Intermittent Fasting Myths: 8 Things Most People Don’t Know About IF
Updated by Stephen Anton PhD on June, 1st 2022
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.
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: Our Brain Doesn’t Function Well While Fasting
This is categorically false.
Someone who has become fasted adapted has experienced daily fasting periods for a period of time and is able to function effectively.
For each of us the starting or baseline fasting time is going to vary, but the fasting adaptation process occurs in a similar manner for everyone.
The only time when this could be untrue is when someone attempts to fast for longer than their mind and body are capable of at that moment, but as long as they slowly expand their fasting times, they should eventually experience great mental clarity, focus and energy.
This is because our bodies are capable of using both glucose and ketones as an energy source for the brain.
When the brain runs off both of its fuel sources, it tends to function very well.
Myth 3: 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.
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 4: 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.
Myth 5: Fasting Is Harmful for Our Brains
We now know that this is just not true.
As long as the stress is temporary or time limited, fasting should create adaptations that ultimately produce more resilient cells.
The brain and body are perfectly capable of going days without food, as long as we get our minds on board, as levels of ketones increase the longer we fast which makes the fasting easier.
Over time, ketones become the predominant source of energy and it’s very possible to experience a level of mental clarity while fasting that may be even better than anything experienced previously.
So, we can rest assured that our minds (and our bodies) are more than capable of fasting for long periods of time.
In fact, this mechanism is how our brains evolved, and has allowed our species to survive through periods of famine and limited food supply.
Myth 6: 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 7: Fasting Causes Changes In Mood
Many people equate being hungry to feelings of anger or irritability and we have been taught that eating food will help regulate these uncomfortable emotions.
While it is true that while the body is adjusting to a fasting schedule, some people may be more prone to moodiness, once adjusted, psychological imbalance is typically evened out and emotions are well regulated.
Bottom line, the brain and body have tremendous fuel reserves and are capable of fasting for long periods of time, as long as the mind will come along and not resist too much.
Myth 8: 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, intermittent fasting is unlike any other diet on the planet:
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.