Like any way of life that’s outside the social norm, intermittent fasting has been subject to many misconceptions and outright falsehoods. Here are the top ten myths about intermittent fasting.
Myth #1: Intermittent fasting is starving yourself
Today, it’s not unusual for many of us to go only a few hours without food before boldly proclaiming, “I’m starving!” It’s clear, however, that our ancient ancestors who did not have access to refrigerators and pantries often went much longer periods of time without food while hunting and foraging for sustenance. It’s also clear that periods of forced fasting, were followed by feasting on lots of proteins and fat for energy. As a species, our bodies adjusted to accommodate such times of famine and feast and mankind survived and thrived.
Myth #2: Intermittent fasting is for everyone
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone simply because no way of life is for everyone.
Myth #3: Intermittent fasting is dangerous for women
No way of life is appropriate for everyone and intermittent fasting is no different. However, this also means that IF can’t be ruled out for all women, no more than it can be ruled appropriate for all men. That being said, numerous studies have shown tremendous benefits for women following an intermittent fasting regimen, for example this one.
Myth #4: Intermittent fasting is easy
Those who dive head first into IF soon learn that it’s not exactly easy. Beyond the commitment needed to work through some of the symptoms of adapting to fasting, there’s the social aspect of being viewed as “weird” or a “wet blanket” for not participating in social eating. The latter is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of adopting the intermittent fasting lifestyle which is not yet a social norm.
Myth #5: Intermittent fasting is all you have to do to lose weight
Intermittent fasting is pointless if not accompanied by a nutritious diet and exercise. Try as we might, we just can’t escape that fact. What’s more, what we eat becomes even more important when there are fewer hours during which to consume the proper nutrition.
Myth #6: Intermittent fasting is a diet
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, rather it’s a form of “scheduled eating.” Although many people follow certain diets in order to maximize the benefits of fasting (for example, the paleo diet), there is no inherent diet implied in the IF lifestyle. This is one of the factors that makes IF a better choice than traditional diets. You can eat whatever you like, in moderation, and still lose weight – a lifestyle that is easier and more sustainable in the long term.
Myth #7: Intermittent fasting is a recent fad
Intermittent fasting, although not labeled as such until recently, has existed for as long as man has had to forage for food. But, even in more recent times, IF proponents such as Dr. Bert Herring have been promoting the intermittent lifestyle for over a decade.
Myth #8: Intermittent fasting is frowned upon in the medical community
Dr. Mike Mosley, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and Dr. Bert Herring are just a few world-renowned doctors who are strong proponents of intermittent fasting. As medical professionals who themselves have utilized scheduled eating, these doctors have also seen it work wonders for both men and women.
Myth #9: Intermittent fasting has no side effects
Like any significant change in eating habits, intermittent fasting requires a period of adaptation which might include unpleasant side effects. In the case of IF, these might be low energy, dizziness, irritability and of course, hunger. For most, however, such symptoms tend to subside within a few weeks.
Myth #10: Intermittent fasting is either “Eat-Stop-Eat” “Lean Gains,” “5:2,” “Fast-5,” or other popular marketed methods
There are a number of protocols that can be used to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting and identifying one of the popular methods such as the ones named above is a good place to start. However, it’s important to adjust intermittent fasting to fit individual needs, goals and lifestyle. In other words, there’s no need to try force a “16:8” regimen on yourself, if fasting for 17 hours and eating for 7 works best for you.
Have I missed any myths? Let me know in the comments below.