21 July 2021

How to Fast: 7 Fasts to Help you Maintain Physical and Mental Health.

Dear Lissy, 

Ah, Sweet Thing!  You are only a few weeks away from your Freshman year of college.  Time has flown. 

I suspect you'll remember me fasting when you're thinking back on your childhood.  I fasted often for both medical and prayer purposes.  At some point, you may decide to try it yourself.  I want to be able to help you enjoy the benefits of this lifestyle while avoiding the mental and physical pitfalls.
This letter isn't medical advice.  You need a doctor* to give you the green light and support you in your fasting goals.  

Summary: I have chosen a fasting lifestyle. Short fasts are a regular part of my personal fitness. I do not fast longer than 5 days unless a serious medical condition known to respond to fasting is present.

  • I fast from 12 -17 hours daily when I am on plan.  
  • I incorporate a 24 hour fast once a month for prayer or mental health
  • A couple of times a year I fast for 36 hours to return to a clean eating plan.  
  • If I get a head cold that moves to my sinuses, or a run of bad blood pressure numbers, I fast for 72 hours to 5 days. Days 2 and 3 are miserable. 
  • On the rare occasion I have a more serious medical issue, I will fast longer using the "hopscotch" method.  If I fast longer than 5 days, I experience hair loss and immense hunger/cravings during refeeding.

1. The weight normalizing fast:  Fasting between meals and 12 hours overnight.

You've been on and off the No-S diet throughout your teens, so you're familiar with this protocol.  If you want a refresher, pop over to this letter.  No S isn't a quick fix.  It's learning to say "no" to seconds, snacks, and sweets most of the time. We only drank water between meals. Followed consistently, your weight will normalize AND stay off.  Fasting between meals and at least 12 hours overnight yields dozens of medical benefits, including higher HGH levels, reduced inflammation, and more energy.  This simple diet was how most people ate prior to 1970.

2. The weight loss fast: 17-18 hours

If you've put on more than a few pounds, consider fasting at least 17 hours a day until your weight is within your goal range.  Based on my research, the popular 16:8 fast falls just an hour shy of some awesome medical benefits from autophagy.
  • A 17-hour fast can either begin after lunch and run through breakfast the following morning or begin after dinner and run through lunchtime the following day.  Sleeping for 7-8 hours of the fast helps keep the discomfort to a minimum.
  • I only take water during this fast.
  • As an added benefit, a 17-18 hour fast promotes anti-aging, provides an immune system boost, and aids in cancer prevention.  
  • The food eaten during the window should be high quality.  The eating window isn't an invitation to eat an entire pizza or hit the drive-thru.  Generally speaking, you should enjoy two moderate "No S" meals during the allotted time. 
  • The 17-hour diet is the only fasting I now use long-term for weight loss purposes.  Fasting longer than 17 hours consistently causes fatigue, hair loss, and a rebound gain for me.
3. The Brain/Gut Fast:  24 hours (Also called "OMAD", or One Meal a Day, if used long-term.)
This amazing fast is one of the easiest ways to heal depression/anxiety, give mental clarity, or heal any intestinal/autoimmune/swelling/bloating issues. I try to incorporate this fast into my eating plan at least once a month.
  • Fasting from dinner to dinner is easiest for me, but any 24-hour window works. 
  • Only take water during the fast. Tea, coffee, or diet drinks often promote hunger pangs for me.
  • I use this fast for prayer and mental health purposes most of the time.  
  • OMAD, or "one meal a day", protocol is a favorite of the fast weight loss community.  I was never able to consistently keep this diet because of Dad's unpredictable schedule. I also experienced hair loss using this diet strategy long-term. 
  • I had great results all through high school and college with a variation of this diet that permitted keto meals for 2 meals a day and a carb-rich meal for the third.  
4. The Reset Button Fast: 36 Hours (Also called the EOD diet when used long-term.)
I use this fast -- only water after supper on day 1 to breakfast on day 3--to reset my eating or start a new diet once or twice a year.  Most of the time, fasting for 36 hours depletes my body of excess sugar stores, sheds my water weight, and gives me the ability to eat clean, healthy food without cravings.  It also improves insulin sensitivity, an important factor in weight management.  While you will experience waves of hunger pangs, you avoid the "keto flu" with this shorter fast.

Fasts 5-7 should only be taken with the approval of your own MD or DC who knows both your medications and lab numbers. 

5.The Blood Pressure/Chemo Fast: 48 Hours 

Day 2 of a fast is unrelenting fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps for me.  I rarely recommend fasting for only 2 days.  If you endure the misery of day 2, keep going! But if your blood pressure is an issue, this is the fast for you.  
  • Keto tonic -- a can of seltzer, a Tablespoon of ACV, and a dash of NoSalt over ice--will alleviate a lot of the headache and muscle aches from "Keto flu" as your body transitions from sugar to fat stores.
  • A 48-hour fast is a powerful fast hormonally. Dopamine receptors are reset, HGH increases exponentially, and the body releases a flood of antioxidants.  The result is a new ability to "feel" joy and a sense of deep well-being.  
  • I've never had chemotherapy, but the 48-hour fast before chemo is the current protocol to reduce side effects.  I think I would probably try the 36-hour fast first and then bump up to 48 hours if 36 hours was not effective.

6. The Healing Fast: 3-5 days

Once or twice a year, I fast for 3-5 days to avoid a sinus infection, clear up a nagging chronic health issue, or help an acute injury heal.  After days 2-3, I normally feel light and energized.  My energy goes through the roof.  When I first began a fasting lifestyle, I would go without eating for weeks.  Unfortunately, after 5 days, refeeding becomes a serious issue for me.  I also experience hair loss about 3-6 months after a fast longer than 5 days.
  • Plan for Keto tonic (see Fast #5) at mealtimes on days 2 and 3, otherwise, drink plenty of water.
  • I avoid both coffee and tea.  I find they exacerbate the hunger pangs without providing any real benefit.
  • I often have difficulty sleeping after day 3.
  • Your first meal after this fast should be a cup of chicken or beef broth followed by a low-carb vegetable meal (salad, stir fry, grilled veg plate).  
  • I generally eat very low carbs and protein for the day or two after a long fast.  This serves two purposes:  I won't binge on low-carb/low protein foods, and my digestive system has time to wake back up.

7. The Hopscotch Fast: 7-40 days, alternate fasting days with keto days.

If you need to fast longer for deep healing, you can cheat the system a little bit by interspersing a day or more of eating full Keto in between 3-5 fasting days.  Without carbs, your body will quickly and painlessly drop back into fasting mode.  I use this fast once in a while if my blood cholesterol or blood sugar numbers on a lab report are not where I want them to be.  If I am following Fasts 1-6 above faithfully, I don't need this fast.


What to Expect...

Day 1:  Mental difficulties skipping meals, waves of hunger that pass in 10-20 minutes.
Day 2-3:  Hunger in waves, headache, fatigue, body aches, nasal discharge depending on the quality of the previous diet.  Symptoms generally fade throughout Day 3. Keto tonic is a game-changer.
Day 3-5:  Hunger has passed. High energy, clear thinking, good mood.  Coated tongue and bad breath are common.
Sleep:  I generally sleep more during Day 1 & 2, but fewer hours after Day 3.
Exercise:  Current research is split on whether or not vigorous exercise is healthy during a fast.  I choose to do short powerwalks a couple of times a day when fasting. I nap a lot during Day 2.
Fasting tolerance:  The more I fast, the easier each fast becomes.  Much like working out, the body "learns" fasting.
Refeeding: For fasts 72 hours to 5 days, I generally have no trouble refeeding if I keep my carbs AND proteins low.  I choose eggs and baked fish as my protein for the first day.  Once carbs are reintroduced, I notice a strong return of hunger signals.
Weight Loss: Excess fluid/swelling is one of the reasons I fast.  I lose about 3% of my body weight during the first 24-36 hours of a fast. Some of that water returns when carbs are added back to the diet. For fasts 24 hours or longer, fat loss is equal to about 1/2 pound a day for the first 2 weeks.  My weight loss slows after Day 14. For me, fasting longer than 17 hours supports the body chemistry/hormones for weight loss and maintenance, but is not a good way to lose weight permanently. 

The fasting lifestyle has allowed me to reverse or prevent a number of medical problems through my 30s and 40s.  I also find that nothing promotes mental health as quickly as a fast followed by a healthy diet and exercise.  I hope that you will at least consider these fasts to manage your own health and mental well-being as you enter adulthood.


Hungry for a Hug, 

Momma


*If you are interested in adopting a fasting lifestyle, find a chiropractor you trust to support you.  The chiropractic community has been leading the research and practice of fasting for several decades.  

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