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Fasting is getting really popular.  The science is now convincing, and the practice of not eating, contrary to what you first hear, is quite fun.

For food lovers, the slight deprivation makes eating even more fun. I met a woman the other day who has fasted on Wednesdays for years. She told me, she and her husband do it because they love food so much and wanted to enjoy it even more. I think she might be right.

So here are my top 5 fasting tips if you haven’t tried it.

Fast five fasting tips:

1. Be fat adapted.

Unless you are a fat burner, fasting is going to hurt. The only really effortless way to get there is to be a low carb eater most of the time. This drives the physiology of fat burning over carb burning.  Because you have lots of fat to burn (even the leanest of us does), you can go on for a day or two without food no worries.

2. Get psyched.

In my experience, there are some social and other hurdles when you aren’t eating. Know that they are coming and be prepared.

3. Get at least someone else to do it too.

If you live in a family then your partner is critical to this. Who wants to be the weird one here? Obviously you’ll feed your kids and there’s a few hurdles there, but the two of you sitting it out and having a quiet fruit tea will be way more fun than going it alone.

4. Actively avoid the smells and sights of really yummy food.

You and I are humans and when we see and smell food we have the start of a chain reaction of getting ready to eat.  It’s as simple as walking past a cafe with everything spilling out onto the street including the food smells. Take another way around. It’ll help.

5. Know the science. 

Okay I’m a research scientist, so I’m biased, but to me if you understand what fasting does for your brain and body from the cell up then it makes the whole process much more enjoyable. You’ll feel good about explaining to others what you are doing, bring in others with you, and feel virtuous about what you are achieving.

Test: Can you explain to others what autophagy and apoptosis are?

Answer(s):

  • Autophagy – the self cleaning program in the cell nitrated by the (lack of) nutrient stress from fasting. The particular cellular organelle is called the lysosome and it moves around the cell scavenging bits and pieces and generally tidying up and repairing the cell.
  • Apoptosis – The process where old cells which are past their “use by date” are recycled and the nutrients recycled. The lack of food (fasting) can help this process.

Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Avatar Matt Rosinski says:

    What do you recommend drinking during my first full 24 hour fast? I am in ketosis and fat adapted over the last 3 weeks and fit and healthy. Is a naturally decaffeinated green tea suitable? I’ve been fasting regularly for about 17 hours but having a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning with my tea. Obviously I would be skipping the coconut oil, just wondering if unsweetened herbal teas are ok.

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Matt,

      yes, unsweetened herb teas will be perfect. What The Fast is liberal in that if people need caffeine drinks like tea or coffee to get through the day, then having them during a fast (with minimal calories, especially carb calories, of course) is okay; light vege stocks, bouillons etc can also suit some people – whatever makes the fast possible or pleasant for you, but it sounds like you’ve already got fat adaptation down to a fine art.

  • Avatar Sarah says:

    I bought your book ‘What the fast’ last week and haven’t put it down since! I prepared the fridge and did my first Mon/Tues fast this week. By 10 am on Tuesday I didn’t think I would be able to finish the 2nd day but with herbal tea and the odd pinch of salt I made it!
    My goal is weight loss and general well being. I have a fairly good exercise regime going so just need a boost on my nutrition. My question is does it work better if you do Mon/Tues or could you substitute another day during the week eg mon/weds? I am a midwifery student and I have hospital shifts to complete and I’m concerned that if I go on Tuesday feeling like I did this Tuesday I may not make it through my afternoon shift especially if I miss my dinner break as often happens.
    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Sarah,

      the important thing is to fast in tune with your own psychology and work demands – so if you identify days other than mon and tues being the easiest to follow the fasting protocol on, go with those. Will separating the days blunt the effect? Maybe just a little at first, but probably not once you get into the rhythm of fasting; it’s about making the best of what’s possible, without fasting being stressful or disruptive, and it looks as if you’re off to a great start!

  • Avatar Katrina says:

    Hi,
    I am my first week into What the Fast! Loving it and have found it very easy so far.
    My question is what small snack options can I reach for with my afternoon long black? (I am trying to loose weight by becoming fat adapted)- so don’t want to over do it!
    Thank you

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Katrina,

      walnuts are cheap and fresh at the moment; they’d be my first choice; cheese (if you can not overdo it); low carb fruits, olives are also good.
      Cream in the coffee can replace even those!

  • Avatar Mary says:

    Hi there, I’ve just started fasting on Mondays and Tuesdays, and I wondered whether there would be a benefit in regularly skipping breakfast on other days as well as I’m trying to lose some weight. Any downside to this?

    Thanks.

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Mary,

      as long as you’re comfortable skipping breakfast on other days, that is as long as it doesn’t become stressful, we don’t see a downside.

  • Avatar Emma says:

    What if your not fat adapated and still choose to fast 2 days a week? (So supposedly if you eat moderate carbs 5 days a week and fast for 2 days a week) does fasting the 2 days still have the benefits associated with fasting? TIA 🙂

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Emma,

      if you’re able to fast like that and your diet is nutritious you’ll still get the benefits; one of the reasons we developed superfasting is because LCHF makes fasting achievable for people for whom it might have seemed impossible before. But, as per What The Fat, people who are insulin-sensitive can usually eat higher carbohydrate diets with no problems, and may be able to fast easily as well.

  • Avatar Sandy says:

    Hi can you explain what KCI is

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Sandy, KCl is the chemical name for Potassium Chloride, the main potassium salt found in vegetables, fruit, and meat. This salt is also used for low-sodium salt replacements (table salt is NaCl, or Sodium Chloride.)

  • Avatar Wie says:

    Is it ok to take vitamins while fasting?

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Wie,

      for longer term fasts a low-dose multivitamin can be used, though this should not be necessary for a 24 hour fast. If you are using a specific vitamin or mineral supplement for a symptom you may find it’s no longer needed; you should play this by ear.
      There are some supplements it may not be wise to use fasted; there is a higher risk of vitamin B6 toxicity with lower protein intake (if you take this stick to the amounts in a low dose multivitamin), and specialised supplements like chromium and biotin combinations to improve insulin sensitivity could cause mild hypoglycaemia if you are not eating.

  • Avatar Rebecca says:

    I have heard that it’s best to keep a fast to 48 hours at a time, max. When would you consider the fast has begun?? Is it immediately after your last meal? Google suggests 6-8 hours but would love your professional advice. Cheers!

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Rebecca,

      the fasting state begins 6-8 hours after a meal and deepens thereafter, but for most purposes length is calculated from the end of the last meal.
      Fasts of longer than 48 hours definitely have their uses, but need more preparation and are not for everyone, whereas daily fasts are and can be a normal part of life for many, as described in What The Fast.

  • Avatar Joanna says:

    What about daily medication? I would have thought that would break the fast and stimulate the liver – and thus perhaps get in the way of autophagy? I am on 2 prescription meds, one which I have to take in the morning (on an empty stomach) and the other one I take at night but that’s just habit – can take whenever. So is it still worth fasting for extended periods?

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Joanna,

      some medications that have a risk of hepatotoxicity (liver damage) require extra protein in the liver for safe metabolism; these levels can become too low 48 hours into a fast, especially in someone eating already poorly; so 48 hours is a good limit if you’re using meds that have this sort of risk mentioned in their safety insert (or online information document – see the MedSafe website).

  • Avatar Lawrie says:

    I have read that olive oil breaks ketosis but I don’t really understand why, seeing as it’s a fat. Can you please say whether that’s correct and explain here or in a future post why only coconut oil or MCT oil keeps you in a faster state.

    I love your What the Fat book and have gifted it to friends 🙂
    Thanks so much!

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Lawrie,

      there’s no reason that olive oil or any reasonably pure fat would break ketosis. However MCT oil is directly ketogenic (increases ketones on any diet) and coconut oil may be – this hasn’t really been tested rigorously yet.

  • Avatar Simon Thompson says:

    My tip for fasting is to include Sodium, Potassium replacement. I have had cramping issues day 5 of fasts relieved by adding KCl to my coffee. The KCl in very small amounts gives the coffee a “Body” and makes it more filling. Ketones are kicking around 3 with a diurnal variation of pg 5 in the morning with 3 something in the arvo. It is definitely a help to start fasting in a fat adapted state. Miso soup sachets, the odd half teaspoon of Vegemite (which is quite mysterious as it is a minor protein source, but high in sodium and potassium) does not affect the ketosis. Dr Barkla was the cell biology teacher in Biology 181 at Monash 35 years ago.

  • Avatar Simon Thompson says:

    Typo : For Lysine, read lysosome.

    Thankyou Dr Barkla

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