The science proving the health benefits of fasting is solid. Studies show that fasting is good for your heart health, it slows the aging process, boosts metabolism, keeps you lean by promoting the creation of growth hormone, and improves your blood sugar metabolism. There are several different styles of intermittent fasting—read on for a review of the various techniques and my thoughts on the right way to go about fasting.
#1 Fasting One to Two Days Per Week
The 5:2 Diet
Popularized by Dr. Michael Mosley, this technique involves eating normally five days a week. For the other two days, you consume only one quarter of your normal caloric intake, or about 500-600 calories a day.
I think this is the most beneficial method of intermittent fasting, especially when combined with the dietary rules I outline in The Hormone Boost, which include consuming the right amount of protein to ensure preservation of muscle mass five days a week (the formula is 1.6 grams
of protein /kg of body weight). On the fasting days, you should choose protein as the main source of your 500-600 calories. This may look like one meal with four ounces of chicken and a green salad and two protein shakes or meal replacement shakes along with three litres of water or herbal teas. So, on fasting days, no calories should come from fats or carbs in the form of fruit or starchy vegetables, grains or legumes. It’s important to note that some responsibility should be taken for how you eat most other days of the week. Two days of fasting can’t make up for five free-for-all days packed with artificial sweeteners, bad fats, sugar, processed foods, excess carbs and inflammatory foods.
The Eat-Stop-Eat Method
This works by fasting from 5 p.m. one day to 5 p.m. the following day, twice a week.
I am not opposed to this fasting style, and often recommend it to people who work night shift or to personal trainers by suggesting they have one meal early in the morning and then fast until the following morning. During your cleanse day, you should drink at least three to four litres of warm or cold herbal teas to support the cleansing process. I recommend a combination of herbs with anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects such as ginger, lemon, blueberry, hibiscus, dandelion, green tea and parsley. Alternatively, you can use an intermittent fasting support like Clear Cleanse mixed into four litres of water to drink throughout the day. I like combining this with at least one serving of green vegetables served with lean protein like egg whites or organic chicken, shrimp or scallops or one protein shake if hunger is an issue.
I am not against either of these approaches one to two days a week, but only when the minimal amount of protein to prevent muscle loss is consumed on the other five to six days. If you are muscle deficient or under stress, the 5:2 approach is best. Also, one to two days per week fasting styles are my preference when it comes to fasting for weight loss, as they target fat loss versus muscle loss, without causing metabolic stress or hormone disruption.
#2 Ongoing or Daily Fasting
The 16:8This approach involves eating two meals within an eight-hour window, and fasting the other 16 hours of the day. Most people skip breakfast, eat lunch around 1 or 2 p.m. and eat a second meal by 6 to 8 p.m.
Clinically, I have failed to see significant weight loss with this approach and, in fact, all the patients I observed who had self-adopted the 16:8 method lost muscle mass and developed physical signs of adrenal fatigue. This is simply due to the stress of not eating until late in the day and failing to get protein in the morning, which is essential for thyroid function and dopamine for mental focus and preventing excess cortisol.
Alternate day fastingUsing this fasting method means fasting 24 hours,
every other day.
I think there could be more risk than benefits with this approach, especially with respect to the loss of metabolically active tissue, increasing cortisol and suppressing metabolism controlled by thyroid hormones—all caused by low caloric consumption on a regular basis. Also, there are not many studies to show the benefits of fasting longer than 24 hours. I suspect alternate day fasting has the least compliance, where it seems most compliance is associated with the 5:2 or 16:8.
I can safely say that I do not support any type of fasting on an on-going basis due to the potential negative effects. I have never observed a patient successfully retain muscle on the 16:8 approach.
Intermittent fasting powers a boost in glucagon, adiponectin and growth hormone. You can fast once or twice a week if you want to accelerate your plan.
I recommend doing your cleanse day on a Tuesday or Wednesday. This will give you a day or two of clean eating after the weekend, which will get your insulin back in balance, quiet cravings, and steady your appetite if you had your cheat meal on the weekend.
If you feel overly hungry, add more protein or vegetables, drink more herbal teas and remind yourself that the benefits of fasting extend
beyond just the 24 hours. It does get easier with time and experience.
Fasting is not recommended during pregnancy or for those who are on insulin or have Type 1 diabetes, are underweight or overly stressed.
Want to accelerate your fasting results? Take six capsules of a plant-based Pure Form Omega before starting your fasting day and immediately following it. A tip I learned directly from the product formulator’s lips. This secret tip assists with muscle metabolism and insulin balance.
You can still exercise without the fear of losing muscle when you use the right fasting style as
I have outlined.
Best news: you can still have your one to two cups of organic coffee with cream and cinnamon daily.
About the Author
Dr. Natasha Turner is a New York Times bestselling author and one of North America’s leading naturopathic doctors, a sought-after speaker, natural health expert, and the founder of Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique in Toronto. In2014 she was recognized by her professional organization as a leader in her field and in 2016 was awarded the top […]Read Bio Read Posts