Many people are afraid of fasting but there is really nothing to be afraid of. The cause of the fear is some common myths backed up by outdated research. The Health Nerd and I will debunk it all and prove that fasting is beneficial.
Skipping Breakfast Makes You Fat
People believe that breakfast skipping leads to excessive hunger, cravings, and weight gain. Eating breakfast can have benefits for many people, but it is not required. Controlled trials do not show any difference between eating and skipping breakfast for the purpose of weight loss.
Eating Frequently Boosts Your Metabolism
Many believe that eating more meals leads to increased metabolic rate, so that your body burns more calories overall. It is true that the body expends a certain amount of energy digesting and assimilating the nutrients in a meal. But it doesn’t matter how frequently you eat, what matters is the total amount of calories you consume.
Eating Frequently Helps Reduce Hunger
There are other believers who think snacking helps prevent cravings and excessive hunger. Interestingly, the evidence is mixed. Some studies suggest it reduces hunger, others say it doesn’t, and some show increased hunger. Therefore, If snacking helps you experience fewer cravings and makes you less likely to binge, then it is okay. There just isn’t consistent proof that shows snacking or eating more often reduces hunger for everyone.
Many, Smaller Meals Can Help You Lose Weight
Frequent meals do not boost metabolism (increase calories out). They also do not seem to reduce hunger (reduce calories in). If eating more frequently has no effect on the energy balance equation, then it shouldn’t have any effect on weight loss. Again, If this helps you individually, then it is okay. Personally I find it inconvenient to eat so often, making it even harder to stick to a healthy diet (this is the diet I follow which incorporates fasting).
The Brain Needs a Constant Supply of Glucose
Some people believe that if we don’t eat carbs every few hours, that our brains will stop functioning. This is the most ridiculous one of them all. The body can easily produce the glucose it needs on its own. Therefore, the brain can easily sustain itself while fasting. It wouldn’t make sense from an evolutionary perspective either because if it were true that we couldn’t survive without a constant source of carbohydrates, then humans would have become extinct a long time ago.
Eating Often and Snacking is Good For Health
It is not “natural” for the body to constantly be in a fed state. When you fast short-term, it induces a natural cellular repair process where the cells use old and dysfunctional proteins for energy. Fasting has many benefits for metabolic health and it is back up by a ton of studies. It’s also been proven that snacking, and eating often, can have negative effects on health and raise your risk of disease. Therefore, it is a myth that snacking is inherently good for health.
Fasting Puts Your Body in “Starvation Mode”
One common argument is that fasting puts your body in “starvation mode.” Meaning not eating makes your body think it is starving, so it shuts down, preventing you from burning fat. It is true that long-term weight loss can reduce the amount of calories you burn, resulting in starvation mode. But this happens with all weight loss strategies and it doesn’t matter what method you choose. There is no evidence supporting the idea. Fasting actually increases your metabolism during fasts up to 48 hours.
The Body Can Only Use a Certain Amount of Protein Per Meal
There are some who claim that we can only digest 30 grams of protein per meal, and that we should eat every 2-3 hours to maximize muscle gain. However, this is not supported by science. The most important factor for most people is the total amount of protein consumed, not how many meals it is spread over. The body can easily make use of more than 30 grams of protein per meal, and it is not necessary to get protein in your body every 2-3 hours.
Fasting Makes You Lose Muscle
Some believe that if we fast, our bodies will start burning muscle and using it for fuel. It is true that this happens with dieting in general, but there is no evidence that this happens more with fasting than other methods. In fact, studies even suggest that fasting is better for maintaining muscle mass. Intermittent fasting is popular among many body builders, who find it to be an effective way to maintain high amounts of muscle with a low body fat percentage. So, there is no supportive evidence that fasting causes more muscle loss than conventional calorie restriction. Studies do show that fasting is beneficial for holding on to muscle mass while dieting.
Fasting is Bad For Your Health
Some people think that fasting can be downright harmful, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I think we have already proven this to be untrue based on all the other myths, but in order to keep the consistency, we will venture down this path again. Numerous studies show that intermittent fasting has incredible health benefits including promotion of longevity and protection against disease, prolong lifespan, improve insulin sensitivity, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, reduces various risk factors for heart disease. It is also beneficial to the brain by boosting levels of the brain hormone which is protective against depression and various other brain problems.
Fasting Makes You Overeat
Some claim that intermittent fasting won’t cause weight loss, because it causes you to overeat during the eating periods. This is partly true. After a fast, people automatically tend to eat a little bit more than if they hadn’t been fasting. They compensate for the calories “lost” during the fast by eating more during the next few meals. However, while fasting you expended way more calories. So it doesn’t matter that you “overate” because it ends up equaling out in the end so you truly didn’t overeat. Intermittent fasting reduces overall food intake while boosting metabolism. Because of this, intermittent fasting makes you lose fat, not gain it.
The truth is intermittent fasting is one of the world’s most powerful tools to lose weight and it has been proven countless times with science and studies. The Health Nerd does a great job summarizing intermittent fasting in about a 3 minute video, which you can find below:
What are your thoughts, feelings, and concerns about fasting? Was this post helpful? You can send me an email or post a comment.
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