People Can Really Complicate The Simple Concept of NOT EATING!
What fasting rules? There are no fasting rules!
As a society, we have this amazing sense of absolutes. It seems as if it’s always all or nothing, and nothing in between. Nowadays, I hear people daily say, “I have tried fasting many times and don’t get past the second day.” When I then ask them “then what?” they’ll answer, “Well, nothing. I usually try again in a few months.”
Why is that? Why did you stop in the first place? 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 in the first place.
There are two major reasons why people don’t “succeed” in their attempts to fast.
- 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 over the years set up custom fasts for a lot of people and these are never just one thing, just a once-off effort or concept. I never do a full fast without at least a week, or sometimes weeks’ worth of ramp-up efforts to get my mind and body ready. I don’t just one day say, “Hey, I am going to do a 5-day fast starting today – wish me luck!”
There are many different ways that you can use to work into a full fast, and even then, there are many 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 into the fast. Some do even more and spread it out over more time. Irrespective of how you decided to do it, you are working within a larger goal and building up to your full fast, and the purpose is to get there without hunger pains, cravings, or emotional tension.
- People think you have to do it “all or nothing,” and if you vary, you have failed and have to 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? Do you then start eating again 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. After you have implemented one of these options, after you get through the night, then you go back to your full fast tomorrow.
See how that works? You did not fail, you are still fasting. You simply changed the type of fast TEMPORARILY. You can then get back at it and bam, you can go another 3 or 4 days, and if things get rough, you simply use another fasting bridge.
What if you are cruising along gently in your fast and on day 5 things suddenly get weird and difficult? Are you going to give up after fasting for a full 5 days?
That is awesome momentum and I wouldn’t give up when this happens. Simply jump into a different style for a while and then get right back at it. There are no rules.
I have used an alternate crutch when needed every time I have done a long term fast. My personal goal is not to consume more than 300 calories in a whole day on the occasional day when I need help.
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 more 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 these meals/snacks are extremely low insulin promoters and well under my 300 calories per occasional crutch day goal and, during a time of fasting, can provide you with just what you need to get through a tough day, and help you stick to your fast for many days to come.
Is it better to have some crutch, a well-planned out food and interrupt that helps you manage to continue a fast, or give up and end the fast and start eating again?
The best answer is that you have to keep it going! You will not start from zero again, and you will not “ruin” or “break” your fast. In my opinion, the key benefit of fasting is the prolonged insulin reduction over time, and only by raising the insulin with foods like sugar, pasta, starches, and grains, or consuming more than 300 calories per day, 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 there will be days that are not so good, but over time, you’ll get better at it and will be able to lift more and exercise longer. At the end of the day, it is always better to simply show up at times than to never try.
Hope this helps my friends!