Fasting has been used for decades because many people feel that it offers them a great deal of health benefits. However, there are also detractors to fasting who feel that it does more harm than good. Who is right when it comes to fasting? There are so many myths that it can be hard to figure out the truth. There are however certain facts that seem to be very obvious when it comes to trying to use fasting as a tool to achieve weight loss success.
Eat meals frequently
If you have ever attempted to lose weight quickly many may frequently get friends telling them to eat small meals more frequently to “keep your metabolism running.” The thing is, metabolism does not work this way and it is not like a fire that constantly needs new coals to keep it burning. Losing weight has nothing to do with how often you eat, but what you are eating. Meal frequency has no bearing on metabolism and metabolism is something that is highly individualized. To lose weight fast, you simply need to burn more calories than you take in, whether you eat once a day or six times a day.
Control hunger with small, frequent meals
How often you need to eat to feel full and satisfied completely depends on you and what you are eating. For example, if you are loading up on carbohydrates, but few foods with bulk – such as protein and fiber – there is a good chance you will find yourself hungrier more frequently than you would if you added more bulk to your meals. In fact, a study shows that when someone who is overweight eats three meals a day that are rich in protein they are more satisfied than someone eating six protein meals. Fewer meals that are larger in size do appear to be superior for overweight or obese people.
Small meals for blood sugar control
Those without blood sugar problems, such as diabetes, do not have to be concerned with constantly keeping their blood sugar stable. In fact, if you are relatively healthy you could go a week without eating and not really notice a change in blood sugar. This is because the body has mechanisms in place to ensure that things like blood sugar are kept steady so that the body can keep working at an optimal level. One study shows that after not eating for 48 hours, healthy people are able to maintain their blood sugar and have no ill effects related to blood sugar issues.
Fasting leads to starvation mode
This is one of the most popular fasting myths out there and there is absolutely no science to back it up. Think back thousands of years ago when food was not easy to come by because man had to stalk and hunt for all food. These people did not enter starvation mode for getting too few calories for a few days or else they would never be able to continue to stalk and hunt. One study shows that you would have to fast for 60 hours to even have a slight effect in resting metabolism, but other studies show that you have to go for longer periods of time for a difference to occur.
Eat protein every two to three hours
This is another one of those eat small meals more frequently myths that really does not make any sense because this is just not something that the average human being can maintain. Thus myth rests on the unsubstantiated belief that the body can only use a specific amount of protein from each meal and that’s it. However, studies show that when you eat, the body takes hours to fully digest a meal. Thus if you were to eat every two to three hours, your body would still be digesting previous meals as it works to digest the current one.
Fasting causes muscle loss
Some people believe that the body has to be constantly fed amino acids to maintain muscle mass, but since the body digests and absorbs these very slowly, this is a huge myth. For catabolism to be detrimental for muscle mass, you would have to fast for a prolonged period of time. Those who consume high protein meals before a short fast of 16 to 24 hours will supply the body with enough amino acids to get through the fast so that muscle loss is not an issue. It has been shown that changing meal frequency can enhance weight loss success and increase muscle mass without having to alter your calorie intake.
Skipping breakfast causes weight gain
Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but this is not true for all people. If you are just not hungry in the morning there is nothing wrong with not eating something. Studies have shown that not eating breakfast will not cause you to eat more calories throughout the remainder of the day. Some studies have actually shown the opposite and suggest that those who choose not to eat breakfast actually take in fewer calories throughout the day. So, if you want to fast throughout the morning and afternoon, this will not lead to binges in the evening.
Fasting increases cortisol
If you watch television you have surely seen commercials that talk about increased cortisol and weight gain by someone trying to sell a dietary supplement. Cortisol is a hormone in the body that plays many roles, such as regulating the immune system and maintaining blood pressure. When you fast for a short period of time, such as is done during Ramadan fasting, cortisol is simply not affected. Cortisol is predictable in how is varies throughout the day with its peaks and dips and this remains the same whether you are fasting or not.
Never train or exercise when fasting
As long as you are getting enough fluids to prevent dehydration, fasting does not have a negative impact on training or exercising. This is especially true for weight training and other forms of anaerobic activity. Studies have shown that even fasting for a few days will not impact training. When a study was done that compared a fed group to a fasting group, the fed group did fare better when it comes to v02max, but this is likely related to the fact that the fed group was able to load up on carbohydrates to power through the training.
You should tier your meals
Some people feel that breakfast should be the largest meal of the day, lunch the second largest and dinner the smallest. This is highly perpetrated by the belief that if you eat a lot before bed the body just stores it and you gain weight. This is highly untrue and studies have shown that feasting at night actually helps you to achieve a healthy body fat percentage. Those who eat a large breakfast and those who eat a large dinner have been compared and the results have shown that those who eat a large dinner tend to lose more body fat.
To achieve weight loss success and keep the weight off for good may require a combination of factors. Such factors will always depend on individual circumstances. Proper education is one of the most important factors when it comes to losing weight and making it stick. Contrary to some beliefs, there is evidence to show that fasting can play an important role in the achievement of weight loss success