What?!?!?! We’ve been told by weight loss experts for eons that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – to literally, break the fast from the last meal the night before. “Breakfast like a king” they say, meaning eat your biggest meal first thing in the morning so that the body has time to absorb all the nutrietns and your daily activity will remove the excess calories. Well that has bene the crux of the theory. The reality is raising the question: does it work?
According to an Australian specialist surgeon, Dr Andrew Renaut, nothing we have traditionally considered appropriate for weight loss is working. Not even surgery in some cases (it’s easy to cheat by melting your ice cream or chocolate – you’re still consuming those mega-calories that have no nutritional value and will not help you lose weight).
Renaut argues that we need to appproach weight loss in a new way. He proposes NOT eating breakfast. Instead, use that time to up your activity level. You know, movement. Then consume your nutrient-dense calories in a “window” of time from 1pm to 7pm.
The basis of Renaut’s theory is that by eating regularly throughout the day as we do now, we never give the chance for our insulin levels to self-correct meaning they are always raised. That process in itself leads to insulin-intolerance and we actually gain weight. He argues it is necessary to enable the insulin level to get to zero and that is achieved by fasting. Dr Renaut advocates not eating from 7pm to 1pm the next day – a fast of around 18 hours. During this period you can have coffee, green tea and water. By halting insulin production we give our body the chance to use up the fatty acids.
“When it comes to food, there are three main factors: How much do we eat, what type of food we eat, and the amount that we eat. Of those three, the most important is when we eat it.”
Given that we agree with his synopsis, and who wouldn’t, then focusing on frequency and duration of intake is sound. There has been a resurgence of focus on fasting in recent years with the most popular method being the 5:2 diet popularised by Dr Michael Mosely. Most research supports that method as an efective way to live and reduce weight over time.
Under Renaut’s method of eating, you continue to have your required daily intake of 2000 calories for women or 2500 calories for men but you focus on eating them between the 1pm-7pm window, just restricting the carbs. (We usually eat way too many carbs that lead to weight gain). Focus on lots of fresh foods – vegetables, lean meat, fish, dairy, cheese. Some fruit is fine but remember they are full of sugar so eat them in moderation. Avoid bread, pasta, rice etc.
So the Renaut method is simply eating healthy fresh food from 1pm-7pm and fasting outside that period, by drinking water and coffee/green tea.
Note: it won’t help you to drink sweet creamy coffee frequently! So those 10 caps a day are not going to cut it. Same for those low-cal soft drinks or sodas – they still raise your insulin which is a no-no during fasting and defeats the purpose of the fast ie reduce insulin overload.
Action Plan for Weight Loss
- keep a time log for a few days and monitor what you eat when and how much – you might be surprised!
- start by introducing the fasting period between 7pm and 1pm the next day, making no other changes until you get into the swing of it
- next, remove as many carbs as you can from your intake
- give the method at least a month to see the impact on your weight loss progress. If it is working for you, keep going
(As with any changes, check in with your doctor and discuss the planned changes to make sure they will not impact any medical issues you may have).
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