It’s the same old story – “big pharma” and the medical industry give no attention to any natural or inexpensive way to solve our health problems.

Unless of course there’s a fortune to be earned which empowers them further at our expense.

Well, if we want to stay alive and well then we perhaps should be paying attention to alternative media sources, keep our eyes and ears open and even take everything with a pinch of salt. Above all, keep doing research.

Talking of research, there’s an abundance of evidence showing the upsides to fasting, from repairing damaged DNA to regenerating the immune system which can fight age-related diseases.

This study shows how fasting can trigger the pancreas to regenerate, which subsequently helps to balance blood sugar levels and even reverse the symptoms of diabetes.

Of course, there may be an exception for more serious health conditions, but there really isn’t any evidence to suggest it’s dangerous. However, there are just as much myths and fears surrounding fasting as there are studies, as Dr Jason Fung, a Nephrologist from Toronto points out:

“It seems that there are always concerns about loss of muscle mass during fasting. I never get away from this question. No matter how many times I answer it, somebody always asks, “Doesn’t fasting burn your muscle?” Let me say straight up, NO.”

When restricting Caloric intake (fasting) we’re reducing carbohydrate intake dramatically  or eliminating them completely. The body begins to burn fat as its main fuel source, as opposed to Glycogen from the carb intake.

Dr Fung explains that protein is not even an energy source yet; it’s the last thing the body would use for fuel, and instead your body is going to use damaged cells for energy too – which can explain why it would improve a variety of diseases out there.

Dr Fung also makes it loud and clear that:

“Muscle gain/loss is mostly a function of EXERCISE. You can’t eat your way to more muscle. Supplement companies, of course, try to convince you otherwise. Eat creatine (or protein shakes, or eye of newt) and you will build muscle. That’s stupid. There’s one good way to build muscle – exercise. So if you are worried about muscle loss – exercise. It ain’t rocket science. Just don’t confuse the two issues of diet and exercise. Don’t worry about what your diet (or lack of diet – fasting) is doing to your muscle. Exercise builds muscle. OK? Clear?”

And he refers to a book by Dr. Kevin Hall from the NIH in the book “Comparative Physiology of Fasting, Starvation, and Food Limitation” to show us a graph of how the body behaves while fasting:

At the beginning of a fast, most of our fuel is derived from a mixture of carbs, fat and protein, before moving on to burn fat. Notice how the body doesn’t start to burn away muscle mass (protein), infact the body starts to conserve muscle instead.

Another frequent question that gets asked is, doesn’t the brain need glucose in order to function? Dr Fung chimes in here too by stating:

“Sometimes you will hear a dietician say that the brain ‘needs’ 140 grams of glucose a day to function. Yes, that may be true, but that does NOT mean that you need to EAT 140 grams of glucose a day. Your body will take the glucose it needs from your fat stores. If you decide to EAT the 140 grams instead, your body will simply leave the fat on your ass, hips, and waist. This is because the body will burn the sugar instead of the fat.”

With all of this said, is it possible to maintain muscle mass while fasting?

Eating food high in protein after a workout is essential to build or maintain muscle, and it’s also been found, (through researchers at McMaster University) that combining caloric restriction and exercise does not negatively impact on muscle mass. The group being studied did not see any muscle gains, which is logical, but encouraging for those who were previously deterred by this prospect of fasting.

Perhaps this will help to shed some light onto the realities of fasting rather than being dissuaded by myths and assumptions that seem all too rampant in these times.

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