I think the vast majority, at least 90%, of nutrition “advice” (or even more laughably, ‘wisdom’) is junk and rarely do the authors even try to connect any of their ideas to science, since in fact science rarely has anything to say about these pop theories. So the point is, that if Mark Bittman and Gwenth Paltrow can spout nonsense, not based on facts, then so can I.
One of the dogmas of the nutrition scolds is breakfast: a) got to have it, and, b) of course, it has to consist of super-foods and no “junk”, kale smoothies being the best. The claim is that eating this horrible glop will prevent you from eating junk during the day (they also claim it powers you up, but that really seems unlikely, esp. in comparison to a real breakfast). Now maybe eating such awful stuff at the beginning of the day makes you so depressed you can’t have tasty food that you just give up eating at all, but I doubt that’s their claim.
OTOH, what I’ve found with my sample size (hey, 8.5% of the size of a recent study that got headlines, i.e. 12 people) is that eating breakfast makes me hungry and that hunger makes me eat more. In short, it’s just an urge that arises in an approximate circadian rhythm. Now if you can ignore that urge for a while and not eat anything (no cheating, no a single thing can pass your lips) the hunger quickly goes away (it tries again to get your attention during the day, but is easier to ignore then). And the longer you can ignore it, i.e. even when you give in and eat your 600 calories dinner, do that as late in the day as possible. Because once you give into the urge to eat, that hunger impulse will build and build and slap your about the face into you shove more food in your face.
One idea behind the 5:2 Fast diet (of course, discredited by the nutrition scolds since it’s someone else’s fad diet, not theirs) is that steady calorie reduction (i.e. most diets) will result in the body reducing its metabolism and decreasing calorie burn (a perfectly fine hypothesis, but like all the conclusions I don’t agree with this one that I do agree with has no evidence). Thus you just stay on a diet and are perpetually hungry but you don’t lose weight. So the fasting idea is to trick your body (the complex interplay of actually biochemistry in the cells, esp. liver and the brain, both emotional and rational thought, conscious and unconscious all deliver a complex response to both stimulate calorie consumption and calorie burning). Let the body think the fast is just very temporary and therefore it will continue to burn calories at a high rate (sorta what we do when unemployed, keep spending like we had a salary instead of believing we’ll never have pay again and thus really drastically stop spending). So in the course of seven days your daily calorie burn will be at full level, but your daily calorie consumption will be reduced, on average, by about 20%, and therefore you’ll lose weight.
Now frankly, while the author of this idea admits there is no science for it, this is a more plausible hypothesis than the big breakfast of yogurt, fruit and kale. Eating breakfast, even a non-tasty one like all the scolds advocate, reminds your body there is such a thing as food and so the body wants some and will inevitably trigger you to consume tasty food. OTOH, convince your body you’re on a death march across the Wyoming wilderness and the hungry will disappear and let you go days without eating. Be don’t ever, ever give in (at least until you have too) because that is just enabling the spoiled brat that your body, especially what the adipocytes want (those evil things and their addictive biochemistry).
So you heard it here first (and contrary to conventional wisdom, at least until conventional wisdom is off pursuing a new fad) – skip breakfast, certainly mid-morning snacks, lunch, and definitely the after-work snacks, and just eat a small dinner of ANYTHING (carbs, fat, meat, all fine, it’s just the calories that count and the only thing good about vegis is they are mostly indigestible filler (that’s why mammals that do eat plants have all those bacteria in their guts)) and at least enjoy one third of your day.
The 5:2 diet idea is that you can also dream about eating after your fast day is over, so with my plan you can dream about dinner. Bittman has this stupid VB6 idea (I thought that was Visual Basic, version 6). He still has to make his living eating real food (instead of fad non-food) so he exempted himself to eat tasty food in the evening and eat inedible filler during the day. So I’m going to call my plan ZB6 (Zero Before 6) since for most people it’s really the same as VB6 since the V part, esp. Bittman’s and Pollan’s definition of V is so awful it’s not hard to resist and then just do Z instead.