The 7 Absurd Myths Of Fasting
We have all heard the noise…
“You need to be eating 5–6x per day”.
“Eating throughout the day revs up that metabolism”
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”
Have you ever stopped to wonder where these beliefs come from? Maybe I’m weird, but I like to ask questions so that I better understand things. One of my favorite questions is…
WHY should we eat 5–6x/day?
WHY is breakfast the MOST important meal?
WHY does eating constantly rev up metabolic activity?
When you actually dig into the data, none of these statements are supported by this little thing I like to call ‘evidence’.
In fact, when you dig in, you will likely find the opposite is true….we DO NOT need to be eating 5x/day, the most important meal is NOT immediately after waking, and constant eating impairs our ability to use fat as fuel, and it causes long term hormonal imbalances.
We have gone from eating 3 meals a day in the 1950s and 60s to doubling that with a whopping 6 meals a day today.
To add further insult to injury, it is touted as a healthier way to live. What has happened, however, is the exact opposite of what we have been trying to achieve. We are LESS healthy than we ever have been.
We are now eating all the time, and as a result — MORE overweight, with more lifestyle preventable diseases than ever before.
This is no coincidence.
When we go shopping, we see supermarkets filled to the brim with processed foods. Foods that are cheap, easy, and readily available. They are loaded with simple sugars, hidden sugars, and keep us overweight, tired and depressed.
(Tip: shop the perimeter of the stores only — it is where the fresh produce and meat products are! Avoid the isles as much as you can)
Think about breakfast meals.
Can you name 3 common things eaten in the morning?
(I’ll give you a few to start: pancakes, bagels, breads, oatmeal, cereals, muffins)
As far as I am aware, there are no pancake trees, or cereal shrubs. These are all manufactured, and all of them are easily converted to sugar in the body.
Without going down the sugar rabbit hole (and believe me, there is one), just know that sugar is the lynchpin, the origin, the culprit of most diseases.
It causes a hella lot of inflammation in the body, and overtime, your body breaks down because of it.
HOWEVER, among this doom and gloom, there is hope.
I want to give you my favourite tool (it is truly my absolute favorite) that you can start doing right now to begin to, or continue to heal yourself.
It is one of the most powerful tools on the planet for resetting metabolism, leaky gut, gassiness, bloating, depression, sleeplessness, excess weight, water retention, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and has a protective effect on brain health.
It is THAT good.
It is the most under-utilized tool in healthcare today, and you need to know about it and how to use it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with the ancient healing art of…
Fasting has been a regular part of our history.
Literally for thousands of years, humans have fasted.
Just look at a these famous examples of fasting — Jesus fasted, Christians fast during Lent, Muslims for Ramadan, Buddhist Monks fast regularly as well.
Even today, you have practiced some sort of fasting, most likely when you have interacted with you medical doctor. We fast when we need to do blood work, prior to surgery or dental work.
The issue is, we tend to only fast for these (very) few events. It is not a part of our daily, or weekly habits.
Fasting has such powerful benefits, it is something that should be part of your weekly regimen!
I want to help you get started.
The benefits are too big to ignore, and if you are not fasting on a regular basis you are missing out on the amazing benefits it has on your brain and body.
There are several different ways to fast — from short daily fasts, longer multiple day fasts, and even week long fasts.
Before we dive in, I want to address the most common myths and objections associated with fasting, so that you can do it safely, and effectively.
That way, you can happily begin integrating into your life without worry!
Myth #1 : “You’ll go into Starvation Mode”
Ah, the fictional tale of starvation mode. If ever there was a misleading lie about fasting, it’s this big one.
First, the words we use are extremely important here.
Fasting is NOT starving.
Fasting is a conscious choice. You decide when it can start and end. Meaning, you have total control over it.
Someone who is starving is not fasting. They do not have control over when their next meal is coming, or when the starving will end. Someone who is starving does not consciously choose this. Fasting is not the same as starving.
The average person living in North America is not going to starve, much less go into starvation mode, if they miss a meal.
Think about it: If you eat 21 meals a week, for 52 weeks a year, that is 1092 meals a year.
Is it really an appropriate conclusion then to think that if you fast for a 24 hour period — even it is once a week for an entire year — that your body would, on 18 meals (instead of 21) go into starvation? (For my math lovers, this is equates to 928 meals vs 1092, annually).
Does this make sense? Of course not.
To further debunk this idea, in a fasted state your metabolism goes UP. Meaning, when you are fasting you are burning even more calories. MORE, not less.
In longer fasts your adrenaline goes up, which means your metabolism will follow and also goes up too.
The idea that when you stop eating, your metabolism drops and go into this mythical state of starving is simply not true. In fact, it is the complete opposite! In some studies, we have seen metabolism spikes of 12% with 4 days of fasting.
Interestingly, we see the opposite when someone tries to restrict calories in an effort to lose weight. When someone starts restricting calories, this is when we metabolism — and therefore your ability to lose weight — goes down.
Myth 2: Fasting causes muscle wasting
Let me be very clear here.
There are 2 forms of energy that the body stores: sugar or fat.
As such, the body can ONLY use the 2 forms of energy it stores. Which are, as you likely have guessed, sugar or fat.
Protein, which makes up your muscles, are not used by the body for energy while fasting.
It is extremely inefficient and takes a lot of energy to break down muscles in the first place. The energy you get by breaking down protein from the muscles doesn’t yield any more energy than carbohydrates do.
Also…it doesn’t make sense that the body would break down functional tissue (our muscles) that we need to use everyday.
Think about it.
When our foraging, hunter/gatherer ancestors did not have food readily available to them, if their muscles were broken down for energy, it would make them weaker, and slower.
Over time, weaker and slower humans are not going to be able to hunt and catch food for the tribe as effectively. It would also make them more susceptible to being prey.
The survival of our species in times of food shortages came from our ability to use our fat stores as energy when there was a temporary shortage of food.
It is a complete and utter fallacy to think that our muscles are the first ones to go and will shrivel up in a fasted state.
This is what ACTUALLY happens:
- For the first 24–48 hours without food, your body will use sugar (in the body is it stored as glycogen) as its main fuel source for its needs
- After 48 hours, your body will then start to open up and access your fat stores as its energy source. Meaning, it will begin to breakdown fat stored on the body for fuel once the sugar (glycogen) has been depleted
- The average person has between 50,000–100,000 calories of fat on the body. This is the equivalent of almost a month’s worth of stored fat we have available to us.
For the purposes of fasting, muscle breakdown does not apply.
Myth #3 Malnourishment
In a fasted state, there is no new food coming into the system, and there will be a caloric deficit.
(That is kind of the whole point of fasting to begin with.)
However, this had led some to have concerns that fasting will lead to malnourishment, loss of essential vitamins and minerals, and generally leave us weak and depleted.
Fasting that lasts under 24 hours (often called intermittent fasting), there is no real need to be concerned with missing vitamins or minerals.
Mainly because we replenish anything lost with the food we eat later that day.
For longer fasts of 24 hours or longer, I always recommend supplementing with sodium, potassium, and magnesium. This is because in a fasted state, your kidneys will, coinciding with a drop of insulin levels, release the excess water we hold onto, and out goes with it these vital micronutrients we need for cellular function.
Not enough of it to be malnourished mind you, but there is some loss. The easiest hack to correct for this is supplementation.
When people think about malnourishment, they think of poor, impoverished children in Africa with bloated bellies, and sunken eyes, and skinny arms and legs.
This does not happen whilst fasting.
Big food companies, however, would LOVE for you to believe this will happen if you miss a meal.
And why wouldn’t they? If you are eating at all times, you consuming their products. The only thing that gets fat in this scenario is their profits.
Myth 4: Low blood sugar levels
Here is where a lot of people get tripped up and confused.
For those of us who are not type 1 Diabetic with medication for it, we can experience pseudo symptoms of hypoglycemia.
True hypoglycemia is reserved for patients with Type 1 Diabetes, and even then it’s usually the result of the medication they take.
For the rest of us, insulin resistance, low glycogen levels, and cortisol are the usual culprits masking as hypoglycemia. They all share similar symptoms with low blood sugar.
Ironically things like insulin resistance, glycogen levels and cortisol can all be improved with fasting.
In a fasted state, you are not taking in any new sugar. Couple that with the fact that the brain and other organs do require a small amount of sugar for normal metabolism — if you are a newbie, you can experience things like shakiness, headaches, and muscle weakness.
The answer is NOT, I repeat NOT to eat a sugary snack.
It does not make sense if you have insulin resistance, higher levels of insulin in the blood, or low glycogen stores to feed the system a quick sugar.
That is like giving an alcoholic a little bit of alcohol to feel temporarily better!
It doesn’t make sense to feed some with sugar metabolism problems sugar to fix the problem.
The irony here is people who experience low blood sugar symptoms can try the supplement hacks I outline in #3 — supplementing with Magnesium, potassium and sodium usually do the trick.
And here is a super cool, little known fact — your body can make its own sugar in a fasted state!
Gluconeogenesis is the process by which the body produces its own sugar. (See how smart our bodies are?!)
In a fasted state, your liver will take your fat (which is made up of triglycerides), cleave the bond between the glycerine molecule and the 3 fatty acids that make up the fat molecule. It will then use the glycerine to create the sugar it needs.
Here’s an easy hack for you: If you are new to fasting, and you are experiencing some of the symptoms of low blood sugar, try a teaspoon of salt in a tall glass of water, and drink up! Your pseudo symptoms of low blood sugar will likely disappear.
Myth 5 — When I finally do eat again, it will turn into fat!
In a word. No.
When you do decide to break your fast, your body will be looking to replenish its stores of glycogen in the liver and the muscles first.
We typically store about 2000 calories in the liver, and this is the easiest energy source for the body to access and use.
So, being the beautifully efficient machine your body is, it will likely want to refill up its easiest food source first. When and only when your glycogen stores are full, your body will start sending excess calories to the fat cells for storage.
Myth 6: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
We have been told over and over again that we need to eat, almost immediately after we wake up. That getting the right breakfast is starting the day off right.
The truth is, we have been in a fasted state while sleeping, and it perfectly alright, and dare I say, encouraged, for you to eat when AND ONLY WHEN you feel hungry.
Not just because you woke up, but because you are legit hungry.
Drink a tall glass of water when you wake up — you’ll likely find your hunger goes away. Feelings of hunger and thirst are almost identical.
You’ll probably find your hunger was masking as thirst.
The most important meal of the day is not breakfast. Rather, when you break your fast.
(See what I did there?)
The most important meal of the day is when you break your fast. If you are doing short, daily fasts, this typically is around lunchtime.
Myth #7 — It’s just plain unhealthy
We spend a lot of time feasting in this country — Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, birthdays, weddings, BBQs in the summer, and that is totally ok.
Good food SHOULD be celebrated with people we love, and the momentous occasions that go with it.
What we need to be pairing with feasting — and what has been largely forgotten about— is how to counter act the feasting with all the benefits of fasting.
Let’s put it this way — if improving insulin resistance, lowering insulin levels, lowering cortisol, improving brain fog, and supercharging energy levels, brain power, effortless weight loss tool, and increasing growth hormone to make you look and feel younger is wrong…
I don’t want to be right.
Want A Quick Start Guide To Fasting?
If you want to start losing weight effortlessly, supercharge your energy, and get rid of brain fog, check out my Fasting Checklist: