Let me introduce you to a phenomenon that is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends and there are good reasons for this! There are so many benefits to fasting that it would be impossible to list all of them in this chapter. There are many books written on this subject alone. What I will do for your here, is show you how easy it is to get started, give you a well-rounded understanding of the art of fasting and point you to the right resources if you are interested in educating yourself further on what I believe to be one of the greatest health hacks you can do for your body. When it comes to taking care of your gut and detoxing your body—there is no substitute. If you are not incorporating some type of fasting protocol into your life you are never ever going to reach your optimal mental and/or physical metabolic health. Yes, it is that important!
The definition of fasting is the willful refrainment from food, drink, or anything you consider that might controlling you. Often it is thought of in a religious context but fasting can be applied to alcohol consumption, social medial, sex, smoking, energy drinks, drugs, the use of profanity or toxic relationships, basically anything in life that you feel has control over you. Fasting lets you take back that control of your life. When applied to food, fasting is not considered a typical diet or meal plan that specifies which foods you should or should not eat, but it is more of a timed eating plan that tells you when you should and should not eat. Fasting is NOT A CALORIE RESTRICTIVE DIET. It involves alternating cycles of fasting (not eating) and a shorter feeding window where you take in all your calories for the day. Many studies show that this can accelerate weight loss, improve metabolic health, protect against disease, and perhaps even help you live longer!
There are several different fasting methods out there, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. For the first time faster, we will focus on splitting up the day. Splitting the week up involves extended fasts; we will dive into that a little later in this chapter. When you split your feeding and fasting times up during the day, this is called an Intermittent fast. Everyone “fasts” while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending the time that you don’t eat just a little longer, by simply skipping breakfast. Here is the formula for a level one or beginners fast. Pick a day and eat your last meal by 7 pm, and then have your first meal at 11am the next day.
This is called 16:8 fasting period. This means you are restricting you’re eating or feeding window to 8 hours and your fasting window to 16 hours (See chart below). The 16:8 is the most popular form of intermittent fasting and a great place to start for the novice faster. That’s it! Ready set go! Seriously, that is all there is to it. All you have to do is get past the morning hunger pains and congratulations you just did your first 16:8 intermittent fast.
As easy as I just laid it out for you, intermittent fasting can be scary to think about for most and understandably so! We have been brought up in a time where food is so abundant. Everything we do revolves around food. From birthday parties, BBQ’s, football games, movie nights, holidays, an emotional crisis, weddings, celebrations of life, basically any social gathering these days revolves around food. The thought of going without food for an extended period can scare the bejesus out of anyone! But trust me, you are not going to die! Your body can go through way more then you give it credit for. It can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but it is mostly a mental game. With that said, always consider the risks involved when starting anything new with your diet. Do your research and talk with your doctor for advice before starting a fast. If you are healthy and have no metabolic problems, then I say go for it! Just listen to your body! I will give you the basics so you can get started on your fasting journey, but I also list some amazing books at the end of this chapter, and I encourage you to educate yourself further on this game changer of a health hack. This is ancient wisdom, but all relatively new to modern science. There are so many different opinions on fasting, but in the end, it is a personal journey, and you must find what works for you. That is why I encourage a 16:8 fast. This is a safe and simple fast that anyone can do with relative ease. When you start your first 16 hour fast, make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. 12 to 15 hours into your fast, if you are feeling a little dizzy, disoriented, start get a headache or feel a bit sick, EAT! No worries! Be proud you did 12+ hours and above all don’t give up! Simply take it slow and ease back into it. Maybe back it down and shoot for 15hr fast next time. Like any new workout, or diet protocol, we must let our body’s get used to what we are doing. It will eventually adapt and get stronger. It may feel strange at first, but in a short period of time, your mind and body will adjust.
The first time I did a fast it did not go so well. I did not really know what I was doing and being an extremist, I wanted to knockdown a 20 hour fast right out the gates. How hard could it be right! Boy was I in for a big surprise. It started out as planned. I stopped eating Thursday night at 6pm. That night I had a great night’s sleep and woke up the next day feeling good. I was a little hungry but nothing crazy. So far so good! My plan was to skip breakfast and to have my first meal at 2pm. I was bound and determined to do this! It was Flex Friday, so I went to the gym that morning and had a fantastic, fasted Friday workout. Normally I would have a protein shake immediately after my workout, but I skipped it and was feeling pretty darn proud of myself. Later, I would find out that was a big mistake. I was about 17-hours into my fast and was starting to feel a bit woozy. It was around 11am in the morning, I was grumpy, hungry my energy was low, and I was beginning to feel a bit disoriented. I felt strange, like I was underwater. I felt a bit nauseous. My mouth was dry, and my hands were shaky, and my stomach was seriously angry with me! I was having a hard sugar crash and needed to eat! I don’t remember where I went to eat that day, but what I do remember is that I was ravenous and gorged myself. After my feeding frenzy, I had a major food coma, felt like crap and struggled the rest of the day. Later that night I did not sleep well. Yah, you could say my first-time fasting was a bit of a disaster.
What I didn’t know at the time is that my body was used to burning glucose my whole life and it did not know how to adjust to burning ketones. What I also learned later, is that my gut microbiome thought they were starving and went into panic mode! When this happens, they will send panic signals to the brain to start to burn fat so they can eat. When you still do not eat, they start to play hard ball making you dizzy with and toss in a headache just for good measure. The bad microbiome are not as strong as your good microbiome. So, when your bad microbiome gets stressed like this, they increase the production of endotoxins. These types of toxins will make you feel like, well no other way to say it but you will feel like flat out shit! If you have ever heard of the Keto Flu, these endotoxins are the main reasons you typically get it. After that butt kicking fasting day, it took me a couple days to feel normal again, but I was determined. I tried it again the next week, but I backed it way down to a 15 hour fast for the next couple of weeks and did so much better.
The other lesson I learned during my disastrous virgin fasting day, is that after a hard resistance training session you must break your fast with some type of protein. More about exercise and fasting a bit later. But just know that if you have any kind of hard workout, you need to fuel your body within an hour after your training session or your body will start to cannibalize on itself and not in a good way like through autophagy. After about 2 weeks of doing okay with a 15:9 fast, I bumped it up to a 16:8 fast. I stuck with that for a couple weeks and it soon became part of my new weekly routine. Overtime I became very comfortable with an 18 to 24 hour fast. The difference between then and now is that my body has become metabolically flexible, meaning I can switch from burning glucose to burning ketones quite comfortably.
This is a skill that is acquired overtime, pay attention to your body and the signals it is sending you when you begin a fast. The more you start to restrict your feeding window throughout the week, the easier fasting will become, but you need to baby step your way into it. Remember you spent all your life burning glucose as your primary fuel source and it takes time for your body to remember how to burn ketones. Ketones are your alternative fuel or energy source. When your glycogen levels are depleted, the liver starts to produce these magical miracle molecules that will provide a cleaner burning fuel source for your entire body. Where it gets challenging for a novice faster, just like any addict, your body will begin to put up a fight to get its glucose fix!
So, hang in there, be firm with your fasting commitment and ride that hunger wave out! It will be well worth it! Over a short period of time, the hunger pains will become less and less frequent as your bad microbiome die off and you become more metabolically flexible.
The Benefits of Fasting
Right about now after hearing about my Freaky Friday Fasting Failure, you may be thinking, why would I want to put myself through that hell? I am reasonably healthy, and I already feel good. Sure, you may eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise and look good, but how would you like to look and feel SUPERHUMAN? There are huge mental and physical benefits to fasting. It is best known for weight loss and detoxification but remember what we talked about last chapter? That is the importance of healing, protecting, and strengthening your gut. Our bodies need adversity and were designed for times of famine and stress. This is millions of years of evolution and a natural form of hormesis. During the period of hunger, what starts happening in the body is your adversity genes or better known as survival- longevity genes, begin to turn on. If you are always satiated, your body thinks it does not need to turn on these survival genes. The data is so clear now that fasting will make you metabolically stronger in more ways than can be measured. One of the major benefits is when your body initiates a metabolic pathway called autophagy, a process of detoxification, repair, and regeneration. Regular intervals of fasting resets your gut bacterial killing off the bad microbes and strengthening the good ones. When this happens, it decreases inflammation and has astonishing benefits against the development of numerous diseases. The big one being heart disease. In western society we are constantly eating, snacking and we do not give our digestive systems any break. This is now shown to contribute to inflammation and a shorter lifespan. On the flip side, fasting could be the one thing you incorporate into your life that not only gives you a longer life, but gives you a more fulfilling, healthier, and epically happy one as well. Sounds good so far right!
What is Autophagy?
Still not completely sold on fasting just yet? Well, listen up. I have one word for you that should get you jumping on the fasting fast track to a new and better you. That word is Autophagy. Autophagy is a funny word yes, but this alone is the perfect reason to consider fasting. Autophagy which literally means Self-Eating (Auto-Self, Phagy Eating). When fasting, your body goes into a survival mode, it will detoxify, burn fat, recycle old dead cells, regenerate new cells, and help you to live longer! Imagine changing all your old worn-out body parts for new ones! You will literally be turning back the clock and creating a new you. After just a few weeks, you’ll feel healthier, be more alert, your senses will be heightened, and you will be a happier, more active high performance human being that enjoys life to the fullest. Oh yeah, did I mention you will live longer?
When your body clean house like this, it starts “Self-Devouring” by finding old dead tissues and using them as fuel through a process developed by your cells millions of years ago for their survival. And this is a good thing because it allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components. When you go into this survival mode your body panics just a bit because it needs energy to keep all your systems working. It begins to look everywhere to find dead cells to eat and turn into energy. As gross as this sounds, this is exactly what you want to happen. By utilizing dead cells, your body replaces them with fresh new cells! Studies have shown that many dead cells reside, throughout your body but primarily in the brain. As we age these dead cells can form a net or mesh throughout the brain and cause an array of metabolic problems to include, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, memory loss and brain fog. Even if you are living the best life possible and eating only raw organic foods, getting plenty of excise, plenty of rest and drinking clean water, the body still needs to get rid of millions of dead cells every day. These dead cells are toxic and need to be removed very quickly. Fasting is the fastest way to do this. During autophagy these dead cells are removed and recycled, putting your brain back into the optimal and smooth-running supercomputer that it is meant to be!
Fasting is the new Vaxing!
If that still is not enough to get you to at least thinking about trying this out for yourself, check this out– during autophagy, cells break down viruses & bacteria and other damaged components in your gut resetting your entire immune system. In a fasted state you are strengthening your entire gut where practically all disease starts! Fasting is such a powerful modality against disease that there is a facility in California called TrueNorth Health Center that is helping with the treatment of hundreds of cancer patients using long monitored fasts. TrueNorth was founded in 1984 by Dr. Alan Goldhamer, is cutting edge science and has had astounding results with stage 4 cancer patients. Could it be that fasting is the new cure for cancer? There are hundreds of TrueNorth cancer survivors that will give you a resounding yes! Autophagy is so significant for your cell’s health, its renewal, and survival that it will extend your lifespan by years and possibly even decades!
You will get a Super Brain
My personal favorite benefit of fasting is the feeling of euphoria one gets during a fast. There is a phase of fasting that leaves you with an amazing feeling of wellbeing and a focused clear state of mind. When you go into a time restricted eating plan, your brain goes through a detoxifying cycle cleaning up any dead cells that are taking up space. When this happens, your brain gets hyper focused. Instead of wasting energy on other thoughts, you have tunnel vison on the task at hand. During your fast your ketones serve as an alternative energy source to maintain normal brain cell metabolism. In fact, BHB (a major ketone) is an even more efficient fuel than glucose, providing more energy per unit then oxygen. With this type of jet fuel for your brain, your mental clarity will be elevated beyond explanation. Your mind won’t be clouded with indecision, what-ifs, overwhelm or worry. Instead, you get a heightened sense of awareness and learning. If anyone has seen the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper, and then experienced, in a fasted state, this superhuman mental clarity, they will understand why the fictional drug NZT was so addictive. Fasting gives us the natural and healthy version of NZT. This heightened state of clarity is so amazing you almost do not want to eat, because once you do, it goes away. I can’t wait to start my next fast just to feel the sensation of being in a limitless state of mind. It can be quite startling at first when your brain function radically elevates like this during a fast. You will find that your reading and writing skills will sharpen. Your listening skills will have you focused on every word of a podcast. You will be able to hear and feel every sound around you. Your sense of smell will be the strongest it has ever been, and you will have zero brain fog. But even with all your senses radically elevated, you will still be able to focus on whatever you are working on. Time will even seem to slow down. Fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. Neurons are the fundamental units of the brain and nervous systems. These cells are responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world and for sending motor commands to our muscles. During neuronal autophagy, chemically it increases levels of catecholamines such as dopamine which can elevate your happiness and confidence while simultaneously reducing anxiety. Brain health is critically dependent on neuronal autophagy (your housekeeper to maintain your brains cellular homeostasis).
Simply put, with fasting, your brain will get healthier, bigger, and brighter! You will notice that your increased mental acuity will start around 16 hours into your fast. At 20 to 24-hours in, your body begins its cleanup of cellular garbage in the brain. When this cleanup happens, cellular repair and even neurogenesis starts to take place. Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are formed and can even increase the number cells in your brain. This good type of brainwashing will clear your mind of debris and awaken a sleeping giant–your new super brain!
Okay is none of that selling you on giving up your pancakes and sausage with toast and jam first thing in the morning? What If I told you that Intermittent fasting has been shown to tighten skin and start to reverse the aging process? This is now getting some serious backing in scientific studies being conducted in Japan. These studies point to fasting not only speeding up metabolisms, but it now appears that fasting can reverse the aging process! Short-term calorie restriction improves your muscle function and facial muscle density as well. There are also vascular benefits that improve your skin and make your hair and nails stronger and healthier improving your overall look. Yup! fasting is the new Botox! I see some of you looking in the mirror right now! Do I have your attention yet?
How do I start fast?
Okay I am hoping you are sold by now and want to try fasting for yourself, if even just to see if everything you are reading right now is a bunch of BS or is it true. Besides, what do you really have to lose? Except maybe a few pounds? Its free, it’s simple and anyone can do it. I mean come on! Who doesn’t want to turn back the clock or be like Bradley Cooper in Limitless!
So how and where do you start? First try to ease your way into this. For your first FAST, pick a day and start out with an easy 16:8. Stop eating by 7pm and don’t have your first meal until the next day at 11am. You are basically just skipping breakfast. Try this for a couple of days the first week. You can do them back-to-back or skip a day in-between.
Here is what a week of fasting should look like for the beginner, it is best to do two 16:8’s, but don’t do them back-to-back especially if you are a woman-more on this later in this chapter, Finish the rest of the week out with five 12:12’s or just your normal eating pattern. This is what I call a 2:5 fasting week. 2 days of fasting and 5 days of regular eating windows. Try that program out for a couple weeks. See how you feel and then, when you are ready, add one more day on for a 3:4 fasting week. The next week add on one more day of fasting for a 4:3 fasting week. (Four days of 16:8’s and 3 days of 12:12’s). Like anything in life, baby step your way into this. There is no competition here or trophy to win. Leave your ego at the door. Creating a change like this takes discipline and consistency. Remember that a lifetime of burning glucose is not going to change overnight. The body needs time to adjust. The first few weeks could be tough, but studies are now showing that the benefits of fasting could be one of the most important things you ever do for a longer metabolically healthy life.
After 3 to 4 weeks of a 4:3/16:8 fasting routine, and more importantly when you feel comfortable, challenge yourself to a 20 hour fast for one of the days. Remember to always listen to your body. Once you have mastered a 20:4, your next challenge will be to go for a 24 hour fast. To do this pick a morning and let’s say you finish eating breakfast at 8am, don’t eat again until the next day at 8am. Or let’s say you have your last meal at 7pm, don’t eat again until the next day at 7pm. You will find its mostly a mental challenge.
There are some tricks to getting through the hunger pains when going for longer fasts. Try to drink a cup of black coffee or black tea in the morning or early afternoon. This will do two things; it will help curb any hunger pains you may be experiencing, and it will also help your body get into ketosis quicker. You must have it black. No sugar or creamer of any kind. If you must, you can add a flavored stevia or a monk fruit sweetener. David Asprey is my Biohacking Guru and in his new book “FAST THIS WAY” he gives some pro tips on how to make fasting more comfortable.
One of the biggest challenges I faced when I first started to explore longer fasts, is breaking the habit of needing to constantly eat something. It takes time to break the mental habit of feeling the need to constantly put something in your mouth. It is completely psychological. Having that cup of joe or black tea will make it a lot easier. I am a Seattleite and self-declared coffeeholic. I love my creamy sweet lattes. So, it was hard for me to have to drink it black. I found that adding a stevia liquid sweetener helped. What you are doing here is basically satisfying your need or compulsion to consume something.
Another good tip is to stay busy! On an extended fast of 24 to 48 hours, it is important not to do anything to strenuous. With that said, laying around on the couch all day is boring, and your mind will start to focus on the hunger. The reality of what you are feeling when hungry, is your body’s reaction to not eating and not the actual need to refuel your body. There is no getting around experiencing hunger pains during a fast when you first start out, but it’s not as bad as you may think and overtime your body will adjust. As you become more seasoned with fasting, as hard as this is to believe, you won’t feel hungry anymore. Even on longer fasts of 24 to 48 hours. We often are more fearful of the thought of not eating, then the actual act of fasting itself. Hunger comes in waves. Ride it out! It won’t last long. It will build, peak, and then disappear. But here is the cool part, when it does disappear, you are left with that incredible feeling of mental clarity, awareness, focus and crystal-clear thought. That limitless feeling, we talked about earlier. When that hunger wave comes, and come it will, ignore it by staying busy. Read a book, go for a slow walk, write in your journal, call a friend, and have a long conversation, work on that small home project, do some light stretching and soon those hunger pains will pass. Remember that you are not going to starve or die. You will be okay! Hunger is your friend! As I said earlier it is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. If you are a real go getter you can try a 48 or 72 hour fast for your first elongated fast. But my advice is to start off with a 24hr fast. This will break your fear of not eating. Once you accomplish this and you realize it was not as bad as you might have thought, incorporating longer fasts and daily intermittent fasting, will be a piece of cake! Fasting takes time and practice. There will be days you have to break your fast early and times you will feel like dog poop. In no time at all, your body will settle in. Soon you will become metabolically flexible and start to feel incredible. Also, once your body can start to efficiently burn ketones rather than glucose, you can increase your fasting window and fasting days.
Everybody’s body is different. If you are thin or have a very high metabolism, your body could go into ketosis and autophagy with a shorter fasting period. Remember to make sure you are listening to your body. There is a difference between being hungry and starving yourself. If you are feeling dizzy, getting shaky disoriented, or feeling faint, EAT!
My personal fasting week looks like this; (Sunday day-1 a 20:4), (day-2 a 20:4), (day-3 an 18:6), (day-4 an 18:6), (day-5 a 16:8), (day-6 a 14:10), (day-7 is a refeed day for me) Repeat. I am not perfect and may be out celebrating life on a Friday night and that 14:10 timeline gets a bit blurred. This is AOKAY! I don’t get down on myself. Always remember not to become any diet or fast, you are in control of your life. I try to mix it up and keep challenging my body by sometimes skipping breakfast, sometimes skipping dinner or sometimes I will skip both. I also cycle in and out of my fasting weeks. I vacation about once every 6 weeks. On those vacation days I do not fast. Adding stress to a time of relaxation is not recommended and we here at LifeSpanners are big proponents of enjoying the spoils of life! Fasting is a form of hormesis. A little bit of bad is good for you, a lot of bad is disastrous! Fasting is not sustainable 365 days a year, your feed days are just as important as your fasting days. If you are a woman, never fast when you are having your menstrual cycle or pregnant. Your body needs energy.
For my Extended fasts, I pull a 24 to 36 hours fast twice a month. I pull a 72-hour fast twice a year, and I shoot for a 5 day fast once a year. I must be real here. I have never made it all the way through to complete a 5 day fast. Right around 4 days my blood glucose levels can drop dangerously low, so I am forced to break the fast. But that is okay too. I still get to walk away a winner, I fasted for 4 days! My partner the incredible Sherylea Hurst did a 7 day fast. She crashed and burned around day five. Her glucose level dropped below 60 so she was forced to eat an orange, essentially breaking her fast. She continued fasting for the remainder of the 7 days and felt good about herself because she fasted for seven days on just an orange! Remember to allow yourself small wins and celebrate your victories!
What should you eat during your feeding window?
During your feeding window, the goal is not to cut back on calories, but to simply shorten the window in which you are taking in those calories. It is much more important on when you eat, then what you eat. But no matter what you eat before a fast, you can make things a lot easier on yourself and achieve even greater benefits, by eating certain foods and avoiding others. Your first goal in a fast is to get into ketosis as quickly as possible. This usually begins around 12 to 16 hours in. When in ketosis, your body is producing power packed fat-based ketones. This process begins when your glycogen levels are either partially or completely depleted. To help accelerate this, avoid eating carbohydrates and fruits during your feeding window or at least don’t load up on them for your last meal of the day. Just to be clear, if you want to eat a salad or a diet of all vegetables or fruits, you are still getting amazing benefits from the fast. It is just that if you are looking to maximize the benefits, you don’t want to enter your fast with a belly full of glycogen and/or glucose swimming around in your system. I do want to stress again that is not so important WHAT YOU EAT, AS TO WHEN YOU EAT!
Here are some suggestions for your last meal before entering into fast
Vegetables-it is okay to eat vegetables especially ones that have fiber. Go for the dark green stuff like romaine lettuce, asparagus, bok choy or broccoli. These foods will supply you with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals without a lot of extra carbohydrates. But keep these to a minimum
Healthy fats-you will need healthy fats in your diet especially before a fast for several important bodily functions as mentioned earlier. Fire in a Bottle, Ghee and Grass-fed butter are my go-to favorites!
Protein-choose grass fed, or organic options. But no matter what the source, focusing on protein and fat consumption, with minimal carbohydrates, will help you to get into ketosis quicker.
Fruit-go easy on fruit since it is high in a type of sugar that gets stored as glycogen. Berries, especially blueberries, are okay. Any type of fruit juice is a hell to the no! Juice has no fiber and the sugar in fruit juice will spike your insulin levels and flood your glycogen stores.
Most of us have a difficult time drinking the recommended amount of water we need each day. But if you are fasting you must drink even more. There is a fasting protocol called dry fasting where you stop eating and drinking any water. I would not recommend this for a beginner. I have not seen any research that shows massive benefits to going without water for extended periods of time. So, when you do start your fast, for any period of time, Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! This is so important! Try adding a little Redmond Real Salt to your water with a little lemon squeeze and a dash of organic stevia. None of which will break your fast. Redmond Real Salt is highly recommended because it is loaded with electrolytes, plus it has natural occurring trace minerals like calcium and potassium.
Should I supplement when I fast?
As far as supplementation goes, you do not have to take any. When you are a first time faster or relatively new to this protocol, I highly recommend simply focusing on not eating for 16 hours. In fact, if you are taking any type of supplementation, it is good to fast off those as well too. Trying to remember what to eat before a fast, or what supplements to take or not take, how many and when should one take them, can be overwhelming. Stick to the basics. Skip breakfast and you are fastening, period the end. It truly is that simple! With all that said, once you are comfortable with a level one fast, then and only then can you start to entertain the idea of supplementation. There are some supplements out there like Turmeric or Serrapeptase enzymes that can give you just a bit of an edge to bump your body into ketosis and autophagy a little quicker.
Activated Charcoal-If you only take one supplement, take this one. Activated charcoal has so many benefits you could write a book about all of them. During your fast charcoal will help to curb your appetite. During a fast your microbiome is under stress and this hunger causes them to produce toxins and various waste products. Charcoal not only cleans this mess up; it cuts it off at the pass by ending hunger pains.
Potassium, Sodium and Magnesium– are three important supplements to take. Potassium and sodium you can get from Redmond Real Salt. Take your magnesium along with your potassium. Your MITs’ need these compounds to fix and repair themselves.
Proteolytic (pro-tea – o – le -tic) enzymes– These enzymes are produced in your pancreas when you are eating to breakdown proteins. If you take them orally while fasting, they will feed on any unused protein partials you have left in your body. As your body is scanning itself trying to find any fuel source during your fast, it will be forced to go to other places to find fuel, essentially speeding up cellular clean up. Two good ones to take are Serrapeptase enzymes and Wobenzym enzymes. “Serrapeptase” are derived from silkworms. “Wobenzym Plus” is animal based. They can be pricy so make sure you take them on an empty stomach, or you will just be wasting good money.
Water soluble vitamins-If you are engaging in a longer extended fast and especially if you are trying to reset you gut it is best not to take any vitamins as they can fool your body into thinking there is food in its system putting your survival cells on pause. But if you are doing a short-term intermittent fast you can take them on an empty stomach as they are best absorbed this way.
Turmeric– or Curcumin can get you deeper into a fast in a shorter amount of time. When taken on an empty stomach turmeric can activate AMPK (Activated Protein Kinase) an enzyme that plays a significant role in cellular energy and homeostasis. When your body is in a deficit, it activates AMPK, and this tells your body to look for other fuel sources. When we consume curcumin, it activates the same AMPK switch by utilizing a different pathway. Bottom line is when you fast, you naturally activate AMPK. When you take curcumin, which also activates AMPK, you are cranking up that AMPF dial to the max to elevate fasting benefits.
Grapefruit Seed Extract-This is an herb that is a natural broad-spectrum antimicrobial. When fasting it is very useful to help fix your gut. Any natural probiotic is good to take, and most must be taken with food. However, grapefruit seed extract can be taken on an empty stomach. Being an antifungal agent, it has a potent effect against candida and kills stubborn UTIs that are resistant to antibiotics.
Resveratrol-mimics fasting by promoting autophagy. Studies have shown that combining short-term calory restriction and resveratrol, will alter key mitochondrial signaling pathways in muscles and can contribute to moderate protective effects against aging and muscle loss.
How should I break my fast?
Although there is really no need to complicate it, basically just use good judgement and common sense. As you learned from the Planet to Plate Rainbow Diet, ask yourself these two simple questions. Is the meal I am about to eat nutrient dense and is it bioavailable? If the answer is yes, enjoy every bite! Just remember not to gorge yourself and s l o w d o w n while you eat. Masticate your food and savor each bite. You may be ravenous, but don’t gulp your food down and do not overeat. With that said even if you do, you won’t die! You might feel heavy or get an upset stomach, but you will be just fine. Just be kind to your stomach and ease it into the digestive process with love. The more you fast the better acclimated your system will be to handle it and you can then start to increase the size of your refeed meals. Over a short period of time, you will start to get a good feel for what you like to eat and what foods make you feel like dog doo when you break a fast.
If you want to go textbook, bone broth is the way to go. Bone broth can be a tasty addition to incorporate on your first meal post fast. Especially after an extended fast. It contains numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids. It is easy on the stomach and can help the gut function optimally post fast. 2 out of the 6 days I fast I break it with bone broth. You will be pleasantly surprised on how much energy you get when breaking your fast this way. It is easy to make and delicious. If you don’t have the time to make a batch on your own, you can purchase “Kettle and Fire” at almost all your local supermarkets in the soup section.
Some Guidelines for Breaking a Fast
- Break-a-fast with a liquid meal like bone broth or a very bland and soft food like a Purium superfood power shake
- Avoid processed foods
- Take an enzyme with or before your Break-a-Fast meal
- Try to take in a good fat like half an avocado or grass feed butter
- Consume your meal slowly, chew your food and resist the urge to eat quickly
What foods should I avoid when I Break-a-Fast?
The term for your first meal of the day Breakfast, literally means to Break-Fast. Again, just use your common sense for your first meal of the day. It usually takes your digestive system two-to-four weeks to adapt to fasting and burning ketones instead of glucose. Below are some good guidelines of what not to eat during your Break-Fast meal.
- Nuts and nut butters
- Processed, high-glycemic carbs like doughnuts, croissants most breakfast cereals
- Grains found in oatmeal, malt-o-meal, or cream of wheat
- Seeds and seed butters
- Raw vegetables and leafy greens (cooked are fine)
- Vegetables that are high in antinutrients such as oxalates or lectins. To include broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, spinach, chard, kale, and beets
- Nightshades such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes and paprika
- Dairy product proteins such as whey protein or milk. Dairy product fats are okay IE; grass feed butter, grass fed cheese, Greek yogurt
- Egg whites. The egg yolk is pure fat and okay
- Red meats (bone broth with beef bones are okay)
Not everyone is sensitive to all or any of these foods. If that’s not you, then don’t worry. Eat all the eggs, cheese, and raw vegetables, you want after a fast. Have a whey protein drink! Enjoy that big steak! But I would think twice about that Bloody Mary!
Here is what works for me when I break-a-fast, especially after a 20:4. I will break my fast with a cup or two of bone broth with as much Redmond’ Real Salt as I can handle, I wait for 30 minutes, then pound 4 scrambled eggs cooked in Ghee, mixed with small amount of spinach, a ¼ cup of grass-fed beef, mushrooms, Kerrygold cheese and ½ an avocado on the side. My eating window is 4 hours, and my goal is to maintain 2300 calories daily, so for that 4-hour feeding window…GAME ON!
What won’t Break-a-fast?
- Supplements & vitamins- Read the back label. They must not have any sugars or calories.
- Lemon juice- (little to no pulp) from fresh organic lemons.
- Fish oil- Fish Oil has a small number of calories but won’t break a fast.
- Creatine-Most creatines are not created equal. I prefer Kion or Thorne.
- Activated Coconut Charcoal-David Wolf & David Asprey have the highest quality products.
- Curcumin Phytosome (Turmeric)-Try Thorne Meriva 500-SF.
- Stevia-Try Better Stevia Organic- There are also flavored liquid options for sweetening coffee.
- Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar-Braggs Organic is the best.
- Black coffee or Tea-Always go organic and mold free! Bullet Proof Coffee is my go-to Java.
- Water-Drink it plain or carbonated as long as it contains no calories. Drink, Drink, Drink!
- SALT- (preferably Redmond’s Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt)
Should you exercise when fasting?
Short-term fasting workouts- There are some pros and cons to consider before you decide to workout in a fasted state. If you are doing short team or intermittent fast, then by all means, go rock out that hard gym workout or power yoga session! You will be pleasantly surprised how much energy you have when you exercise fasted. Your stored carbohydrates, known as glycogen, are most likely depleted during a fast, so you’ll be turning fat to fuel for your workouts! If you workout in a fasted state you will build a healthier you, burn fat and in the long term, start to speed up your metabolism. Try to time it so you can break your fast within an hour of completing your workout. Your body will be ready for some fuel and love you for it.
Elongated fasting workouts-If you are doing an elongated fast like a 48-72hr fast, or a 4 to 7 day fast, then the answer is absolutely not! You will be doing more harm than good for your body if you exercise. While exercising in an elongated fasted state, it’s possible that your body will start breaking down muscle to use for fuel and this is a bad thing. This is especially true if you are exceptionally lean with very little body fat to burn. Plus, you’re more susceptible to hitting the wall during your workout, which means you’ll have less energy and not be able to train as hard or perform as well as you are normally used too.
Furthermore, when we get into extended fasting, our bodies are switching from burning glucose to using ketones. If you start strenuous or resistance exercise during an elongated fast, the muscles you just worked will require glucose to repair themselves and your body will convert from ketosis to gluconeogenesis (the conversion of protein to glucose). When you are in a fasted state, your liver and muscle glycogen levels become depleted. Your body will have to use your current muscle tissue to produce glucose. Basically, you will be burning up your hard-earned lean muscle mass by working out, totally defeating the purpose. During an elongated fast rest! This way you are using your fat cells for fuel, and at the end of the day this is what you want right? Light yoga, stretching, a nice walk for some morning sunshine is okay to do on an extended fast.
So, what is the bottom line? Should you or should you not workout in a fasted state? So here is the answer. Yes and no. Both are right depending on if you are intermittent or extended fasting. It also really depends on what your goals are. A good rule of thumb is that when you are finished with a hard HITT or resistance type of workout, eat some protein and a good fat within an hour of your training. What you don’t want is to start cannibalizing on yourself using your good muscle to refuel your engine. If you are going for an elongated fast like a 48 or 72 it is best to rest. Walking, light yoga or an easy bike ride are okay. If you are shooting for a 5 to 7 day fast it is imperative that you rest. Adding stress upon stress is not a smart approach to taking care of yourself.
Fasting for men vs women
As fasting continues to make headlines, research on this phenomenon is still fairly new. Most of the studies thus far have been done with rats and on young college students who were predominately white men. Which means there is very little research on how fasting impacts women. This a problem. As fasting becomes more mainstream, many females are starting to adopt it as a regular practice without fully understanding how it may impact them. There is so much information out there and depending on what you are looking for it can support or contradict what your goals are. Some study’s say that a woman should never ever fast, I have found this to be simply NOT TRUE!
Dr Jason Fung author of the book “The Complete Guide to Fasting” states “Having helped hundreds of men and women fast over the last 5 years, Women seem to do better!”
The one thing that you can be sure of, is when it comes to women and I.F., gender DOES play a significant role. What that role actually is, we don’t fully understand yet.
There are many conflicting ideas and advice when it comes to women and fasting. Be it intermittent or longer duration fasts, we would advise that as a woman you do your research. Consider any underlying health conditions you may have that could potentially cause serious health concerns. We also highly recommend that women start out fasting every other day and monitor how they are feeling. Too often have we seen women start a fasting protocol, feel great, then figure that more must be better. There is a fine line between fasting and starvation. Problem’s women experience from over fasting can range from extreme weight loss, losing their menstrual cycle, loss of sex drive and loss of hair.
Every other day fasting has been proven to be very safe and successful way to fast, especially amongst women. As a woman if you are menstruating, stop fasting. If you are pregnant, stop fasting. Your body needs the calories to complete its cycle and to make a new human. Remember fasting is a state of hormesis. A little bit of bad is good for you, too much of a bad thing can be dangerous. By allowing your body to refeed every other day, you will still get all the benefits of ketosis, autophagy, fat loss and keep in the safe zone.
What Happens to the Body during a fast?
(0h-5h). First, your blood sugar raises after your dinner to break down glucose for energy. Next, your blood sugar starts to decrease to near normal after the initial spike. If you start your fast at 7pm, you will still be feeling pretty comfortable and satiated by the time you go to bed.
(5h-8h) You should be sleeping by now and comfortable in this early stage of your fast. Your body is still digesting last night’s dinner. During your sleep, glycogen reserves drop.
(8h-12h) Gluconeogenesis starts. This is when your liver uses up the last of its glucose reserves. You are now officially into a fasting mode! It should be morning and you may feel a bit hungry. That’s okay. This is a good sign that you are starting to burn fat! With little to no glycogen left, fat cells will start to release into your bloodstream. They will go directly to your liver for processing and will be turned into energy as your body fights to survive till your next meal.
(12h-18h) You are now entering into a ketotic state. Your body begins turning fat to fuel. Your glycogen is almost all used up and your liver starts to convert fat into ketone bodies. This is your body’s alternative energy source. While you are in this ketotic phase you are getting health benefits for your heart, metabolism, and brain.
(18h to 24h) The longer you fast, the deeper into ketosis you will go. By 18 hours, your body has basically switched completely into a fat burning survival mode and you will now:
- See power packed ketone bodies start to rise. Ketones are like rocket fuel and full of energy
- Train your metabolism how to better regulate itself in a stressful environment
- Activate your bodies anti-inflammatory and rejuvenation processes
- Begin to trigger Autophagy –cellular clean up and regeneration
(24h to 48h)-At this point, our bodies are in full blown autophagy mode. Your body begins to clean house by removing old dead dysfunctional cells and goes into a cellular recycling and regeneration mode. Wow great job if you make it this far into a fast!
(48h to 56h) -Your growth hormones are much higher now because of the increase of ketone bodies and your hunger hormone secretion. Growth hormone helps increase your lean muscle mass, speeds up the healing process if you are injured and improves cardiovascular health.
(56h to 72h)-Your insulin is at its lowest level since you started fasting which makes you more insulin sensitive. You are now reducing your inflammation and sparking your immune cells to start to regenerate. To fill the absence of your body’s little protectors (your immune cells), your body regenerates new immune cells at a rapid pace. In this phase of the game your immune system starts becoming superhuman strong!
Longer fasts like 48hrs on up, need to be regulated by an experienced person knowledgeable in fasting. Until that person becomes you and you are comfortable with extended fasts, it is best to buddy up so you can check in on each other. Resting is critical during an elongated fast. My advice is to work your way up to longer fasts.
Hydration is job 1!
Whether you are intermittent fasting or on an elongated fast, it is essential that you stay hydrated. Hydration is more than just drinking water. Keep your potassium and electrolytes levels high during any fast but especially during an elongated fast. Robb Wolf has an excellent product called LMNT by elemental labs. It is an electrolyte powdered concentrate of potassium, magnesium, and sodium in perfect proportion. Just pour a packet in 8 ounces of water one to two times a day depending on your level of activity. For you hot yogis out there, add LMNT to your water bottle and watch your chaturangas get supercharged!
For those experienced fasters, if you are considering an elongated fast, I highly recommend investing in a Keto-Mojo GK+ Glucose and Ketone dual monitoring system. You can find it on amazon for around $50.00. You want your glucose levels between 60 to 83. In the 70’s is optimal. Fasting can cause hypoglycemia but it is not the same as a diabetic. When fasting your cells need to adapt to running on ketones for energy and not glucose. If you are diabetic, a glucose level below 70 is cause for alarm. If you are relatively healthy, you can push that line a bit. With that said, do not let your blood sugar go lower than 60. If you get below 55 you are redlining hypoglycemia and you are in danger of a seizure. So just to be on the safe side, if you do fall below 60, It is time to break your fast! Take immediate action and eat. Don’t be a hero!
I.F. is not for everyone! If you fall into any of these categories, I.F. is probably not for you.
- Are under 18 years of age
- Pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding
- Thin and underweight
- Have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or any other underlying heath issues
- Women with hormonal imbalances
- Are on any mental issues like depression or take anxiety medicine
LifeSpanners Aging Forward – “GUT HEALTH & FASTING” Quick Tips
The benefits of fasting are immense and could be the single most important heath hack in this book that elongates and possibly even saves your life! If you don’t have any of the health concerns mentioned earlier in this chapter, we highly encourage you to give fasting a try.
- Remember to start out easy. It takes the body a couple weeks to adjust. On day one, your last swallow of food should be no later the 7pm. Skip breakfast the next day and eat your first meal at 11am. This is called a 16:8.
- Drink black coffee in the morning, this will shoot you into ketosis quicker. You can add stevia or monk-fruit if you wish.
- Shoot for a 16:8 two or three times the first week. Then add on a day each week until you reach your goal of five fasting days a week.
- On your non-fasting days, your feeding window should not be greater than 12 hours.
- Get yourself a fasting app, they are free and make fasting fun.
- Pick up a Keto Mojo Glucose and Ketone monitor. As you start to incorporate longer fasts of 48 or 72 hours and especially if you do a 5 day fast, you will want to monitor your glucose readings. A glucose reading of 55 or below means you are dangerously hyperglycemic and need to eat ASAP! A reading of 65 to 80 is considered a normal fasting glucose reading. If you drop below 60, eat to be on the safe side.
- After a few weeks of 16:8’s, try a more aggressive fast. Shorten your feeding windows to 6 hours and eventually to just 4 hours. This would be called a 20:4 and will give you the best benefits.
- On longer fasts of 24hrs or more, stay hydrated and don’t do anything strenuous! Walks, easy bike rides or light yoga are okay. If you are pulling longer fasts of more than 24 hours, we recommend buying Cole Robinsons “Snake Juice” It is a combination of salt, potassium, and magnesium. It will keep you hydrated. We also highly recommend (my favorite) Robb Wolfs LMNT electrolyte drink mix. It has 8 calories but won’t break-a-fast. You can also make your own delicious, salted lemon aid by taking a ¼ squeeze of fresh lemon, a dash of stevia to taste and a dash of salt in 16oz of water.
- Lastly and more importantly, this is not a race or a physical challenge. It is more of a mental challenge so listen to your body. If you are getting dizzy, nauseous, have a headache, blurred vision, irritability, intense thirst or feel like fainting, eat! But don’t feel defeated or give up. Shorten your fasting window and keep trying. Your body knows what to do and eventually you will become acclimated and metabolically flexible.
As fasting becomes more popular, there is going to be more information at your disposal. At the end of the day, this is one of the easiest diet protocols to incorporate into your life. Fasting is going to differ from person to person, but a good rule of thumb is to start out slow. After a few weeks of intermittent fasting, shoot for a 48 or 72hr fast! The first time you pull off a 72hr fast, you will notice after 48hrs your hunger pains will decrease substantially. You will be teaching your body and brain, that you are not going to die when you don’t eat, and your reward will be feeling the best you ever have your entire life! Yes, fasting is that mind-blowing!
Women should start out fasting every other day and see how they feel. Remember that fasting is a form of Hormesis. A little bit of bad is a good thing, but two much can be dangerous. Fasting is more about longevity of life and being metabolically healthy, more than just about losing weight. Work towards being metabolically flexible. This takes time and cannot be rushed. Listen to your body, as it has wisdom.
When you begin any new dietary protocol, you may experience some bloating and possibly diarrhea. This will fade once your body starts to adapt. Fasting is a form of detoxification and when these toxins start to release from your organs and tissues you can feel a bit like crap. Trust me, this does go away in just a few days.
Taking care of your gut is critical for our overall health. We share this body with a multitude of other lifeforms and our own existence literally depends on their survival. Outside of our diet, the best way to keep your Microbiome and Mitochondria health and happy is through fasting and this makes taking care of your gut by fasting your LifeSpanners #2 health hack!
Reads and Sees:
These individuals can be found on YouTube or through blogs on the web and have priceless information on Fasting!
- Dave Asprey
- Dr. Jason Fung
- Ben Greenfield
- Dr. Joseph Mercola
- Dr. Alan Goldhamer (True North Health Center)
- Thomas Delauer
- Cole Robinson
“Fast This Way”-Dave Asprey (if you read only one book on fasting read this book. It’s phenomenal)
“The science and fine art of fasting” -Herbert Shelton
“The miracle of fasting”-Paul Bragg
“The complete guide to fasting” -Dr. Jason Fung
“FASTING” -a documentary on prime