Intermittent fasting is all over the news. Not only is it super popular, but it’s also a highly effective way to lose weight and boost your health.
Intermittent fasting (IM) is an eating pattern which cycles between periods of eating and not eating, or fasting.
But, despite its vast popularity, there are several myths surrounding IM.
This article focuses on the most common myths related to fasting and the frequency of meals and snacks.
Top Myths About Fasting Debunked
1. Intermittent fasting causes muscle loss.
Some people believe when we fast our bodies burn muscle and use it for fuel. And while this is true with dieting in general, there’s no evidence showing this happens with IF.
In fact, evidence suggests that intermittent fasting is superior for maintaining muscle mass. Pretty cool, huh?
In one study, IM caused similar weight loss compared to daily caloric restriction, but showed much less muscle mass reduction. (1)
2. Skipping breakfast is bad for you and will make you gain weight.
Have you heard? “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Sure you have. But did you know that this statement has no scientific backing?
In fact, a 2014 randomized controlled trial compared a group of 283 overweight and obese adults eating breakfast vs. skipping breakfast. At the conclusion of the 16-week study, there was absolutely no difference in weight between the two groups. (2)
3. Eat small meals to keep your blood sugar under control.
Despite what many diet “experts” say, you don’t need to eat small meals throughout the day to support energy and be mentally efficient. And this is because blood sugar is well-regulated in healthy people.
Your blood sugar is controlled by ghrelin and other metabolic hormones. And it typically follows the eating patterns you’re used to.
Believe it or not, people can easily adapt to periods of fasting. You don’t have to eat often to control your blood sugar because it adapts to your “entrained meal patterns” just fine.
4. Fasting increases cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands.
Cortisol is often given a bad wrap, but truth be told, it fulfills many important roles in the human body. It helps control the blood sugar, thereby regulating metabolism. It also works as an anti-inflammatory, and influences memory formation and blood pressure.
Cortisol is what gets you up and moving in the morning. (What’s that you say? You thought that was coffee’s job?) Trust me, I hear you.
One important study found short-term, or intermittent fasting caused cortisol to drop. (3)
So please don’t worry about fasting increasing your cortisone. It simply is not true.
5. Eat often to speed up your metabolism.
Many people believe eating more often will stoke their metabolism, thereby causing them to lose weight.
Although your body does burn some calories (about 10%) when it is digesting food, it isn’t that much. This process is the thermic effect of food (TEC).
But, studies have shown the body will expend the same amount of calories whether you eat all your calories in 2, 3, 5 or 6 meals a day. Your total caloric intake and macronutrients are what matter. (4)
6. Fasting puts you in “starvation mode” and your body starts shutting
So many believe this myth. And while it is true for long-term fasting it’s just not so for IM.
In fact, short-term intermittent fasting has been shown to speed up the metabolism!
Any sort of long-term weight loss is going to cause the body to burn fewer calories. And when you weigh less you have fewer calories to burn. That’s why, if you’ve tried losing weight on a point system, such as Weight Watchers, after you’ve lost some weight, your points decrease.
Studies prove that fasting up to 48 hours can boost metabolism 3.6 to 14%! (5) But, if you fast longer the metabolism can go down. So just keep this in mind.
7. Eat more often to avoid getting hungry.
Some people say eating snacks helps ease their hunger and diffuse cravings. And others find that eating less often keeps them satisfied longer. In this case, it seems they’re both right.
There have been several studies on this and they’ve been mixed.
So, if eating healthy snacks between meals helps curb your hunger pangs then go for it. And, however, if you feel better eating fewer snacks and meals then go with that. In this case it’s simply a personal preference.
Intermittent fasting is a popular and effective way to lose weight and boost your health. But as you can see there are many myths about fasting. It’s good to know what they are so you can have fun with IM and not have to sweat the small stuff! Many people have found success with IF and I hope you do too!
Please let me know if you have any questions! I’m happy to help you in any way I can. 🙂
Have you tried fasting? Can you think of any more myths about fasting you’d add to this list?
Please leave your comments below in the comment section. I love hearing from you!
Also, if you enjoyed this article, you might want to read:
- 5 Favorite Intermittent Fasting Methods Explained
- Quick Tips For Intermittent Fasting Like A Rockstar
- Intermittent Fasting: The Effortless Way To Lose Weight
- 9 Essential Questions About Intermittent Fasting Answered
- 9 Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
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