Busting the Myths of Fasting
I’ve recently been reading the book The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung and so far it’s one of the best and most informative books about it.
I mentioned recently that I was trying to learn more about fasting and how it affects our bodies and our health. I’ve recently been reading the book The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung and so far it’s one of the best and most informative books about it. This one goes further in depth about how fasting works in our bodies than the last book I shared about.
One of the things he shares is some of the myths about fasting and he explains what’s really going on in our bodies. It’s really fascinating and so helpful to know that it’s doing such good things for us. The most logical thing that people tend to think is that we’re starving our bodies. I mean, if you’re not eating your starving right? Not so much. The biggest difference is when someone is reducing their food/calories to such a low amount at meals that they feel very hungry and feel like they’re starving themselves, that actually does cause your body to slow the metabolism and shut some things down. But that’s because it IS getting food - just not very much of it - so the body says to itself that it needs to conserve energy to match what’s being consumed.
But with fasting you’re body switches from food burning (because there is none) to fat burning. This is why our body stores fat after all. Think about how people ate before modern conveniences of grocery stores and the fast food drive thru - they probably went out and hunted for food or farmed for food. There were probably times of feast and times of famine. They didn’t just run to the store to pick up something for dinner when the fridge was bare. So our bodies used to adapt easily to times when there wasn’t as much food. We can do that again with fasting.
Another myth Dr. Fung shares is that fasting makes you burn muscle. When you’re in a fasting state, your body will use fat as fuel and not muscle. The only time your body will start to kick in and burn muscle for fuel is if your body fat is less than 4 percent and it has no choice. I know my body fat percentage isn’t anywhere near 4 percent - how about you? ;)
The next myth is that fasting causes low blood sugar. Have you ever gone longer than usual before you get your next meal and you start to feel shaky and feel like you really need to eat something? That’s because your blood sugar has dropped lower than you normally keep it. But here’s the thing, if you’re eating a low-carb diet and you’ve cut out sugar, you don’t have high blood sugar and you don’t have to worry about spikes and crashes.
Before we started our keto diet, my husband had these hypoglycemic episodes somewhat frequently. He’d have to eat something to make himself feel better and not be all shaky and feeling weird. But since we eliminated sugar from our diet and we eat better quality food that’s low-carb and high fat, he doesn’t have those anymore at all.
Your liver can produce the little amount of glucose that your body needs to stay at the right levels and the rest of the fuel needed to make your body work well can come from fat. No low blood sugar episodes.
You might be thinking, if I fast I’m going to be so hungry by the end that I’m going to eat way too much. That’s a myth too. I haven’t personally done a fast longer than a 24 hour fast (and you can do them for many days if you wish!) but I can tell you that I didn’t feel any hungrier after that 24 hours than I normally would when I’ve had lunch and it’s almost dinner time.
Hunger is an interesting thing. Our hunger is controlled by hormones and those hormones are what cause us to feel the hunger pains. The cool thing is though, if you ignore them they go away fairly quickly and then you can go on about your day. We are just so used to eating at specific times of the day that it feels weird not to eat. But if you occupy your mind with other things and you’re drinking fluids like water or iced tea, you’d be amazed at how easy it is to fast. But this is also because, after living a low-carb/keto lifestyle, our bodies are fat adapted and we aren’t functioning on glucose and needing that next fix. Your body runs SO much better when it’s operating this way and not waiting for the next round of carbs to enter your mouth.
Another myth is that fasting deprives your body of nutrients. If you’re doing a short fast that’s 16-24 hours, you’re not going without long enough for your body to suffer from lack of nutrients. If you choose to do longer fasts you can simply take a multivitamin to prevent any deficiencies. Did you know the longest recorded fast was 382 days and they person just took the multivitamin and had no issues? It can be done! I can guarantee you I won’t be fasting for that long though! ha!
This is obviously just a quick overview of all the great words of wisdom Dr. Fung has shared in his book. There is so much more detailed information if you’d like to learn more about it. I’ve been doing a lot of 14-16 hour fasts for awhile and I’ve thrown in the 24 hour fast a couple of times too and I always feel great when I do it. I’ll share more benefits of a fast soon but check out this book if you’d like to learn more and give it a try yourself!