Clarity about fasting

There are a couple of myths or misrepresentations about fasting that are often touted as benefits.

Firstly, it's often promoted as giving people a feeling of ‘more energy’ and this being attributes because the body is mobilising its stored fat.

As someone who has trialled the odd fast, I can tell you that it doesn’t feel like you have more energy.

But at the same time, it didn’t feel like I had significantly less.

I certainly didn’t feel lethargic or exhausted, but I certainly didn’t gain energy from the experience.

To give a context, I could go for an easy walk, but I wouldn’t be taking on a run or a hard session at the gym.

Several of my clients have integrated various forms of fasting into their regime, be it before or during their coaching with me, but none have reported feeling extra energy during a fast.

However, I would be surprised if you feel more energetic while fasting. More stable, maybe, but not more energetic.

The second misrepresentation is that fasting accesses your fat stores in a superior manner to other diets.

While you are oxidising stored body fat during a fast, particularly the longer it goes on, this is no different to any other diet.

Let’s compare the 16-8 intermittent fasting protocol (16 hours fasted, 8 hours feeding) to a traditional three-meal diet as an example.

Let’s say both eat dinner at 8pm.

At 8am the next morning, both have fasted for 12-hours, but the three-meal eater now breaks their fast by consuming their first meal.

At 10am, the 16-8 eater is more likely to be oxidising stored body fat than the three-meal eater, who is unlikely to be mobilising stored body fat as they are using/storing energy from breakfast.

At 12pm, both dieters sit down for lunch - the 16-8 dieter eats a larger meal than the three-meal dieter.

At 3pm, the intermittent faster is more likely to still be using/storing energy from lunch because of their extra energy intake, and the three-meal dieter will mobilise stored body fat before them.

The same repeats at dinner.

If we were to just look at 11am, the 16-8 dieter may well have a level of fat oxidations that the three-meal dieter never attains because they never reach 16-hours into a fast.

So if you pull this fact out and present it in isolation, it looks like a superior fat loss approach.

But if you were to average it out over the course of the day, the results would be the same (assuming total food intake and exercise are the same).

Tom Fitzgerald