How to fast?
There are many different methods of intermittent fasting. Here are a few of them in detail:
Time restricted fasting. This means an overnight fast of a minimum of 12 hours, but up to 18 or 20 hours of fasting. This works for me and many of my clients, and is relatively easy. Eat dinner earlier and breakfast a little later. There's a good chance you already do a 12 hour fast a few times a week (dinner by 8pm, breakfast at 8am). You can experiment with different fasting periods a couple of days per week, or you can go on a 16:8 or 18:6 eating schedule, which means 16 or 18 hours in a fasting state and 6 or 8 hours in a fed state.
Alternate day fasting. This means severe calorie restriction (under 500 calories) two non consecutive days a week. In my opinion this is too hard for most people, and the idea is not to be starving, grumpy, or hangry, but to find a way where fasting can seamlessly integrate in your normal life.
Daylight only. This means only eat during daylight hours. I like the idea of this, but I also like to go out to dinner after 6pm, so for me, this is no go.
What can you have while you fast?
I’ve seen some conflicting literature on this, but I go by the under 50 calorie rule. That means, black coffee, tea/matcha (with water), a little kombucha (check labels for sugar content!), bone broth and water. You could even put a pinch of stevia or a splash of milk in your hot drinks. Bulletproof coffees, while great for many reasons, do not count as fasting.
Working out in a fasted state.
Can you work out while you’re fasting? That’s a resounding YES. You’ll be surprised how much energy you have, especially when you are fueling your body with adequate protein and healthy fats. Depending on the type of exercise you do, you may feel like you don’t get as strong a workout in a fasted state, but everyone is different.
You can also take BCAAs to give your muscles an extra boost. Make sure to read labels, as a lot of the BCAAs are full of artificial sweeteners. I like THIS brand, which is stevia sweetened. You can also find a raw one, but the taste is a little harsh.
Who shouldn’t fast.
Pregnant women, anyone with fertility issues or who have experienced disordered eating should not fast. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If fasting makes you a hangry a-hole, don’t do it. And if you’re not sure, ask your doctor.
The bottom line.
There are lots of different fasting methods, but it all kind of boils down to this: eat well most of the time, indulge occasionally and give your body ample time to rest by fasting a couple of times a week. If you’re interested, try it! You certainly do not have to do it every day.
Start with 12 hours and see how you do. I’ve found that it gets easier the more I do it. But, as with all things nutrition, it works for some people, and not for others.