Fasting? What is it? And why would I want to do it?

Great questions! I wish more people would ask them. 

I started in the fasting world years ago, well before the modern-day craze of all things “fasting,” and what I have come to understand is, people can really complicate a concept as simple as NOT EATING!

“How do I fast?” 

I am always surprised by this question. Let me try and give my 2 cents on these topics here:

Fasting is the voluntary abstinence of food. 

That’s it. One simply chooses not to eat.

That’s what makes it different from the misunderstood comparison of starving where someone is forced to go without food for one reason or another.

Other than not eating, fasting and starving are two completely different things. When you fast you do not go into starvation mode, not even close. 

Fasting rules?

As a society, we have this amazing sense of absolutes.  All or nothing.  

It seems like daily now I hear people say, “I have tried fasting many times and don’t get past the second day.”  To that, I say then what?  They say, “well, nothing.  I try again usually in a couple months.”

What is that?  

Second, why stop?  

There are no rules, you don’t have to stop, and no one can tell you that you can’t modify your fasting type or that you did it wrong.

Here are two major reasons people don’t “succeed” in their fasting efforts.

  1. They do not set themselves up for success.  

They simply do not plan ahead and prepare a plan to on-ramp into their fast.  

We have set up custom fasts for a lot of people (thousands) now and they never are just one thing, just a one-off effort or concept.  

I never do a full fast without a week to weeks worth of ramp-up efforts to get my mind and body ready.  I don’t just say, “Hey, I am going to do a 5-day fast starting today….wish me luck!” 

There are many ways to work into a full fast, and even then, there are different types of full fasts.  

Some people go super low carb for a week or so leading up to a fast.  

Some people go low carb for a week then do a 2 day intermittent fast in the next week leading in.  

Some do even more and spread it out over more time.  

But no matter how you do it you are working within a larger goal and building up to your full fast and to get there without hunger pains, cravings, or emotional tension. 

  1. People think you have to do it “all or nothing,” and if you vary you fail and try again later. 

No, No, No. After you do your ramp up and start your full fast, maybe a broth fast, or even water fast, and you hit day 3 and you feel very uncomfortable…..what do you do?  

Eat and say it didn’t work, or that you could not do it?  Why?  

How about eating 1/8 of an avocado with a healthy amount of salt?  

Or, how about a small, low insulin-producing snack like a cup of cooked veggies with one pad of butter?  

What about making that day an intermittent fast and eating a low insulin diet within a 6-hour window.  AND then after one of these options, after you get through the night, you go back to your full fast tomorrow?

See how that works?  

You did not fail, you are still fasting.  You just changed up the type of fast TEMPORARILY.  You then get back at it and bam, you can go another 3 or 4 days, and if things get rough use another fasting bridge. 

What if you are cruising along in your fast and on day 5 things get weird and hard?  Are you going to give up on a 5 day fast? 

That is awesome momentum, I wouldn’t, just jump into a different style and get back at it.  There are no rules.

Every time I have done a longer-term fast I have used an alternate crutch when needed.  My personal goal is to not go over 300 calories (whole day) on the occasional day when I need help. 

A 1/8 of an avocado with salt is 40 calories. 1 cup of cooked veggies with butter is 180 calories.  Two ounces of chicken dipped in homemade garlic-herb mayo is about 185 calories.  If you need volume 3 cups of fresh spinach leaves with 3 slices of tomato and some artichoke hearts in balsamic vinegar and olive oil is about 225 calories.  

All of those are extremely low insulin promoters and well under my 300 calories per occasional crutch day goal and in a time of fasting can serve as just what you need to get through a tough day and keep you on your fast for days to come.

Is it better to have some crutch, a well-planned out food and interrupt, but continue a fast or give up and eat and end one? 

The answer: Keep it going!  

You will not start from zero again, you will not “ruin” or “break” your fast. In my opinion, the key to the benefits of fasting is the insulin reduction prolonged over time, and only by raising that with insulin insulting foods like sugar, pasta, starches, and grains or going over 300 calories do you “break” the benefit of the fast.

Don’t overcomplicate fasting or be too hard on yourself. It is like getting fit in the gym, there are good days and not so good, but over time you get better at it, can lift more, and exercise longer.  

And at the end of the day, it is better to just show up at times than never try.

Hope this helps my friends!

We can do better!

Dr. Don

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