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  • Writer's pictureKathy Ozakovic

7 Intermitted Fasting Myths To Stop Believing Immediately, According To A Dietitian

Growing in popularity yet still misunderstood, fasting. There are more books published about fasting diets than there are clinical research papers. Although the science is still emerging about fasting, we have learnt a few things through observational studies, personal trial and error and can draw correlations from what we already know. Here are the top 7 misunderstandings I see clients believe about fasting.



Myth (1): Fasting is a diet

Fasting is not about dictating what you should eat, but rather when you should eat, using the principles of chrononutrition for metabolic health benefits. Fasting is a strategy. It can be very handy to set an eating schedule and stick to the routine. However, some people's lives don't allow for this and require more flexibility.


Myth (2): Fasting means skipping breakfast

How you choose to fast matters. A study showed that skipping breakfast for 6 weeks reduced physical activity and increased calorie intake at later meals. This was enough to fully compensate for calories skipped at breakfast. This raises the question: Is fasting or severe calorie restriction worth the effort? Bottom line: Compliance and Consistency is key for the success of any 'diet'. The fasting and eating window time should be unique to you and your schedule taking into consideration work, family responsibilities, training, leisure time. You can skip breakfast or you can move all your meals earlier and prolong the overnight fast.


Myth (3): Fasting will put you into starvation mode

Fasting for 12 - 16 hours won’t cause your metabolism to slow more than its usual rate. However, if muscle loss occurs then the fast will be detrimental to your metabolism. Muscle loss does cause metabolism to slow down and signal what is in the "diet culture" known as "starvation mode". This means that the body will preserve the calories you give it instead of converting it into energy for use. You will experience more fatigue, mood swings, hormonal imbalances as a result.


Myth (4): Fasting will definitively help you loose weight

Actually, it may backfire. The main cause of overeating is under-eating. Research has shown Intermittent Fasting and Continuous Energy Restriction resulted in similar weight loss and improvements in Cardiovascular risk factors after 12 months (Sundfor Nutr Metab Cardiovasc 2018, Conley Nutr Diet 2018). The 5:2 diet is as effective as Continuous Energy Restriction (CER) in weight loss, insulin sensitivity and health biomarkers (Harvie IJO 2011, Antoni British J nutr 2018). Furthermore, it was concerning that some participants lost lean muscle mass which drives metabolism faster. Therefore, it depends on the person. If you are someone who has a bit more fat to loose, fasting may be an appropriate strategy. However, if you are already lean and don't want to risk loosing muscle mass perhaps there is a better way for you to eat.


Myth (5): You can eat whatever and whenever you want during your eating window

During a research study looking at Intermittent Fasting, researchers openly stated that one could argue the benefits participants experienced was because of the change in their food choices, not the fasting. If abs were made out of chips and beer we would all be walking around with a 6 pack, but we are not. The quality of our food matters for our gut health, brain health, health span and lifespan. Furthermore, sporadic eating patterns cause mayhem in the metabolism similar to that of shift workers. Structure and routine creates safety.


Myth (6): Fasting is hard

Hunger is a common concern. If you tell yourself it is hard, it will be hard. Your body may not be used to it, yet. When we stick to regular eating hours and a regular fasting window our body adjusts. As a result, we will release enzymes in preparation for mealtime. We teach the body when it is time to eat. It's not about perfect, it's about progress. Plan for a few snacks in the beginning which will be easy to omit as your body adjusts to a longer fasting window.


Myth (7): Fasting is dangerous

True that there are some considerations in particular populations. If individuals with T2DM are going to be fasting, they need to adjust their medication protocol to avoid hypoglycaemia. However, this again depends on the actual fasting window. For the generally healthy individual, fasting is safe. Seek advice from a health professional if you are taking any medications and are managing any existing conditions prior to starting a fasting regime. The type of fast will also dictate how safe it is.


The Bottom Line: There is no research to suggest there is any one best fasting regime. In fact, what works for one person may not work for another. So, the questions become many: What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve by incorporating fasting into your day? How is this plan going so far? What do you like about the plan? Is this strategy for you? Overall, I use fasting as a way to help clients stick to a regular eating pattern. This takes away ambiguity of meal times and allows clients to grow more conscious of their eating habits outside of meal times, discover emotional eating triggers and call themselves out.


We typically fast 10 hours overnight. Therefore, I encourage clients to extend this to 12 hours as most research has shown health benefits with 12 hours fasting. This can mean moving dinner an hour earlier and breakfast an hour later or choosing to move one of those meals by 2 hours. Research has not shown any additional benefits to fasting more than 12 hours, the length of the overnight fast is personal preference taking into consideration 2 - 3 hours of fasting before bed so that digestion doesn't interfere with sleep. You wont know until you've trialed, maybe failed and corrected the strategy a few times. Let's find what works for you: Book now.


A Final Note:

Fasting is also an ancient practice used to cleanse the body and connect with spirit. Fasting is a practice in many religions for different reasons. Overall, humans have been practicing fasting pretty much forever. When we were hunter gatherers we would go prolonged periods without eating as food was scarce. Now we choose to limit our food intake depending on our physical and spiritual needs. Learn to tap into your intuition and the perfect regime will be created for you: Book now.

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Did you find this blog helpful and informative? Tag & Share with your friends who would love it too! Sign up for my Free NuFit Wellness Newsletter to stay in the loop. Attend my Wellness Workshops. Promoting consciousness in food choices helping people heal. Dietitian & Wellness Coach, Health Presenter, Gut Health Specialist - Kathy Ozakovic.

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KEYWORDS: Fasting, Benefits, Myths, Misunderstandings, Metabolic, Metabolism, Health, Intermittent Fasting, Caloric Restriction, Weight Loss, Fast, Diet, Dieting, Truths, Fasted.

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