In the previous article, we learnt more about the alternatives to fasting.
Lots of it. It keeps you full, and you’ll need to stay hydrated, especially at the beginning. The large reduction in insulin results in the kidneys excreting a lot of excess water and it is important you help the body’s flushing process. There are people who cheated by adding lemon to it, for a bit of taste to get rid of hunger pangs, but weaned off it over time.
Some people are not a massive fan of coffee in general, and we feel most are way too dependent on it (like food). If you’re only doing 16:8 then it may work well to boost your metabolic rate and make the most of that 16hr period. Plus, it helps you keep that element of “breakfast” to your mornings.
You need to be very careful that you keep it to a very low dosage though, as caffeine increases anxiety and stress levels. If your hunger is already contributing to that, you can end up amplifying it.
Also, if you’re going longer than 16 hours, we’d recommend taking it as an opportunity to learn to do without coffee. Take advantage of the natural alertness that fasting for long periods gives you.
Past 16 hours you may also not want to be getting coffee involved: the point of long fasts is to let your body rest from dealing with food and hit "reset". Some purists point to continued enzyme release, mainly by your liver, to deal with black coffee and caffeine and how this can hold back the regenerative effects on the digestive system.
Let’s address two addictions at once, shall we?
Pro tip: Research Acetyl L-Carnitine as an alternative (or stay tuned for an upcoming article on this)
Brush your teeth. Seriously, it kills your appetite. Don’t go ham 5 times a day with a full brush – we’re not trying to kill anyone’s gums or enamel here - a quick scrub will do.
I’ve got a headache! I’m dizzy!
Calm down, your electrolytes are just low. A pinch of pink Himalayan Rock Salt under the tongue will address this; watch your mood suddenly perk up.
Have a nap if you need to, there’s some serious spring cleaning going on in your body at the moment. Let it rest.
FATS. When you haven’t eaten for a long period of time, your insulin is extremely sensitive (that was part of the point of this, remember?) so don’t go throwing sugar at it! Bring in slow-release carbs later in the day. If you’re not sure what foods are high in fat, Google it.
HOWEVER. Anyone who’s trying to build muscle needs to understand that a driven insulin response is a good thing, as explored in our article of Joompa Meet Insulin. Especially if you’re using it to help nutrient replenishment in your muscles post-workout.
Our tactic, provided we've not done over 24hrs fasted, is we train fasted (or on a small portion of simple sugars like bananas & dates), finishing up 30-60mins before my break-fast… and LOAD it with good quality carbs.
Ever wondered why bodybuilders inject themselves with insulin? A spike around training is beneficial and only lasts for a few hours. Use it to your advantage.
One thing to consider is tailoring your fasts to your activity levels and bodyfat percentage. If you are already under 12% bodyfat, fat stores aren’t as abundant to tap into when you run low.
If you’re also doing more exercise than most, in the space of your fasted period you could end up “fasting for longer” by having to burn more calories from stored fats. As a result, your calorie deficit may affect your stress levels quicker than others and tax your nervous system heavily, preventing proper recovery.
It doesn’t immediately identify itself as, mentally, you still feel amazing, but it could result in your muscle mass dropping (despite you getting stronger) and an onset of injuries. You need to bear your lifestyle in mind when deciding when to time your fasts and how long to do them for.
Lastly, listen to your body. If you’re in a slump near the end of a fast but need to be in a meeting or the gym soon then break your fast early with some brain-fuel like blueberries and pumpkin seeds. Sometimes it’s not worth detracting from aspects of your life so you can stick to a fasting number. Make up the hours some other time when it feels right.
Head over to the next article to see us cover Sleep 1.0 - Don't wait until you're dead