16 Jan 5 Common Myths About Fasting
There are many myths that surround fasting, however, this article will highlight the 5 common myths about fasting that I feel are the biggest and most misleading. While fasting may have become a popular trend in the past couple of years, it has been around for thousands of years and has been or is still practiced by almost every religion on the planet. We have not only survived, but thrived as a species over time and so let’s talk a little more on some of the common myths I hear that surround the practice of fasting.
1. Fasting Puts Your Body Into “Starvation Mode”
You have heard this right?
Susie from work, stands at the water cooler eating her third chocolate chip muffin of the day, talking about an article she read over the weekend (most likely just read the headline) that said skipping breakfast puts your body into “starvation mode” and that you must be eating every couple of hours to ensure this doesn’t happen.
This is by far the most common myth I hear and you have no doubt heard it yourself.
It is true though…. Long term fasting or going with out food will have your body begin to slow down. HOWEVER, this will NOT occur until you have gone days, without any food at all, not just a couple of hours. In fact some studies (click here to read) have actually shown a mild increase in your metabolism when fasting up to 48 hours!
Don’t fall for this marketing ploy from food companies trying to have you buy more of their product. As long as you are eating adequate calories for the goals you are aiming for (read my article here), skipping breakfast each day could be the change your body has been looking for.
2. An Excuse To Eat Shit Food
We all love to reward ourselves when we have done something “good” or have put in some effort and believe we owe it to ourselves for the hard work. Fasting can be (in the beginning at least) a difficult task to stick to and so we can tend to reward our adherence with a treat that we might not have otherwise had.
Fasting is not a magic tool that will help you melt fat away despite the extra calories and treats you may have during your eating window. Just like any other protocol, the number one rule of Calories In Vs Calories Out must still be adhered to, regardless of how long you have fasted for. Despite what food your favourite Instagram influencer might be posting about, or top celebrity might be saying (selling), they to still adhere to this number one principal.
Know how many calories you need, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some lean proteins and should you have some calories spare, by all means enjoy a treat. However, thinking you can just fast your way to fat loss, while eating whatever you like, will see you fail every time.
3. Eating Less Meals Slows Down Your Metabolism
All of my coaching clients, who are on the my no breakfast plan, are consuming 1 or 2 main meals a day and are all seeing amazing results. You may hear though that in order to “stoke your metabolism” you need to be eating 5, 6,7, 10 small meals a day. While eating food does require energy from our body to digest, it is in fact the number of calories you eat in total for that day that matters most, not how many meals you eat.
Without being boring and going into the science too much, it requires approximately 10% of the calories in your food to digest them. Let’s say we feed both Bob and Simon 1800 calories over the course of a day, with the only difference being Bob the boofhead eats 6 X 300 calorie meals and Simon the Superstar eats 2 X 900 calorie meals. In both cases the energy required to digest those 1800 calories is the same and equals 180 calories.
This also means that while I may advocate the no breakfast life, there is no harm in eating 6 or more small meals a day as you can most certainly still see the weight loss results you are working for. However, in my experience, giving someone 6 meals a day rather than 2, only gives them 4 more opportunities to overeat and blow out their daily calorie count.
You do you and choose a meal frequency that suits you and your lifestyle, just know that by choosing to eat 1 to 3 meals a day over 6-8 you are not at any disadvantage whatsoever.
4. Fasting Will Make You Lose Muscle
There is absolutely no denying that being in a prolonged calorie deficit will see you lose some muscle mass along the way. No matter what Bob the Boofhead at the gym says or tries to sell you in his “get shredded program” you CAN NOT avoid the loss of some muscle while in a prolonged weight loss program.
However, to say that fasting causes more muscle loss than any other calorie restriction method is just plain false. Interestingly, in a study I came across, they had its participants eat the same number of calories they had been used to, however eat them in one big evening meal. The results showed that there was actually a small rise in muscle mass and some increases in other health markers.
Again, this myth is perpetuated by the food and supplement industry and the boof heads that work in it, to have you buy their products. It has nothing to do with your health and has everything to do with these companies selling their product and making more money.
There is no evidence to suggest that fasting will cause more muscle loss throughout a prolonged calorie restriction phase. Again, it comes down to you and your preferences on meal frequency and what you find sustainable.
5.Fasting Will Make You Eat More
It makes sense that if you are participating in a prolonged fast that during your eating window, you will tend to consume extra calories to “make up” for the time you weren’t eating. While this is partly true, the overall consumption of food for the day tends to be less than those who eat breakfast.
Many studies have looked into this idea and time and time again they find that the fasting participants never entirely “make up” for the missed calories during their fasting period. One example of this took a number of men and women and had them either fast for 36 hours and then eat as they choose, or eat at maintenance for 36 hours and then choose what they wish. While the fasting group may have consumed 500 extra calories on their eating day, it still had them eating over 1500 calories less than the continuous eating group.
It is clear as the nose on your face, fasting will help you to eat less, may slightly increase your metabolism and does not put your body into a “starvation mode”. These factors might in turn see you lose weight, reach your goals, improve many of your health markers and be the key to your overall health and well-being.
I invite you to try the No Breakfast Life for 2 weeks and see how you and your body respond. In most cases you will feel great, have lost some weight and have more energy than you did when you began. Don’t buy into the fear mongering the food and supplement industry pour out and definitely don’t listen to Susie or Bob who are just headline readers of poorly written and researched “news” articles. You will not only survive by adopting this lifestyle, you will thrive!