Intermittent fasting “fad” is in one day and out the next. What’s the real deal with intermittent fasting? Is it just a fad or is it actually beneficial? In this article, I’m going to cover 5 intermittent fasting myths you may have heard about. This way, you can decide for yourself if fasting is right for you, and by the end, you’ll know the most effective way to fast for optimal benefits.
5 Myths About Intermittent Fasting
You need to fast for 18+ hours for it to work
You have to fast every day
Women should never fast
Fasting only works due to calorie restriction
Fasting is just a weight loss fad
The myths about fasting have gained traction over social media and the news, but I’m here to clear up the confusion. I’m a functional health expert, and I include intermittent fasting into my health clients’ protocols to heal their bodies and enhance their health. So, let’s get into it and see how fasting can help you.
Myth #1: You need to fast for 18+ hours for it to work
You don’t need to reach 18 hours of fasting in order for you to gain health benefits. I would recommend striving for at least 12 hours. You can achieve this easily by simply not snacking after dinner. If you eat dinner at 7 pm at the latest, go to bed, and then eat breakfast at 7 am, you will have fasted for 12 hours! Easy peasy.
Worried 12 hours isn't enough? One study found benefits in breast cancer outcomes with just 12.5 hours of fasting, while another study demonstrated benefits towards metabolic diseases with a 14 hour fast (lowers blood pressure, Hemoglobin A1C, body weight, waist circumfrance, and increased sleep).
You can even try to up your fasting time to 16 hours by eating a 5 pm dinner and then eating your breakfast at 9 am. When you set up your fasting period throughout the night when you’re mostly sleeping, it makes this health hack a lot more doable and sustainable. No one wants to go an entire day without eating, right? That is just asking us to get cranky!
Myth #2: You have to fast every day
To gain benefits from fasting, you don’t have to do it every day. There are multiple ways you can weave in fasting into your schedule, making it work best for you and your life. While you can fast every day, other fasting methods have been shown to promote health benefits as well.
You can incorporate any type of fasting into your routine that works best for YOU.
The 5:2 diet involves eating what you typically eat 5 days of the week and restricting your calorie intake to 500–700 calories for 2 days of the week. To gradually get there, you can limit yourself to 1000 calories 1 day of the week the first month. The next month try to go 2 days of the week eating 1000 calories (and the rest of the days you can eat normally). Then narrow it down to 750 calories for 2 days during the 3rd month and 500 for 2 days the 4th month.
Daily time restrictive feeding is when you limit your eating time to a certain amount of hours for 5 days of the week but still consuming the same number of calories. For example, the first month you can limit your eating time to a 10 hour window, month two you can narrow it down to an 8 hour window time and then for months 3 you go down to 6 hour feeding times 5 day out of the week and finally for the 4th month you can keep the 6 hour window feeding time but for every day of the week.
The alternate-day diet is where you eat one day and fast the next. This type is a bit more advanced since you have to go throughout the entire day without eating.
Myth #3: Women should never fast
While this is a controversial topic, it doesn’t have to be! A trained expert in fasting, like myself, can tell you that there is a safe way to fast for women who are menstruating.
The key is to adjust your fasting routine depending on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle! When you do this, it protects your hormones, will have you more energized and will protect your feminine power.
If you are a menstruating woman, you should save fasting for days 4-16 of your cycle (day 1 is the first day of bleeding). These days account for your follicular phase and is the peak time to fast. However, when you enter into the luteal phase, you should hold off on fasting and instead take note of how you feel. This is the time to relax, prioritize self-care, and eat those extra calories that your body needs.
I do want to note that if you are struggling with a hormonal imbalance like estrogen dominance or hypothyroidism, fasting may not be the best for you at this moment. It’s vital to work with a functional health expert to know which “health hacks” are right for you and your current health status.
Myth #4: Fasting only works due to calorie restriction
When you fast, you should still get the same amount of necessary calories during the week, except the timing of the calorie consumption changes. However, there may be a slight calorie reduction if you cut out late-night, boredom snacking we are all guilty of!
But calorie restriction isn’t why fasting works. Intermittent fasting can actually increase your metabolism and lower insulin and leptin resistance. The latter are hormonal imbalances that may lead to weight gain and weight-loss resistance (not because of excess calorie intake).
And let’s not forget about the fact that fasting enhances the health of your gut microbiome. It can help regulate your microbiome, reduce gut inflammation, and promote a healthy gut-metabolism connection. This is why fasting works! Not just because calories are reduced.
Myth #5: Fasting is just a weight loss fad
While weight loss may be a great benefit to fasting, that’s not the only reason I highly recommend it to my health clients. Fasting has NUMEROUS health benefits icluding improving insulin sensitivity, β cell responsiveness, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and appetite. Losing weight is just an added bonus! Here are some other added benefits of fasting.
Benefits of Fasting:
Fasting can actually enhance your cellular health and promote healthy balances within your body. While many fasting myths are floating around on the web, it’s vital to look at the research. There are benefits and dangers to fasting, depending on your current health status.
Share these myths about fasting with a friend so that we can get the story straight about the incredible health benefits of intermittent fasting. What do you say? Have I convinced you to start intermittent fasting yet?
Want to Know if Fasting Is Right for You?
Don’t let intermittent fasting myths stop you from giving it a try! If you’re interested in elevating your health, apply to work with me, Jessica Meyers. I am a functional health and herbal expert.
I can develop customized health protocols for you, based on functional lab testing, current symptoms, and health history. My recommendations include diet changes, lifestyle tweaks, and effective supplementation.