Intermittent Fasting: Fasting Approved Beverages

Now that you understand the benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF), as well as the difference between a fasting window and eating window, I’m sure you are wondering what you can consume during a fast. Keep reading for a short but sweet article on fasting approved beverages.

If you missed my post on the benefits of IF please click here, and click here if you missed my article on the 3 most common types of IF protocols.

As we learned in my last 2 articles, one of the main goals for IF is to keep blood sugar levels low and to avoid spiking insulin. In order to remain in a fasted state you cannot raise insulin levels. If you do then the benefits of IF are voided. This of course means that anything consumed while you are fasting cannot raise your insulin levels. For that reason fasting approved beverages do not contain any calories, carbohydrates, protein, or fat.

Here is a list of both fasting approved beverages and things to avoid during a fast.

Fasting Approved Beverages:

  • Water
  • Black coffee
  • Tea (green, black, or herbal – avoid anything with real fruit in it)
  • Pure liquid Stevia
  • Plain soda water or Stevia flavoured soda water
  • Zevia sodas
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Calorie-free electrolyte powders sweetened with Stevia (click here for my favourite)

Not Fasting Approved:

  • Milk, cream, butter or MCT/coconut oil in your coffee (sorry!)
  • Sodas or beverages flavoured with Aspartame, sugar alcohols, Splenda or any other sweetener other than Stevia
  • Bone broth (that’s right it contains protein and fat!)
  • Alcohol
  • Any drink powders containing calories (read the label)

Of course it goes to say that all foods consumed will also break your fast. I also recommend taking any supplements you can with your meals, especially food-based supplements and oils, because these could break your fast.

Now if you are just starting off with IF and need to put a little MCT oil in your coffee to keep you tied over in the beginning, this is ok. But it is something you will need to cut out as your body becomes fasting adapted, especially if you would like to achieve all of the health and fat-loss benefits of IF.

It also depends on what your goals for fasting are. If you are looking for the Autophagy benefits it is actually recommended that nothing be consumed during your fast except water. You can work up to this if you would like however. I still have electrolytes in my water while fasting as well as 1 cup of green tea. On my longer fasting days I also have a can of Zevia Root Beer mid-afternoon as I find the carbonation very filling.

Have a question about something missing from the list? Leave me a comment below. And please share this article with someone else who you think would benefit.

Naturally, Krissy

Intermittent Fasting: When to Eat and When to Fast

Last week I talked about what exactly Intermittent Fasting is and its benefits. If you missed that post please click here. Today let’s go deeper into the three most common kinds of Intermittent Fasting which include:

  • The 16:8 Fasting Protocol
  • The Warrior Diet
  • OMAD

I’ll break down how-to implement each protocol, as well as the benefits and downsides of each.

16:8

The 16:8 fasting protocol is definitely the most common type of intermittent fasting. In fact, you might be doing it already without realizing it or labeling it as IF. It’s great for beginner fasters and is a lifestyle many maintain long term. The 16 stands for a sixteen hour fasting window during which time you do not eat, and only drink fasting approved beverages. The 8 stands for an eight hour eating window in which you consume your meals. Many health professionals actually now recommend that everyone follow a period of fasting after their last meal of at least 12 hours.

How-To :

The first step to start the 16:8 fasting protocol is to choose the hours in which you would like to consume your meals. For example many start with having their first meal (ie break-fast) at 12 noon. This would mean that they would eat all of their meals within an 8 hour window, coming their last meal before 8 pm. If this sounds too difficult for you to start with you could also have your first meal at 10 am, consuming your last by 6 pm. Or you could even have your first meal at 9 am and last by 5pm. Some people find they need to ease into it at first, pushing their window back more as their hunger hormones adapt. But I personally found waiting until 12 pm easy and you might be surprised too. The great news is you can accommodate your eating window to what suits your lifestyle best.

That being said it is easier schedule-wise if you maintain the same window each day. Your hormones (as I talked about here in my last article) will also adapt to your new eating protocol. Of course life happens so if you eat past your eating window one night, just push your break-fast back the next morning so that you are fasting for 16 hrs.

The next step is to decide how many meals to eat within this window. I personally recommend eating 2 large meals during this time, but some people like to start with 3 smaller ones. It is not recommended to eat anymore than 3 times a day however, snacks included. This might go against everything you’ve been taught but I’ll explain why. As I talked about in the last article each time you eat your body produces insulin. When insulin is present your body cannot burn fat. This lasts for a several hours after you eat. If you are eating every few hours your insulin levels will always remain elevated in your body, inhibiting your fat loss potential during this time. This is the same reason I recommend consuming 2 meals a day so your insulin levels have time to decrease in between meals. It can take anywhere from 4 – 6 hrs (or more) for your insulin levels to decrease after a meal, depending on how insulin resistant or sensitive you are. Thankfully intermittent fasting decreases insulin resistance and improved insulin sensitivity.

Benefits:

  • Great for beginners
  • Easy to implement
  • Can be flexible to your schedule & lifestyle
  • Long space between meals which some people find easier for digestion & consuming larger meals
  • Easy lifestyle to maintain long-term
  • Practical for social occasions
  • Easy to consume recommended calories and nutrient intake
  • Easy to adjust eating and fasting windows as your body adapts

Downsides:

  • Some people who are very insulin resistant still find it difficult to implement in the beginning until insulin sensitivity is improved
  • Autophagy (cell recycling as I talked about here in my last article) only comes into play after fasting for at least 18 hrs
  • Fat loss benefits are reduced as insulin is present in the body longer
  • Some people find energy levels decrease after each meal so the earlier you eat it could affect your energy levels
  • The possibility of overeating is still present due to the large space between meals
  • As your body adapts you will need to decrease your eating window and increase your fasting window if you want to maximize health benefits (fat loss, autophagy, energy, etc.)

The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet is the popular name for the 20:4 fasting protocol in which the individual follows a 20 hour fasting window and 4 hour eating window, with 2 meals consumed during these 4 hours. It is a natural progression for many people as their body adopts to fasting. Many athletes and bodybuilders prefer this type of IF protocol as it works well for building muscle, maximizing energy levels, and fat loss.

How-To:

Again the first step is to decide what your eating and fasting windows will be based on your lifestyle and schedule. For example if your first meal is at 2 pm, your second (and last) meal would be finished by 6 pm. Or if you prefer to eat later at night you could have your first meal at 4 pm and your second consumed by 8 pm. Again these times can be flexible depending on your day and social schedule, as long as you are fasting for at least 20 hours.

Benefits:

  • Fat burning potential is higher as the fasting window increases, in this case burning fat for 20 hrs a day, because your body has no choice than to use your stored fat as fuel
  • Decreases insulin resistance and improves insulin sensitivity even more which increases fat burning potential
  • Has 2 hrs of autophagy (cell recycling) benefits
  • Maximizes energy levels and muscle building potential
  • Still consuming 2 meals a day so able to split calories and nutrients up into 2 meals
  • More difficult to overeat as the meals are large and not as spaced out
  • Has higher hormonal benefits as the fasting window increases
  • A natural progression for those wanting to decrease fasting window to increase benefits

Downsides:

    Difficult for beginners to implement
    Some people still find it hard to consume all of their calories and nutritional requirements in a 4 hour window
    Can be harder for some people to digest 2 large meals close together
    Eating 2 meals a day still spikes insulin levels twice during the eating window

OMAD

OMAD or “One Meal a Day” is the common name for fasting 23 hours a day, and eating for 1 hour a day. This is the optimum fasting protocol for many people because it maximizes fat loss and health benefits. The one meal eaten is obviously very large in order to ensure nutritional macronutrient requirements are met. For this reason the meal can be consumed gradually over the 1 hour period. Most people choose dinner time as their eating window, which can vary depending on your schedule. The meal could be consumed any time of the day however after a minimum fast of 23 hrs.

Benefits:

  • Is the optimum fasting protocol for fat burning because insulin is only spiked once during the day
  • During the fasting window your body also has no other macronutrients to use as fuel except for fat
  • Autophagy benefits are also maximized (5 hours of autophagy)
  • Many people find OMAD is the easiest protocol to follow meal prep wise
  • Consuming a large, nutritionally dense meal can also reduce food costs
  • Very difficult to go overeat when only consuming one meal a day
  • Is the most beneficial for maintaining energy levels because insulin spikes can decrease energy, and OMAD only spikes insulin once during that hour
  • Maximizes the hormonal balance discussed here in my previous article

Downsides:

  • Very difficult for beginners to implement
  • Can be difficult to consume calories and macronutrients required until your body becomes adapted to eating a large, nutritionally dense meal
  • Can be hard on some people’s digestion
  • Can be difficult sometimes for social schedules

When following an intermittent fasting protocol the most important thing is to find the right balance for you. The great thing is it can be adjusted as you body becomes more adapted or when goals and/or schedules change. You can also alternate between all 3 fasting protocols if that works for you.

I personally follow The Warrior Diet most days because I find it works best with my schedule and lifestyle. It’s easier for me to meet my macros in 2 meals and it keeps my digestion system happy. That being said I do implement OMAD once or twice a week so that I can take advantage of the many benefits OMAD maximizes. I definitely worked myself up to this however, but it is so easy now that it has become my lifestyle.

I absolutely love Intermittent Fasting and my results prove it is the best fit for me.

Of course WHAT you eat during your fasting window is crucial. Stay tuned for this as well as more tips and information on IF. In the meantime please share this article with someone who you think would benefit, and give it a thumbs-up if it also benefited you!

Naturally, Krissy – xo

  • How I Lost 30 lbs with These 3 Changes I Made to my Diet

    You might not know this about me but I gained over 30 lbs in the past 6 years. Not all at once, but slowly and surely it kept creeping on. I would say the weight gain was due to a few factors: moving to the country and not having gym close-by, settling into the routine of commuting 50 min each way to work, entertaining a lot at our new lake house, work stress, life stress, and of course my chronic pain, fatigue, and other health issues affecting my ability and desire to exercise.

    I tried many things to help shed the weight and I would lose 10 – 15 lb here and there, but before long I’d fall off track and gain it all back. The thing is I didn’t feel good at this new weight so much so that it affected my self-esteem and way-of-life. My clothes didn’t fit as I liked, I didn’t enjoy going to certain places (like the beach), and don’t have a lot of photos of me on vacations because I didn’t want to be in them. Of course I didn’t expect to look like I did when I was competing, but I just wanted to get to a place that I felt comfortable again.

    In January of this year I decided I had enough and had to make some permanent changes to my lifestyle. My inflammation was at an all time high after indulging too much while on vacation and I knew that if I didn’t do something about it now my mental and physical health would be in a bad place. Thankfully my husband was in a similar situation and was also motivated for change.

    I had the initial goal of losing 15 lb, which turned into 20, and now 30. I am feeling the best I have in 6 years and am finally feeling comfortable in my own skin again. Today I’m sharing the most significant changes I’ve made to help me achieve my goals. 

    The 3 Changes I Made to My Diet:

    1) Anti-Inflammatory Elimination Diet

    2) Keto (High-Fat/Low-Carb) Lifestyle 

    3) Intermittent Fasting

    Now before I go into more details about these I feel I should add a little disclaimer because I know what some of you might be thinking. I am not giving this advice as a Dietitian or Nutritionist. I actually resigned my membership this year because I felt my views aligned more with natural and holistic nutrition. I am simply sharing what worked for me. I will go into each of these in more detail in a future post, as well as the science behind them. I’ll talk about the “how” later; today let’s focus on the “what” and “why”. 

    Anti-Inflammatory Elimination Diet:

    The elimination diet is what started this whole journey for me. Despite the weight-gain my main goal was to decrease my inflammation and chronic fatigue so I could get back to living my life as I remembered. I had experimented with an elimination diet the year before but didn’t cut out all inflammatory foods entirely (coffee and wine), and the whole thing totally fell apart once I started adding food groups back in. In order for the diet to be the most beneficial you have to add groups back one at a time for 3 days and note your symptoms. If any of your symptoms are feeling worse then you are supposed to cut the food out, and try a different one. I was fine when it came to eggs, and next tomatoes, but it all went downhill once I added dairy back. I mean how can you give me cheese and then take it away again?! This left me knowing dairy was a trigger of mine, but I unfortunately threw in the towel before narrowing it down more.

    I came across a book called “Fibromyalgia Freedom” when I was feeling motivated in early January and knew it was important I give it another go. I also decided to document my journey on social media as a way to keep me accountable. I have discovered some new triggers (including coffee, wine, and peppers), and some foods that don’t seam to bother me (eggs, butter, green tea). I’ve been feeling so good however I’ve decided to keep the rest of the “possible” food triggers out for now (like gluten) until I’m ready to experiment again.

    Keto (High-Fat/Low Carb) Lifestyle: 

    I suspect this to be the most controversial thing about this post but hear me out a little. The Keto or Ketosis Diet has become extremely popular over the past few years and everyone is jumping on board. The only issue is that people are not going about it in the right way or not making the right choices. Some are even purchasing expensive supplements which are frankly a waste of money. For that reason even just the name itself comes with a preconceived notion. We’ll get to the right and wrong way in a future post but let me first tell you why I follow a Keto lifestyle. 

    We actually first tried a Keto diet a year and a half ago when hubby wanted to give it a try. I had only started eating meat a month before and the nutrition student in me cringed at the idea. I wanted to support Dwayne however and had a weight loss goal for an upcoming trip. We didn’t put a lot of research in it at the time but purchased a beginner’s plan by a well-known Keto advocate. We initially both lost quickly but after we finished the plan we wanted to try new recipes to switch it. Cue Keto Pinterest recipes! We really enjoyed what we were eating but a lot of the recipes were high in cream cheese, cream, and cheese. I had heard of people decreasing their inflammation on Keto, but of course I wasn’t since I now know that dairy is a huge trigger of mine. Since our goal for doing Keto at this time was mostly weight-loss we didn’t follow it while on vacation or with company so we slowly gained it back.

    We have remained Keto on and off since then but really started researching and experimenting with our macros and what works for us in January. And while I am not going to go into details in this post I will tell you I am not eating any dairy currently and really only consuming one serving of meat a day. All of my fat comes from other sources such as my coconut yogut, avocados, eggs and nuts. In fact I don’t even like to use the term “keto” because of the stigma it comes with. I prefer to call it “high-fat/low-carb” or a “fat adapted lifestyle”.  I know that sugar is a huge trigger of mine and I feel a million times better without it. And yes this includes sugar from fruit as well as from other grains, because it all turns to sugar (or glucose) in our bodies.

    My anti-inflammatory diet in combination with being fat-adapted has made me feel the best I have in years. I don’t crave any sugar or carbs (I don’t have any cravings really), and it helps to keep our blood sugar levels low which is really the goal for both weight maintenance and overall health. More on that later as well. And before anyone asks you don’t need grains or fruit to meet your nutritional requirements. All you need is protein, veggies (ie carbs) and fat!

    Intermittent Fasting:

    Intermittent Fasting or IF has also been getting a lot of attention lately, but it’s certainly not a new eating protocol. I actually did IF for my last fitness competition which was the most enjoyable competition plan I’ve followed. We’ve done it on and off since then, but again really didn’t put as much research or experimentation into it as we should have. Many of the Keto gurus we follow also are big promoters of IF.

    We decided to pair our fat adapted lifestyle with intermittent fasting this time because it is the best way to control blood sugars. As I mentioned above this is very important both for weight loss/maintenance and overall health. I will go into scientific detail later but I know what you might be thinking? What about breakfast Krissy? You told me that was the most important meal of the day! And the answer is yes it is, but you don’t have to eat it first thing in the morning. “Break-fast” is simply the first meal you eat to break your fast. Another term for intermittent fasting is “time restricted eating” or in other words eating all of your meals within a certain time frame. There are varying ways to do this and both Dwayne and I follow different eating windows because of what works best for each of us. We make sure we get all of our calories and macros within this window which ensures we meet our nutritional requirements.

    Another benefit we enjoy from IF is the amount of time it saves in meal prep. Instead of worrying about eating every 2 – 3 hrs, we have larger meals only a few times a day. It’s also saves us a lot of cost on food because we are consuming calorie dense high-fat foods which means we don’t need as much. There are many out there who see benefits from just doing IF and don’t follow Keto as well. This may be something we try eventually once we are in the maintenance phase but we are feeling great now as is.

    And there you have it, the 3 changes I made to my diet to help me lose 30 lb. I realize these are big changes, but each of them have become a lifestyle now since I can’t deny how great I feel. 

    I’m sure you have lots of questions like: What do you eat in a day? What times do you eat? What do you have for treats? How do you eat out? Do you workout too? And don’t worry I will get to each these. In the meantime I’d love to know what other questions you have an I can add these to the list as well. Please leave a comment below and feel free to share this article with someone that could benefit from it.

    Naturally, Krissy – xo 

    How I Kicked My Coffee Habit

    It’s officially been 3 months since I’ve quit my coffee addiction and I’m never looking back. Keep reading for how I’m feeling now without it, as well as the perfect substitution I’ve found to replace it.

    I decided to give up coffee in January when I started my second Fibromyalgia and anti-inflammatory elimination diet. I didn’t part with it when I did an elimination diet last year because I was always so exhausted, I couldn’t imagine life without it. I needed at least one coffee to wake me up in the morning and often a second one to keep me going after lunch. I loved the smell, the bitter taste, and looked forward to every single cup. I thought it was important to give my elimination diet 100% this time around though and wanted to rule out the possibility of adrenal fatigue.

    I’m not going to lie, the first three days were awful! Day 1 was the worst. I was a horrible person to be around because of my irritability and was so exhausted I needed a nap (which I never do despite my chronic fatigue). Day 2 was slightly better, and day 3 a little more. Based on what others told me I thought I would go through these withdrawal symptoms for at least week or two, but thankfully by day 4 I was fine. I had so much energy by day 5 that I did my first workout on our elliptical machine in forever.

    My energy continued to increase in the weeks after, and while I did cut out a lot of other inflammatory foods from my diet, my chronic pain, IBS symptoms and Interstitial Cystitis (IC) were all much better. I added green tea back in last month so I am having a little caffeine again but it doesn’t seem to affect me the same way as coffee. Recently I decided to try one medium coffee just to see how I’d feel and this confirmed it’s definitely one of my triggers. I woke up very sore the next morning and my IC and IBS were acting up. It also makes me anxious and sweat more. Unfortunately I’ve discovered decaf coffee isn’t good for my IC either. So as much as the smell still gets me, I’ve decided to break-up with coffee for good. The fact is coffee is very acidic and inflammatory. It’s clear my body knows what is best for me and I’m going to listen to it.

    Thankfully I’ve found the perfect substitution that not only helped with my initial transition but is a regular yummy treat for when I’m craving a warm coffee-like drink. Dandy Blend not only smells like coffee, it looks like coffee, has a rich and slightly sweet taste, and a smooth texture giving it the closest resemblance to coffee I’ve found.

    As it’s name suggests Dandy Blend also has all the benefits of dandelion root which include:

    • Improving gut health
    • Helping digestion
    • A good source of vitamin K & calcium
    • Can prevent gallstones
    • Balances water
    • Can decrease eczema
    • Can help with muscle & joint pain
    • And so much more!

    Thinking of kicking your morning coffee habit to the curb? Or looking to cut back? Click here to try Dandy Blend yourself and let me know what you think!

    Do you have a coffee substitute you like? Let me know in the comments below and please share with someone you think would like this article.

    Naturally, Krissy – xo