In recent years, fasting diets have experienced a surge in popularity. Some of this is due to endorsement by well-known people and a rise in fasting benefit awareness. Also, supporting the movement is a growing body of research that supports the science behind fasting diets. Unlike other diets that focus on what one eats, fasting diets are all about when you eat.
With intermittent fasting, you only eat during a specific time. The following are different variations to help your body burn fat:
- 5:2 – Five days of unrestricted eating followed by two days of fasting
- 18:6 – 18 hours of fasting per day with a six-hour window for eating
- Alternate Day Fasting – The goal is to fast every other day
Furthermore, scientific studies show that intermittent fasting may help reverse the trends of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses. Some additional benefits include:
- Improve gut health
- Enhance cognitive function
- Weight loss
Even with the growing evidence supporting this popular dietary trend, misconceptions remain. Read further to discover the top common myths and the facts behind them.
#1 During the “window hours,” you can eat anything.
Fasting diets (and others like them) are attractive because they seem to promise unrestricted eating with weight loss. However, this is not always the case. You must consume all your desired foods but remain in a calorie deficit. In other words, you must burn more calories than you eat. If you overeat during the eating window and don’t maintain a calorie deficit, you will not lose weight.
Fact: A well-balanced diet is essential during the window for eating. Include whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. As a result, weight loss is possible for those who maintain a calorie deficit.
#2 Intermittent fasting causes you to lose muscle.
Muscle loss may be a side effect of any diet, and no evidence suggests fasting does so more than any other approach. Did you know that many bodybuilders favor fasting diets to help them maintain muscle with a low body fat percentage? Furthermore, research supports that fasting may be more beneficial for maintaining muscle mass.
Fact: Fasting can actually support muscle maintenance during weight loss.
#3 Small, frequent meals can make you lose weight.
Eating frequent meals has been linked with increased metabolism and increased weight loss. However, increasing meal frequency does not affect the total number of calories burned, the most crucial factor for weight loss. Also, the size or frequency of meals does not influence a person’s metabolic rate. A study comparing the effects of eating three and six meals per day found no difference in participants’ appetite, weight, or fat loss.
Fact: Meal frequency does not impact weight loss.
#4 Breakfast is a critical component of the day.
You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Without a meal first thing in the morning, you run the risk of excessive hunger, food cravings, and weight gain. However, research has not shown a link between weight and meal timing. In fact, a study of obese and overweight adults found that eating breakfast had no impact on and made no difference in weight.
Note that there is individual variability. For instance, teenagers and children have higher nutritional needs and benefit from eating breakfast. Likewise, this may also be the case for others who perform and feel better after eating breakfast.
Fact: Breakfast is not a factor in weight loss and may be skipped without negative consequences.
#5 Intermittent fasting slows down metabolism.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to boost metabolism when doing it for short intervals. During the fasting window, you give your body the time and rest it needs to support the chemical and hormonal processes that enhance metabolism. Also, the levels of metabolic regulators like growth hormone and norepinephrine increase with fasting practices.
Furthermore, the hormonal system ensures that the basal metabolic rate remains high even when you don’t supply your body with energy, or food. This process supports human survival.
Fact: Intermittent fasting contributes to processes that increase one’s metabolic rate and promote metabolic flexibility.
A New Intermittent Fasting Alternative
At New Freedom Family Medicine, we offer patients ProLon, which mimics fasting. It is a 5-day dietary program that provides nourishment while supporting rejuvenating changes, including supporting metabolic health. We are here for you. Contact us to get started.