4 Simple steps for fasting
Not only was this my first 3-day fast of the year, but it’s the 8th one I’ve done since starting them a little over a year ago.
But let me tell you, I didn’t just jump into fasting overnight (ha! no pun intended).
There was a time when my body couldn’t even handle intermittent fasting for 12 hours let alone 3 full days. I eased into prolonged fasting over time and I’m going to share the 4 simple steps I took to get there.
Yes, fasting can produce some major health benefits and it’s been used for a long time as a therapeutic tool to help reverse or prevent health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
And at the same time, without the right supervision, guidance or preparation, fasting can do more damage than good.
The reality is, fasting isn’t right for everyone, regardless of how popular it is. I’ve seen too many clients walk through my virtual practice door frustrated with the lack of results they’ve seen from their fasting attempts or feeling wiped and worse off after trying it.
In the midst of healing my Hashimotos and reversing mold illness, my body couldn’t tolerate fasting at all. My body was too toxic, depleted and dysfunctional at the time to metabolize fat for fuel and feel good while fasting, even for short periods.
Fasting has been a part of human existence probably from the beginning of time as our ancestors roamed the earth alternating through times of feast or famine and hibernation during the winter months.
However, our modern day culture killed off our fasting instincts with the introduction of fast food drive thrus, processed foods with exceptionally long shelf lives and high carbohydrate, and sugar diets that leave you craving more food than ever before.
To top it off, the majority of our modern-day food leads to blood sugar issues, hormone imbalances, liver and gut dysfunction which negatively impact your ability to utilize fasting effectively as a tool.
And then there’s the toxins and stressors that our bodies encounter every day which alter hormonal balance and other metabolic processes leaving the body less equipped for effective fasting.
A body that was once born with a natural ability to tolerate fasting no longer can due to the evolution of the food industry and our environment.
However in this week’s video and blog, I’m going to give you 4 simple steps you can take to get your body into fasting shape, and to make fasting more effective.
Let’s break down what fasting is first…
When it comes to intermittent fasting (especially as it relates to the Keto diet), there are basically two schools of thought:
#1- Fasting means not eating anything containing calories for a period of time
#2- Fasting means not eating any sources of immediate energy such as carbs or proteins (fats are ok)
Both approaches focus on training the body to primarily utilize fat stores for energy to become “fat adapted”. The standard american diet, and even most other whole food or primal diets, such as Paleo and Whole30, constantly supply the body with readily available fuel sources in the forms of carbohydrates (veggies, fruits, nuts, etc.) and proteins (meat, beans, etc.).
Training the body to be fat-adapted requires cutting off sources to these readily available types of fuel and forcing the body to tap into its own fuel storage- fat.
Then there’s prolonged fasting periods which typically exceed 24 hours and can go on for days. At this point one’s body ideally should be fat-adapted in order to access its own fuel source so you can feel best during these longer stints.
With prolonged fasting, there are also multiple schools of thought. Some do “water only” fasts while others might include a daily cup of bone broth like I do. Most approaches produce health benefits and you should choose one that works best for you and is in alignment with your goals.
I use prolonged fasting as a tool to restore and repair my digestive tract every few months. The cells of the intestinal lining have the ability to completely regenerate within 72-hours if you avoid consuming food, giving you a whole new, stronger, healthier digestive tract.
Having a cup of bone broth at night and taking daily supplements helps to restore the gut and maximize fat metabolism for additional benefits such as toxin elimination, hormonal health, energy and sleep.
But as I’ve cautioned earlier, fasting isn’t for everyone, at least not in the current state of health you might be in. It’s always important to consult with your health professional before trying any method of fasting.
And before you jump right in, follow these 4 simple steps to get your body into fasting shape, and to make fasting more effective…
1 – Test, don’t guess.
It’s better to know about underlying hormone or nutrient imbalances before you dive into fasting. At a minimum, check your thyroid, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone and melatonin levels along with your vitamin and mineral balance before starting a fasting routine. If any imbalances exist, lay the foundation to reverse them with a therapeutic diet, adequate sleep, appropriate exercise, stress reduction and nourishing supplements before jumping into fasting.
2 – Fuel up with fat.
Slowly ease your body into the transition by fasting with fat as your primary fuel source. Fat is not readily available as fuel when ingested so it still requires your body to tap into its own fat fuel sources. Allow yourself to have a fat only meal in the morning such as a coffee or matcha tea with ghee and/or full fat coconut milk. This will deliver some of the essential nutrients your body needs so it can still function at its potential while staying away from carbs or proteins that can hijack fat for fuel metabolism.
Training your body to use fat for fuel is the key to having energy and sleeping well while fasting.
3 – Ease into it.
Don’t go for the gold right from the get-go. Start by making dinner your last meal, fasting overnight, and gradually extending out the time you eat breakfast in the morning a few days a week. This is basically what’s called Intermittent Fasting.
I started by having dinner by 7:30pm and my first meal around 9:30 or 10am the next morning resulting in a 14 hour fasting period. As your body adapts, your energy will improve, letting you know when you can extend the length of your fasting window.
(NOTE: Women’s hormones are particularly sensitive to food deprivation so it’s best to fast every other day instead of every day when getting started and to be mindful of your body’s needs around certain times of your cycle)
4 – Salt and supplement.
When avoiding food, you’re also avoiding access to nutrients so it’s essential to supplement what you’re missing. When fasting, supplementing with vitamins and minerals will help maintain sleep quality, keep your hormones happy, your energy balanced and support the process of fat metabolism. Our ancestors salted meat to cure them for food storage and ate every part of the animal (organs, cartilage, etc.) so the nutrient values in their bodies were much higher than ours, even when they were forced to fast.
While fasting, I continue to take my daily supplements to ensure my body has the nutrients it needs to get the job done.
Plus I add an extra packet of LMNT electrolytes to maintain hydration, lower cortisol and boost energy, and I take Bio-Botanicals G.I. Detox to help bind toxins being released from fat (where they are stored) as it’s broken down for fuel to make sure they are eliminated and not recirculated.
You’ll know your body is ready for fasting when your energy is even all day long and your sleep is spectacular, especially when you start to lengthen time between meals.
We want to think of the body as a well-oiled machine that is ready to adapt to anything we throw at it, but that’s generally not the case, considering all the variables that impact our health in this modern day world.
With most diet trends, people have a tendency to dive all-in without considering if their body is ready for it, and when it “doesn’t work,” they give up.
Often it’s not the diet that didn’t work, but something else under the hood that got in the way. This is why it’s always better to test, not guess, in order to figure out exactly what is right for your body so you don’t go spinning your wheels, wasting money or time on failed attempts or health improvement strategies that aren’t right for you.
If you want to assess your readiness for fasting or to figure out what foods are right for your body so it can function at its potential, then schedule a complimentary Ideal Health & Weight Discovery Session with me here today!