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

  • Intermittent Fasting: What exactly is it and what are the benefits?

    When I tell people I follow intermittent fasting I’m often met with a few objections such as “I have to eat first thing in the morning”, “I love to eat and don’t want to limit myself”, “I just eat in a balanced way”, “I have to eat every few hours”, or “how do you eat enough food/nutrients?”. But many people will say these things without first learning what intermittent fasting is, or the many amazing benefits for both health and lifestyle. Today I am going to talk about what exactly intermittent fasting is as well as its benefits.

    What is Intermittent Fasting?

    Fasting is defined as the “controlled voluntary absence of food“. It is not starving yourself. Since the beginning of the Earth humans have practised fasting for several reasons including for health benefits and spiritual beliefs.

    Benjamin Franklin who is known to be one of the smartest men who ever lived said that “The best of all medicines are resting and fasting”. Mahatma Gandhi said that “A genuine fast cleanses the body, mind and soul”. Fasting was also a common practice in bible times.

    Fasting for periods of time is something that is natural to us. Our bodies are designed to store food in times of availability (as fat), and then to release this stored energy in times of food scarcity. In fact all animals have this same ability.

    Intermittent fasting (or IF) is an eating protocol in which you cycle between controlled periods of eating and fasting. It can also be referred to as “time restricted eating” in which the individual has both an eating and fasting window. The eating window would begin at the time the person had their first meal of the day, and it would last until their final meal of the day ends. The fasting window would be from the time the last meal is finished until the first meal the next day.

    There are several common types of intermittent fasting out there which are based on the eating/fasting windows. The most common IF timing is 16:8 (16 hrs fasting window:8 hrs eating window). This is great for those just getting started as it is very easy to adopt. The warrior diet is also popular (20 hr fasting window:4 hr eating window), as well as OMAD (one meal a day). I will talk about each of these in more detail in a future post.

    Health Benefits:

    Balances Fat Burning & Hunger Hormones

    Insulin – When insulin is present in the body it blocks fat loss, meaning you cannot burn fat when it is released. In fact insulin actually protects body fat. Insulin is released every time you eat, so if you are eating every 2 – 3 hours you will be spiking your insulin many times during the day, limiting the time when your body can actually burn fat. When you are fasting however you are decreasing your insulin levels and the amount of times it spikes during the day, thus increasing your ability to burn fat. Fasting also improves your insulin sensitivity, meaning how quickly your insulin levels decrease after a meal, promoting fat usage (ie fat-loss).

    Leptin – This is the appetite suppressing hormone signalling to your brain. If you have a lot of leptin resistance, your brain won’t trigger quick enough that you are full which can lead to overeating. IF helps to decrease leptin resistance so that your brain is able to tell you that you are full much faster, which results in you consuming much less food in a meal. This can lead to a calorie deficit which is needed for weight loss. If you are eating several frequent small meals in a day your body may become leptin resistant meaning you are less full and satisfied with meals. With IF however you are consuming larger less frequent meals, decreasing leptin resistance and helping you feel full and satisfied after your meal.

    Ghrelin – Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. It functions on a rhythm cycle and is released based on when you typically eat. For example if you are used to eating breakfast at 7 am or snacking at 8 pm at night your body will release Ghrelin at these times because of your habits, promoting hunger. Intermittent fasting regulates Ghrelin since you are reducing the amount of times you are eating making you less hungry in between meals. Your body will then get used to your new eating rhythm and Ghrelin will be released at the times you normally break your fast. For this reason IF is very easy to get used to once your new rhythm is established. Since you will be getting hungry less often you will inadvertently decrease the amount of times you eat in a day, thus decreasing your total calories consumed.

    Neuropeptide Y – This hormone also stimulates appetite and hunger. Since meal frequency is reduced with IF Neuropeptide Y it is also regulated by fasting.

    The combination of all of these hormones being increased and/or controlled through intermittent fasting promotes fat loss.

    Autophagy

    Autophagy is the natural process of cell self-eating. This is when your cells seek out and eat weak or damaged cells and produces new cells. Intermittent fasting promotes autophagy which has many health benefits including killing cancer cells, promoting healthy hair, skin and nails, and protecting the heart, liver, pancreas, and other organs. Autophagy does this by killing the damaged cells and producing new healthy cells.

    Mental Clarity

    Intermittent fasting improves the function of the hippocampus in the brain which is important for learning, memory and spacial awareness. Fasting improves memory, slows aging of the brain, improves emotional state, promotes new nerve cell growth, and helps with learning and mental function.

    Muscle Growth, Performance & Preservation

    There are several hormones that are increased with intermittent fasting that can help build, repair, and preserve muscle as outlined below.

    Norepinephrine – This hormone triggers the release of glucose from muscles which helps to protect muscle cells. IF increases the production of norepinephrine thus decreasing muscle loss.

    Epinephrine – This is the fight or flight hormone which among other situations is produced through intermittent fasting. When epinephrine is released it increases energy and strength. This is why many people find working out while fasted is the most beneficial for performance and progress.

    Human Growth Hormone – This hormone is also increased during IF which protects muscle loss, increases energy, and promotes fat burning.

    Other Benefits:

    There are many other non-health related lifestyle perks I have noticed from intermittent fasting including saving money by eating less meals, spending less time cooking, and developing a new healthy relationship with food.

    Intermittent Fasting has so many amazing benefits it is no wonder it is all the rage lately. Thankfully Dr’s are now prescribing it to their patients, as well as natural health practitioners.

    Now despite all of the information available there is definitely a right and wrong way to do IF, and many mistakes can be made to hinder your progress. Stay tuned for my next post in which I will give tips on how to do intermittent fasting the right way.

    If you liked this article please give it a thumbs-up and feel free to share it with someone who will also benefit.

    Naturally, Krissy