Almost everything you hear about fas4ng these days is simply untrue. Here are the top five things we hear about fasting that are just myths.
You’re going to burn muscle
There’s a real concern by some people that as you stop eating your body is going to start burning your muscle for energy. Well, that’s not really what happens. Our body does store energy, but it stores it as sugar and stores it as fat. So when it comes to using that energy we’re going to start burning the sugar and burning the fat. Not burning the muscle, which is functional Tissue.
Our bodies are not that stupid. If we store sugar and fat for energy, we will use it. That’s the whole point. And studies back this up. You can look at studies of alternate daily fasting even up to 70 days. There’s no significant loss of muscle. Even if you look at consecutive days of fasting over 4 – 5 days, there’s no muscle loss. Think about it this way.
Imagine that we’re back in cavemen days. Fasting was just a part of life. There were times where there was nothing to eat. Well if you burn muscle, you would get weaker. And so over a period of not eating, you would get weaker. It’s even harder for you to go out and hunt or gather food. Then you’d be even weaker. As you got weaker it’d be even less likely that you’re going to get food and that circle round and round in a vicious cycle. We all wouldn’t be here today.
We don’t burn muscle for any energy until you get down to about 4% body fat. 4% of body fat is extremely low. If you think about those African marathon runners, that’s what you would look like at 4% body fat. Then consider Brad Pilon. This is one of the real gurus of fasting. Does it look like he’s burning muscle? I don’t think so.
This refers to the idea that your body as you fast is going to start shutting everything down. You’re going to feel cold, you’re going to feel tired, you’re going to feel hungry and the worst part is because you’ve shut down so much. When you start to eat again, you’re going to regain that weight really quickly. Well, it doesn’t really happen like that. All the studies show that during fasting your metabolism stays the same or even goes up.
If you look at the hormonal adaptations to fasting one of the things that you see is that adrenaline levels tend to go up. And that keeps your metabolism pumping. So even after four consecutive days of fasting, the metabolism in studies didn’t go down but actually increased by about 12%.
The problem is that when you simply reduce your calories, you do see this metabolism slow down. But what happens in fasting is totally different, because your body is able to adapt, it actually switches fuels. So instead of burning food, it’s going to start to burn fat. That’s okay, the fat is simply food that’s been stored for you when there’s nothing to eat.
If you look at what happens during fasting, you can see that you start by burning off all your stored sugars and as you finish off your stored sugars. You’re going to start burning fat. Since you’re burning fat, you’re essentially feeding yourself through your own fat. There’s no reason for the body to start shutting down. And in fact, it doesn’t.
The world’s longest fast lasted for 382 days and he was sustained only on a multivitamin. He was monitored by his physician and there were no problems. His potassium was normal, his magnesium, his calcium levels, his phosphorus levels, all those stayed normal. There was no evidence of malnutrition. When we talk about malnutrition there are two different things that we talk about, micronutrients and calories.
So in terms of calories, there is certainly a caloric deprivation. In fact, that’s the whole point of fasting. So that’s not a real worry. What people get worried about is that they’re not going to lack the micronutrients. Those are the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function properly.
For shorter fasts, it’s not a concern, because you can get your nutrients through the food. So if you do alternate daily fasting or short daily fast, then it’s not a concern. For longer fast, you can simply take mul4vitamin. Those lasting more than a week I generally recommend to take a multivitamin just to make sure you don’t develop these problems. Some people are also concerned that fasting will lead to eating disorders like anorexia for instance.
Well, anorexia is simply not eating. It’s a body image disorder. There’s a lot more to it than that. Fasting isn’t exactly like fun or anything, so it’s not like we’re going to keep fasting for no good reason. We do it for a specific reason, whether it’s a spiritual reason, whether it’s a health reason.
It causes low blood sugars
This is not true at all. The body can produce its own sugar. We store sugar in our liver in the form of glycogen. If that runs out, we can produce more from our fat cells in a process called gluconeogenesis. So, in fact, our blood sugar level will stay stable whether we eat six times a day or six times a month.
The only exception to that might be if you’re taking medications for diabetes. The other thing that’s open said is that the brain requires glucose to survive. Well, the brain requires blood sugar. It doesn’t require for you to eat sugar, because as I said, the body can produce its own sugar. So whether you eat sugar or you don’t eat sugar your blood sugars will stay in a normal range. Fasting is not going to impact that at all.
It’s simply unhealthy for you
Usually, people say, “Oh, it’s just crazy, you can’t do that!” Well, why not? There are so many benefits to fasting in terms of weight loss, in terms of reducing blood sugars, increasing energy, it’s good for your liver, it’ll reduce your blood pressure, it’ll reduce your cholesterol. So many different benefits. And really very few risks.
Humans have been fasting for at least 5000 years. Some of it inadvertently as cavemen and some of it deliberately. Whether it’s for whatever reason, religious reasons or other reasons. We’ve been doing it a long, long time. And if there was going to be problems, you probably would’ve known about them now. There’s no reason to think that it’s unhealthy in any way