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Let's talk about fasting...



First thing I am going to be talking about is a hot topic at the moment… FASTING. Yes, it has been a hot topic for awhile now but last week in our Member Nutrition Q&A we discussed it AND I myself just completed a 42 hour fast 😲


You might be someone who has tried fasting before or you have read all about it and want to give it a go but not sure how it works or if you should do it.


As a nutritionist who doesn’t agree with diet culture I am quite conflicted about fasting. On paper, fasting has been researched extensively and has many great benefits for the body including:


  • balancing blood sugars

  • reduces inflammation

  • improves heart health

  • lowers cholesterol

  • protects the brain

  • autophagy (clears out the dead cells)

  • increases growth hormone

  • increases metabolism*

  • boosts immune system


The main benefit people fast for is to lose weight. This is where I get conflicted because as all diet trends, most people want it to be their quick fix, they follow the same method someone else did and got results from or they do it in a way a certain doctor has told them to do it. For some people it works for them, for others it doesn’t and then they beat themselves up over why they failed another diet.


This is why I don’t like to suggest that everyone just goes out and fasts. One, because I don’t buy into diet culture BS and do not want to put another set of rules on people’s eating but two because it needs to be a VERY individualised approach.


With fasting, most research is on males. Women have very different results while fasting. If you fast around ovulation, you might not ovulate and that can effect fertility. If you fast the week leading up to your period, it might change your cycle. If you are stressed, fasting can produce even more cortisol in the body.


Another big thing I find is most women don’t eat enough so it worsens their metabolism. This is why I put an asterick* on “increases metabolism”. See the video below on how it effects your metabolism:



Snippet from our Live Nutrition Q&A's


So if you are someone who fasted in the past and it hasn’t worked for you, it is not your fault! It just didn’t work with your biology at that time. If you are someone who has wanted to give fasting a go, give it a go but listen to your body. If it is not working for you, you haven’t failed! This is your body saying it is not right for you. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a history of eating disorders, fasting is not recommended for you.


If you are wanting to fast, I highly recommend reading “Fast Like A Girl” by Dr. Mindy Pelz or listen to any podcasts that feature her. She looks at all the research and has set protocols that help women fast while working with your hormones, not against it.


TYPES OF FAST

There are different types of fasting that people do. This includes:

  • intermittent fasting (example 16:8)

  • 5:2 (2 days of reduced calories, 5 days normal eating)

  • extended water fasts (24,36,48,72 hour fast)


Most people will do the top two for weight loss. The extended fasts are something you do occasionally (every 3-6 months) but have the most benefits for helping reduce inflammation, clear out your dead cells and give the body a good reset.


And this is what I just did!


MY EXPERIENCE DOING A 48 HOUR FAST

So disclaimer, I only made it to 42 hours but still, super surprised I made it that far!


Why did I do it? 

I just wanted to challenge myself to see if I could do it. I am someone who wakes up and needs breakfast straight away. I absolutely love my food and have always thought there is no way I could do a fast.


A part of me also wanted to do something to try help with my blood sugars. After stopping breastfeeding I was hoping my hunger would go back to normal but it hasn’t.  Also my allergies have been the worse they have ever been this Summer so I thought maybe it could help.


What did it involve?

I completed a 48 hour fasting challenge set out by Nat Kringoudious. I could only consume water (with a sprinkle of rock salt in it for electrolytes), herbal teas and black coffee (but I don’t drink coffee).


How did I go?

Look it wasn’t easy but it definitely was more manageable than I thought it would be. For most of it I felt an emptiness in my stomach, I felt not all there, very low energy but I also felt quite calm. Sleep was the best and easiest part so I made sure I went to bed extra early. I broke the fast at 42 hours because there was no way I could do a full day of parenting feeling like that. I broke the fast with a bone broth at 8:30am and then had my first chewable meal (scrambled eggs with vegetables) at 10:30am.


For a more detail version of how I went, check out my Instagram stories HERE


Would I recommend it?

Look, I still don’t feel 100% yet because I haven’t returned to my normal eating pattern just yet. I am only consuming vegetables, soups, broth, easily digestible proteins and limited grains. So I’m not sure it has even done anything. But I must admit, it has really helped me boost my water intake. I am back enjoying herbal teas. Because I don’t want to undo all my hard work, I am refusing to touch any processed foods so it actually has really helped boost my healthy habits. Once I return back to more of a regular eating pattern, I will let you all know how I feel.


If you are someone who just feels stuck and no matter what you do nothing is working, as long as your healthcare provider says it is ok (if you have underlying health conditions), I’d give it a go! It is a great challenge for your mindset, you will be surprised at your perseverance and it might be the kickstart you need to get back on track with your healthy eating habits.


SUMMARY

Is it good for you? Is it going to work for you? As I said at the start, it is all individualised. Please don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work for you. If you feel crap doing intermittent fasting or you experience changes in your cycle, don’t keep going with it. If you want to give yourself a challenge, try a 24-48 hour fast, see how you go. If it is working for you, keep doing it. All in all, the best way to eat is the one that suits your biology, makes you feel the best AND the happiest you can be. It is not the one that makes you feel stressed or horrible. Food is for fuel and pleasure, not just a tool for weight loss.


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