Breakfast is the new lunch: Here’s how to stay healthy and strong during intermittent fasting

As intermittent fasting programmes become more popular, the first meal of your day must always be healthy and wholesome. Our nutritionist has some tips to offer on how to plan your meals and your day

Breakfast is the new brunch or lunch for many people now. But while intermittent fasting may seem like a new fad, it has been a way of life for a long time for many people across the world.

A wholesome brunch should include fresh fruit and cereals

When I was growing up, the common eating practice in my home was to have a wholesome brunch at 10 am in the morning, a light drink at the peak of noon, an easily digestible snack at 3 pm and a balanced supper before sunset.

This meal plan is similar to the modern-day norms of intermittent fasting. There is a long fasting window from sunset to 10 am the next day. The feeding window includes only two big meals.

The two-meals-a-day diet is followed in most yoga ashrams even today. In many yoga ashrams, you begin your day with yoga exercises. This provides your body with energy and you will not need a stimulant to keep you awake.

Brunch is usually scheduled for 10 am, which is usually a plant-based, fibre-rich and phytonutrient-heavy meal with a superb balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, lentils and colourful vegetables served raw and cooked, and some buttermilk.

Despite the variety of dishes, no one feels an energy slump after the meal. But after the meal, you need to stay active to help you digest your food and keep your blood sugar from crashing.

When breakfast is the new lunch

Intermittent fasting involves eating a late breakfast, which could be at 10 am or even at noon.

But not everyone can do this. I see many people who take up intermittent fasting struggling with stress problems, poor sleep, blood-sugar challenges and excessive hunger. The truth is that eating your breakfast very late can be a problem for you if you are already struggling with blood sugar and cortisol challenges.

Feeling dizzy, being unable to exercise in the morning, getting angry all the time and overcompensating later with more sweets and starches are all signs that you have to examine your diet.

Plan your day

Whenever you find yourself struggling to adapt to breakfast being the new lunch, there must be a few things in place. These should be non-negotiable because they provide you with a scaffolding on which intermittent fasting can work for you.

Exercise should be an integral part of the morning

  • The first thing that needs to be in place is planning the right time to go to bed and getting a good night of sleep. If you suffer from irregular sleep patterns, you may need to work with a 12-hour fasting window at first and gradually move into a 16-hour one. Going to bed by 10 pm and letting your body wake up naturally can help you eat meals later in the morning.
  •  Your mornings should ideally include some form of exercise.

 An ideal time for your meals is brunch at 10 am and supper at 6 pm. Many people who claim to eat a meal later in the day actually drink coffee with milk and sugar all morning. That does not count as fasting.
  • Consuming sugar and milk in your tea or coffee means that you have actually broken your fast. Too much caffeine will lead to a day that is full of poor choices in food, bad moods and blood sugar disturbances. It will also irritate the gut, causing acid reflux, bloating, gas and digestive disturbances. It only counts as brunch if you’ve actually consumed nothing but water the whole morning.
 The last thing to observe how you feel. If you struggle with acidity, headaches, irritability, hormonal fluctuations, poor sleep and high stress, it is not a good idea for you to delay your breakfast. Until your body heals, you probably need to eat earlier in the day.

Wholesome food is the key

Here’s how to plan the first meal of the day...

Add many vegetables to your diet in order to feel energetic and stay healthy

The first meal of the day should be balanced and nutritious. In an ashram, a nutritious meal would include raw beetroot-carrot-cabbage salad, two cooked vegetables, sambar with ample vegetables and lentils, aviyal with coconut and plenty of yams, pumpkin, yard long beans and many other vegetables. This would be served with unpolished red rice and some condiments like raw ginger in lemon to help digestion.
  • Even though the meal is high in carbohydrates unlike the keto versions today, it always ensures amazing energy and health.
  • Make sure you do not follow a sedentary lifestyle after a heavy meal. Even if your work does not involve staying active, drink a lot of water throughout the day beginning an hour after your brunch and stay active.

Include buttermilk in your meals to aid digestion

  • If you feel an energy slump in the afternoon when you are accustomed to eating your lunch, drink a steaming hot glass of rasam as a soup or a glass of cool buttermilk. Since dairy has got a bad rap of late, prepare buttermilk carefully. Churn the yoghurt and remove the fat that accumulates on the top. What is left is a clear drink that can be served with spicy green chillies and plenty of chopped ginger to aid in digestion

Don’t forget to stay active

In my opinion, intermittent fasting can work for you if you plan balanced fibre-rich meals, reduce sugar intake, get a good night of sleep and have an active lifestyle. This practice of brunch or lunch and supper meals can actually help your body recover from chronic diseases. What matters is that you stay on course with food, sleep and a healthy lifestyle.

Edited by Asha Chowdary

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


Updates from around the world