5 Intermittent Fasting Myths You Wouldn’t Expect

Written by Stephen Anton PhD on July, 7th 2020

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or at the very least avoiding the internet, odds are you’ve heard of the latest trend in weight loss — intermittent fasting (IF).

Ironically, IF has been utilized for many years by many.

Still, some skeptics believe this “diet” is for the birds, not to mention completely ineffective.

And that’s primarily based on the several subsequent myths surrounding it.

Read on to discover what these five intermittent fasting myths are and why they are, well, myths.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Just in case you haven’t heard of IF before, it is when you alternate between periods of fasting (eating nothing or very little) and periods of feeding (eating whatever you want).

This popular practice has quickly transitioned to become a way of life, and what’s great is it’s a way of life you can maintain.

Although you likely see the term intermittent fasting everywhere, it can mean many different things, and there are many different ways to practice it.

“So what’s the trick?”

Knowing which method works best for you.

Intermittent Fasting Examples

Here is an example of two popular intermittent fasting techniques:

Time-Restricted Feeding

Fasting for periods of approximately 16 hours per day

Eating for approximately 8 hours every day

Alternate-Day Modified Fasting

Consume either no or very little food on fasting days

Alternate with a day of unrestricted food intake or a “feast day”

Note: There is proof that Alternate-Day Modified Fasting promotes faster fat loss

Whichever method you prefer, one thing has been proven: it works.

Myth 1: Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

“How many times did you hear this your entire life?”

While you might have heard that it’s essential to eat the moment you wake up — or at the sound of that initial stomach growl — this is not true.

Doing this causes you to miss out on the benefits of extending the fasting period to be 14-16 hours (or even longer) every day.

The key is to train your body to use your fat and ketones for energy.

This change leads to our body preserving muscle mass and function while at the same time metabolizing fat.

Plus, after a couple of weeks, you won’t even crave breakfast anymore.

Myth 2: You Need to Eat Frequently to Preserve Muscle

“Why is this myth quite possibly the most laughable one?”

Well, for one, you cannot be “anabolic” 24 hours per day.

Spending some time in a “catabolic” state is critical to experiencing the full benefits of the anabolic period; the key is to alternate one with the other and then watch your fat levels go down while your muscles grow.

And sure, if this was an extra-long fast of several days — or, say, a juice cleanse — that would be one thing.

But with IF, you lose much less muscle than the amount of fat you burn.

One of the reasons for this is the enhanced secretion of human growth hormone (HGH) that occurs during fasting.

HGH promotes muscle growth, bone health, and fat loss.

Your body increases its production during a fast, perhaps as a mechanism to keep that precious muscle intact for the next hunt.

Contrary to ‘traditional’ wisdom taught to bodybuilders over the past century, your body does not need to eat frequently to maintain your precious muscle.

If this were the case, we would all wake up with less muscle than we had before going to bed.

You are more likely to see your abs and greater muscle definition upon rising in the morning.

As well as feel more alert and energized and experience fat loss.

When we sleep, our bodies go through the very natural process of switching our energy source from glucose to fatty-acids and fatty-acid derived ketones.

Fatty acids are made from your body fat, and fatty-acid derived ketones serve to preserve muscles.

In other words, by practicing IF regularly, your body can become more efficient at “flipping” this metabolic switch.

Myth 3: It Slows Down Your Metabolism

Well, the good news is that science has shown that this is just not true.

The main driver of your metabolism is the amount of lean (muscle) mass you have, and we have already covered how IF results in a relatively small loss of lean mass compared to fat mass.

On the other hand, science has shown that you lose weight when you consistently restrict your calorie consumption, BUT approximately 1/3 of the weight lost is from lean (muscle) tissue.

As you would expect, this can lead to a slower metabolic rate over time and promotes weight regain.

In contrast, there is evidence that following an alternate day fasting regimen for just 21 days resulted in a substantial increase in the number of fat grams burned over 24 hours from 64 grams per day to 101 grams per day after following this program.

That is significant and indicates that IF programs can enhance fat metabolism.

“Want more evidence?”

To gain a better understanding of the potential of IF to improve body composition and health, my research team and I completed a systematic review of findings of clinical trials that were conducted in the past few decades.

In this review, we found that IF programs in which participants fasted for approximately 24 hours every other day produced significant fat loss in 10 out of 10 trials.

Talk about a thing of beauty!

Myth 4: It Doesn’t Rid Your Body of Toxins

Blasphemy! One of the best parts about intermittent fasting is how it reduces toxic load and turns your body into a well-oiled machine.

During fasting, the process your cells use to eliminate waste products, called autophagy, is activated.

Through autophagy, you are cleaning out the “junk” when you are fasting.

This process appears to be critical to the survival of every cell in your body and has been linked to a greater lifespan.

Here’s the best part, there’s even a natural supplement to get even more out of your detox, help your cells clean themselves, and receive the most benefits from intermittent fasting.

And it comes in the form of another fad-turned-lifestyle choice: activated charcoal.

If you are new to fasting, it is particularly important to take products that can assist your body’s waste removal process by trapping and escorting toxins from your body.

The reason for this is because when you first start fasting, your body may not be able to handle the toxins released into your bloodstream from your body fat.

There are a few products out there that claim to be able to do this, but the one I recommend is called Miracoal — derived from coconut.

This product is one of the only natural remedies that promotes whole-body detoxification due to its unparalleled ability to trap and remove toxins.

Myth 5: It’s Not Sustainable

Ok, so here’s the real question you are probably thinking right now:

“Am I really going to eat like this the rest of my life?”

That part is up to you, of course, but the truth is: you really can.

It should come as a “no brainer” the hardest part of any diet is to deny cravings too long; reminding yourself constantly:

“Don’t eat that bowl of pasta.”

“Don’t eat that cookie.”

“Don’t eat that extra slice of pizza.”

And intermittent fasting obliterates that entire mentality.

Intermittent fasting is an easy way to control your food intake without battling your cravings.

Once you get used to the schedule, you won’t think about food during your fasting window.

And during your eating window, you can enjoy healthy portions and not worry about having dessert.

Plus, pretty much unlike any other diet on the planet, intermittent fasting allows you to have a social life.

“Did you have a late dinner one night?”

Just move your eating window the next day.

“Craving breakfast one day?”

Fine, quit eating at 3 pm.

In other words, it’s as flexible as you want it to be; therefore, making it sustainable.

Because just like working out, the best routine is the one you’ll not only stick to, but actually enjoy.

And let’s be honest, no one can do low-carb forever.

A life without pasta is just no way to live.

Intermittent Fasting Myths Conclusion

Intermittent Fasting will improve virtually every aspect of your health.

It’s much more than just weight loss, it promotes both a healthy and powerful mind and body.

More on intermittent fasting:

How to Break Out of an Intermittent Fasting Plateau

Does Coffee Break a Fast

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Anton

I’ve had the privilege of studying the fields of obesity, metabolism, and aging for the past 20 years and felt an increasing desire to share what I’ve learned with as many people as possible the past few years.

More About Dr. Anton
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Real science. Real advice. Straight to your inbox!

Get the latest news on topics like intermittent fasting, healthy aging, reducing obesity, and more.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Dr. Anton

    I’ve had the privilege of studying the fields of obesity, metabolism, and aging for the past 20 years and felt an increasing desire to share what I’ve learned with as many people as possible the past few years.

    More About Dr. Anton
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    RECENT ARTICLES

    Real science. Real advice. Straight to your inbox!

    Get the latest news on topics like intermittent fasting, healthy aging, reducing obesity, and more.