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Fasting 101

Updated: Mar 4

Everything you need to know about the different types of fasting as part of your journey towards health & wellness!

Fasting has gained lots of attention in recent years as a practice that goes beyond its traditional roots. Although fasting has been associated with religious and spiritual practices, it has also become a popular strategy for promoting health and weight loss. In this blog post, we will dive into the different types of fasting that have appeared, each with its own unique approach and potential benefits. Whether you're considering fasting for weight management, metabolic health, or overall well-being, this guide will help you explore the different fasting methods.


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Fasting PSA before we get started


Fasting has become a really popular strategy for weight management, metabolic health, and overall well-being. Understanding the different types of fasting can help you choose an approach that suits your goals, lifestyle, and health considerations. Whether you opt for intermittent fasting, extended fasting, or modified fasting, it is essential to listen to your body, consult a healthcare professional if needed, and approach fasting as a tool to enhance your overall health and well-being. Remember, fasting is not suitable for everyone (we'll talk more about that below), and people's experiences may vary, so it's really important to find an approach that works best for you.


Time Restricted Eating

What are the different types of fasts?

Intermittent Fasting


Intermittent fasting has gained HUGE popularity due to its simplicity and flexibility. It involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating within a specific time window. The most common forms of intermittent fasting include:


  1. 16/8 Method: This method involves fasting for 16 hours and restricting your eating window to 8 hours each day. It can be as simple as skipping breakfast and having your first meal at noon.

  2. 5:2 Diet: With this approach, you eat normally for five days a week and reduce your calorie intake to 500-600 calories on the remaining two non-consecutive days.

  3. Alternate-Day Fasting: As the name suggests, you alternate between days of regular eating and fasting, where you consume minimal calories (usually 500-600 calories) or no solid food at all.

Extended Fasting


Extended fasting refers to fasting for longer durations, typically 24 hours or more. It can range from a day or two to even several weeks, depending on individual goals and health considerations. Extended fasting methods include:


  1. 24-Hour Fast: In this approach, you fast for a full 24 hours, typically from dinner to dinner or lunch to lunch, once or twice a week.

  2. 36-Hour Fast: This method involves abstaining from food for 36 hours straight, usually from dinner to breakfast two days later.

  3. Water Fasting: The most challenging yet potentially rewarding form of fasting, water fasting involves consuming only water for an extended period. This method often requires medical supervision and should be approached cautiously. I recommend this amazing Veggie Doctor Radio podcast interview with Dr Alan Goldhamer about medically supervised, water only fasting. *Extended water-only fasting should be done with medical supervision and is not recommended for everyone

Modified Fasting


Modified fasting incorporates slight modifications to traditional fasting approaches to provide some flexibility and can be easier to stick to. It aims to maintain the benefits of fasting while making it more manageable for most people. Some examples include:


  1. Time-Restricted Eating: Similar to intermittent fasting, this approach focuses on narrowing the daily eating window, but with more flexibility in terms of duration. For example, you may choose to fast for 12-14 hours and have a 10-12 hour eating window.

  2. Caloric Restriction: With caloric restriction, you reduce your daily caloric intake while still consuming regular meals. This method aims to provide some of the benefits of fasting without fully eliminating food.

  3. Protein Fasting: This type of fasting involves restricting protein intake while allowing you to eat healthy fats and carbohydrates. It aims to stimulate cellular recycling processes while preserving muscle mass.


Fasting Mimicking Diet


The fasting mimicking diet (FMD), developed by Valter Longo, PhD and his team at University of Southern California, is an eating plan designed to simulate the effects of fasting while still allowing you to eat specific foods. It involves following a carefully crafted meal plan (with exactly what to eat provided in the kit) for a set number of days to achieve metabolic changes similar to those that occur during fasting. The FMD is often practiced for five days, but can vary depending on individual goals and preferences.


Key aspects of the fasting mimicking diet include:

  1. Calorie Restriction: The FMD significantly reduces calorie intake compared to typical daily consumption. The specific caloric intake varies depending on the day and the individual, but it is generally low, ranging from 800 to 1,100 calories per day during the fasting mimicking phase.

  2. Macronutrient Composition: The FMD is designed to provide a specific balance of macronutrients, focusing on low protein, high healthy fat, and moderate carbohydrate intake. The macronutrient ratio is typically around 10-15% protein, 40-50% healthy fats, and 40-50% carbohydrates.

  3. Specific Food Choices: The fasting mimicking diet includes specific food selections to achieve the desired nutrient balance and metabolic effects.


My personal experience with the Prolon 5-Day Fasting Mimicking Diet program (Use discount code: VegeCooking for 15% off)


I've now gone through three cycles of the FMD diet and have had an unbelievably positive experience each time; June 2022, August 2022, and March 2023. I feel amazing after each fast. I sleep great, my bloodwork is even more stellar, I lose about eight pounds, and I find the experience very easy to do because everything is provided in the kit. I typically start my fast on a Sunday and end on Thursday so it doesn't impact the weekend for my family.


It's important to note that some of the foods have some honey in them so you can't do this program if you don't eat honey. I personally choose maple syrup when I can, but am ok with honey in this particular case. You do you.


ProLon 5-Day FMD: My Results


  • Total cholesterol: from 160 to 150 (from previous year's bloodwork)

  • Pounds lost: 8


 

Click here to try the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet. Use Code: VEGECOOKING to get 15% off all the products; but I highly suggest the ProLon 5-Day kit. I'll be doing my fourth round towards the end of next month or mid-September. Can't wait, I already have my kit!


 
hormones and fasting for women

How hormones impact fasting for women


Women may find it more difficult to fast later in our menstrual cycles because our hormones change on a monthly basis. This is especially important for perimenopausal and menopausal women.


Specifically, the week before our period may not be the best time for fasting, or we may want to consider shorter fasts. At this time the progesterone in our body is causing our bodies to look for rest, and to eat a little more calories and whole food carbohydrates. This is a great time for eating foods such as sweet potatoes or dark chocolate.



what are the benefits of fasting

What are some reasons a person may want to fast / the benefits of fasting?


  1. Weight Management: Fasting can be used as a tool for weight loss or weight management. By restricting calorie intake during specific periods, fasting can create an energy deficit, potentially leading to weight loss. Additionally, fasting may help regulate hunger hormones and improve insulin sensitivity, which can contribute to better weight management.

  2. Metabolic Health: Fasting has been associated with various metabolic benefits. It may improve insulin sensitivity, regulate blood sugar levels, and support metabolic processes. Fasting has also been shown to help lower triglyceride levels, reduce inflammation, and improve markers of cardiovascular health.

  3. Simplified Eating Patterns: For some people, fasting provides a straightforward and simplified approach to eating. Rather than following complex dietary guidelines, fasting allows for periods of restricted eating, making meal planning and food choices more manageable.

  4. Enhanced Mental Clarity: Many people report improved mental clarity and focus during fasting periods. While the scientific evidence in this area is limited, some studies suggest that fasting may have neuroprotective effects and potentially improve brain function.

  5. Spiritual and Religious Practices: Fasting has a long history of being practiced for spiritual and religious reasons. It can serve as a way to enhance mindfulness, self-discipline, and self-reflection. Fasting is a common practice in various religious traditions and is often associated with periods of prayer, meditation, and introspection.

  6. Autophagy and Cellular Repair: Fasting triggers a process called autophagy, where cells recycle and remove damaged proteins and cellular components. This cellular repair mechanism may have potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of certain age-related diseases and promoting longevity. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent and implications of autophagy.

  7. Cultural and Personal Preferences: Fasting may also be influenced by cultural traditions, personal beliefs, or individual preferences. It can be a way to connect with cultural heritage, engage in communal fasting practices, or simply align with personal values and goals.

Remember, it's important to remember that while fasting can have potential benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. Certain medical conditions, medications, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and individual circumstances may require specific considerations or make fasting inadvisable. Consulting a healthcare professional is recommended to assess the suitability of fasting for your specific situation.


who is fasting not good for

Who shouldn't fast?


While fasting can have potential benefits for many people, there are certain groups of people for whom fasting may not be suitable or may require careful consideration. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any fasting regimen, especially if you fall into one or more of the following categories:


Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women:


A growing fetus or infant needs additional nutrients and energy during pregnancy and lactation. Breastfeeding or developing babies may not receive adequate nutrition when the mother fasts during these periods. It's important to prioritize a balanced and nutrient-dense diet during this time.


Children and Adolescents:


Fasting is generally not recommended for children and adolescents, as their bodies are still growing and developing. Adequate nutrition is crucial for their overall growth, cognitive development, and hormonal balance. Introducing fasting in this population should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional with expertise in pediatric nutrition.


People with Eating Disorders or a History of Disordered Eating:


Fasting may trigger or exacerbate disordered eating patterns or eating disorders. Those with a history of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, should avoid fasting as it can disrupt their relationship with food and potentially lead to relapse or negative psychological effects.


People with Certain Medical Conditions:


Certain medical conditions may make fasting inadvisable or require careful monitoring and supervision. These conditions may include diabetes, hypoglycemia, adrenal disorders, thyroid disorders, liver or kidney disease, and other chronic conditions. Fasting can significantly affect blood sugar levels, medication requirements, and overall metabolic balance, so it's important to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess the potential risks and benefits in these cases.


People Taking Various Meds:


Certain medications require regular food intake to ensure their efficacy and safety. Fasting may interfere with the absorption or metabolism of medications, and adjustments to medication dosages and timing may be necessary. Be sure to talk with a healthcare professional or pharmacist to determine the compatibility of fasting with your specific medication regimen.


Underweight or Malnourished People:


Fasting can further deplete energy stores and nutrient reserves in people who are already underweight or malnourished. It's important to prioritize nourishment and proper nutrition in these cases to support overall health, weight gain if necessary, and recovery from malnutrition.


Remember, individual circumstances can vary, and the suitability of fasting may depend on multiple factors. Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional or registered dietitian who can evaluate your specific health status and provide personalized recommendations is essential to ensure your well-being.

what to eat after a fast

What is the best way to eat after a fast?


After completing a fast, it is SUPER IMPORTANT to reintroduce food in a way that supports your body's nutritional needs and overall well-being. The dietary approach that offers countless benefits in post-fasting recovery is a whole food, plant-based diet. This way of eating emphasizes the consumption of minimally processed plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds. Let's talk more about why a whole food, plant-based diet is an excellent choice for nourishing your body after fasting.

  1. High Nutrient Density: A whole food, plant-based diet is rich in essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. After fasting, when your body is in a state of rejuvenation and renewal, consuming nutrient-dense foods becomes paramount. Fruits and vegetables provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium.

  2. Gut Health and Digestive Support: Fasting can have a significant impact on your gut microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms that reside in your digestive system. A whole food, plant-based diet is fiber-rich, providing prebiotics that fuel the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This promotes a healthy gut environment, aids digestion, and supports regular bowel movements, which may have been affected during the fasting period.

  3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Fasting itself has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Pairing it with a whole food, plant-based diet amplifies these benefits. Plant foods are naturally rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, which possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties. By incorporating an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your post-fasting meals, you can further reduce inflammation and support your body's healing process.

  4. Balanced Macronutrients: A whole food, plant-based diet gives you an excellent balance of macronutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. By consuming a variety of plant-based foods, you can ensure an adequate intake of all essential macronutrients. Whole grains, legumes, and nuts/seeds are great sources of plant-based proteins, while fruits, vegetables, and whole grains offer complex carbohydrates. Healthy fats can be obtained from sources like avocados, nuts, and seeds.

  5. Weight Management: If weight management is one of your goals, a whole food, plant-based diet can be an effective choice after fasting. This dietary approach tends to be naturally lower in calories, high in fiber, and rich in water content. Consuming foods with lower energy density can help you feel satisfied while managing your caloric intake, which may be beneficial for weight maintenance or weight loss goals.

Choosing a whole food, plant-based diet after completing a fast can provide numerous advantages for your body's recovery and overall well-being. From its high nutrient density and gut health support to its anti-inflammatory properties and macronutrient balance, this dietary approach can nourish your body with the essential nutrients it needs. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to ensure that a whole food, plant-based diet is suitable for your specific needs and to receive personalized guidance as you transition from fasting to a regular eating routine.


 

 

Your turn!


Have you ever fasted? What type of fasting have you done and what was your experience? Leave a comment below!

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