There are still a lot of half-truths about fasting that just have no basis in reality, here are 10 myths about intermittent fasting you need to ignore.
Intermittent fasting isn’t a new fad by any stretch of the means. People all over the world have been fasting – both voluntarily and involuntarily – since the dawn of civilization. These days, it’s done primarily for health and weight control.
Even with all the studies verifying the positive effects of intermittent fasting, there are still a lot of myths and half-truths about fasting that just have no basis in reality. Know what these misconceptions are so that you’re well informed before diving right into an intermittent fasting program.
Myth #1: Fasting Burns Muscle
This is perhaps one of the greatest concerns regarding fasting especially among men who are also trying to gain muscle weight. Health circles often preach about the importance of eating multiple, smaller meals a day to provide your body a steady supply of calories and nutrients.
It is through this commonly accepted conventional wisdom that men fear the effects of muscle loss from intermittent fasting. It does, after all, seem to make sense. If you don’t eat for a prolonged period, your body becomes depleted of glycogen, which requires fuel to be acquired from body fat as well as protein from muscle tissue.
It is true that long-term fasting, upwards of 24 hours or more, may have catabolic effects. However, intermittent fasting usually entails a shorter fasting period, usually 14 to 18 hours. Contrary to popular belief, intermittent fasting does not result in muscle loss. This was demonstrated in this study where subjects that underwent intermittent fasting every other day for eight weeks lost an average of nine pounds.
Here’s the surprise: all the weight came from body fat. The subjects did not lose any non-fat mass even after fasting every other day for two months.
With that being said, though, fasting may accelerate the rate of muscle loss if you fail to follow a proper diet and exercise plan. Factors like overtraining, drastically reducing calories way too quickly, or doing way too much cardio at a moderate pace may have catabolic consequences.
This is why a cardio training like HIIT and supplementing with a BCAA supplement like Revolt is highly recommended for preserving muscle mass while losing fat..
Fasting by itself, however, has no negative consequences on muscle preservation. This is important to note because some muscle heads will have you believe that your muscles will shrink to the size of prunes if you don’t eat every three hours.
While frequent small meals certainly have its benefits, it’s not necessary to follow every day. Give your muscles more credit; they won’t deflate because you had a breakfast-less morning.
Myth #2: Fasting Will Slow Metabolism
This is one of those half-truths that were discussed earlier. Yes, there’s a grain of truth that fasting slows your metabolism. When your body goes without nourishment, it lowers metabolism as a survival mechanism. This is beneficial as it prolongs survival should you ever find yourself stranded on an island and awaiting rescue.
However, this only occurs when you go without food for days on end. One study, in fact, showed no metabolic slowdown even when subjects fasted for as long as 72 hours.
With intermittent fasting, you don’t even fast anywhere near that long, so no need to worry that your metabolism will all of a sudden grind to a standstill.
It’s understandable that some people would be concerned about this; a lower metabolism, after all, is every dieter’s worst nightmare. The studies, though, prove that the concern is without basis.
Myth #3: Skipping Breakfast Will Make You Fat
So-called nutritional gurus have drilled it into our heads over and over again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There are even studies out there that suggest that skipping the first meal of the day can cause problems like fatigue, poorer concentration, and even weight gain.
However, it’s also true that those who routinely skip breakfast (for reasons other than fat loss) tend to have poorer overall lifestyle habits, such as drinking, not watching what they eat, or not exercising.
In regards to skipping breakfast and weight gain, the correlation has been debunked in this study where it was shown that the decision to eat or skip breakfast had no impact on weight gain.
Intermittent fasting usually involves skipping the first meal or two of the day and not resuming your regular meals until lunch. This is a good protocol to follow; there is no need to feel obligated to eat breakfast simply because it’s “the most important meal of the day.” This isn’t to vilify breakfast by any means. It’s just to suggest that it’s somewhat overhyped.
If you tend to get hungry when skipping breakfast, then a glass of water with a few droplets of lemon or lime juice will usually quell hunger. Plus, it also contains some immune-boosting vitamin C.
Myth #4: Fasting Raises Cortisol Levels
It should be made clear that intermittent fasting is not to be confused with a low-calorie diet. Yes, those that fast are also usually eating less overall, but the two are not always mutually exclusive.
The reason this is important to point out is because low calorie diets has been shown in a study to raise cortisol levels. This doesn’t mean, though, that fasting has the same consequences.
Research shows that fasting has no effect on cortisol levels. A study on Muslims during Ramadan revealed that several days of fasting had no significant changes in their metabolism, hormone, or cortisol levels.
Too much cortisol is the last thing you want when you’re trying to lose fat, and there are plenty of habits that raise this hormone, such as consuming too much soy, stressing out, and not getting enough sleep. Fasting, though, is not one of them.
Myth #5: Fasting Gives You Brain Fog
Here’s an interesting fact: 20% of the nutrients consumed is used to regulate brain function, despite the fact that brain matter only makes up 2% of the body. Logic would have you believe then, that fasting would make it harder for you to concentrate. People have even reported feeling “zoned out” and unable to focus when going longer than usual without eating.
Science, though, seems to tell a different story. In a study conducted at the National Institute on Aging, fasting for twice a week may actually significantly lower the risk of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s.
It appears that when you fast, you actually stress the brain to a small degree. Like the muscle, which becomes stronger when stressed from exercise, neurons also appear to become stronger when they’re stressed from lack of energy.
Research also revealed that fasted mice had higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that protects neurons and prevents them from dying prematurely. Speaking of BDNF, the protein is also shown to rise during bouts of intense physical activity, which lends further argument for the merits of working out while fasted.
Just be sure to train at a high intensity whether you’re doing HIIT or weight training and – as mentioned already – take a BCAA supplement like Revolt to ensure you don't lose precious lean muscle mass.
Myth #6: Fasting Makes You Overeat
Research on this reveals that most people who fast only consume a few more extra hundred calories during their feeding window. One study showed that subjects who fasted for 24 hours only increased their food intake by 500 calories the next day. That’s still fewer calories overall.
This is where you have to exercise discipline. Yes, you will get hunger pangs while fasting. This is often what causes people to overeat afterwards and to gravitate towards poor food choices. The binging, in a way, is their reward for having gone through an extended period of hunger.
This is why you have to exercise some level of self-control. Remember that your regular diet resumes after fasting; nothing changes.
To help you cope with the hunger, take a supplement like Tea Rexx. This fat burner, in addition to boosting metabolism, also contains ingredients scientifically proven to suppress appetite..
Also keep in mind that the hunger pangs will usually subside once you become accustomed to it. Once your body is used to it, it will just be a mild discomfort that’s fairly tolerable and usually nothing more than the typical feelings of a growling tummy.
Myth #7: Training While Fasted Negatively Impacts Physical Performance
The body needs energy, and food is energy. It would seem to make sense then that training fasted diminishes performance. So, is there any grain of truth to this?
Well, it’s kind of a yes and no, but mostly a no. One study showed that fasting did have a slight negative impact on long-distance aerobics. Even then, researchers believed this was mostly attributed to dehydration, since subjects also refrained from drinking fluids as part of a religious observance.
When it comes to research on resistance training, this study showed that fasting had no noticeable impact on subjects who trains in judo, a sport that requires tremendous explosive strength.
As long as you stay hydrated, fasting shouldn’t have any adverse effects on your performance. Of course, every individual is different, and food intake, or lack of it, affects everyone to a different degree. If you feel drained when fasting, then it’s recommended that you use a pre-workout supplement, which often contains caffeine and other ingredients proven to increase athletic performance.
Rebellion is one pre-workout that fits this bill perfectly. It has scientifically proven ingredients that can help you get through the toughest workouts..
Myth #8: Intermittent Fasting Doesn’t Work as Well for Women
There really isn’t any strong evidence suggesting that women get less out of fasting compared to their male counterparts. There is, however, one study that shows that overweight women who undergo intermittent calorie restriction (which is similar but not the same as intermittent fasting) reported feeling hungrier and were less inclined to continue the program.
Even in this study, though, the subjects, despite feeling miserable, actually benefited and lost more weight than subjects that followed a typical calorie deficit diet.
In another study, women that fasted every other day loss roughly the same amount of body fat but retained more lean muscle compared to a group that followed a regular diet.
If you’re a woman, you will benefit just as much from fasting as men. There is no solid evidence to suggest that the method is any less effective. The same rules apply, though; this means staying hydrated during fasting and taking note of any symptoms you may feel.
Myth #9: Intermittent Fasting Works Independently of a Calorie Deficit
People who fast normally eat fewer calories overall, but not always. Remember, weight loss is all about burning more calories than you consume. If you eat the same amount of calories in spite of fasting, then don’t expect to see significant results.
Sure, there are possibly tiny benefits of eating multiple small meals a day, but ultimately, it makes no difference whether 2,000 calories are consumed over six meals or over two meals. 2,000 calories is 2,000 calories. When you fast, your body begins to burn fat for fuel since there is no glycogen in the body to rely on.
Fasting also raises your sensitivity to insulin, which prevents excessive fat stores. If you neglect cutting calories, then you will gain all the weight back and potentially then some if you overeat during your non-fasting period.
This is why keeping a food log and counting the calories in every meal is recommended for losing weight
Myth #10: Fasting Is a Form of Starving
Fasting is NOT the same thing as starvation. When you are fasting, your body is depleted of glycogen and burning its reserves (from body fat). When you’re starving, reserves are depleted and the body is turning to muscle tissue for energy.
Here’s another way of putting it: starvation is fasting taken to an unhealthy extreme. Some people who severely restrict food intake in a misguided attempt to lose weight, are starving themselves, and that should never be confused with fasting.
Another difference between the two is the symptoms. With fasting, especially when starting out, you may experience mild symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, and a light headache. Once you’ve done it for a few weeks, though, the side effects will subside.
With starvation, however, the symptoms are far more severe and include muscle waste, cognitive decline, organ failure, and seizures. If you experience such side effects while fasting, then you have crossed over to the territory of starvation. Stop immediately and get some food to your belly. Also be sure to consult with a doctor before continuing.
Intermittent Fasting Is a Proven Art
Fasting, when done responsibly, has been proven to aid in the fat loss process as well as have lots of health benefits on the side. Contrary to what some people say, you do not need a steady supply of food every two to three hours.
If anything, fasting conditions your body to be resilient, and that benefits your mind and well-being just as much as it does your physical body. It’s not always an easy practice, but this is certainly an art where you get what you put into it.
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