Over four years ago fasting was a new and strange concept to me. I had recently changed my diet and was starting to plateau in weight and body fat loss.
Growing up my parents fasted for religious purposes but they always seemed grumpy doing it.
The way they acted turned me off from fasting.
After reading blog after blog fasting finally seemed a little more approachable.
I was desperate to see more results from my efforts of healthy living.
My parents practiced dry fasting (about 12 hours a few times a week). Almost all intermittent fasters practice water fasting.
With water fasting, I could fast longer (14–16 hours) and be allowed to drink water, coffee, and tea with no cream or sugar.
I also learned that fasting makes it easier to maintain weight loss and gain lean muscle mass. This was a very attractive selling point for me.
Other benefits of fasting include:
- Steady body fat loss
- Increased mental clarity and focus ( after an adjustment period)
- Decreased risk of common diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- The retardation of the aging process (studies are beginning to formulate an official hypothesis on this)
So one night I decided that I would be brave and try fasting the next day. I would skip breakfast and not eat until 4 pm. My plan was to have two meals in a 6–8-hour eating window.
I’ll never forget that first day of fasting. I had high energy and felt lighter in mind and body. I took to fasting extremely well.
From that day forward I knew that I would always practice some type of fasting protocol.
Your Diet Will Change As Your Body Changes
Since I had a radical shift in diet before taking up fasting I didn’t have too much anxiety around what foods I would break my fast with.
Typically break with a meal filled with wholesome foods like:
- Quality cuts of steak (NY strip, ribeye)
- Salmon or catfish
- Sweet potatoes, quinoa, rice, or dairy-free purple mashed potatoes ( I was gluten-free at the time)
- Arugula, swiss chard, and spinach
- Quality oils- coconut oil, ghee, and lard
As you can see I ate basic minimally processed foods. I learned how to cook meals that tasted gourmet but were simple to make.
Eating out at times paled in comparison to what I could make at home.
You can do the same. As you get into the flow of fasting, learn how to cook meals with healthy foods that you love.
You don’t have to be an experienced chef.
Vary Fasting and Meal Times for Best Results
Many “extreme” fasters (myself included) don’t fast for the same amount of time every day. Doing so can create burnout. You can also go too deep into a caloric deficit.
Not eating enough calories per week will hamper your efforts to lose weight and build lean muscle mass. While you don’t have to track calories specifically, it’s best to make sure your body is getting a sufficient input of energy.
Healthy foods tend to be lower in calories (which is a good thing). But tune into your body and eat more when needed.
If you regularly practice eating one meal a day (OMAD), mix it up and fast for 14–16 hours some days. If you have days when you work out hard add an extra meal.
You won’t gain weight. You’ll still be able to maintain a good deficit without going overboard.
In Time 20-Hour Fasts Won’t Seem Extreme
Once you start doing OMAD near-daily, fasting for 20+ hours won’t feel like such a big deal. It is recommended that you start with 16:8 fasting before embarking on longer fasts.
Do 16:8 for at least 6 months before committing to OMAD. This will allow you to ease into the practice of fasting. You’ll also have a higher chance of sticking to fasting long term.
When you jump into OMAD too quickly this can cause harm down the road. Slow and steady wins the fasting race.
Eventually, you may want to try longer fasts like 48 hours or 5-days. Your experience with longer fasts is guaranteed to be more positive.
Break your fasts with healthy easy home-cooked meals. If you’re looking to start a fasting protocol but your diet is not the best focus on cleaning up your diet before fasting.
Give yourself time to adjust to your new healthy diet. Plan on the adjustment period lasting for three months or longer.
Ease into 20+ hours fasts. Practice fasting 14–16 hours for at least 6 months before committing to OMAD or longer fasts.
Once you’re solid with OMAD give yourself periodic breaks especially on hard workout days.
Soon people will think you’re extreme for fasting so often. But you’ll know that your fasting schedule is not extreme rather it’s sustainable.
Here’s a Guide That’ll Help You With Hunger As You Work Towards “Extreme” Fasting
Download the Stop Hunger Guide. Implement the 5 tips suggested. You’ll see a positive change in a short period of time.