I walked into the office yesterday morning and I could see that things were about to break bad, although I expect that it may be part of some sort of scheme to sue the people who own the company. Obstensibly it started over the latest news from the never ending Trump news feed. Obviously he is always saying things that normal folks are really perplexed about. Then you have all sorts of people who very rightly take offense and the small group of people who will defend just about anything he does, even if it is completely outrageous. This stuff in Charlottesville is just really perplexing, honestly how hard it is to know that Nazis are bad. Continue reading
Biologically speaking, iron is a trace mineral and an essential nutrient that your body requires to function properly. It helps with immune function, detoxification, and the creation of several proteins and enzymes. One of these proteins is hemoglobin, a complex protein used by red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition that occurs when your blood doesn’t contain enough iron, hemoglobin, or red blood cells to transport the oxygen you need from your lungs to your tissues. While there are several types of anemia, iron deficiency is by far the most common. Over 1.6 billion people worldwide are anemic. Of these, several hundred million have iron deficiency anemia. If you suspect that you have an iron deficiency, consult your health care provider. They may want to check your hematocrit levels, which is a test to see if you have too few red blood cells.
There are two types of dietary iron-heme and nonheme. Heme iron comes only from animal sources-meat, poultry, and seafood. Plant sources contain only nonheme iron, which isn’t as easily absorbed by your body as heme. This may be because certain phytochemicals in plants, including oxalates, polyphenols, tannins, and phytates promote slower, more controlled iron absorption.[4, 5]
Despite this, vegans and vegetarians don’t suffer from iron deficiency at any greater rate than meat-eaters do. There may be two reasons for this. First, plant-based diets tend to be high in vitamin C, which acutely increases iron absorption. Second, because vegetables are relatively low in calories and high in nutrients, vegans and vegetarians take in significantly more iron per calorie consumed. In other words, 100 calories of spinach contains as much iron as 1700 calories of steak.
RDA of Iron
To prevent iron deficiency anemia, it’s important to consume the proper amount of iron for your body. Different life stages have different requirements, and women tend to need a little more than men. Consult these charts to find your recommended daily iron intake. Because of the slow, controlled bioavailability of nonheme iron, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommends that vegans and vegetarians consume 1.8 times the RDA for iron.[3, 7]
Iron Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Nonvegetarians
|0-6 months||.27 mg||.27 mg||N/A||N/A|
|7-12 months||11 mg||11 mg||N/A||N/A|
|1-3 years||7 mg||7 mg||N/A||N/A|
|4-8 years||10 mg||10 mg||N/A||N/A|
|9-13 years||8 mg||8 mg||N/A||N/A|
|14-18 years||11 mg||15 mg||27 mg||10 mg|
|19-50 years||8 mg||18 mg||27 mg||9 mg|
|51+ years||8 mg||8 mg||N/A||N/A|
Iron Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vegans and Vegetarians
|0-6 months||.27 mg||.27 mg||N/A||N/A|
|7-12 months||20 mg||20 mg||N/A||N/A|
|1-3 years||12 mg||12 mg||N/A||N/A|
|4-8 years||18 mg||18 mg||N/A||N/A|
|9-13 years||14 mg||14 mg||N/A||N/A|
|14-18 years||19 mg||27 mg||48 mg||18 mg|
|19-50 years||14 mg||32 mg||48 mg||16 mg|
|51+ years||14 mg||14 mg||N/A||N/A|
15 Plant-Based, Iron-Rich Foods for Healthy Energy Levels
Some of the most potent plant sources of iron are fortified cereals and flour. However, fortified foods and enriched flour are heavily processed and carry their own health risks. It’s always best to get your nutrition from natural sources. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based foods that you can incorporate into an iron-rich diet. Here are 15 of the top vegan food sources of iron.
A favorite in green juices and smoothies, spirulina is a blue-green algae rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One tablespoon of spirulina contains 2 mg of iron.
The list of health benefits from dark leafy green vegetables seems endless. They contain an abundance of antioxidants, folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. Most dark leafy greens also have a high iron content. Salad greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and bok choy are all excellent choices, but when it comes to iron, spinach brings the muscle. One cup of cooked spinach contains over 6 mg of the mineral.
3. Dried Beans
Beans are an excellent source of iron, though the exact content varies by type. White beans have one of the highest iron concentrations with almost 8 mg per cooked cup. One cup of cooked lentils provides 6.6 mg of iron, and the same quantity of kidney beans or chickpeas nets you about 5 mg. Other iron-rich beans include cowpeas, lima beans, and navy beans.
4. Green Peas
They belong to the same family of legumes as beans, so it’s no surprise that green peas are a respectable source of iron-2.5 grams per cooked cup.
5. Tempeh and Nattō
Soy products, like tofu, have an extremely high iron content. Unfortunately, soybeans are the most heavily genetically modified crop in the United States. As of 2016, 94% of all soybeans are GMO. To avoid the health risks associated with soy, look for products that are both organic and fermented. For a product to be considered organic, it cannot contain GMOs.
Nattō is a fermented soy product that boasts a very high iron content-an astounding 15 mg per cup. The iron concentration in tempeh isn’t nearly as high, but each cup of the fermented soy product still contains a respectable 4.5 mg.
6. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are a boon to both heart health and overall wellness. They’re a natural source of several potent antioxidants, containing vitamin E, flavonoids, and lignans, particularly sesamin and sesamolin. These phytochemicals provide many health benefits. Sesame seeds are also a great source of iron. Just one ounce of the seeds contains 4.18 mg.
7. Dried Fruit
Fruit is a very good source of iron. Dried fruit may be even better, as it concentrates the nutrients in a small, non-perishable package. A half cup of dried fruit has the same nutrients as a cup of fresh fruit. Just make sure that you choose dried fruit with no added sugar. Some fruits sold as “dried” are actually “candied,” which means they were heated in a sugary syrup. Avoid “dried” dates, pineapple, and cherries for this reason.
Good choices include apricots, raisins, and prunes. Ten dried apricot halves contain 2 mg of iron while five prunes have 1.2 mg. One-half cup of raisins has 3 mg of the trace mineral.
8. Dark Chocolate
Good news! Dark chocolate has a wonderfully high iron content. Per ounce, dark chocolate has a higher iron density than steak. One 100 gram bar of 70-85% cacao chocolate contains 12 mg of iron. Unfortunately, this isn’t a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Eat dark chocolate in moderation, but when that irresistible sweet tooth hits, you could do a lot worse.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
Already a favorite autumnal treat, there are good reasons to start eating pumpkin seeds year-round. Also known as pepitas, one ounce of pumpkin seeds contain 4.2 mg of iron. They’re also a concentrated source of zinc, magnesium, and fatty acids.
Though classified as a whole grain, quinoa is technically a seed. While South Americans have been cultivating the plant for almost 5000 years, quinoa has seen a surge in popularity amongst North American health enthusiasts in the last several years, and it’s not very hard to see why. The seed is gluten-free and rich in protein, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and thiamine (vitamin B1). And let’s not forget iron! A cup of cooked quinoa contains almost 3 mg of iron.
11. Whole Grains
Refined grains use only the endosperm of a grain. This improves shelf life but robs the grain of many nutrients, including iron. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel?bran, germ, and endosperm, because of this, whole grains retain a much higher nutritional value. Brown rice, oats, and barley are all excellent choices for iron.
12. Dandelion Greens
While many people consider dandelions a nuisance, dandelion greens make a healthy addition to any salad. One hundred grams of raw dandelion greens contain 3 mg of iron. They’re also very high in vitamin C, which makes the iron they contain all the more absorbable.
Coconut water and coconut oil are enjoying an all-time high in popularity right now, but what about coconut meat? Raw coconut meat packs in about 2.5 mg of iron per 100 grams. That’s around 10 mg for a whole coconut. Try it with a little lime and chili for a tart and spicy treat.
14. Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are a wonderful staple of Indian cooking and feature a high iron content. When used as a spice, curry is not consumed in large enough quantities to add a significant iron boost. However, curry leaf extracts are frequently used in high-quality, natural, vegan iron supplements. But don’t let that stop you from adding curry leaves to your cooking. Curry leaves, like most spices, also contain a wealth of other beneficial phytonutrients.
15. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a thick, dark syrup created as a byproduct of extracting sugar from sugar cane. While refined sugar has been completely stripped of its nutritional content, blackstrap molasses retains all the vitamins and nutrients found in the original plant. Basically, molasses is all the nutritional content that was stripped from refined sugar.
Because of this, blackstrap molasses has a very high nutrient density. Just one tablespoon contains anywhere from 3.5 to an astonishing 12.6 mg of iron-twice as much as a rib eye steak! It’s also a significant source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.[12, 28, 29]
Supplementing With Iron
For most people, a diet that includes plenty food-derived iron should be sufficient to prevent iron deficiency. In certain cases, such as absorption issues or pregnancy, iron supplements may be the key to maintaining healthy iron levels. Do your research and look for natural supplements, as the synthetic versions lack the conutrients that let our bodies process and absorb the vital constituents of your food. You may want to find a supplement in pill form as liquid iron supplements can stain teeth.
I personally recommend Iron Fuzion™, Global Healing Center’s own iron supplement. Iron Fuzion uses iron extracted from the leaves of organic Murraya koenigii, better known as the curry tree, to create a natural, safe, vegan iron supplement.
Do you monitor your iron consumption? What iron-rich foods do you eat? Tell us in the comments!
- “Sources of Iron.” Go Ask Alice! The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, n.d. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Miller, Jeffery L. “Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease.” Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine 3.7 (2013). Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 Feb. 2016. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Sotelo, Angela, et al. “Role of Oxate, Phytate, Tannins and Cooking on Iron Bioavailability from Foods Commonly Consumed in Mexico.” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition61.1 (2009): 29-39. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Polyphenol Antioxidants Inhibit Iron Absorption.” News | Penn State University, The Pennsylvania State University, 23 Aug. 2010. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Iron in the Vegan Diet.” The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), The Vegetarian Resource Group, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Norris, Jack. “Iron in Vegetarian Diets.” Oregon State University, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Keep the Multi, Skip the Heavily Fortified Foods.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Ehrlich, Steven D. “Spirulina.” University of Maryland Medical Center, American Accreditation HealthCare Commission, 16 July 2013. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report 11667, Seaweed, Spirulina, Dried.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Yan, Lin. “Dark Green Leafy Vegetables.” United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, 13 Aug. 2016, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Appendix B. Food Sources Of Selected Nutrients.” Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 9 July 2008, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 11305, Peas, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Recent Trends in GE Adoption.” United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, 3 Nov. 2016, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 16113, Natto.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 16114, Tempeh.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Morris, J. B. “Food, Industrial, Nutraceutical, and Pharmaceutical Uses of Sesame Genetic Resources.” Horticulture and Landscape Architecture – Purdue University, Purdue University, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 12024, Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, roasted and toasted.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Clifford, J., et al. “Iron: An Essential Nutrient.” Colorado State University Extension, Colorado State University Extension, July 2015, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 19904, Chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao solids.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Cascio, Julie. “Pumpkin Seeds.” University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Aug. 2010, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Quinoa.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 20137, Quinoa, cooked.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “All About the Grains Group.” Choose MyPlate, United States Department of Agriculture, 18 Oct. 2016, Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 11207, Dandelion greens, raw.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 12104, Nuts, coconut meat, raw.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Ranjitha, D., and K. Sudha. “CURRY LEAVES (MURRAYA KOENIGII) INCORPORATED IRON RICH CURD: PRODUCTION, PHYTOCHEMICAL, NUTRITIONAL AND PROXIMATE COMPOSITION.” International Journal of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science, vol. 6, no. 4, Aug. 2016, pp. 13-16.
- “Full Report (All Nutrients): 45112163, HOUSE OF HERBS, BLACKSTRAP MOLASSES, UPC: 073060002109.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- “Basic Report: 23266, Beef, ribeye cap steak, boneless, separable lean only, trimmed to 0″ fat, all grades, cooked, grilled.” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.
- Martin, Laura, and David Zieve. “Taking Iron Supplements.” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 May 2015.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
A fast is a voluntary practice in which people go for extended or structured periods without eating and drinking for spiritual, medical, or weight loss reasons. Others fast to protest or raise awareness for causes. Fasts vary widely depending on the type you’re following. Some fasts allow water, tea, coffee, or other fluids during the fasting period, but dry fasts go without. A fast may be intermittent, or it may extend for multiple days.
Fasting is not starvation. For those who fast for health reasons, fasting is just a more structured way of eating. Fasting is sometimes followed by feasting, especially around religious holidays. Some people may find fasting challenging, but there are many types of fasting regimens and protocols from which to choose.
Many of the world’s major religions and cultures have a rich history of fasting. Fasting has long been promoted as a natural means to boost health and deepen spiritual awareness. In some sects of Buddhism, fasting is a regular part of the monastic lifestyle and enhances meditation. In the Judaeo-Christian and Islamic religious traditions, fasting is an act of observance, atonement, penance, self-control, or preparation for rituals or holidays. Therapeutic fasting dates back to Hippocrates, who prescribed it for many ailments. At the time, it was the only successful way to reduce seizures in epileptic children and remained so until the 20th century.
Health Benefits of Fasting
Although much of the clinical research related to fasting is limited to animal studies, the abundance of first-hand accounts from people who fast is remarkable, exciting, and encouraging. Many people find that fasting sharpens their mind and provides mental clarity. Interestingly, many of the benefits of fasting don’t result directly from fasting itself, but from the effects of reduced calorie intake, decreased fat composition, better sleep, less diet-related inflammation, and lower intake of salt.
Tempers Blood Pressure and Fluid Balance
Blood pressure tends to fall during the fasting state, primarily during the first week of fasting. This effect seems to result from a lower salt intake and a detoxification of accumulated salt through the urine. Since excess sodium causes your body to retain water, lower sodium levels lead to better fluid balance in your tissues.
Encourages Normal Blood Sugar Levels
Since you don’t need as much insulin while you’re not ingesting sugar, your body’s production of insulin drops during fasting.[2, 3]
Protects the Brain
Fasting and calorie restriction inhibits the production of free radicals and irritating proteins like inflammatory cytokines. Interestingly, evidence suggests that free radical and inflammatory cytokine production slow down during fasting and protective cytokine production increases and protects the brain from oxidative damage.
Fasting causes leptin levels to drop. However, as you lose weight, your response to leptin signaling increases, making it easier to eat healthier foods and smaller portions since you’ll feel more satisfied after a meal. Some weight loss authorities think leptin resistance might be a factor that prevents people who are significantly overweight from dropping pounds because they don’t get that hormonal signal telling them that they’re full.
May Help You Live Longer and Healthier
There is an evolutionary theory that may explain why animals that are fed low-calorie diets tend to live longer than their “well-fed” counterparts. The leading idea holds that when an organism endures challenges like famine, it responds by dedicating more resources to survival. This is kind of like a factory shuffling equipment and labor around to produce a different product while also finding new ways to be more efficient.
Helps Burn Fat
Alternating windows of fasting and eating with regular resistance training leads to greater fat loss than either alone.
Promotes Healthy Immune Function
Fasting triggers the recycling of old white blood cells—the cells that comprise much of your immune system. Recycling these immune cells leads to a more competent immune system. It works by triggering the regeneration of the stem cells that become your platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells when you begin eating again.
May Increase Resistance to Mental Stress
In animal models, researchers found that the effects of fasting on blood sugar and insulin levels also improves the brain’s response to mental stress and protects it from stress-related damage.
Different Types of Fasting
Fasting methods and protocols vary widely depending on the specific fast. Even within the fasts described below, there are at least a couple of ways of conducting the fast. When deciding which to pursue, consider your goals and which will help you get there.
This fast may be a bit more difficult because it’s not something most people elect to do. Your doctor may prescribe a fast before a medical procedure such as surgery or a blood test. It’s important to stick to the recommended protocol for safety and accurate test readings.
Arguably the most straightforward kind of fast, dry fasting involves not eating or drinking anything during the fasting period. A diagnostic fast may also be a dry fast. I do not advocate dry fasting for extended periods of time. Beyond making you feel lousy, dehydration can have serious side effects on your blood volume and tissues, making it difficult for your body to detoxify itself.
Liquid Fast or Water Fast
When liquid fasting, you only drink fluids and avoid eating solid foods. Liquid fasts can include broth, water, or concoctions made with water, like the Master Cleanse. Water fasts only permit water during the fasting period. These fasts can last anywhere from a day to several days.
Juice fasting, or juice cleansing, is a type of liquid fast lasting 3-5 days. It’s usually conducted with detoxification or weight loss in mind. Juice fasts include organic, cleansing fruit and vegetable juices.
There are two kinds of partial fasting. The first type is similar to liquid fasting except you may eat small amounts of solid food for the duration of the fast. The second type excludes certain foods for an extended period. Many people give up carbohydrates, alcohol, or red meat during this fast.
Intermittent fasting is alternating periods of fasting and eating during the same day. This pattern may persist every other day, a few days at a time, or you may choose to adopt this style of fasting into your everyday life for an extended period. The food you eat while intermittently fasting may not change at all, or people may feast during the eating window. Some people simply eat all their meals within a small window of time in the afternoon or evening.
There are many ways to conduct an intermittent fast. Religious intermittent fasts typically prohibit eating between dawn and dusk, and meals are only taken in the evening. Athletes, dieters, and bodybuilders tend to customize their intermittent fasting schedule to their daily schedule to get the most out of their fast. Some evidence indicates that longer periods of fasting increase weight loss and produce better results in blood glucose and insulin balance.
Alternate-day fasting is a much more intense fasting regimen than other fasting methods. This fast seems to be especially helpful for losing weight and maintaining weight loss progress. To qualify as an alternate-day fast, you must fast for at least 24 hours. Some people choose to extend alternate-day fasts up to 36 hours. Make sure to drink plenty of water or tea during an alternate-day fast.
Extended fasts are usually 48 hours without eating, but they can last up to a week or longer. People may conduct this fast a few times a year or every month. These fasts are usually only conducted by people who have a high body mass index or who have trained their metabolism to adjust to long periods of fasting. Depending on the length of the fast, it may be necessary to add nutritional supplements to your water to keep your vitamins and minerals in balance.
Ketogenic fasts push your body into the fat burning state known as ketosis. A ketogenic fast is similar to a partial fast in that it includes a small amount of food. The two differ in the types of food consumed. On a ketogenic fast, you only consume fatty foods to shift your body into ketosis. Check out my ketogenic fast for a vegan take on this fast. You can try it for five days to begin to feel the benefits or go as long as three weeks.
Important Considerations While Fasting
Fasting takes planning and preparation. Before beginning any fasting regimen, you must get a handle on your schedule, stress, and nutrition. Be realistic about your goals when conducting a fast. Inadequate sleep, unhealthy or emotional eating patterns, and insufficient stress management can impede weight loss or undo any advances you make.
Stay hydrated while fasting. Before your body adjusts, you may experience mild but unpleasant symptoms for the first three days. Hunger, irritability, slight headache, and disorientation are common while you’re adjusting. Around day four on a restrictive fast, you should begin to feel significantly better than you normally do when not on a fast.
Some people should not fast. Children, pregnant and lactating women, and diabetics should avoid fasting unless instructed to do so by their trusted health care advisor. It’s also a good idea to converse with them and get an informed opinion that’s personalized to your needs and situation before radically changing your diet or going on an extended fast.
Do you fast regularly? What kind of fast do you conduct and to what end? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
- Kerndt, Peter R. et al. “Fasting: The History, Pathophysiology and Complications.” Western Journal of Medicine 137.5 (1982): 379–399. Web.
- Schless, Guy Lacy, and Garfield G. Duncan. “The Beneficial Effect Of Intermittent Total Fasts On The Glucose Tolerance In Obese Diabetic Patients.” Metabolism 15.2 (1966): 98-102. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
- Martin, Bronwen, Mark P. Mattson, and Stuart Maudsley. “Caloric Restriction and Intermittent Fasting: Two Potential Diets for Successful Brain Aging.” Ageing research reviews 5.3 (2006): 332–353. PMC. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
- Adler, Margo I., and Russell Bonduriansky. “Why Do The Well-Fed Appear To Die Young?” BioEssays 36.5 (2014): 439-450. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
- Hayward, Sara et al. “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Markers of Body Composition and Mood State.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 11.Suppl 1 (2014): P25. PMC. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
- Wu, Susan. “Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration Of Damaged, Old Immune System.” News.usc.edu. N.p., 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
- Anson, R. Michael et al. “Intermittent Fasting Dissociates Beneficial Effects Of Dietary Restriction On Glucose Metabolism And Neuronal Resistance To Injury From Calorie Intake.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 100.10 (2017): 6216-6220. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
- Fung, Jason, and Jimmy Moore. “The Complete Guide To Fasting.” 1st ed. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing. Print.
- Kerndt, Peter R. et al. “Fasting: The History, Pathophysiology and Complications.” Western Journal of Medicine 137.5 (1982): 379–399. Print.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
There are few things a sprig of thyme won’t make immensely better. This versatile herb blends well with a myriad of flavors and is packed full of health-promoting compounds, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Thyme belongs to the genus Thymus which is part of the mint family and closely related to oregano—another powerful herb. Native to the Southern Mediterranean regions, this perennial herb is now grown around the world for its culinary and therapeutic uses. While this herb will liven up your cooking, thyme may also help expel harmful organisms from your body and support your mental and physical health.
What Is Thyme?
Thyme is an evergreen herb that blooms with small white, pink, and purple flowers. They hybridize easily and grow quickly in sunny areas with well-drained soil. Thanks to its ease of cultivation and growth, there are over 300 varieties of thyme in existence today. Each variety has unique flavors and applications for cooking, oils, medicines, or decoration. Common thyme (T. vulgaris) and lemon thyme (T. citriodorus) are used for cooking, while Spanish thyme (T. zygis) and creeping thyme (T. serpyllum) are popular in many herbal supplements.
History of Thyme
People’s love and admiration for thyme is nothing new. The recorded history of thyme extends back to ancient Egypt and Rome. Egyptians used thyme as part of their mummification process and Romans ate it before meals and gave it to soldiers as a sign of courage and admiration. In fact, the Latin word for thyme, thymus, means courage and strength. This tradition of giving thyme to soldiers carried on through the middle ages when people in England started using thyme as a cooking spice.
Nutrients in Thyme
Thyme has remained influential over the years in part because of its health benefits, all of which are owed to its diverse profile of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutritional compounds. Thyme is an excellent source of fiber, calcium, iron, manganese, and vitamins A, B6, and C. There are also robust phenols inside the plant—thymol, eugenol, and carvacrol.
Here is the nutritional breakdown of one tablespoon of fresh thyme.
|Vitamin A||.03 mg|
|Vitamin B6||.008 mg|
|Vitamin C||3.8 mg|
Top 10 Health Benefits of Thyme
Here is a list of impressive health benefits that have been corroborated by recent studies and research.
1. Resists Harmful Organisms
Thyme contains potent chemical compounds like thymol and carvacrol which are resistant to harmful organisms. Studies have found that thyme promotes fungal balance. Some studies even show compounds found in thyme and oregano oil are helpful as part of a comprehensive strategy for dealing with some types of organisms that are particularly aggressive.
2. Supports Respiratory Health
Respiratory health is important, especially for those with compromised immune systems. Thyme supports normal respiratory health in every season. Studies show that thyme combined with primrose root helps soothe your airways and promote normal lung health.[7, 8]
3. Promotes Heart Health
Blood pressure and cholesterol both play a significant role in heart health. Thyme contains nutrients that support normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
4. Mood Booster
Thyme may help maintain mental wellness. Daily consumption of thyme and oregano oil can influence neurotransmitters and boost your mood. One compound found in thyme oil, carvacrol, when consumed over a seven-day period, positively affected dopamine and serotonin status.
5. Encourages Healthy-looking Skin
For years, nurses wrapped thyme into bandages to help wounds heal. Recent studies confirm that thyme does have the ability to support skin health. One study even noted thyme might contribute to reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
6. Natural Bug Repellent
Thyme is a favorite herb to grow at home. Not only is it convenient for cooking, but it may help keep your home bug free. Thyme acts as a natural repellent for mosquitoes and other pests.
7. Powerful Antioxidant
Thyme is a great source of antioxidants such as apigenin, luteolin, saponins, and tannins. These antioxidant compounds help neutralize free radicals before they can cause harm and oxidative stress. Thyme and iron are often taken together to help keep a better balance and reduce the chances of oxidative stress from occurring.
8. Soothes Occasional Coughs and Sore Throats
For years, thyme has been used to support seasonal wellness. Many studies have validated this use, showing thyme’s ability to help your body get over an occasional cough and sore throat.
9. Promotes Oral Health
Thyme, along with other herbs, can support good oral health. Thyme essential oils can protect against harmful organisms that target the mouth, and help prevent bad breath.[19, 20]
10. Food Safety and Preservation
While thyme is a well-liked addition to many dishes, it can be used for more than taste. Thyme’s resistance to harmful organisms is something that’s been observed and harnessed by large-scale food producers. Thyme essential oil is an effective, natural way to preserve food and increase shelf life. [21, 22]
Thyme Side Effects
Thyme has no documented side effects. The primary concern with using fresh thyme or thyme essential oils is the possibility of having an allergic reaction. Beyond any known allergies, thyme is considered safe and gentle to eat or apply topically.
Adding Thyme to Your Diet
You can grow thyme at home or buy it fresh at most grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Fresh thyme is perfect for making tinctures, teas, or adding to food dishes. Dried thyme is also found in any spice aisle and is an excellent way to keep the herb in your home at all times. Thyme essential oils are also a great way to access the benefits of thyme quickly and easily. Not all essential oils are food grade, but thyme essential oils can be used in a diffuser or applied topically.
You can also take thyme therapeutically to reap its many health benefits. While thyme is great on its own, its nutritional profile and unique properties make it a worthwhile addition to some supplement formulas. Global Healing Center uses the highest quality organic thyme in our revolutionary iron supplement, Iron Fuzion™. Thyme extracts in Iron Fuzion provide nutrients that can help your body absorb and use iron.
How do you use thyme? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
- Key, Evelyn. “Thyme & Oregano, Healing and Cooking Herbs.” Handy Book Series, 2014. Print.
- SaÌez, Francisco, and Elisabeth Stahl-Biskup. “Thyme: The Genus Thymus.” Londres: Taylor and Francis, 2002. Print.
- “Food Composition Databases Show Foods — Thyme, Fresh.” Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Bahadoran, P., Rokni, F.K., Fahami F. “Investigating the therapeutic effect of vaginal cream containing garlic and thyme compared to clotrimazole cream for the treatment of mycotic vaginitis.” Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. (2010): 343-349.
- Kalemba, D., Kunicka, A. “Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils.” Curr Med Chem. (2003): 813-829.
- Šmejkal, K., Rjašková, V. “Use of plant extracts as an efficient alternative therapy of respiratory tract infections.” Ceska Slov Farm. (2016): 139-160.
- Gruenwald, J., Graubaum, H.J., Busch, R. “Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of thyme and primrose root in patients with acute bronchitis. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Arzneimittelforschung. (2005): 669-676.
- Schönknecht, K., Krauss, H., Jambor, J., Fal, A.M. “Treatment of cough in respiratory tract infections – the effect of combining the natural active compounds with thymol.” Wiad Lek. (2016): 791-798.
- Alamgeer, Akhtar M.S., Jabeen, Q, et al. “Pharmacological evaluation of antihypertensive effect of aerial parts of Thymus linearis benth.” Acta Pol Pharm. (2014): 677-682.
- Zotti, M., Colaianna, M., Morgese, M.G., Tucci, P., Schiavone, S., Avato, P., Trabace, L. “Carvacrol: From Ancient Flavoring to Neuromodulatory Agent.” Molecules. (2013): 6161-6172.
- Kavoosi, G., Dadfar, S.M., Purfard, A.M. “Mechanical, physical, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties of gelatin films incorporated with thymol for potential use as nano wound dressing.” J Food Sci. (2013): E244-250.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
Macronutrients are the largest class of nutrients the body requires and include protein, carbohydrates, and fats. If you’ve heard anyone talking about “macros,” they’re referring to these major nutrients. The amounts and ratio of macronutrients a person needs every day vary by age, lifestyle (sedentary, active, or very active), gender, health status, and health goals.
The USDA provides general recommendations for how Americans should allocate calories per macronutrient. The nutrition facts label included on food packaging echoes these ratios and is based on a 2,000 calorie diet for the average American, including children and adults. Many diets try to optimize macronutrient ratios to produce certain results, like consuming protein (along with weight training) to gain muscle mass, or consuming fewer carbohydrates to help lose weight.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates include starches, sugars, and fiber. Carbohydrates contain four calories (kcal) per gram. Your body uses carbohydrates to fuel your body. Carbohydrates come in two forms: complex and simple. Simple carbohydrates include sugars like table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Technically, honey and maple syrup also fall into this category. Complex carbohydrates are usually only described as starches that contain fiber, but this simplistic definition includes foods like whole wheat pasta and white potatoes.
How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans should get between 45-65% of their daily calories from carbohydrates.
Humans don’t produce the necessary enzymes to digest fiber, but it’s nonetheless required by the body. Your microbiota breaks down fiber by fermenting it and using it as their energy source. Your health relies on a balanced, well-nourished microbial gut community for many different functions, so make sure you get plenty of fiber-rich foods in your diet every day.
Sources of Carbohydrates
The best carbohydrates are micronutrient-dense whole foods that contain sugars or starches along with fiber. This definition leaves no room for confusion about whole fruit, which is considered a simple carbohydrate under some definitions. Fruit is an essential part of a healthy diet, and 76% of Americans don’t eat enough. Other excellent sources of carbohydrates include winter squash, beans, and ancient grains like quinoa.
What Is Protein?
Protein is the building block responsible for the growth and maintenance of your eyes, skin, hair, nails, organs, and muscle tissue. During digestion, protein is broken down into smaller chains called peptides and individual units called amino acids for absorption. Of the 22 amino acids, nine are essential to humans. These include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Histidine is unique in that it’s only required during infancy.
Proteins do a lot of work throughout the body. They embed themselves in your cells to regulate what goes in and out. They even envelop and transport some molecules to other locations in the body. Enzymes that catalyze the various chemical reactions in your body are made of folded chains of amino acids. The body creates hormones like leptin, immune proteins like interferon, and antibodies using amino acids.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The USDA recommends that Americans get 5-35% of their calories from protein. This range is set to cover 97-98% of the population, and your needs may vary based on age and health status. Protein, like carbohydrates, provides four calories (kcal) of energy per gram.
Sources of Protein
Whole, nutrient-dense foods are the best sources of protein. Notice I did not say they are the most concentrated sources of protein. So-called “high-quality” sources are very concentrated sources of peptides that share similar amino acid ratios with humans. Essentially, the more a source of protein resembles human tissue in amino acid composition, the better its “quality.” Regularly eating meat, just like regularly consuming concentrated sources of sugar, leads to several serious, and completely preventable health consequences.[4, 5, 6] If you think eating organic, free-range, grass-fed meat is significantly better than factory farmed meat, then wouldn’t it also follow that soda with 100% organic high-fructose corn syrup is equally healthy when compared to regular soda? That’s clearly not the case. It’s important to understand that some foods have few redeeming qualities, organic or not. Just because something is less bad for you than the standard option doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. Many people believe that plants only supply “incomplete proteins.” The need for protein complementation is a myth perpetuated in poorly researched literature. To be clear, all plant foods contain the nine essential amino acids. You won’t develop a protein deficiency on a plant-based diet. In fact, protein deficiencies only occur in those who have gone long periods without eating anything at all.
What Is Fat?
Weighing in at nine calories (kcal) per gram, fat is the densest source of energy in the diet. In the body, fats make up cell membranes, steroids, cholesterol, and 60% of your brain. Fats support the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, cushion your organs, and act as your largest form of energy storage.
Dietary fats include saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats tend to come from animal sources, while most plant fats are unsaturated. There are also important essential fatty acids, namely omega-3 and omega-6.
There’s another type of fat, an unnatural type, known as trans fats. Trans fats are a product of food manufacturing and are created by hydrogenating less stable unsaturated fats to be more shelf stable. This process prolongs the life of processed food products. Trans fats are often described as poison, and it’s a description that’s fairly accurate. Trans fats raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol and have no place in a healthy diet.
How Much Fat Do You Need?
Like carbohydrates, the popularity of fat waxes and wanes with public opinion and even medical opinion as new diets and research emerge. Currently, according to the USDA, fats should account for 20-40% of your daily calories. Essential fats are undoubtedly a necessary component of a healthy diet. Some of the best sources of healthy fats are nuts, seeds, coconuts, avocados, and olives. Like the most healthy sources of proteins and carbohydrates, the fats in nuts and fatty fruits contain fiber, beneficial micronutrients, and phytonutrients that keep you healthy.
Sources of Fat
Just like with carbohydrates and protein, the best sources of fat are plant-based and nutrient dense. Nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, coconut, and unsweetened dark chocolate are all excellent sources of fat that come with a healthy serving of phytonutrients and fiber. As always, I recommend whole foods over processed.
However, if you’re looking for healthy oils, you have quite a few options: flaxseed, hemp seed, avocado, grapeseed, sunflower, walnut, sesame, and coconut oils. I highly recommend flaxseed oil for room temperature or colder dishes like salad dressings or hummus. For cooking, use oils that have a higher smoke point like grapeseed, coconut, avocado and sesame oil. When purchasing oils, always make sure the label says “expeller-pressed” and “unrefined.” Otherwise, the oil may have been extracted using chemicals and subjected to extensive processing, which disturbs the delicate essential fatty acids in the oil.
Don’t Focus on Macronutrients Too Much
When you focus on optimizing the ratios or percentages of your macronutrients, you might forget to concentrate on the quality of the food itself. Make sure to eat a balanced combination of whole, plant-based foods that contribute to your health. Your macros may vary from one day to the next, but your body’s needs may differ based on your activity level, health status, schedule, or other factors. If you’re trying to make a big change in your diet and lifestyle, consider working with a certified dietitian or nutrition counselor that can evaluate your needs, help you set achievable goals, and create a personalized diet plan for you.
The ultimate goal of any good diet is to fuel your day-to-day activities while keeping yourself properly nourished. Make sure the foods you chose are micronutrient dense. These nutrients are required in significantly smaller amounts, but they have a much larger impact on your health. If you want to learn more about what these essential nutrients are, check out my micronutrients article.
- “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.” n.d. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 15 Feb. 2017.
- CDC. “Adults Meeting Fruit and Vegetable Intake Recommendations — United States, 2013.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 10 July 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
- “Amino acids.” Medline Plus. 7 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
- Micha, Renata, Sarah K. Wallace, and Dariush Mozaffarian. “Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Epidemiology and Prevention 121.21 (2010): n.pag. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
- Pan, An, et al. “Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results from Two Prospective Cohort Studies.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 172.7 (2012): 555–563. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
- Young, V.R., and P.L. Pellett. “Plant Proteins in Relation to Human Protein and Amino Acid Nutrition.” The American Society for Clinical Nutrition 59.5 (1994): 1203–1212. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
- Chang, C.Y., D.S. Ke, and J.Y. Chen. “Essential Fatty Acids and Human Brain.” Acta Neurologica Taiwanica 18.4 (2009): 231–241. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
What if I told you that an essential part of healthy eating includes short periods of not eating? That line of thinking runs counter to everything we do today. You probably have a snack, if not a full meal, before running out the door. You might have another snack once you get to work and make your coffee, maybe a banana, a handful of nuts, or—if you dare—a donut. Before lunch, you might have a granola bar just to tide you over. After lunch, you may need a small pick-me-up if your energy starts lagging in the afternoon. Are you keeping track? That’s five times you’ve eaten before dinner. And then there’s an after dinner snack, and the midnight snack. Have humans always eaten like this?
Fasting in Human Evolution and Culture
Humans didn’t always have access to food whenever they felt a craving for a snack, so the human body, your body, evolved to expect long periods of time in which food was nil or scarce. Of course, your ancestors still needed to find food if they had any hope of reproducing and passing their genes on, so certain side effects of hunger developed to increase their success at getting food. A day or two without food left your progenitors with a singular focus to find a source of calories. If they weren’t able to function during times of scarcity, chances are they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to bear children and pass their genes down to you through the generations.
As society developed, regular periods of not eating became less of a consequence of food scarcity and more of an integral part of cultural norms and identities. Meals were eaten at certain times of the day. But as technologies like electricity progressed and spread to the general populace, society’s habits and meal times changed to fit the highly variable daily schedules of modern people.
There are a lot of changes in human history that have collectively altered the health, and indeed the girth, of the world’s population, but the effect of technology and modern life may have especially far-reaching implications on hunger, weight, and energy levels. This is where intermittent fasting comes in to save the day.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Put simply, intermittent fasting is alternating periods of fasting with periods of eating during the same day. So you have a restricted window during which you eat. Many people who practice intermittent fasting adjust their eating schedule to align with the natural rhythms of hormonal and sleep-wake cycles of the body. This cycle can be one of your own devising, or it can be a more established pattern like 12 hours of fasting followed by a 12-hour window in which you can eat normally.
There are many ways to fast intermittently. The type you choose hinges on your health goals, energy needs, and willpower. Intermittent fasting to improve physical fitness is different from intermittent fasting for weight loss. The schedule and foods you choose are the primary differences.
Why Try Intermittent Fasting?
One argument for intermittent fasting is that it’s easier to stick to compared with dieting or eating small amounts of food throughout the day for weeks or months. Eating things in moderation or miserly portions isn’t for everyone. In fact, most people find dieting difficult for this very reason. If you take an “all or nothing” approach to dietary changes, intermittent fasting might help you get the results you want. Indeed, alternating periods of fasting with short periods of eating appears to increase weight loss compared to traditional calorie restriction.
An even better argument for intermittent fasting is that regimented intermittent fasting periods combined with earlier mealtimes work with, rather than against, your hormonal rhythms to promote a healthier metabolism. Your appetite, energy expenditure, satiety (feeling full), and fat storage all respond to hormonal and environmental cues like your sleep-wake cycle. Eating on a regimented schedule, like intermittent fasting, can help you optimize your eating habits for weight maintenance, weight gain, and weight loss.[5, 6]
Eating on a Schedule With Intermittent Fasting
When you eat at times when your body isn’t prepared for food enzymatically or hormonally, you start throwing all the various clocks in your body out of sync. That midnight snack triggers your digestive system to start secreting all the digestive juices it needs to break down that cup (ok, bowl) of ice cream during a time when your brain is calling for sleep. A few hours later, when you’re sleeping, your blood floods with sugar from the meal and your pancreas deploys insulin to herd that sugar into cells. Your cells don’t need a rush of sugar at 2 a.m., and this just throws your organ systems and hunger-regulating hormones off kilter. Eating out of sync with what your body needs can affect how your body responds to hormones like insulin, ghrelin, and leptin. Disrupting these hormones can significantly affect your appetite, and how you use and store energy in your body.
Ideally, your hormonal cycle should sync up with your sleep-wake cycle to fuel and support your daily activities. But your stress, eating habits, and hectic daily schedule can easily prevent these two systems from running on the same schedule. To stick to an intermittent fasting schedule, you’ll have to be diligent about eating on time and avoiding snacks and meals if they fall out of the designated eating window.
The Many Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Research hints at the far-reaching implications of intermittent fasting for diverse populations. The brain, weight loss, and fitness benefits make intermittent fasting an appealing option for anyone looking to improve their health, especially for people with type 2 diabetes or anyone trying to maintain weight loss after obesity.
Slowed Aging and Improved Longevity
Caloric restriction has received a lot of press the last few years for its role in extending lifespan in animal studies, but it’s near impossible to ethically study long-term food restriction on humans. Intermittent fasting triggers the same effects of caloric restriction, so you get the improved aging and a longer, healthier lifespan.
Boosts Brain Growth, Repair, and Function
Intermittent fasting holds several benefits for the brain. Tightly regulating your eating schedule seems to improve memory, generate new neurons, enhance brain recovery after trauma, elevate mood, and lower your risk of the cognitive decline associated with aging.[8, 9]
Regulates Hormone Levels
Insulin, ghrelin, and leptin levels and response in the body improve with intermittent fasting. This means your body is able to better respond to the rise and fall in blood sugar, and regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. Human growth hormone, the hormone that triggers growth in children and helps regulate sugar and fat metabolism, also increases during cyclical fasts.[10, 11]
Improves Blood Composition
Your body is better able to regulate the ebb and flow of energy resources when you adopt a regular eating schedule. Fasting both lowers and somewhat paradoxically helps sustain healthy blood sugar levels, blood pressure, insulin levels, and cholesterol. Improved blood composition decreases oxidative stress in the body.
Decreases Oxidative Stress
Eating, in general, results in oxidative stress, depleting your antioxidant defenses against free radicals in your tissues. Intermittent fasting, by its nature, significantly decreases your exposure to the inflammatory effects of converting food to energy because you eat less often.[1, 13]
Enhances Fat Burning
Low insulin levels occur during the fasting state because you’re not absorbing a steady supply of glucose from the digestive tract. Low insulin levels prompt fat burning to keep energy levels stable. Intermittent fasting gives you better access to your fat stores.[1, 14]
Mimics the Beneficial Effects of Exercise
Athletic training provides many beneficial effects on the brain, heart, vascular system, stress response, and body composition. Intermittent fasting mimics many of the same benefits, such as lower your resting heart rate, improved immune function, increased DNA repair, better motor function, ketone production, improved resistance to stress, faster recovery from stress, and enhanced recycling of old or malfunctioning cells.
Intermittent Fasting Patterns
Generally, the longer the fasting period, the better the results. Some people find they experience some emotional effects with fasting. You may find that you feel irritable and short tempered while adjusting to an intermittent fasting schedule.
Typical Intermittent Fasting Schedules
|Schedule||Eating Period||Fasting Period|
|12:12||12 hours||12 hours|
|10:14||10 hours||14 hours|
|8:16||8 hours||16 hours|
|6:18||6 hours||18 hours|
|4:20||4 hours||20 hours|
|2:22||2 hours||22 hours|
|Alternate day||Duration of one meal||24 hours after end of meal|
Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting
If you can stretch your fast out for longer periods of time, you’ll quickly see lower insulin levels and spend more time in ketosis, the fat-burning state. To start intermittent fasting, I recommend starting with 12:12 schedule: a 12-hour window in which you can eat followed by 12 hours of fasting. If you find this schedule easy, try an 8:16 schedule next. Fasting for longer periods with comparatively short windows to eat (6:18 or 4:20) are a key component of the warrior diet regimen, a diet inspired by our ancestors’ eating habits. Extend your fast beyond even that benchmark and you reach alternate day fasting.
You’ll have to evaluate what works with your daily schedule and workout goals to find a stable, sustainable intermittent fasting pattern. Some fasters find that a 10:14 or 6:18 fasting plan is a better fit for them. Fasting, in general, will yield an array of health benefits, so don’t be afraid to shift your schedule around to suit your needs. Just make an effort to eat earlier in the day rather than late at night to decrease fat storage. However, if you typically skip breakfast, feel free to begin your eating period around lunchtime.
The physical effects of fasting on an individual depends on an incalculable number of variables. Some people respond to fasting significantly better than others. If you are particularly stressed out or you’re going through some difficult life events, I would advise you to put fasting on hold until you get your stress under control due to the hormonal imbalance that usually accompanies (and feeds) the stress response.
What to Eat During an Intermittent Fast
Although you don’t have to adopt a different diet to try intermittent fasting, it’s never too late to eat healthier. I recommend a whole food, plant-based diet with lots of raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to improve nutrition and maintain health.
If you’re looking to your diet to kickstart fat loss, try my ketogenic fast. Unlike most ketogenic diets or fasts, which rely on a substantial amount of animal fat and protein to shift your body into ketosis, I designed mine to cleanse the body with whole plant foods like avocado and walnuts that promote a healthy blood composition and lower oxidative stress in addition to torching your fat reserves.
Have you tried intermittent fasting before? Tell us how it went in the comments!
- Van Praag, H., et al. “Exercise, Energy Intake, Glucose Homeostasis, And The Brain.” Journal of Neuroscience 34.46 (2014): 15139-15149. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Longer, Valter, and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, And Time-Restricted Feeding In Healthy Lifespan.” Cell 23.6 (2017): 1048-1059. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Harvie, M. N., et al. “The Effects Of Intermittent Or Continuous Energy Restriction On Weight Loss And Metabolic Disease Risk Markers: A Randomized Trial In Young Overweight Women.” International Journal of Obesity 35.5 (2010): 714-727. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Williams, K. V., et al. “The Effect Of Short Periods Of Caloric Restriction On Weight Loss And Glycemic Control In Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care 21.1 (1998): 2-8. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Garaulet, M., et al. “Timing Of Food Intake Predicts Weight Loss Effectiveness.” International Journal of Obesity 37.4 (2013): 604-611. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Lewis, Gary F., et al. “Disordered Fat Storage And Mobilization In The Pathogenesis Of Insulin Resistance And Type 2 Diabetes.” Endocrine Reviews 23.2 (2002): 201-229. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Perkins, Robert. “Diet That Mimics Fasting Appears To Slow Aging.” News.usc.edu. N.p., 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Bair, Stephanie. “Intermittent Fasting: Try This At Home For Brain Health.” Stanford Law School. N.p., 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Martin, Bronwen, Mark Mattson, and Stuart Maudsley. “Caloric Restriction And Intermittent Fasting: Two Potential Diets For Successful Brain Aging.” Aging Research Reviews 5.3 (2017): 332–353. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Alzoghaibi, Mohammed A., et al. “Diurnal Intermittent Fasting During Ramadan: The Effects On Leptin And Ghrelin Levels.” PLoS ONE 9.3 (2014): e92214. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Ho, K.Y., et al. “Fasting Enhances Growth Hormone Secretion And Amplifies The Complex Rhythms Of Growth Hormone Secretion In Man.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 81.4 (1988): 968-975. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Azevedo, Fernanda Reis de, Dimas Ikeoka, and Bruno Caramelli. “Effects Of Intermittent Fasting On Metabolism In Men.” N.p., 2013.
- Faris, Mo’ez Al-Islam Ezzat, et al. “Impact Of Ramadan Intermittent Fasting On Oxidative Stress Measured By Urinary 15–Isoprostane.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism (2012): n. pag. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- Fung, Jason, and Jimmy Moore. “The Complete Guide To Fasting.” 1st ed. Victory Belt Publishing. Print.
- Torres, Susan, and Caryl Nowson. “Relationship Between Stress, Eating Behavior, And Obesity.” Nutrition 23.11-12 (2017): 887-894. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Since the 1960s, Americans have been obsessed with cutting all fat out of our diets. In that same time frame, rates of obesity and diabetes skyrocketed across all socioeconomic groups. How is it possible that reducing fat intake coincided with a 300% rise in obesity and a 700% increase in diabetes?[1, 2] It’s almost as if we’ve been completely wrong about fat and its role in nutrition this entire time.
Why Low-Fat Diets Fail
Many readers have no doubt tried a low-fat diet and experienced mixed results. Maybe it didn’t work at all. Maybe you lost a couple of pounds, only to have them quickly return—with a few unwelcome friends. The diet may have even made you sick. Most people eventually slip and abandon the diet, but even when followed obsessively, low-fat diets don’t work.
That’s because it’s not fats that make people fat, or at least it’s not only fats. It’s sugar that actually triggers fat storage in the body. After you absorb sugar from your digestive system, it’s released into your bloodstream in the form of glucose. High blood sugar causes your pancreas to release insulin, which instructs fat cells to absorb excess glucose and convert it into more fat.
Conversely, fats, or at least certain types of fats, are not only healthy, but they are essential for your health. In our haste to banish all fats from our diets, we tossed out the good with the bad and paid a hefty price for it. The truth is that the avoidance of all fats is making us sick and affecting our quality of life.
History of the Low-Fat Diet
Unfortunately, the demonization of fats is deeply embedded in the public consciousness. So how did we end up this way? The story could be straight out of a bad conspiracy novel.
In the 1960s, research began emerging about the link between refined sugar and heart disease. Desperate to keep this quiet, a lobbying group for the sugar industry called the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) began paying off scientists to shift the blame to fat instead. This isn’t paranoid rambling; recently leaked documents have made this a matter of public record. A 2016 article in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed these documents and came to some startling revelations.
In 1965, the SRF funded a literature review that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Even though the SRF paid for the review, set its objectives, decided which studies could be included, and had final say on drafts, their sponsorship was not disclosed—a conflict of interest that borders on criminal. Unsurprisingly, the review paid for by the sugar industry claimed that Americans should eat more sugar. The study outright dismissed substantial evidence tying refined sugar to heart disease, blaming the increased rates on fat.
What’s worse, this shaky science soon became public policy. In 1976, the U.S. Senate held the “Diet Related to Killer Diseases” hearings, in which they discussed dietary guidelines. The government concluded that Americans needed to reduce a number of saturated fats in their diets.
Limiting saturated fats is a good idea, but the new guidelines didn’t make strong enough distinctions between the different types of fat. All the public understood was “fat = bad.” Since then, with encouragement from advertising and media, we’ve had a cultural obsession with cutting all fats from our diet, even the ones our bodies need to stay healthy. We took it too far, and it’s lead to 50 years of replacing essential nutrients with empty calories.
It turns out that when you take all the fat from some foods, you also remove a lot of the flavor. To counteract blandness, “reduced fat” foods started replacing the fats with sugar. It was a major win for the sugar industry. Instead of having the health dangers of refined sugar exposed, they managed to shovel more of their toxic product down our throats than ever before.
The low-fat diet push has been a complete, unmitigated fiasco. Rates of diabetes and obesity in this country have exploded at a rate far faster than population growth alone can account for. In 1958, just over 1.5 million Americans had diabetes. As of 2014, that number had skyrocketed to over 22 million! That means that in just over 50 years, the percentage of Americans with diabetes septupled from under 1% to over 7%. Likewise, our obesity rates have nearly tripled since the 1960s, and one in every four deaths in this country is now due to heart disease.[1, 6] Clearly, we’ve been doing something terribly wrong.
The Importance of Healthy Fats
Every cell in your body needs some fat. It’s used to build cell membranes and coat nerves. Essential fats are necessary for energy, blood clotting, and muscle movement. Some fats contain potent antioxidants that help scavenge free radicals and repair oxidative damage. They ease inflammation, promote healthy cholesterol levels, and help maintain heart health. Essential fats also play a crucial role in brain health—about 60% of your brain is made of fat.[8, 10] So remember, if anyone ever calls you a “fathead,” it’s technically not an insult, it’s scientifically accurate.
Fats are also a crucial part of nutrient absorption. Certain vitamins, like vitamin A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble vitamins. That means that your body can only absorb these nutrients from the digestive system if you eat them with fats. Higher fat content in the food you eat makes fat-soluble nutrients more bioavailable. Without fat in your diet, you cannot properly absorb these vital nutrients, leading to vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin A is crucial for metabolism and development, while the benefits of vitamin E include antioxidant activity and immune health. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with impaired bone health, and a lack of vitamin K can inhibit your blood’s ability to clot.
Now let’s be clear. The need for dietary fats is not an excuse to load up on pizza, burgers, and bacon. That’s going too far in the opposite direction.There’s a right way to do this.
There are several different kinds of fats—some good, some bad, some in between. Some fats are healthy when enjoyed in moderation, but harmful when consumed in excess. Let’s take a closer look.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you keep your fat intake between 25-35% of your total calories. The majority of these should be healthy unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and mostly come from plant sources and fish. There are two main categories of these healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that are liquid at room temperature but solidify when refrigerated. They are most prevalent in nuts and high-fat fruits like avocados and olives.
Unsaturated fats can also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Like fats, not all cholesterol your body produces is bad. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to arterial plaque, heart disease, and stroke. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), is “good” cholesterol. HDL removes LDL cholesterol from your blood and helps flush it from your system through your liver. Monounsaturated fats help by lowering LDL cholesterol while raising HDL.
Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. We call them essential because they are necessary for human health, but your body cannot synthesize them on its own. You must get them from food. Polyunsaturated fats help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.
There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats. You’ve probably heard of them: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in brain function and normal growth and development. One essential omega-6 is linoleic acid, which our bodies use to make the lipids that make up our cell membranes. Omega-3s promote heart health and help maintain blood vessels in the brain. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 found in plants and a major cardioprotective nutrient.
Enjoy Saturated Fats in Moderation
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and very common in the average American diet. They’re found in red meat, dairy products, and baked goods. Some types of saturated fat are healthier than others, but most Americans already get far too much of the bad kinds in their diets.
Too much saturated fat and dietary cholesterol from animal sources can drive up bodily cholesterol levels and increase the risk of certain cancers. Substitute these with healthier saturated fats like coconut oil and dark chocolate. You shouldn’t cut out saturated fat entirely, but you should limit your intake to less than 10% of your total daily calories.[7, 16]
Trans Fat: A Fat to Avoid
One type of fat you must avoid completely is trans fat, also known as trans fatty acids. While some very small amounts of trans fatty acids are found in nature, dietary trans fats are an entirely human-made substance. Trans fats are what you get when you take vegetable oils and heat them in the presence of hydrogen and a toxic metal catalyst such as palladium. This process causes hydrogen atoms to bond with the carbon in the oil, turning it from liquid to solid.
Unlike essential fats, trans fats are nothing more than empty calories and provide no nutritional benefits. Quite the opposite, in fact. A diet high in trans fats contributes to heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, pregnancy complications, allergies, obesity, vision disturbances in infants, and disorders of the nervous system. Trans fats increase inflammation and LDL (bad) cholesterol. They compromise insulin sensitivity, increasing the risk of diabetes. There is no safe level of consumption; for every 2% of total calories consumed as trans fats, your risk of heart disease rises by 23%.
Many people are aware of the dangers of trans fats, so manufacturers hide their presence on food labels by referring to them as “partially hydrogenated oil.” Trans fats are found in most fast food, shortening, baked goods, frosting, frozen pizza crust, non-dairy creamer, canned biscuits, potato chips, corn chips, microwave popcorn, and deep fried foods. The most well-known trans fat is margarine, an imitation butter spread that is basically pure trans fat. Avoid margarine—you’d actually be better off with butter or ghee. (Coconut oil and avocado oil make excellent vegan alternatives, see below.)
Fortunately, there is good news. In 2015, the U.S. followed the lead of many other countries when the FDA banned all trans fats in the American food supply following a three-year grace period. That means that after 2018, food companies can no longer add trans fats to any foods prepared in the United States.
Foods With Healthy Fats
So now that we know which fats to avoid and which to embrace (in moderation, of course), where do we find the good fats? Here are a few of the very best food sources of healthy fats.
Avocados are currently surfing a surging wave of popularity. America is obsessed with them, and with good reason, avocados truly are a miracle fruit. Avocado benefits include a high density of unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fats. Guac isn’t the only way you can consume avocados. Try avocado oil, which is made up of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids and 13% polyunsaturated fat. It has dozens of uses. You can use it for cooking, baking, as a salad dressing, or as a butter substitute on popcorn. Just make sure you use organic, GMO-free popcorn!
Nuts and Nut Butter
A diet high in nuts is linked with longevity and a reduced risk of heart disease. Depending on the type of nut, one ounce contains between 13 to 20 grams of mostly unsaturated fat. Nuts also give you a healthy dose of vitamin E and, like all plant-based foods, are naturally cholesterol-free.
Walnuts, in particular, make an excellent choice for a snack. High in polyunsaturated fats, they can help promote healthy blood lipids. Try fresh, unrefined walnut oil. It doesn’t hold up well to high-temperature cooking, but it adds a great nutty flavor to cold dishes and salad dressings.
Nut butter brings the same benefits as nuts, but be sure you get the kind without added sugar. Always read the nutrition labels. A true quality nut butter has no ingredients other than nuts. Peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews all make excellent nut butter.[19, 20]
The benefits of coconut oil are well known. What may surprise you is that coconut oil is very high in saturated fat. In fact, coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat—a higher percentage than butter!
But don’t give up hope, yet. About half of the saturated fat in coconut oil is of a type called lauric acid. Likely because of its unique molecular structure, coconut oil boosts beneficial HDL cholesterol. Saturated fats should be consumed sparingly, but coconut oil is a much healthier source than many others. Use it as a substitution for butter or dangerous trans fats like vegetable shortening. As it’s solid at room temperature, coconut oil works well in pie crusts and other recipes that need a solid fat. Coconut oil may be liquid if it’s particularly warm in your house, but you can easily solidify it in the refrigerator.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, cold-pressed olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can consume. Not only does it contain about 75% monounsaturated fat by volume, but it’s also loaded with essential linoleic acid (omega-3) and polyphenol compounds that can help normalize blood pressure. Olives are also rich in fat-soluble vitamin E.[22, 23]
Be careful when purchasing olive oils. There are a lot of fake extra virgin olive oils on the shelf of your local supermarket. These are blended with lesser oils or not made to full extra virgin standards. Look for a seal of certification from either the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) or the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) on the bottle to ensure a quality product.
While we at Global Healing Center do advocate a fully vegan diet, we realize that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. If you are going to consume dairy anyway, skip the skim and get full-fat versions of dairy products. Full-fat helps you feel fuller longer, and the fatty acids can help promote healthy body weight.
The healthiest dairy appears to be full-fat Greek yogurt, but be wary of any overstated benefits of butter. While new research indicates that full-fat dairy does not increase the risk of heart disease, it does nothing to decrease it either.
Spirulina, also known as blue-green algae, is already a favorite nutritional supplement for many people. It’s a rich source of protein, antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, and selenium. It also contains an essential omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid. Blue-green algae has the potential to be contaminated with toxic metals or microcystins, so be sure to only get your spirulina from a reputable source.
Like nuts, seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the best seeds for healthy fats include sunflower, hemp, flax, and chia seeds. Chia seeds also slow the rate at which your body processes carbs into sugar, making them a great choice for low carb diets. Flax contains antioxidants called lignans that help regulate blood sugar and promote heart health. Hemp, flax, and chia seeds are great in smoothies and salads, while a handful of sunflower seeds make an excellent snack.[28, 29]
Rejoice, chocolate lovers! Cocoa contains two fatty acids—stearic and oleic. Stearic acid is a type of saturated fat but does not seem to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat that actively reduces bad cholesterol.
When consuming chocolate, darker is better. Cacao contains all the nutrients as well as beneficial phytochemicals called flavonoids. Milk chocolate has only a tiny fraction of the cacao present in dark, and it’s completely absent in white chocolate. So skip the milk and white chocolate, and look for 70-85% cacao. Even then, remember to enjoy dark chocolate in moderation, as it still contains sugar. I recommend no more than seven ounces of dark chocolate per week.
Despite its clear and complete failure, we’re not likely to see the low-fat diet craze go away anytime soon. After decades of reinforcement from media and advertising, the message, fictional as it is, is too deeply implanted in the public consciousness to reject easily. Billboards, commercials, inserts, and pop-up ads will continue to insist you should buy nonfat, nondairy creamer and fat-free, chemical-laden potato chips.
Ultimately, the true secret to health is never “just do this one thing, and everything will be perfect forever.” Good health is about making intelligent, informed decisions every day. Healthy fats are just one part of a balanced nutritional plan, which itself must be combined with exercise, detox, a clean living space, stress management, rest, and dozens of other factors to maximize your ability to lead a happy, healthy life.
- “Obesity Rates Continue to Climb in the United States.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Johns Hopkins University, 10 July 2007. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Long-Term Trends in Diabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Apr. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “NIH Study Shows How Insulin Stimulates Fat Cells to Take in Glucose.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 07 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Kearns, Cristin E., Laura A. Schmidt, and Stanton A. Glantz. “Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research: A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents.” JAMA Internal Medicine 176.11 (2016): 1680. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Oppenheimer, Gerald M., and I. Daniel Benrubi. “McGovern’s Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs Versus the: Meat Industry on the Diet-Heart Question (1976–1977).” American Journal of Public Health 104.1 (2014): 59–69. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Heart Disease Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “The Truth about Fats: The Good, the Bad, and the In-between.” Harvard Health. Harvard University, Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center, 5 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Types of Fat.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Chang, C. Y., D. S. Ke, and J. Y. Chen. “Essential Fatty Acids and Human Brain.” Acta Neurologica Taiwanica. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2009. Web. 05 May 2017.
- Albahrani, Ali A., and Ronda F. Greaves. “Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Clinical Indications and Current Challenges for Chromatographic Measurement.” The Clinical Biochemist Reviews 37.1 (2016): 27–47. Print.
- “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 8th Edition.” 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, n.d. Web. 05 May 2017.
- “LDL and HDL: ‘Bad’ and ‘Good’ Cholesterol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Ehrlich, Steven D. “Omega-6 Fatty Acids.” University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center, 5 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Lorgeril, M. De, and P. Salen. “Alpha-linolenic Acid and Coronary Heart Disease.” Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases 14.3 (2004): 162-69. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Healthy Fats: Guide for Improving the Quality of Fat Intake.” University of Arizona. Arizona Board of Regents, May 2008. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Dhaka, Vandana, et al. “Trans Fats—Sources, Health Risks and Alternative Approach – A Review.” Journal of food science and technology 48.5 (2011): 534–541.Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Welch-Bezemek, Mary. “The Many Health Benefits of the Avocado.” University of California Cooperative Extension. Regents of the University of California, 9 July 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Nut Butters” Food Source Information. Food Source Information – Colorado, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Banel, Deirdre K., and Frank B. Hu. “Effects of Walnut Consumption on Blood Lipids and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 90.1 (2009): 56–63. PMC. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Willett, Walter C., M.D. “Ask the Doctor: Coconut Oil.” Harvard Health. Harvard University, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Moreno-Luna, Rafael, et al. “Olive Oil Polyphenols Decrease Blood Pressure and Improve Endothelial Function in Young Women with Mild Hypertension.” American Journal of Hypertension 25.12 (2012): 1299-304. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Higdon, Jane, et al. “Essential Fatty Acids.” Linus Pauling Institute. Linus Pauling Institute, May 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Publications, Harvard Health. “Is Extra-virgin Olive Oil Extra Healthy?” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard University, Dec. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Full-fat Dairy May Reduce Obesity Risk.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Harvard University, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Study Sheds Light on Dairy Fat and Cardiovascular Disease Risk.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Harvard University, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- Ehrlich, Steven D., NMD. “Spirulina.” University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), 16 July 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2017
- Williams, Carly. “Tiny Superfoods You May Not Be Eating.” Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Harvesting and Eating Sunflower Seeds.” Natural Learning Initiative. NC State University. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Healing Foods Pyramid™: Dark Chocolate.” The University of Michigan Health System. Regents of the University of Michigan. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
While fasting has been part of human culture for thousands of years, only recently have we begun to investigate the therapeutic benefits of the practice. Interestingly, modern science has found a variety of verifiable positive effects fasting that has on human health.
What Is Water Fasting?
Water fasting, also known as a water cleanse, is a type of fasting in which you consume only water for a set period of time. Many cleansing diets are referred to as fasts, but in water fasting, you take in zero calories. It’s distinct from caloric restriction in which a person’s daily caloric intake is reduced by 20–40%.
Of course, in the long-term, it’s impossible to live on water alone. Your body can’t function without calories and nutrients; they’re the batteries and building blocks of life. However, a carefully planned, short-term water fast can help reset certain biological processes and reinvigorate your health.
The most common question people ask about water fasting is “why?” Why would you voluntarily subject yourself to hunger and nutritional deprivation? There are many reasons to fast. Some people do it for religious or spiritual reasons; others to raise awareness for a cause. However, there are also well-established health benefits to fasting. Intermittent fasting encourages weight loss, reduces body fat, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and may even reduce the risk of serious conditions.[1, 2]
In the early days of humanity, fasting was the norm. Before the invention of agriculture, we were all hunter-gatherers. We ate what we could, when we could. Grabbing a snack from the fridge whenever our stomachs rumbled was not an option. Survival required that we adapt to occasional food shortages.
Our ancestors incorporated fasting into cultural traditions long after the invention of agriculture ended our hunter-gatherer days. Many religions participate in ritual fasting to this day. Those of Islamic faith fast from dawn until dusk during the month of Ramadan. Many Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and peoples of many other faiths all take part in traditional fasting. Many great healers and thinkers, like Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle have praised the benefits of fasting.
The Health Benefits of Water Fasting
Fasting isn’t just a way to demonstrate faith and devotion. There are health benefits to fasting as well.
The benefit that interests most people is weight loss. While it may seem obvious that not eating will lead to less body fat, let’s take a closer look at exactly how water fasting can help. Ketosis is the state in which your body begins using energy from your internal fat stores instead of food. Water fasting helps your body reach ketosis more quickly than dieting. When you refrain from eating calories, your body is forced to burn fat cells for energy.
While we know of no force on earth that can halt or reverse the aging process, it is certainly true that some people age more gracefully than others. Animal studies have found that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan by up to 80% over control groups. In humans, fasting has been found to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation.
Improved Cell Recycling
Autophagy is your body’s normal, natural process for recycling unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Water fasting forces your system into an autophagic state. With the severely reduced caloric intake, your body is forced to be more selective in which cells it protects.
This means that fasting can encourage your body’s natural healing mechanisms to actively destroy and recycle damaged tissues, which may have a positive effect on several serious conditions.
There is bountiful anecdotal evidence from people who claim that water fasting helped them overcome debilitating disorders. Current research backs up many of these claims. Animal studies have found that alternate day fasting caused a major reduction in the incidence of cancer and metabolic syndrome. Rodents placed on an intermittent fast had fewer incidences of neurological disorders.
Water, Cells, and Human Health: New Breakthroughs
Of course, your body needs water for hydration, but is there more to it than that? Yes there is, according to Dr. Gerald H. Pollack, a professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Pollack and his team have made some discoveries that challenge our current understanding of water. They found that water behaves oddly within living cells. Close to the cell membrane, water organizes itself in a series of gel-like layers, rather than as a completely fluid solution.
Dr. Pollack calls this “exclusion zone” (EZ) water, and it’s not the H2O we’re familiar with. EZ water is H3O2—three hydrogen atoms bonded to two oxygen atoms. So what does this mean for water fasting? Well, the reason this is called the exclusion zone is because it excludes things—things like contaminants and impurities. EZ water holds a negative charge and pushes contaminants away from itself. This discovery may have serious implications for cell signaling and detoxification, but more research needs to be done before we fully understand the connection.
How to Perform a Water Fast
When fasting, planning is crucial. If you’ve never done a fast before, you shouldn’t just start a 30-day water cleanse this afternoon. There is a right way to do any cleansing diet. Fasting can be done safely, but it can also cause harm if done incorrectly. I recommend consulting with a trusted health care provider before performing any fast.
Drink High-Quality Water
When performing a water fast, it’s more important than ever to only consume fresh, clean, high-quality water. The effect of any contaminants in your water will only be magnified with no food in your stomach. I recommend you drink only distilled water during your fast. You can also drink filtered water if you have a very good filtration system, but distillation goes further than filtration and removes all harmful organisms and chemicals.
The most crucial step in any fast is to arrange your schedule. If possible, take time off work for the duration of the cleanse. Choose a length of time for your water fasting diet. Fasts can be done for any length of time up to about a month, but one, three, five, seven, and 10-day water fasts are the most common. Start small. If this is your first fast, try a 24-hour or a 3-day fast.
If you perform any fast longer than five days, or you’re fasting to alleviate serious conditions, consider a supervised water fast. Many people choose a supervised fast because it offers a controlled environment, a team of professionals to make sure all goes well, and fellow fasters for emotional support. A fasting clinic can do tests to find the best fast for you, monitor your health during the fast, and help ease your transition back to solid foods.
Before we get started, let’s go over a few precautions. You should not perform a fast if you are pregnant or lactating. A developing child is just too sensitive to nutritional deficiencies. Likewise, anyone with type 1 diabetes should choose a different type of detox diet. Fasting works best for people who are 20 lbs or more overweight. If you’re less than this, you can still try fasting, but plan a shorter duration for your first fast.
What to Expect During a Water Fast
Fasting is a time for rest, not exertion. Don’t plan on running any marathons during your fast. You shouldn’t even go to the gym. Your body will want to sleep more than usual—let it. Listen to your body; you may need 12 hours or more of sleep each night, and naps during the day. Do not be alarmed; this is part of the process. Relax and embrace it.
Drink 2-3 quarts (or liters) of water every day. Don’t drink it all at once. Space it out over the course of the day to keep yourself properly hydrated and increase satiety.
I won’t lie; the first couple days are going to be tough. You will likely experience some unpleasant symptoms like hunger, irritability, headaches, or disorientation. Fortunately, your body is resilient and should quickly adapt. You should start feeling better around the third or fourth day. Many people even report a feeling of euphoria at this point.
Water Fasting Tips and Tricks
Here are a couple fasting tips that can make your experience go a little more smoothly.
Books are a faster’s best friend. When fasting, it’s important to both rest your body and keep your mind occupied. Now would be a good time to catch up on your reading. Reading is a fantastic low-energy way to keep your mind engaged.
Set Realistic Goals
Be realistic about your goals. Why are you doing this cleanse? To help a particular health issue? To lose weight? Set simple, clear, achievable goals.
Meditation reinforces willpower and promotes a healthy connection between body and mind. Many people find that meditating can be a great way to help control cravings and strengthen resolve. Others report that feelings of hunger distract them from mediation. Find what works best for you.
Remember, in a water cleanse, you drink only water. No food, no smoothies, no juices. There is one exception, sort of. Some people find the taste of plain water underwhelming. If you’re of a similar mind, you can add a small squirt of lemon juice into your water. Let me be clear; this isn’t an excuse to drink sugary lemonade. A small squeeze of a lemon slice can add some flavor without adding much in the way of calories. Likewise, you can add a spoonful of raw organic apple cider vinegar to add a little flavor and some probiotics.
After the Fast
After the fast, you must resist the urge to overindulge, especially in the first few days. While you may dream of gorging yourself, your rebooted digestive system simply cannot handle it yet. At this point, rich food would cause you severe discomfort, or possibly serious complications.
Instead, break your fast slowly. Start by drinking only juices and detox waters, then broths, and gradually add in solid foods. You can do this over the course of a day if you performed a very short fast, but for fasts of 3-7 days, wait at least 24 hours before reintroducing your system to solid foods. Breaking the fast can be a multi-day process for fasts longer than that.
Fasting is a great way to reset your system and experience fantastic health benefits, but it’s not a way to cheat basic biology. Don’t expect to live a life of overindulgence and let the occasional water detox cancel out the damage.
Rather, fasting is just one part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Other lifestyle choices you must make include eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest, effectively managing stress, and avoiding environmental toxins. Use your fast as an opportunity to abandon bad habits and add new healthy habits to your routine.
Finally, if you decide that fasting isn’t for you, that’s fine. There are many different ways to detox. Find a method of deep cleansing that suits you and make it part of your healthy lifestyle.
- Bair, Stephanie. “Intermittent Fasting: Try This at Home for Brain Health.” SLS Blogs/ Law and Sciences Blog. Stanford Law School, 9 Jan. 2015. Web. 12 May 2017.
- Wu, Suzanne. “The Benefits of Fasting.” USC Dornsife College News RSS. University of Southern California, 10 June 2014. Web. 12 May 2017.
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- Rubinsztein D.C., Mariño G., Kroemer G. “Autophagy and aging.” Cell. 2011 Sep 2;146(5):682-95. Web. 4 May 2017.
- Pollack, Gerald H. “Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life a New, Unifying Approach to Cell Function.” Seattle, WA: Ebner & Sons, 2001. Print.
Alternate day fasting (ADF) is a type of intermittent fasting in which you alternate between “fast days,” when you consume very few or zero calories, and “feed days” when you eat as much as you like. When done correctly, ADF is a powerful tool for weight loss and longevity.
How an Alternate Day Fast Is Done
The basics of alternate day fasting are relatively straightforward. You just eat every other day. On fast days, you water fast or consume other zero-calorie liquids like tea and detox water. On feed days, you can eat whatever you want (within reason).
If zero calories seems like an impossible goal, many experts recommend a modified approach. In the modified form, instead of consuming zero calories on fast days, you consume about 25% of your normal energy requirements. Exact calorie requirements differ from person to person, but if we assume a 2000 calorie diet, that means you consume 500 calories on fast days. These calories should be consumed in a single meal between noon and 2 p.m.
Researchers theorized that people who ate only 25% of their calorie requirements on fast days would compensate by binge-eating 175% of their needs on feed days. Surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Participants in the study only ate slightly more than normal on feed days. What that means is that their bodies absorbed fewer calories over the two-day period. This type of energy restriction means that you can lose weight while still eating what you want half the time.
Alternate Day Fasting vs Conventional Dieting
The standard type of weight loss plan is caloric restriction (CR). CR is simply reducing the number of calories you consume every day. You usually have to restrict your calories by 25-40% to achieve noticeable results. As a weight loss tool, caloric restriction seems to make sense. Take in fewer calories than you consume every day, and you have to lose weight. It’s basic math, right?
A concern with traditional caloric restriction is adherence. People just don’t stick to it for very long. Generally, dieters are very good about rigorously following their meal plan for a couple of weeks. However, there’s a dramatic drop-off after the two month mark. Eight weeks seems to be about the limit that most people can endure daily calorie restriction. What’s more, your metabolism doesn’t keep chugging along despite running a deficit. It starts to conserve energy where it can, meaning that your metabolism slows dramatically, and weight loss slows to a halt.
For many, alternate day fasting is a more manageable option than conventional CR. With feed days never more than a day away, the fast days don’t seem quite so bad. On a traditional restrictive diet, you must exercise extreme self-control and deny yourself any treats, and that can leave you feeling defeated, depleted, and frustrated. With ADF, you know that you can eat what you want tomorrow.
With this comforting knowledge, many people find alternate day fasting easier to stick to than conventional calorie restriction. In fact, studies have found that ADF has an adherence rate of about 87%. The first couple days are the hardest. Most people feel hungry during the first few days of the fast, but, eventually, their leptin and ghrelin levels stabilize and their metabolism adapts to the new schedule.
The Health Benefits of Alternate Day Fasting
Humans have known about the benefits of fasting for thousands of years, but conventional medicine has often ignored this knowledge. Fortunately, recent research now confirms much of what our ancestors already knew—fasting, when done correctly, can have a tremendously positive effect on the body.
Promotes Weight Loss
Multiple studies, both animal and human, have reported significant weight loss for ADF participants. The results? An average loss of about 8% of total body weight over an eight week period and a measurable reduction in belly fat.
What’s more, ADF preserves muscle mass more effectively than conventional dieting. After a successful conventional diet, about 75% of weight loss comes from body fat; the remaining 25% is lost from lean muscle. With ADF, studies show that approximately 99% of lost weight is in the form of fat. This makes for a much healthier body composition after the fast is complete.
Improves Insulin and Blood-Glucose Levels
ADF may have beneficial effects for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Studies have found that ADF reduces blood glucose levels in animals and improves insulin sensitivity in humans.
Supports Heart Health
In animal testing, ADF was found to reduce heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. Further testing is necessary to determine if these results are replicable in humans.
Both human and animal studies have found that ADF reduces occasional inflammation. The fast even selectively protects certain organs like the liver and endocrine tissues.[7, 8]
Cells become stronger if you put them under mild stress and allow them the time to recover from it. That’s essentially why exercise works. Exercise stresses muscle tissue, which then grows back stronger after recovery. “There is considerable similarity between how cells respond to the stress of exercise and how cells respond to intermittent fasting,” says Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging. Intermittent fasting has been confirmed to extend lifespan in animal studies, but more research is necessary to see if this benefit carries over to humans.
Making the Most of Your Fast
Alternate day fasting has many benefits, but it needs to be done the right way. You must still make healthy decisions. All forms of dieting work best when paired with exercise. ADF is no excuse to skip hitting the gym, so find an exercise regimen that works for you. Likewise, if you spend feed days eating toxic, processed food, your health will suffer. Make an effort to eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and a reasonable amount of healthy fats.
Alternate Day Fasting Alternatives
While many people find the alternate day fast easier to follow than other dieting options, some may find it more difficult. In particular, frequent snackers and people who get irritable when they don’t eat regularly every few hours typically find the ADF difficult to adhere to. That’s perfectly fine. We are all unique individuals with different dietary needs, metabolisms, activity levels, and preferences. ADF is far from the only type of fasting regimen. If you are interested in different types of fasts, ADF can also be an excellent introduction to fasting in general.
Which specific nutritional plan you follow is less important than the fact that you have a plan. There are many other types of diets and fasts (like the ketogenic fast), each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Find a nutrition plan that suits your body and make it part of your healthy lifestyle.
Have you tried alternate day fasting? Any other kind of fast? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.
- Wisby, Gary. “Krista Varady Weighs in on How to Drop Pounds.” UIC News Center. University of Illinois, 5 Feb. 2013. Web. 12 June 2017.
- Klempel, Monica C., et al. “Dietary and Physical Activity Adaptations to Alternate Day Modified Fasting: Implications for Optimal Weight Loss.” Nutrition Journal 9 (2010): 35. Web. 12 June 2017.
- Varady, K. A., et al. “Short-term Modified Alternate-day Fasting: A Novel Dietary Strategy for Weight Loss and Cardioprotection in Obese Adults.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 90.5 (2009): 1138-143. Web. 12 June 2017.
- Patterson, Ruth E., et al. “INTERMITTENT FASTING AND HUMAN METABOLIC HEALTH.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 115.8 (2015): 1203–1212. Web. 12 June 2017.
- Bhutani, S., et al. “Improvements in Coronary Heart Disease Risk Indicators by Alternate‐Day Fasting Involve Adipose Tissue Modulations.” Obesity. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 06 Sept. 2012. Web. 12 June 2017.
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- Traba, Javier, et al. “Fasting and Refeeding Differentially Regulate NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation in Human Subjects.” The Journal of Clinical Investigation 125.12 (2015): 4592–4600. Web. 12 June 2017.
- Yang, W., et al. “Alternate-day Fasting Protects the Livers of Mice against High-fat Dietâinduced Inflammation Associated with the Suppression of Toll-like Receptor 4/nuclear Factor κB Signaling.” Nutrition Research 36.6 (2016): 586-93. Web. 12 June 2017.
- Collier, Roger. “Intermittent Fasting: The Science of Going without.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal 185.9 (2013): E363–E364. Web. 12 June 2017.
A fasting diet is a nutritional therapy involving either full or partial caloric restriction. It can be a challenge if you embark on one unprepared and unaware. There are many ways you can prepare yourself for a fast. In this article, I’ll give you the tips and tricks that’ll help you successfully reach your fasting goals such as healthy habits, nutrition, and hunger management.
Make things easy on yourself from the very beginning. First, make sure you do your research into fasting, especially if you’re aiming for a specific health benefit. Not all fasts have the same results, so choose your fast carefully to achieve your goals. Before embarking on your fast, speak with your trusted health care provider about your plans. They’ll be able to advise you if any medications or supplements you take will need to be adjusted for the fast.
Tips on How To Get Through a Fast
- Get a head start on any new projects before starting your fast.
- Complete any chores to make mornings easier.
- Don’t over-commit to social engagements for the duration of the fast.
- Prepare yourself emotionally for hunger and irritability.
- Begin fasting on Friday afternoon.
- Take a nap during lunch breaks.
- Go easy on your workouts.
- Go to bed earlier.
- Drink plenty of water or tea.
- Trying indulging in a hobby you don’t normally have time for to keep busy.
- Set clear boundaries before beginning.
Establish Clear, Measurable Goals
With any new routine or healthy habit, it’s important to set measurable goals, instead of vague, undefined objectives. Assign a number to the goal. Pick a percentage, duration length, or reading on a ketone strip. You’ll get a big boost in your sense of accomplishment once you make it. If not, you’ll be able to evaluate how close you got to it, giving a new milestone for next time. When fasting, your goal might be to go a set amount of time without breaking the fast, liver detoxification, losing body fat, cleansing your diet of particular foods, or experiencing the clear thinking associated with fasting.
Despite the many benefits, fasting is still challenging. If you’re irritable when you’re hungry, expect to be the same on your fast—only slightly worse. For the first 2-3 days, you’ll likely experience some negative sensations, and your mood may suffer as a result. During the first day or two, intense hunger is normal, but this feeling quickly fades. You may find the mild physical discomfort of hunger pales in comparison to the effect on your mood. Some people report feeling shaky, weak, dizzy, or just generally out of sorts while their body adjusts. Prepare yourself mentally for these sensations.
These feelings can affect how you respond to adverse situations and interact with other people. Check in with yourself and your feelings. Are you impatient for a reason or are you just feeling a little irritable? Are you dealing with your challenges healthily, or are you letting them get the best of you? Be cognizant of your mental state and emotional disposition through your fast and do what’s necessary to steer yourself toward a more positive experience for yourself and those around you. When you speak with others, try to acknowledge that any crankiness is due to low blood sugar rather than the person or project you’re currently working on. Take a moment to compose yourself by breathing deeply or try meditating to reflect on your emotional state.
Get a Jump on Work
The first few days will be the toughest, so prepare yourself at home and work so that your days run as smoothly as possible. To compensate, try to get ahead on any projects that require intense mental effort in the days leading up to your fast. The best practice is preparing as though you’ll be slightly dazed for the first 2-3 days. Stress and fasting are not a good pair, so try to make up for any heavy mental lifting early by getting ahead. That way you can relax, and you’ll be able to dial it back a little and take the pressure off for the first few days.
Detox Your Diet
Two weeks before your fast, eliminate the food you crave the most. If you have a particular weakness for soda or fries, try eliminating these items from your diet before you begin fasting. Cravings for specific foods are normal, but while you’re fasting, you won’t be able to satisfy them. To dispel their power over you, try cutting these kinds of foods from your diet a week or two before fasting.
Tidy Up at Home
Losing your shoes, misplacing your keys, or not having something to wear are some of those daily frustrations that you can easily avoid with some timely preparation. When you’re fasting, these kinds of frustrations can feel a lot more frustrating, so plan for them to make mornings easier.
Before your fast, complete your chores. Pick up the dry cleaning, pay any bills due soon, wash and fold your laundry, make sure all the walkways in your home are clear of tripping hazards. As you fast, you might begin to feel floaty and euphoric, so try to be diligent about putting your belongings where they need to go.
Overcoming Obstacles While Fasting
Now that you know what to expect, here’s a little primer on overcoming the obstacles that arise while you’re fasting.
Drink Water to Manage Hunger
Cravings are one of the most significant obstacles when you’re just starting your fast and it may begin to feel like an uphill battle with little incentive to keep going. You may notice that your sense of smell is heightened when you’re fasting. Fortunately, you’ll only feel cravings for the first 72 hours.
Hunger and thirst are often confused, and while this might not be the case on day two of your fast, filling up on water can help alleviate some feelings of hunger. You could also try an appetite suppressant like Slimirex® to quell your cravings. Warm, fragrant herbal teas are another excellent option to quiet a grumbling stomach. If you’re not on a strict water fast, you can also have some clear broth or thinned juice to keep your energy up.
Keep Your Fast to Yourself
Of the many potential challenges that stand in your way is the people around you. Scientific research on fasting is not well-known among the general populace, so you’ll likely meet with vehement resistance if you tell anyone that you’re fasting for health purposes.
Your friends and family might not approve, especially if they’re unfamiliar with fasting. Most people equate fasting with starving and immediately dismiss the merits of the practice. Of course, you could show your naysayers studies and articles on the benefits of fasting, but chances are you won’t be able to change their mind. Your best bet is only telling the people who need to know. This list includes your partner, your health care provider, and maybe your immediate supervisor.
Start Your Fast Before a Weekend
Since the first 2-3 days are the toughest, try timing your fast to begin on a Friday after lunch. This way the most difficult days will be on your own time when you don’t have to deal with getting ready for work, traffic, or the scent of donuts wafting from the break room.
Get Plenty of Rest
Expect to feel tired, initially. Your body is adjusting, and you’ll likely feel drained both emotionally and in terms of energy. Treat yourself to a good night’s rest.
Go Easy at the Gym
Take it easy on your workouts. Fat metabolizes much more slowly than carbohydrates and protein, so your best bet to spare muscle while fasting is an easy walk or a restorative yoga class.[1, 2]
Coping With Boredom
Without all the meal prep, cleaning, and meal times, you might find you have some extra time on your hands. To avoid giving into that initial gnawing hunger, try picking up a new hobby you don’t normally have time to do. Something that keeps your hands busy is a better option than idly sitting and watching tv. Knitting, sewing, reading, woodworking, journaling, video games, or another hobby are effective ways to keep your idle hands from reaching into the pantry. Find something you look forward to doing to keep your mind off eating.
Take a Nap
Meal times might be difficult, so don’t hesitate to skip out and take a power nap. If you’re at work, try taking a short siesta in your car or a quiet room. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready instead of stuffed.
Remind Yourself of Your Goals
If you find yourself trying to rationalize breaking your fast earlier than you planned, reflecting on why you wanted to fast to begin with will help you overcome this desire. That said, make sure to listen to your body. If you begin to feel ill or very weak, don’t put off breaking your fast out of stubbornness or competition. Don’t try to do more than your body can handle. Don’t worry, you can always try again.
Keep Your Energy Levels Up
Fasting can leave you feeling depleted in more ways than one. In addition to staying hydrated, you might also consider supplementing with B vitamins to recoup some of your energy. VeganSafe™ B-12 is formulated with methylcobalamin, the form of B-12 your body needs to keep you energized.
Breaking Your Fast
Breaking your fast properly is critical. The first foods you feed your body after fasting determine how successful you are at maintaining the progress you’ve made. Don’t undermine all the progress by breaking your fast with unhealthy starchy, greasy, or fried foods.
When you’re coming out of your fast, try to stay away from sugary foods. The ideal first meal would be something like watermelon or a small healthy mixed green salad with some healthy fats like walnuts and a drizzle of full-fat salad dressing. You can also try raw veggies with a little tahini or some olive oil with herbs. Avoid bottled dressings that are loaded with sugar, salt, and vinegar that may be a bit too sharp for your palate. This will help you refamiliarize your body with solid foods without overwhelming it.
Ideally, the foods you eat in the transition period between fasting and eating normally should be the kinds of things you would eat on a cleanse. This is going to be things like raw, fibrous vegetables, watery soups that don’t contain too much starch, nuts, seeds, and ancient grains mixed with raw or steamed vegetables. Start incorporating fruit back into your diet 1-2 days after breaking the fast. Fruits contain a lot of sugar, so try sticking with low-glycemic fruits like cherries, coconut meat, watermelon, avocados, and blueberries.[3, 4, 5, 6]
Lasting Changes After Fasting
Think of breaking your fast as the chance to upgrade your lifestyle. Fasting is not only one of the best ways to activate your body’s self-healing process, but it also re-sensitizes your palate to subtle flavors. You’ll find that foods that were once bland or uninteresting are now bursting with flavor.
This is your opportunity to structure your diet around micronutrient-dense foods bursting with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are essential to your health. Eat the kinds of meals built around foods you usually aspire to eat—celeriac, kale juice, and smoothie bowls—all of those beautiful, healthy things you would eat if you only had the time and inclination.
If you want to learn more, read our guide to the different types of fasting to figure out which fast is right for you.
Do you have any fasting tips to contribute? Tell us about them in the comments below!
- Berg, J.M., Tymoczko, J.L., Stryer, L. “Biochemistry. 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002. Section 30.4, Fuel Choice During Exercise Is Determined by Intensity and Duration of Activity.” Web.
- “Muscle Physiology – Metabolism Of Fatty Acids.” Muscle.ucsd.edu. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.
- “Cherries, Sweet, Raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutritiondata.self.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.
- “Nuts, Coconut Meat, Raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutritiondata.self.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.
- “Watermelon, Raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutritiondata.self.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.
- “Blueberries, Raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutritiondata.self.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.