Bending vs. Breaking a Fast

Does eating “X,” or doing “Y,” break my fast?

You will see questions like this all over the fasting community and the answer is not as simple as people think it should be or what they want to hear.

The answer depends on why you are doing the fast in the first place. What are you trying to achieve?

If you are doing it simply to do it, or because you want to prove that you can, or if you have a vague notion in your head that it may be beneficial, then anything except water breaks a fast. If that silly dogma works for you, then go for it. I’m not interested.

I fast for the healing potential it releases and anything that interrupts or halts that will break my fast. High insulin levels will take me out of ketosis, as it will shift my body from a “repair state” to a “fed state,” and reduce the efficiency of my amino acid recycling. As all of this will impact my healing negatively, it “breaks” my fast.

An influx of amino acids will slow my recycling process, stop the detox process of autophagy, and reduce stem cell production, and by my definition, this will essentially break my fast.

If I use a hormonal profile, a healing and regeneration definition, carbs, processed foods, protein, and powder-based products will break my fast.

The question becomes, what should you do now?

If you have been practicing fasting rotation for a while and are keeping to an insulin-friendly lifestyle, your body is more metabolically flexible, hormonally sensitive, and efficient in detoxification. This will allow you to quickly get back into a repair state and be on track with the fasting process.

That’s the whole idea of this lifestyle and using functional fasting. The “function” is in the ability to live a normal, healthy life, reaping the rewards of fasting any time we like without difficulty.

That brings me to the concept of “Bending” a fast versus “Breaking” a fast

In times where I feel I need extra support during a fast, I feel very comfortable with having a few go-to options that I feel won’t break my fast. These options include:

  • Drink some water, as we often interpret thirst as hunger.
  • Try some more water with a pinch of sea salt in it.
  • Have coffee without sweetener or milk, although a little cream is ok.
  • Herbal tea is prepared the same way as the coffee.
  • 4 to 6 ounces of broth or stock with a good amount of sea salt.
  • A small piece of fermented veggies, like a pickle or olives.
  • A bite or two of a high-fat food like cheese, a slice of meat, a piece of chicken, etc.

I call these options “crutches,” and they should only be used if you are thinking you may break the fast otherwise. They are not “allowed” or “permitted” and definitely not “required” on a fast. They help you get through the craving at a specific time so your fast can continue.

Remember, cravings are not permanent and will fade in about 10 to 15 minutes. This is why people advise that you should always stay busy while fasting. It is also why support groups practice calling their fellow fasters frequently. Asking about someone else’s day can pull you out of a funk just long enough to stop obsessing on the issue as it passes. You can do the same here, or hop into your program’s online group and do some reading, write some comments or replies, or post how you are feeling and engage with others who can relate.

Keep your focus on why you are fasting, keep close to your community, and bend when needed, but not to break it over a fleeting moment. And if you do, the faster you get back at it, the quicker you will get back into the process. Once you have been into the program for a while you won’t go back to zero or start over due to a slip, but your growing and learning will continue and your body’s momentum will bounce you right back.

Hope that helps!

See you out on a scroll in the online community!

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