Image Credit: PavelIvanov / iStockphoto
If you’ve never tried intermittent fasting, you likely have some common misconceptions that simply aren’t true. Short term fasting has been extensively studied, and offers more benefits than just losing a few pounds. Here’s five common intermittent fasting myths you definitely shouldn’t believe.
Skipping Breakfast Causes Weight Gain
The Myth: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.
Everyone’s been hammered with this saying since, I don’t know, birth. But there’s conflicting research as to the truth. For some it can influence alertness, energy, and concentration. When it comes to weight loss and weight gain, however, it gets a little less clear.
New studies are indicating skipping breakfast doesn’t influence weight gain as much as believed. You’ve likely been told it results in overeating later in the day, or a slower metabolism, but it hasn’t been definitively proven in studies. And in many cases those who eat breakfast are, on average, heavier.
Because they ate more calories. Yeah, it’s not as complicated an answer as you’d think. Eating breakfast means you eat more calories each day, which translates into greater weight gain.
Your Body Goes Into Starvation Mode
The Myth: “Skipping meals slows your metabolism”
Starvation mode is a real thing. It’s a protective measure your body uses to conserve energy at times of extremely low calorie consumption. Your metabolism slows down, and your body burns fewer calories in an effort to keep you from dying and stuff.
That’s not the myth part.
The starvation mode myth is that it happens if you miss one or two meals. It’s not like you can skip breakfast and alarm bells go off, and your metabolism shuts down.
Starvation mode isn’t a switch that gets flicked. It’s more of a zone you enter.
And when it comes to intermittent fasting, some studies have shown an increase in metabolism instead of a slowing down due to skipping meals.
You’ll Lose Muscle Mass
The Myth: “Your body will break down muscle for energy if you fast”
As with most of the intermittent fasting myths on the list, there is some truth to this belief. At a certain threshold of calorie restriction your body can, and will, break down muscle tissue to utilize for energy.
But it isn’t exclusive to intermittent fasting. All calorie restrictive diets can result in a loss of muscle mass.
Compared to most diets, however, intermittent fasting helps preserve more of your muscle mass. Fasting causes an increase in the production of growth hormone, which can reduce the amount of muscle loss.
Intermittent fasting is often the preferred method of dieting among bodybuilders and athletes.
Frequent Meals Are Better For Weight Loss
The Myth: “You should eat several small meals each day”
Metabolism is an incredibly important weight loss variable, making this intermittent fasting myth seem like a non-starter. The truth is eating three meals or eight meals each day doesn’t influence your metabolism enough to matter.
Meal frequency should be viewed within the context of hunger and calorie management instead of influencing your metabolism. Trying to time meals every few hours to help your metabolism hasn’t proven to be beneficial.
It’s Bad For Your Health
The Myth: “Skipping meals can’t be healthy”
Changing long held beliefs is hard. It often takes generations to accept scientific evidence that doesn’t agree with generally accepted information.
How can not eating be good for you, right? It just doesn’t sound logical. But the more intermittent fasting is studied the more obvious the health benefits become.
Here’s some primary health benefits from short term fasting:
– Improved insulin sensitivity
– Reduced inflammation
– Reduced risk of heart disease
– Resistance to brain disease
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