How Should I Break My Fast
Try to resist the formidable urge to stuff your face with chocolate cake, hamburgers, and beer to celebrate the end of a long fast. Your stomach and its microbiome will be in a sensitive state and especially vulnerable to any junk you shove into it. The longer your fast, the more careful you should be.
Try to avoid:
- High carb meals. Processed carbs, in particular.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Dairy and eggs.
Your best bet is a fresh salad dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and maybe a bit of chicken or fish. Give that some time to settle in your stomach, see how you feel, and go from there.
Better yet, take advantage of this new beginning to get started on a healthier diet.
Intermittent Fasting And Muscle
Two ground-breaking studies have recently been published on the effects of intermittent fasting on males. One group of researchers studied the effects that 16 hours of intermittent fasting had on males that lift weights. They found that muscle mass stayed the same, fat mass decreased significantly, and the males who fasted for 16 hours a day burned more fat for fuel compared to the control group that only fasted for 12 hours.
Another study showed that combining 20 hours of fasting with resistance training resulted in an increase in muscle mass, strength, and endurance, and this was achieved by eating ~650 calories per day less than normal.
The benefits of intermittent fasting translate to untrained overweight and obese individuals as well. One study published in Obesity Reviews found that eating fewer calories is effective for fat loss, but it does come with some muscle loss. However, if the subjects fasted for 24 hours and ate as much as they wanted on the next day for a period of 12 weeks, they lost significantly less muscle mass.
Yes you read that correctly 24 hours of intermittent fasting without any resistance training and these subjects were able to preserve more muscle mass than the subjects that ate fewer calories every day without fasting at all. This finding contradicts our common sense, but when we dig deeper into autophagy we can find the mechanism behind this result.
Diabetics This Is For You Too
Zane works regularly with diabetic clients who believe intermittent fasting poses too much of a risk.
But as he explains, I dont know of a better way to control diabetes or reverse those symptoms than finding some way to introduce fasting.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease of elevated blood sugar, and intermittent fasting is an efficient way to lower and balance blood sugar levels through better eating strategies.
In my practice, I believe fasting might just be the greatest tool my patients have to improve their glycemic control. As long as its accomplished using a strategic, doctor-guided plan, diabetics may be able to use fasting to eliminate their reliance on medication and reduce the effects of diabetes.
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Theres No Need To Tell Others About Your Fast
When you resolve your internal barrier, the next biggest barrier youre going to face next isnt detox, discomfort or abstinence from food. Its having to deal with reactions from others.
If your family and friends are people who are knowledgeable about non-mainstream lifestyles, theyre probably open to alternative healing methods like fasting. However, if they arent, they might not be receptive to the idea of fasting, and would likely react violently, even disapproving you from doing so.
Ideally, its good to inform your loved ones and loop them in on whats going on in your life, but the mainstream society isnt ready to accept fasting as a form of healing yet. Most people will go berserk and panic if you bring up the idea of not eating for one day, and I find that its tiring to deal with violent, fear-based reactions from others. Fasting is already hard enough by itself , and to deal with negativity from others is even harder. Lifestyle-related endeavors that go against the societal norms tend to invite the most violent reactions because they touch on deep-set beliefs cultivated since young. The general person will defend their beliefs without a desire to consider other modes of thought.
What Fasting Shouldnt Be About
Regarding criteria #2, fasting for the duration you set means you dont set a 10-day fast and break your fast after 5 days because you are craving for an apple pie. You also dont repeatedly break and resume your fast with a few bites to soothe a craving when you eat something, you have broken your fast. Eating or drinking anything with calories means breaking a fast. If you want to eat throughout your fast, then dont fast. Work on your diet instead.
I have seen online fasters who claim to embark on a 21-day or 28-day fast but they cant control their cravings and decide to eat something in-between, only to supposedly continue their fast the day after. Thats not fasting at all and is in fact very dangerous. You are likely losing unnecessary muscle in this process. It takes a few days of fasting for the body to enter fat burning mode, and when you eat something, your body is triggered to get its energy source in this order again: immediate food intake, glycogen reserves, your muscles, and finally fat storage. Read my original fasting post for the order in which our body gets its energy.
This is dangerous because you can quickly enter a vicious cycle of binge eating post-fast and then turn to fasting to quickly lose the excess weight that you gained. You also lose a chunk of muscle each time you enter ketosis. Repeated fasting also means wasting away precious muscles. Plus you dont solve the real problem which is a skewed relationship with food.
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Intermittent Fasting Diet Benefits
While the diet has really grown in popularity, the studies -especially on women following intermittent fasting is limited. So some of these benefits have yet to be tested over and over again.
With that said, medical studies have found intermittent fasting can:
- Improve energy
- Increase mental clarity and memory
- Help our insulin levels
- May boost immunity, lower diabetes risk, and improve heart health
- Improve overall brain health
Most studies arent looking at gender as being an issue of difference though. However, it has been found fasting can have different benefits for men and women. Men typically see the better benefits, and women often have to modify their fast as to not see hormonal side effects.
Intermittent Fasting Diet For Weight Loss
Weight loss is often associated with intermittent fasting because youre naturally eating less. If youve been overeating before, fasting may also allow your endocrine system a short, much-needed break to get back on track.
When the endocrine system is working well, it can provide lower insulin levels and increased growth hormone levels which are both good things! Studies show these two changes can increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14% .
So not only are you eating fewer calories probably, your body is better equipped to process the healthy foods you are eating.
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Wont I Feel Hungry All The Time
And the lack of hunger you feel when fasting is the most surprising part about fasting .
There are two main reasons why you wont feel hungry: fat and ghrelin.
Your bodys go-to supply of fuel, sugar, will run out within a day or two of fasting. At this point, and only at this point, your body moves to its backup fuel source: fat.
Fat is something we all have a lot of . As explained in an earlier tip, the average human has 34 pounds. Thats 68 days worth of fuel for your body to feed on. This means that when you fast not only is your body not hungry, but youve opened the doors to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The hunger you feel has nothing to do with your stomach being empty. Its entirely mental.
The hormone responsible is called ghrelin. Ghrelin comes and goes in cycles based on your routine eating times. This explains why youre no hungrier for breakfast than for dinner despite the fact that its typically been longer since you last ate.
Fasting screws with ghrelins routine, which is an added benefit of doing it. The more you disturb your ghrelin cycle, the more confused your body gets, and the less ghrelin it produces. This means youll feel less hungry even after you stop your fast.
Im not kidding. Im 63 and 200+ pounds, very active, and I used to always be hungry and snack all the time. But since I got into fasting, I no longer crave food all day long. I still love eating, but I eat when I feel like it, not when ghrelin tells me too.
How Might Fasting Help Me Live Longer
Fasting gives your body a break from everyday work so it can do some long-overdue spring cleaning.
It finds the old and broken junk and burns it for energy and protein. This is the junk that, if left to accumulate and fester, can lead to degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and cancer.
Fasting can also prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, or reverse it for those who have it. We wont get into the details here but, basically, it helps your body get more efficient at clearing out sugar from your bloodstream. The complete explanation is simple, just a bit long. You can read it in Dr. Fungs book.
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What Are The Dos And Donts Of Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to the dos and donts of intermittent fasting, the rules are fairly flexible. But achieving your goal does require you to do certain things that will improve your chances of getting to the promised land.
Use these dos and donts as tips for intermittent fasting as well.
Okay here are some of the dos of intermittent fasting:
1. Do your exercise or workout close to your feeding time. This has been shown to be very effective producing really good results especially for people who want to build muscle. Some people use BCAAs or Bang energy drinks to break their fast.
2. The follow up to that is that you should have your main meal after your workout or exercise routine. You may have another meal afterwards. But must be within the eating window of the intermittent fasting plan.
3. You can take bcaa supplement just before your exercise. Its not going to hurt your results. If anything, it is actually a good thing as bcaas contain essential amino acids. BCAAs help with muscle building and muscle bulk maintenance. See article on the advantages of using BCAAs.
4. On fast days, one way of coping is to have warm beverages. But absolutely calorie-free sweeteners only are allowed in your beverage. This is particularly important in the evenings. The time you will be most tempted to cheat.
6. Having proteins on fast days can also be a good idea. White meat like Turkey, Chicken, Goose or Broad beans for vegetarians can let you hold up the fast more effectively.
What Types Of Exercises Should I Do During Intermittent Fasting
All types of workouts are fine – cardio, strength training, etc. Like I mentioned earlier, working out in a fasted state can be very beneficial. Just pay attention to how your body reacts the first few weeks of fasting. If you are feeling more weak or tired then just adjust your workouts to make them less intense.
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Wont Intermittent Fasting Burn Muscle
That depends on the person and the duration of the fast. During fasting, the body first breaks down glycogen into glucose for energy. After that, the body increases body fat breakdown to provide energy.
Excess amino acids are also used for energy, but the body does not burn its own muscle for fuel unless it has to.49
Some studies, however, suggest that leaner individuals are at higher risk of lean body mass loss, and even reduced metabolic rate. Yet it appears this is less of a concern with overweight subjects.50
In my experience with over 1,000 patients on various intermittent fasting regimens, I have not yet seen a single case of significant muscle loss.51Learn more
Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting: Next Steps
Intermittent fasting can potentially have some very positive benefits for somebody trying to lose weight or gain lean body mass.
Men and women will tend to have different results, just like each individual person will have different results. The ONLY way to find out is through a conversation with your doctor and self-experimentation.
There are multiple ways to do an Intermittent Fasting Plan:
- Fast and feast regularly: Fast for a certain number of hours, then consume all calories within a certain number of hours.
- Eat normally, then fast 1-2x a week: Consume your normal meals every day, then pick one or two days a week where you fast for 24 hours. Eat your last meal Sunday night, and then dont eat again until dinner the following day.
- Fast occasionally: probably the easiest method for the person who wants to do the least amount of work. Simply skip a meal whenever its convenient. On the road? Skip breakfast. Busy day at work? Skip lunch. Eat poorly all day Saturday? Make your first meal of the day dinner on Sunday.
After that, get started! Take photos, step on the scale, and track your progress for the next month.
See how your body responds.
See how your physique changes. See how your workouts change.
And then decide if its something you want to keep doing!
4 years later, I have no plans on going back to eating breakfast. Sorry General Mills and Dr. Kellogg!
If youre worried about all of this stuff, or arent sure when to eat and stop eating, try out our new app!
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Who Is Intermittent Fasting For
Based on the numerous benefits youre about to discover, intermittent fasting is really meant for anyone who is serious about improving their health and perhaps losing weight without overhauling their diet.
Technically, you dont need to change anything about your diet to benefit from intermittent fasting, which makes it very appealing to many people.
Its also for those who want that extra edge to burning fat while maintaining their muscle .
Its completely safe to do and provides enormous benefits so its really just a matter of committing to it, trying it out, and seeing if its something you want to do regularly.
Prepare For Your Body To Feel Different
Many people feel tired, get a headache, and generally feel out of sorts on days two and three of any fast. Thats normal. The negative side effects of fasting typically go away by the end of day three or four. If youre going shorter than two days, youll likely start to feel better just as the fast comes to a close. Once you turn the corner on day three, most people feel great after the negative symptoms have passed, and a sense of calm, well-being, and heightened concentration takes over. But if you feel like something is wrong during a fastmore than just feeling a bit tireddefinitely eat. You can always try again another time.
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So Is Intermittent Fasting As Good As It Sounds
I was very curious about this, so I asked the opinion of metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Here is what she told me. “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective,” she confirmed, though generally she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”
So, heres the deal. There is some good scientific evidence suggesting that circadian rhythm fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes.
Ramadan The Practice Of Fasting
During the holy month of Ramadan, which occurs on the ninth month of the lunar-based Islamic calendar, all Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk for 30 days. Because Ramadan shifts approximately 11 days earlier each year on the solar-based Gregorian calendar, Muslims experience Ramadan in different seasons throughout the course of the lives.
The act of fasting is meant to remind Muslims of the less fortunate and to reinforce the need to be thankful. As one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam, fasting during the month of Ramadan is mandatory for all healthy adult Muslims. Children who have not reached puberty, the elderly, those who are physically or mentally incapable of fasting, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and travelers are exempt.
Fasting during Ramadan means abstinence from all food or drink, including water and chewing gum, from dawn to sunset. It is recommended that before sunrise, Muslims eat a prefast meal known as suhur. This meal often resembles breakfast, but in some cultures it may include more dinner-like foods. After sundown, Muslims break their fast with iftar, a meal which usually starts with dates and water or milk, followed by dinner. Muslims are permitted to snack at night between those two meals, and hydration is encouraged, especially when Ramadan falls during summer.
Sara Elnakib, MPH, RD, is a Family and Community Health Sciences Educator at Rutgers University.
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What Is Ketosis And How Will I Know That Im There
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body starts to break down and burn fat. Ketosis is characterized by the production of ketone bodies in your liver, which include acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and the breakdown product of acetoacetate, acetone.
If you have water fasted for over 12 hours, you are likely in at least nutritional or light ketosis! Your liver glycogen has been depleted. Your body is producing ketone bodies as an alternative fuel source for your brain through the breakdown of fat and fatty acids. You can also reach ketosis with an alternate day fasting or 5:2 protocol with up to 500 calories per fasting day, but its best if these calories come from low-carb or keto-friendly foods.
The best way to measure ketosis is through a blood ketone meter or a breath ketone meter. You can measure your ketone levels to see when you reach ketosis and if anything you are drinking/eating during your fast substantially affects your ketone levels. Urine ketone strips are not very accurate. They dont detect all forms of ketone bodies, such as the important beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB. So the best bet is to grab a blood ketone meter like Keto-Mojo, or a breath ketone meter like BIOSENSE.