows of time in which food intake is allowed. Basically, you don’t eat for a period of time each day. Typically, it involves skipping breakfast.

Preliminary studies have shown that intermittent fasting can have powerful positive effects on our body and brain and may even help us live longer. I am obsessed with trying to maximize my health, particularly my brain health. Hence, my dilemma. Do I participate in intermittent fasting and improve my health by skipping breakfast or continue to enjoy my favorite meal of the day and hope for the best?

Like most things in my life, I had a lot of questions. Haven’t studies shown breakfast is the most important meal of the day? How could breakfast go from the most important meal to being eliminated? So, I decided to learn more about intermittent fasting to decide if it is worth giving up breakfast.

A 2020 study found that intermittent fasting may lead to improvements in health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.

Preliminary research has found that fasting causes a type of stress in which the body’s response is to burn fat. Thus, intermittent fasting can improve lean muscle mass.

Intermittent fasting can also boost your metabolism. Fasting causes your metabolism to become more flexible and avoids the crash and burn feeling normally experienced between meal consumption. 

In addition to potentially improving the health of our body, studies have also discovered that intermittent fasting boosts verbal memory and contributes to healthy aging.

Intermittent fasting can spur several processes that benefit our brain. Research suggests that sustained fasting regimens maintained over months or years reduce inflammation and promote cell repair. This contributes to the formation of new brain cells and more brain cell connections. Thus, it can improve memory, executive function, and overall cognition.

However, there is some caution in participating in intermittent fasting. New research found that fasting triggers a response in the brain that may be detrimental to fighting off infection. Plus, more studies are needed to determine whether intermittent fasting is safe for people with a healthy weight, or who are younger or older, since most clinical research so far has been conducted on overweight and middle-aged adults.

Still, the preliminary research on intermittent fasting seems to indicate it can be beneficial. However, that research is in direct conflict with all those other recommendations touting the importance of a nutritious breakfast and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Previous research suggested that eating a good breakfast can boost energy, control cravings and weight, and improve focus and performance. Even now, with intermittent fasting research surfacing, some nutritionists and researchers still recommend eating a good breakfast for a healthy body.

Confusingly, there seems to be benefits to both eating and skipping breakfast. But they do have something in common. Both recommend eating your larger meal earlier in the day and stopping eating by 8 pm.

What to do? Skip breakfast or enjoy it?

I say have your breakfast and eat it too! Just eat breakfast later in the morning. I plan to continue to enjoy my favorite meal just a little later than traditionally eaten. I will gradually push the time I eat breakfast to later and later in the morning. That way I still enjoy my favorite meal of the day but also benefit my brain.

Whether you decide to try intermittent fasting or just resolve to eat a nutritious breakfast, doing something rather than nothing will benefit your health. Like estate planning, whatever kind of estate plan you choose, it is better to do something rather than doing nothing.

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