The “intermittent fasting” craze started in 2003 short after the publication of the known book “The warrior diet” by Ori Hofmekler.
This guy published the first popular book on the subject of intermittent fasting based on his research.
His research claimed that hunter gatherer groups, and roman soldiers starved during the day but ate large meals in the evenings.
He stats that we should try to replicate their diet because these soldiers had a muscular body with low body fat.
I was not on the roman battlefield at that time so I can’t comment on their diet. Also, I didn’t ate with hunter gatherer groups.
Strangely, when it comes to hunter gatherer groups, there’s evidence that these groups actually ate more meals/day so we can’t really take that standpoint as evidence that intermittent fasting was used in those times.
People that support intermittent fasting, point out studies that show improved markers of glycemic control such as insulin sensitivity, weight loss, appetite suppression, increased lifespan, etc.
What it should be stated is that these benefits are not only unique in intermittent fasting regimens. In fact, no one demonstrated that intermittent fasting has any tangible benefits that cannot be achieved with less restrictive diets.
You might wonder now, “why should I fast then?”
Wait wait wait Sherlock, we’ll get to the point in a few short lines but first, let’s see what intermittent fasting means:
This whole intermittent fasting dieting revolves around creating a certain space between a fasted period in which you are only allowed to drink water. In order to keep your insulin levels down you don’t have to go over 50 calories worth of sugar and/or milk in your coffee/beverage until you break that fast with the eating window which can range from 2 to 8 hours.
Popular fasting protocols include
- 16 hours of fast with 8 hour eating window
- 20 hours of fast with 4 hour eating window (The warrior diet protocol)
- Alternate day fasting (ADF)
- 24 hours of fast 1-2 times per week after which you can start eating
The diets are self explanatory. You just need to be inside the hour guidelines and you are just fine.
And because people always want examples, I’ll detail just one example of the fasting protocol 16 hours of fast and 8 hour eating window.
You can achieve this by only eating your required calories between 12:00 PM to 20:00 PM. After that, wait for the next day’s 12 PM to eat again. Simple as that.
An example on a 1 month protocol that I did:
- Woke up at 8 o’clock in the morning – drink a tea or coffee
- Start getting to work and do my job
- Go to eat at 12:00 – 12:30 (10-30% of my daily calories)
- Going to the gym @ 16:00
- Get the post workout big meal at 18:00 (50-70 % of my daily caloric intake)
- Snacking something at 20:00 (I’ll eat the rest of my caloric intake here or I would skip it and eat these calories in my previous post workout meal)
Intermittent Fasting Fears Destroyed
The Fear Of Losing Muscle
By now you must been thinking: “Omg, where’s my breakfast, I’ll lose my precious muskleszz”…
The whole “you must eat breakfast because it’s healthy and skipping it will only do bad things to your body”, went into people’s minds because of the dietary advice that every medical authority gives to people.
Even registered Dietitians and MD’s, the same people that should have helped you lose weight and feel healthy, were the ones that spread bad advice and recommend all sorts of supplements or pills to help you get rid of the fat.
All they do is mostly get your wallet empty.
Why Do They Give You Such Advice ?
There are studies that support the idea that skipping breakfast has been correlated to higher body weight. Are they genuine? Can we rely on them?
One of these studies is the effects of breakfast on total daily caloric intake.
This idea is exactly just like the lower meal frequency versus the higher meal frequency myth because both of them had studies that showed higher body weight in populations that skip breakfast, and the ones that eat less frequent.
The truth is that usually, the persons that skip breakfast, have dysregulated eating patterns that affect the results. Also, the same persons don’t care so much about their own health.
The dieting population is generally the one that skips breakfast. Most of them don’t really know how to properly diet by correctly adjusting their calorie intake and activity.
What this means is that most of the observations done on people that skipped breakfast, had a higher net weight gain because the caloric intake and/or exercise wasn’t adjusted to their caloric expenditure.
It’s a common belief that it’s good to eat breakfast in the morning. The main concept is that we are more insulin sensitive in the morning. We are also more sensitive after a fast or after a weight training session but this doesn’t mean that we should only focus on breakfast.
Just take a look at Mark Haub and his twinkie diet.
Do you think that if this man lost weight eating nothing but “junk food” and “poisonous sweets”, the breakfast is that important?
He didn’t took into account when he ate but only controlled his daily caloric intake. Do you still think breakfast is important?
Now, I don’t imply you should always skip breakfast or breakfast is evil.
Breakfast is perfectly fine and you can keep eating it if you want to. I only spoke from an intermittent fasting point of view.
The Meal Frequency Fear
Another fear that makes people afraid of trying intermittent fasting is the meal frequency myth which makes them believe that if they don’t eat 6 meals a day, their muscle mass will shrink.
As I explained here, that myth should be banned forever because it only causes confusion. In some cases, it creates obsessive meal patterns that only ruin people’s lifes and flexibility.
I’ll Get Into Starvation Mode If I Don’t Eat Every 2 Hours?
Adaptation to long periods without food was a necessary perk that our body obtained through evolution.
Lowering our metabolic rate during starvation allowed us to survive longer, and keep us functioning before we found some food source.
Starvation doesn’t mean not eating for a few hours. Or even 24/36 hours. It literally means not eating for days!
This myth is absurd and stupid simply because your body doesn’t enter into starvation mode in case of short term fasting periods.
Looking at countless research studies, the earliest one that shower lowered metabolic rates was when subjects fasted over 60 hours and metabolic rate only slowed down by 6%.
- After 3 days of starving with just water, the metabolic rate increased.
- This study shower that after 36 hours, the metabolic rate Increased, and at the 72 hour mark, the BMR was the same
- There was 8% decrease in basal metabolic rate after 74 hours fast (that means three days with no food)
- There was 3.6% increase in metabolic rate
- There was 10% increase in BMR
These studies demonstrated that the starvation mode is just another fad most likely created by the supplement companies people that profited from.
You Still Fear Losing Muscles?
We are back to the common belief that your body needs a constant flux of amino acids so it won’t put his fingers into your muscles, and eat them.
This one is easy to dispel because it was demonstrated that a modest casein shake consumed on the empty stomach still releases amino acids after 7 hours.
Imagine a big meal with carbs, protein, and fats. Eating all the macronutrients together would slow down the digestion time.
A 100+ grams of protein in a meal would still release amino-acids into the bloodstream even after 20 hours or more.
These are the most common myths about intermittent fasting that are being spread on the internet. Frankly, I’ve got tired of them.
The conclusion is simple. Intermittent fasting can only bring you benefits and no downsides. There isn’t any motive for you not to try it.
It will bring you benefits like adding little flexibility to your life, and making a diet easier.
If you enjoyed this piece, share it with everyone you know so they get rid of the breakfast fear, and get more freedom in their life.
Are you using intermittent fasting as a diet strategy?
What is your strategy, and what are the effects associated with what you’ve tried?
“Sharing is caring”, and who knows, maybe we learn a thing or two from other people’s experience.