Are You Eating All Wrong? A Nutrition Expert Debunks a Common Diet Myth

“What if I told you that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ was wrong.” So goes the first line of nurse practitioner and nutritional experts Cynthia Thurlow’s 2019 TED Talk titled “Intermittent Fasting: Transformational Technique.” The presentation has since gathered more than 14 million views on YouTube and, in many ways, has changed the conversation around eating and intermittent fasting.  

On Wednesday’s show, Thurlow joined Megyn to discuss her philosophy on fasting, the relationship between nutrition and health, and how that changes as we age.

The Impact of Aging on Your Body

As Megyn explained, she first started noticing changes in the way her body responded to food in her mid- to late-forties. Once upon a time, when the scale ticked up a few notches, she would watch what she ate for a short while and all would be back to normal. That is no longer the case. And, when Megyn mentioned this to her doctor, he confirmed the unfortunate reality. “Yeah, you’re actually going to have to try now,” he quipped. “Once you get into your fifties, you won’t be able to eat at all.” 

Thurlow confirmed that, as we get older, our metabolism slows down and it becomes much harder to keep off weight – even if your diet hasn’t changed a bit. The average woman begins gaining one and half pounds per year in her fifties and sixties, she added. For those looking to offset the weight gain, intermittent fasting may be a solution. Megyn shared that she has tried the method and found it to be much less challenging than she anticipated. 

The Truth About Insulin

You may be familiar with insulin levels in relation to blood sugar and diabetes, but the hormone plays a role in our weight and also how our body behaves throughout the day. “Insulin is… not a bad hormone, but it’s a hormone we want to master,” Thurlow shared. “We want to ensure that we’re not secreting insulin all day long.”

As Thurlow explained, when we regularly consume sugar – whether it’s via beverages or snacks – we are secreting insulin more frequently. “When we secrete insulin more frequently, what we’re essentially doing is we shut off fat burning,” she continued. Intermittent fasting involves eating less frequently, which, in turn, means your body is secreting less insulin. When you keep your insulin levels low, your body can use fat as a form of energy. 

Thurlow explained that while body composition is often what brings people to intermittent fasting, the other benefits are what keep people fasting. One such boost is improved mental clarity as a result of lower insulin levels. “For many people, they’re surprised at how much more productive their mornings are,” she said.

A Healthier Way to Eat

If you’ve been operating under the assumption that eating small meals throughout the day is best for your metabolism, you’re not alone. But you’re also not correct. “That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Thurlow said. “That is a really important principle for people to understand in a metabolically unhealthy population like we have.”

Thurlow shared that keeping insulin levels in check is an important part of overall health and wellness, and one such way to do so is by decreasing snacking and increasing the quality of the foods we are consuming. Meals should include protein and healthy fats that keep you satiated, thus eliminating the need to nosh between meals. 

“A lot of what I talk about is helping people understand what macronutrients are, which is protein, fats, and carbs,” Thurlow concluded. “[If] they can structure their meals properly, they’re not getting hungry in between meals.” 

You can check out Megyn’s entire interview with Thurlow by tuning in to episode 136 on Apple Podcasts or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.