Fasting, is it Right for You?

In Body Image, Health, Ketogenic by Marja

Fasting has been around for centuries! Fasting is controlled, opposed to starvation. There is a set window or time when the fast starts and when the fasts ends. It is a voluntary decision you make to not eat food.

A true fast is not ingesting any food or drinks that the body can utilize for energy. Therefore water, tea, and black coffee (contain zero calories) are aloud to be consumed but nothing else. If you really want to be super technical, some people only consider having water as a true fast.

Many people that begin their ketogenic journey, believe they have to start intermittent fasting (IF) right away.

If you are switching out your primary fuel source from carbs to fats, it’s kind of a big deal. It will 1000% be a big change on your body and a major shift on your belief system and mindset.

You basically are altering how you have eaten your entire life, especially if you come from the world of processed foods and and refined sugars. What I really like to emphasis is, you need to take it slow, be gentle with yourself and figure out what works for YOU.  Let’s dive a little deeper and discuss different styles of fasting and if it’s a good idea to implement it into your eating style.

If you are becoming ketogenic you may notice that between 2-3 weeks of you beginning your journey, that you are intermittent fasting (IF) by default. This happens as you stabilize your blood sugar and start to feel more satiated (full) from consuming mostly fat and protein, that you just don’t feel as hungry.

Even if you are not becoming ketogenic and just want to experiment with fasting, most people who begin IF, start with an 8-10 hour window of eating (feeding).

For example 10am-6pm (8 hours feeding), the remainder of the day they are fasting or 11am to 8pm (9 hours feeding), the remainder of the day they are fasting.

People who have been doing IF for awhile, may create smaller windows of eating (4-6 hours), or incorporate a 24 hour fast 1-2 times a week.

The Benefits of Fasting:

By restricting food and allowing fasting to happen, the body has time to heal & regenerate. It is a process referred to as Autophagy. Since the GI tract isn’t constantly overloaded with having to breakdown and digest food, the body has time to do some housecleaning.

Autophagy means self-eating. This is where cells are able to clean out toxins or destructive, damaged parts of a the cell. Once the diseased or unhealthy cells have been cleaned out, the body now has time to renew and repair itself (WooHoo!).

I like to give the analogy of painting over wallpaper when it comes to housecleaning in the body. Sure, the room may look okay, but to really make the walls sparkle and pop, stripping away and starting from a fresh canvas is key, HELLO Atophagy.

Human Growth Hormone (hGH)

Human Growth Hormone (hGH) also known as the anti-aging hormone slowly starts to decrease after age 30. Nowadays, celebrities like Demi Moore and Sylvester Stallone, have been known to use hGH to hold onto the fountain of youth. Human Growth Hormone (hGH) is secreted when you exercise (weight training) and sleep.

Unfortunately steady state cardio does not cause hgH to be secreted, so hours on the treadmill are not necessary! However, High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) will cause hGH to be produced. An example of this is would be doing battle ropes, burpees, jump squats in a circuit. 

If you don’t lift weights and doing HIIT isn’t your jam, you may be interested to know that fasting for 24 hours can cause hgH to be secreted 6 times more then lifting weights (say what!?) YES 6X MORE!

The beautiful thing about Fasting is, it doesn’t cost you any money and you probably will save a few bucks, since you may be cutting out a meal(s). Lastly, for some people adding a fasting protocol, can help achieve a maintainable weight loss.

When you should NOT Fast:

As I mentioned at the beginning, if you are new to keto you don’t need to force yourself to start fasting right away. The last thing I want to cause my clients or anyone, is more stress when beginning a new and exciting health journey (which has a lot of changes).

When you are fat adapted (body runs off fat opposed to carbs) you just don’t feel as hungry, so by default most people without even realizing, create their your own style of intermittent fasting. I advice clients if they want to try different styles of fasting to experiment around the 3-4 week mark of beginning keto.

If you have a history of disordered eating or binge eating fasting may not be right for you. It may trigger old unhealthy or disordered eating behaviours, creating ridged rules around food, that may possibly set you back.

MY TRIGGER WITH FASTING

In 2016 I was really into fasting and when I began I didn’t find it difficult. I followed the 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. Since it was relatively easy for me to follow, I started incorporating a 24 hour fast 1x a week after researching all the amazing health benefits that I listed above.

After 2 months of doing my 24 hour fasts (1 a week), I started to really struggle. I was counting down the minutes of when I could finally eat, and was feeling hangry around the 20 hour mark. When the 24 hours was up, I would want to eat everything. When it was time to eat, I would scarf it all down, and then still feel hungry.

Surprising, I still continued to do my 24 hour fast for another 2 months even thought I was feeling like this (seriously right?). I was trying to conform to the “fasting rules” to have better health, but at the same time I triggered, my old disordered eating behaviours. If you feel like fasting is making you feel too restrictive then play with your windows of eating, or do not fast for so long, or not at all.

PLEASE be careful it can be a slippery slope. Currently, I loosely follow an 8 hour window of eating and 16 hour of fasting (which I felt good at when I started) I really want to preface LOOSELY. And I stopped doing 24 hour fasts all together.

When you begin your keto journey I tell my clients if you are hungry EAT. If you are not hungry, don’t eat. Start to try to listen to your body’s hunger cues. If you have been a past dieter (like me) most of us have had those hunger signals shut off and suffered through restricting food. So, it’s often hard to determine if we are actually hungry, emotionally eating or using food to cope with some form of trauma or stress.

So to recap:

  • Becoming ketogenic – fasting will come more natural
  • Fasting promotes Autophagy 16-18 hour mark
  • Fasting promotes hGH secretion
  • If you have a past of disordered eating or binge eating, fasting may not be the best for you, especially extended fasts (And thats OKAY!) *you have to do what works for you!
  • If you are new to Keto and want to try fasting start at the 3-4 week mark and between and 8-10 hour window of eating.

Alright Beautiful People, I hope this content gave you some clarity aboooot Fasting!

Lotsa Love,

Marja xo