What is Fasting?
The basic definition from Google is to abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink. So basically fasting it just manipulating how much you eat or drink for a certain time period. The good news is that what you allow and how long you commit to are UP TO YOU.
Disclaimer: What is best for you, may not be best for someone else. What is best for me, may not be best for you. Please consult a doctor before doing anything severe or stupid, especially if you have a pre-existing condition of any sort.
Is Fasting the Same Thing as Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
If you’ve paid any attention to the world you’ve probably heard of Intermittent Fast or IF. IF is just a broad term for all the different ways you could alternate periods of fasting and not-fasting. Here are the most common ones:
- 16 hours fasted/ 8 hours non-fasted: This is done daily and I have loved doing this at certain times in my life (when it fits well with my schedule). For all the information
you could ever want on this, head over to Lean Gains.
- Eat Stop Eat: This is a 24-hour fast done once or twice a week (what this article will talk about).
- 5:2 Diet: This is 5 days of normal eating with 2 days throughout the week of severely restricted calories (500-600).
- Prolonged fasting: This is a fast that last for 3-4 or more days. It’s long and very in depth, but this Tim Ferris Podcast with Dr. Rhonda Patrick dives into a lot of the science of prolonged and shorter-term fasting.
Science-Backed Benefits of Fasting
There is a lot of research on fasting and it shows a lot of benefits; the one down side is that most of the studies are animal (mice) studies. Still, I think there is enough evidence or will be more evidence as more human studies take place.
- Reduction of oxidative stress: Thoughts on why this works are that fasting puts a certain level of “stress” on the body causing cells to adapt and become more resistant to stress.
- Improving the rate of cognitive decline: Fasting may decrease the risk of dementia.
- Decreases the risk of cancer
- Increases in Growth Hormone (at as soon as 18 hours of fasting): This helps increase fat burning and muscle building.
- Increases autophagy: The body’s process of cleaning out debris and other things.
- Improves insulin response
- Increases metabolic rate: Contrary to what you hear, eating 6 times a day does not “boost” your metabolism. Metabolism does not actually start to slow until at least 71 hours without food.
- Decreases inflammation
Katelyn-Backed Benefits of Fasting
First, a little backstory. As a personal trainer, I’m used to being active during the day and previously took my rest day on Sundays. Recently, I began working part-time at a job that requires me to be at a desk for 10-11 hours on Mondays. Due to the long hours of this day, I started taking my rest day on Monday.
Somehow after not moving very much during the day and snacking more than I should (due to mindless eating at the computer), I was still exhausted and hungry at/after dinner. It almost felt impossible to stick to my calories and I didn’t like how lethargic I was feeling.
So my activity level was one reason for the 24 Hour Fast. Another, was that I like to do things that are challenging and a test/stress for the body. I had heard of the benefits of a 24-Hour Fast, but been too afraid to commit because I was afraid of how I would feel if I didn’t make it.
I’m a firm believer that it is REALLY IMPORTANT to practice being uncomfortable.
- It makes you appreciate what comfortable is.
- It teaches you that you can do without things that you thought you needed.
Of the science-backed reasons to fast, the increase in growth hormone was something I was intrigued by since my current goal is to gain muscle while staying lean.
A last reason was that I usually eat out on both Friday and Saturday night and have a fun dessert at least once on the weekend. Those meals definitely increase my calories, so eating less on Mondays helps balance the equation.
What do I eat/drink (if anything) during a 24-Hour Fast?
I drink coffee, LOTS of herbal tea and water, and 2-3 servings of BCAAs.
Some people say a true fast should be a water-only fast, but I’m really doing it for the personal challenge, caloric restriction, autography and increase in growth hormone and I’m confident enough I’m still getting most of those benefits while still enjoying coffee, tea and BCAAs.
When Do You Start Your Fast?
This is an excellent question and until I realized ONE thing, I thought a fast was going to be much more difficult than it ending up being. In my non-creative mind, I thought the fast would naturally start after breakfast one day and I would have to get through the whole afternoon, evening, go to bed on an empty stomach and then wake up and eat.
The best way to start your fast is after dinner. I get to go to bed full and happy (killing the first part of my fast while I sleep) then just make it through breakfast and lunch!
Sunday night I have dinner around 6:30 or 7 PM. (One time I didn’t get enough protein on a Sunday and it made my fast much more difficult on Monday to fast). Then I wake up on Monday, have coffee, go to work, have tea, have BCAAs, go to the bathroom a bunch of times, have tea, have BCAAs, have water, go to the bathroom a bunch more times and then come home and have dinner around 7 PM.
How Often Can You Do a 24-Hour Fast?
I do a 24-Hour Fast just once a week, but there are plenty of people who do it 2-3 times per week. (Again, be safe and don’t use it as an excuse to just skip meals!)
Tips for Surviving Your First 24-Hour Fast?
I watched this youtube video (which was helpful and got me excited to start) and the best takeaway and idea that made all the difference was that you need to decide to commit. I was lucky enough that I told my fiance and he wanted to do it with me. I also went to work without any back up food. I had decided and there was no turning back.
- Drink ALL the fluids. It’s worth the trips to the bathroom.
- Don’t watch food videos on instagram (learn from me).
- Don’t make it a huge deal and maybe don’t tell EVERYONE at your office or school or wherever you are.
- Don’t give yourself a hard time if you fail. There are lots of benefits to even an 18 hour fast.
- Eat a regular dinner (and maybe a little extra) when “breaking” your fast at dinner.
And that’s all for fasting.
Questions? Comments? Have you tried any type of IF? Let me know in the comments!