Functional vs. Therapeutic Fasting
Fasting is rising to a level of acceptance and popularity here in the United States that has never been seen before. For some of us that have been in this game, practicing fasting and teaching this practice for a long time is nothing less than amazing to see.
As fasting becomes more popular and embraced by more people it is important to make some specific distinctions in the fasting lexicon and terms.
Simply put, therapeutic fasting is a targeted approach done for a specific outcome, usually to heal a significant health problem or many.
Therapeutic fasts are usually quite strict allowing only water to be consumed and restricting physical activity and sometimes movement altogether. Therapeutic fasts also traditionally have a health professional close by coordinating or supervising the fast.
Functional Fasting as I like to call it is a practice of incorporating various fasting models into your normal living. The Functional Fasting model is usually more flexible in the structure and what can be used or consumed during the fast.
Some examples of Functional fasting are:
Eating windows, or when you would limit your eating for the day to a set number of hours, windows are usually 4-8 hours.
Intermittent fasting where you would essentially skip either breakfast or dinner to extend the time without food overnight while you’re sleeping.
Alternate Day Eating (A, D, E,) where you eat normally one day and not the next. or eat one day normally and limit the next day’s food to one regular meal and a half size meal as written about in The Every Other Day Diet by Dr. Varaday.
Extended fasting where the fast is 2 or more days consecutively and can go 2 to 30 days or longer.
Then are types of caloric restrictive models of “fasting” such as:
Pseudo Fasting, which is similar to A.E.E. and restricts the amount of food eaten to 500-800 calories per day, just daily and no skipping. Also known as a “Very Low-Calorie Diet.” (V.L.C.D.) Often promoted by Dr. Jason Fung in his model and books.
Similarly, there is the “Fasting Mimicking Diet” from the research by Dr. Walter Longo where he used a VLCD that is designed with low insulin producing foods and promoted in his book.
One might argue that Keto Diets (H.F.D. High Fat Diets) and the Carnivore Diet are types of fasting-mimicking due to the state of nutritional ketosis they promote in the body which mimics the metabolic profile of fasting.
Functional fasting can include different versions of the fasts above allowing drinks and at times food items during the fast and do not restrict activity or require rest while doing them.
I personally use and teach a Functional Fasting model in what I call a "Fasting Rotation." The Insulin Friendly Lifestyle and Rotational Fasting runs on a calendar where we plan our 6-month program out week by week with no consecutive weeks repeating using all or any combination of these fasting methods above.
I have done this for a long time with thousands of people in large groups in the population health space and in my 1 on 1 program and small groups.
That experience continued and through study and collaboration with other doctors and practitioners using fasting protocols, and consulting directly with each of the authors mentioned above, I gathered a significant amount of data. I have files upon files on the practice of fasting, the benefits, population statistics on who likes and completes different fasts, who doesn’t, why, which fasts work more efficiently than others, and most importantly, which fasting methods work the best used together when combined with other healthy lifestyle modifications.
What I found was certain combinations of fasting, support, and lifestyle mods would actually magnify the results.
This is what makes my approach quite different than the others, and why they are much more comfortable for new people to practice. They are not only more comfortable but more effective in the short term and a more sustainable Lifestyle option in the long term.
Whether you choose to work with me, or use somebody else’s model, always keep an open mind and work with an experienced professional to guide you.
Fire away any questions or experiences you have in the comments or send me a direct message for info on the Insulin Friendly Lifestyle and Rotational Fasting metabolic health program.
We can do better!