As intermittent fasting becomes more popular, there also are a lot of intermittent fasting myths to be found. In this post, you will learn the truth about 5 of the most common myths….and why you should stop believing them (based on science).
I am a HUGE advocate of intermittent fasting (also known as time restricted eating), not only for weight loss/maintenance and fat burning but also for the health benefits that come with this lifestyle. I find it an easy AND sustainable way to live. I plan to intermittent fast for LIFE!
People who do not understand intermittent fasting frequently have concerns about his way of eating (if you intermittent fast too, you may be familiar with that look” you get from others when you tell them you don’t eat breakfast)!
There is just SO much confusing information out there, and so many myths not based on actual science.
This post is about 5 of the most common intermittent fasting myths….debunked!
Intermittent Fasting Myths
“Intermittent fasting is starving yourself…and deprivation. It is not healthy, AND you will lose muscle.”
Intermittent fasting is simply about changing WHEN you eat, not WHAT you eat (or even how much you eat). You simply eat all your food within a certain window of time during the day. And this gives your body a rest from constantly processing food. During this rest period, your body uses your body fat as energy….and has the opportunity to do some other pretty amazing things – like healing and rebuilding.
In terms of muscle loss, your body is intelligent enough to turn to body fat – not muscle – for energy in times of scarcity. A study has shown that with daily intermittent fasting (12 – 20 hours of fasting per day), participants lost fat and either maintained or gained lean muscle mass.
“I will be hungry all the time. I couldn’t do it!”
Yes, you will likely feel hunger when you first start fasting. This is NORMAL. Your body is used to being fed at certain times of the day. And when you don’t feed it on schedule it will growl (that’s the hunger hormone ghrelin – aka “growling ghrelin” – kicking in and trying to get you to eat)!
When you first start intermittent fasting, your body is becoming “fat adapted” – it is being “trained” to burn fat as fuel, instead of demanding food all the time. This is GOOD…let your ghrelin growl!! We RARELY allow ourselves to feel true hunger – because we are constantly feeding ourselves!! So as you become fat-adapted with consistent fasting, you will feel less hungry – it WILL happen.
“Intermittent fasting will slow your metabolism. You have to eat every few hours to keep your metabolism fired up.”
Intermittent fasting will BOOST your metabolism, not slow it down! When you eat food every few hours – like many diet plans tell you to do (“gotta keep the metabolism fires stoked with frequent meals and snacks!”) – your body must release insulin every few hours. Having high levels of insulin in your body makes it very hard to lose weight.
When you eat every few hours, your body never gets a chance to efficiently tap into its fat storage. But because of the metabolic changes that happen in your body when you intermittent fast (when intermittent fasting is done correctly), your metabolism will INCREASE. With intermittent fasting, your body will learn to burn excess body fat as fuel. This is a HEALTHY way to burn fat and lose excess weight.
“I heard women can’t intermittent fast. That we have to fast ‘differently’ – or less frequently – than men”
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not fast. But, intermittent fasting is safe and effective for most women. It seems that much of the negativity around women and fasting on the internet is related to under-eating and malnourishment. Under-eating is NEVER part of a healthy intermittent fasting program.
According to scientist Megan Ramos, who has coached thousands of women through medically supervised fasts, some women have irregular menstrual cycles (often later than regular) when they first start intermittent fasting, but after approximately three months of intermittent fasting, their cycles become “like clockwork”, and PMS symptoms are alleviated. And if you are trying to get pregnant, check with your doctor. Intermittent fasting may be beneficial for infertility (especially in cases of polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS)
For women in menopause, intermittent fasting may be very beneficial – especially in terms of the weight loss benefits, and the boosted metabolism that comes with intermittent fasting. The benefits of improved heart health reversed insulin resistance, and reduced feelings of brain fog can also be very beneficial for more mature women
And as a reminder, always check with your doctor if you have any medical concerns.
“You have to eat a low carb or Keto diet to intermittent fast. I like carbs too much!”
This intermittent fasting myth likely started along with the popularity of the Atkins and Keto diets. By restricting carbs (including healthy fruits, whole grains, and beans) these diets put our bodies into a fat-burning state called “ketosis”. Ketosis IS a healthy state for our bodies to be in. However, forcing our bodies into ketosis by restricting carbs is not healthy or sustainable in the long term.
When we intermittent fast, our bodies go into a natural and healthy state of ketosis. And restricting your carbs is not required!! A low-carb diet is NOT necessary to get ALL the benefits of intermittent fasting. (Take it from this high-carb, low-fat plant-based vegan!)
Our bodies need healthy carbs – including vegetables and fruits and beans, whole grains, and starches! These are all healthy carbs…..and our body and brain thrive on them!
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