Fasting can be done intentionally by people for fat loss or religious reasons. However, fasting foods should be rich in nutrients; this, in turn, will maximize the benefits of fasting. Fasting foods shouldn’t be sugar-laden.
Fasting: an age-old concept
Fasting is a concept that isn’t unfamiliar to anyone. Our body is in a fasted state for about an average of 6 to 8 hours when we sleep.
Fasting can also be done intentionally by people for various reasons, such as fat loss or religious reasons. In the Hindu religion, fasting is not an obligation, but a moral and spiritual act where the aim is to purify the body and mind and acquire divine grace. However, fasting foods should be rich in nutrients; this, in turn, will maximize the benefits of fasting. Fasting foods shouldn’t be sugar laden.
Technically, human beings aren’t meant to eat around the clock. The weight of the evidence suggests that our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, rarely experienced easy access to food. They naturally incorporated intermittent fasting into their eating schedule.
Typically, these food-acquiring activities occurred early in the day, which meant that eating might not have happened until long after dawn.
This is how it was to live in a natural environment – didn’t have constant access to food, didn’t always know when or what their next meal would be.
Now, the question arises, what happens to your body when you fast? What are the benefits of fasting? Who can fast? How many ways can you fast in? What kind of fasting foods should you consume? How long to fast? And, lastly, how to break the fast? (fasting foods recommendations)
What happens to your body when you fast?
The first hours of fasting are pretty typical for most people since your body is going through the natural process of breaking down glycogen and storing glucose as fuel for energy. Usually, about 25% goes right to your brain while the rest supports red blood cells and muscles.
Ketosis, another process that occurs later into the fast cycle, happens when the body burns stored fat as its primary power source. This is the ideal mode for fat loss and balancing blood sugar levels.
After 5-6 hours, depending on the sugar levels in your blood, you will reach the stage of ketosis – metabolic state, during which ketone bodies in your blood support your energy levels. This is a process of fat breakdown since broken down fat results in ketone bodies.
This is the moment when the actual fasting starts, so it is a desirable state to be in for people who are fasting for weight loss. This state can also be reached by staying on a ketogenic diet based on high fat, low carb diet.
Summary Following a ketogenic diet based on high fat, low carb diet is the best way to stay in ketosis, effortlessly.
What are the potential benefits of fasting?
Fasting can cause a reduction in cells that produce inflammation — called “monocytes” — in the blood.
Increases Growth Hormone Secretion
Fasting stimulates growth hormones. It is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength. Certain fasting foods can help with it, which we will talk about in the article.
Resting of the digestive system
Since your food intake has been reduced, the digestive system may take a rest. But since the digestive process takes time, it’s never entirely stopped during intermittent fasting – only during the prolonged one.
Autophagy is the phase where your unhealthy cells get replaced with new vibrant ones. Potentially also helps in anti-aging and can also benefit cancer patients.
When we don’t eat (fast), the insulin goes down, and the glucagon hormone goes up. This increase in glucagon stimulates the process of autophagy. It also provides the most significant known boost to autophagy.
Increases Insulin Sensitivity
Fasting prevents insulin resistance and makes the body’s cell sensitive in response to insulin.
High insulin sensitivity allows the cells of the body to use blood glucose more effectively, reduce blood sugar, and, as a result, prevent type 2 diabetes.
Certain fasting foods are low on the glycemic index and are preferable for consumption.
Balancing Hunger Hormones
It normalizes ghrelin levels and helps to “discipline your hunger.”
When the body is on a fasted state, the blood sugar levels become stable, and hereby helps manage hunger.
Lowers triglyceride levels
Stored fat in the form of triglycerides breaks down when glucagon is dominant and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Superior fuel of energy
The hormone glucagon becomes dominant in the body during a fasted state; ketone bodies are generated during this metabolic stress. Ketones serve as an alternative energy source to maintain healthy brain cell metabolism.
BHB (a major ketone) may be an even more efficient fuel than glucose, providing more energy per unit oxygen used. Also, the brain thrives on ketones.
Summary Fasting can have an immense number of benefits to your health. It's truly a life-changing experience.
Should I fast?
Any person who wishes to see the benefits of ketosis and wants longevity should fast. A person with a hectic schedule is also a right candidate for fasting as it can simplify things for them by eliminating meal planning.
However, if you take medications for diabetes, hypertension, or other medical conditions and try to fast on your own, don’t do it without proper precaution, get the benefits, and have a coach to get you through safely.
Apps that can track your fasting:
FastHabit helps you start and stay consistent with Intermittent Fasting. Set your fast length, log daily, and use advanced features like reminders, weight tracking, and Health App syncing.
Track all types of intermittent fasting, from time-restricted eating to alternate-day fasting. Also, log weight, waist circumference, ketones, and blood glucose.
You don’t have to do it alone. This app allows you to create circles of friends, co-workers, or others to share your successes.
Learn about the health benefits of intermittent fasting, tips, tricks, and more. Our science-backed information is reviewed at least quarterly by our team of scientists.
This app allows you to set a timer where you can set your goal, start your timer, stay on track, with reminders and insights to keep you motivated.
The app also allows access to a content library curated by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Peter Attia.
You can also check your statistics to chart your progress and map your journey, with the option to sync with Apple Health. Track health markers like weight, resting heart rate, and sleep, to see how they evolve with your fasting practice.
Another journal feature is available where you get to reflect on how you feel during your fasts. The app graphs your moods so you can track trends and adjust over time.
It allows you to track your eating window and fast, added features of scheduling, and be notified when your eating window opens and closes.
The app also allows you to challenge yourself with fasting, mindfulness, nutrition, workouts, or self-care tasks.
Summary Fasting can be an enjoyable experience for your mind and soul.
How many ways can you fast in?
Intermittent fasting is a method of fasting mostly used by people who like to regulate their weight and calorie intake. The practice involves eating during certain hours of the day and abstaining from food during other hours.
This helps regulate “mindless munching” and lets you eat your daily calorie count during “eating hours.”
Involves drinking only water for about 24 to 72 hours. Its one of the best fasting practices, and it gives you another level of mental alertness and clarity.
Water fasting is the best way to detox your body. It also helps you bring your blood sugar levels to a healthy range. Promotes fat loss by breaking down fatty acids in your body. It also promotes autophagy.
Download an app or use your scheduler to track your fasting hours. Keep foods out of your reach to avoid giving in to your eating temptations.
Consume large amounts of salted water whenever thirsty.
Juice fasting entails only drinking vegetable or fruit juice for a specified period. This can reverse the benefits of fasting by keeping blood sugar levels elevated.
Most people do it to get into a calorie deficit mode, mainly to accelerate weight loss. There’s a common misconception that it also helps in detoxing.
However, this isn’t the best way to do fast. Juicing can negatively impact your health. Vegetables and fruits contain many anti-nutritional factors like alkaloids, tannins, phytate, trypsin inhibitor, cyanide, saponins, and oxalates. These factors impair the absorption of essential nutrients in the body.
Fruits are also high in sugar. They are nature’s candy but still candy.
Ideally lasts for 3 to 10 days. Drinking water alongside is a necessary tool to prevent dehydration.
We do not recommend it.
Calories are restricted for a few days every week, meaning reducing average daily caloric intake below typical or frequent ones.
Followed popularly to achieve weight loss by entering into a calorie deficit mode. Also, it saves time on meal planning.
Apart from intermittent fasting, calorie restriction can be achieved in other ways, such as alternate-day fasting. Alternate-day fasting is where you eat on one day, and you don’t eat the next day.
5:2 eating pattern, which means dining is unrestricted for five straight days each week, followed by two days of restricted caloric intake.
Periodic fasting is where caloric intake is restricted for multiple consecutive days, such as five days in a row once a month, and unrestricted on all other days.
Summary The best ways to fast would be to intermittent fast or to do a water fast.
If you already engage in a low carbohydrate lifestyle, you may not feel the need to intentionally fast. This is because your blood sugar levels will naturally be stable, which would result in a fasted state.
What kind of fasting foods should you consume?
During the fast, one should consume adequate amounts of salted water with a dash of lemon, which prevents dizziness and headaches. (top choice for fasting foods)
Coffee and tea are also great fasting foods options as they provide stimulatory effects to your brain.
Cold-pressed coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT); it boosts ketone production and gives instant energy by directly fusing in the blood. (dosage: 15ml can be consumed raw) ( this qualifies as supporting fasting foods)
Apple cider vinegar helps in reducing inflammation and also provides the body with the effects of antioxidants. (dosage: 15/20ml mixed in a glass of water) ( this qualifies as supporting fasting foods)
Summary These fasting foods are essential to support your fast.
How long to fast for?
16:8 can work wonders for most people, where you fast for 16 hours and keep a window of 8 hours open for eating. Or an 18:4 window.
For those who are more adventurous, 72-hour water fast can have amazing results. And there is everything in between.
Just follow these simple rules –
- Stay hydrated (water and lemon water are the best fasting foods)
- Pay attention to how you feel
- Avoid anything with calories
- Avoid consuming calorie-free sweeteners as “sweet” can induce hunger.
Summary In conclusion, fasting can be individualized to fit your life and your goals.
How to break the fast?
Break the fast with a small low carb snack such as bone broth (fasting foods). Have your first meal an hour or two after your snack. Resist the urge to “reward” yourself with high carbohydrate foods or junk food.
Fasting foods can also consist of milk or milk products such as cheese, yogurt. Nuts like almonds, macadamia are also good fasting foods.
Your gastrointestinal system isn’t ready for that. Plus, why work so hard to keep insulin low if you are just going to spike it when done? Stick to your usual, healthy, high-quality low-carb fare.
Summary Resist the urge to increase your calorie intake to "make up" for the fast.
If anything, the first 12 hours should have fewer calories than your usual eating pattern, slowly returning to normal (not supra-normal) over the next 24 hours.
Best Foods to Break Intermittent Fast
Eggs They are a fantastic source of fat and protein, easy on the gut, and contain fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin D, A, E, and K.
Eggs can be consumed in many ways, be it scrambled, poached, boiled or omelet or even fried, baked or microwaved. They qualify as quality fasting foods that serve less than a gram carbohydrates per egg.
Chicken Another excellent option for protein contains all the essential amino acids. It can be grilled, fried, boiled, or stewed.
(note: Fasting foods should contain as less as zero carbohydrates. Meat products hence make good fasting food options.)
Red Meat Lamb, steak, or mutton qualify as slow-digesting foods. It can keep you satiated for hours and can be enjoyed in several ways.
Red meat also contains reasonable amounts of fat and protein, herby providing your body with all the nourishment.
Cottage Cheese is an option for vegetarians. They are commonly known as ‘paneer.’ Its versatile nature allows one to consume it in numerous ways. Paneer shake, paneer bhurji, or even paneer tikka can keep your taste buds happy for long. (These paneer dishes are great fasting foods.)
It will help you dodge mood swings and keep your endorphins elevated. These fasting foods will also boost your energy levels.
Summary These fasting foods are high in nutrients and will keep your blood sugar levels stable. It will help you prevent hunger hormone imbalance.