How to Fast for a Day
“What, you mean I can’t eat for an entire day??”
If you’re like me, you probably thought
the first time you heard this,
it sounded a little crazy..
However I’m going to show you how totally easy it is, and how fasting can be an incredible tool in your weight loss arsenal!
Ok so if you’ve never fasted for a whole 24 hours before, I recommend building up to this gradually.
Also please note that fasting is not recommended for pregnant ladies. And if you have a health condition such as diabetes, please check with your doctor first.
To start, you need to get used to the feeling of not having food, so try skipping breakfast for 2 or 3 days each week and then build up until you can do this comfortably every day.
Skipping breakfast is a form of intermittent fasting which means that the time period you’ll eat during the day is shorter than usual.
So if you normally eat 3 times a day, and have breakfast at 7am, midday lunch, and dinner at 6pm, you’ve got a daily eating “window” of about 11 hours each day (7am to 6pm). This means the remaining 13 hours of each day, you’re in fasting mode (not eating).
By skipping breakfast you’ll be making that eating window smaller, so you’ll only eat between lunchtime and your evening meal.
No breakfast means you’ll also likely be more hungry, so you may wish to have lunch a littler earlier, say around 12 midday.
- Lunch at 12 Mid-day
- Evening meal at 6pm
This means your eating window is now just 6 hours, giving you a greater chance to burn fat in the remaining 18 hours of that day!
This is sometimes referred to as the 18:6 diet (18 hours fasting, 8 hour eating window).
For your meals, try to stick to your normal sized food portions if possible and try not to snack in between.
However, even if you compensate by adding the extra calories you would normally consume at breakfast, don’t worry. -By narrowing your eating window, you still have a larger period of the day that your body has the chance to burn fat!
Now You’re Ready!
Great – you’ve mastered intermittent fasting by skipping breakfast and you’re now ready to try a full 24 hours.
Pick a quiet day that you can devote to your fast where you won’t be disturbed too much by the demands of work, friends or family.
To fast for a day (24 hours), skip breakfast as usual, and simply start eating again at the same time that you finished your evening meal yesterday.
- Yesterday: last evening meal was 6pm
- Today: only start eating again around 6pm
To maximise your chances of success, you may wish to warn everyone in advance that you’ll be fasting and try to avoid preparing food for others on your fast day if possible.
During your fast day you’ll also need to stay well hydrated, so have plenty of drinks and water.
I find it helps to have as many different types of healthy drinks as possible – and the variety will help you to forget about eating.
- Water – try with a slice of lemon or ice cubes. A dash of cider vinegar can also help you to lose extra water weight
- Carbonated water – or “soda water” is also great and feels like a fizzy treat
- Tea – full fat milk is fine (and preferable to skimmed milk as the fat helps to avoid insulin spikes), however avoid sugar if possible as this will reduce the fat burning effect
- Coffee – full fat cream is fine, or standard full fat milk
- Hot Chocolate – Helps to keep you motivated. But make sure that it doesn’t contain sugar. I buy a chocolate drink that is sweetened with a natural sweetener -Stevia, which has little or no insulin response.
- Coke Zero may be ok in moderation (no sugar), however not great due to additives.
Avoid these drinks:
- All Fruit juices eg Apple Juice or Orange Juice (most fruit juices contains several teaspoons of sugar for each large glass)
- All Standard Soda drinks such as cola or lemonade (full of sugar).
- Sports or Energy drinks (full of sugar)
- Alcohol (contains calories and will dehydrate you)
When I fast, I’m basically having drinks all day, which helps you to feel fuller.
Plus when you’re fully hydrated, your body is more energised, and you’re less likely to feel tired.
What are The Pros of Fasting?
The benefits of fasting for 24 hours are many!
- Insulin and blood glucose levels will be lowered. Over time, this helps to establish a lower base-line and reduce today’s common condition of insulin resistance
- You’ll enter a state of autophagy – a special process where your body consumes the old cells, replacing them with new healthy cells
- You’ll burn up your stored glycogen (sugar reserves) and lose what we call water weight.
- You may notice a burst of energy. This is because you’re not processing food which requires a-lot of energy to digest
- Raised levels of Human Growth Hormone (and testosterone for the Guys) will also help boost energy, and preserve muscle mass
- Fasting promotes BDNF or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This stimulates the brain to grow new connections and new brain cells
- And of course, once glycogen is lowered you’ll burn fat!
The Cons of Fasting
You may notice that you feel a little sleepy during the middle of the day. However I’ve noticed this feeling is mostly in the head and is probably because the brain takes time to adapt to using ketones from fat for energy, instead of it’s usual glucose energy source. In saying that, it’s worth noting that he liver can still produce small amounts of glucose for the brain even when the glycogen / glucose stores have been depleted.
So the odd thing here is that though you could feel sleepy, you may still have lots of extra energy for walking or even running!
Either way, it’s best not to drive or operate machinery if you do feel sleepy.
So if you feel the need – just have a nap! 🙂
During fasting, your insulin levels will drop. When this happens your body tends to lose salt, which helps to maintain normal blood pressure as well as the salt-potassium balance in your cells.
If you lose too much salt, your electrolytes will go down, and you’ll get dehydrated and tired.
So what I tend to due is have a few grains of high quality salt in all my drinks on fasting days.
The best type of salt I recommend is Pink Himalayan Rock Salt. It’s full of natural minerals and doesn’t contain the potential contaminants that sea salt or traditional “table salt” can have.
You may find yourself getting a little hungry around lunch time. This is because our bodies are in the habit of eating at this time, so they like to remind us to eat by raising the levels of ghrelin – the hunger hormone.
So to help stave off lunch-time hunger, you may wish to add a little healthy fat to your tea or coffee in the morning.
I like to use a teaspoon of Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil.
However you can also buy pure MCT Oil (which is the healthy medium chain fats made from Coconut oil).
Or you could try stirring in a little butter.
The reason this works, is that fat is very satisfying and it helps to line the stomach making us feel less hungry. It also gives a little energy boost from the ketones produced in your liver, helping you to get into fat burning mode.
Should I Exercise While Fasting?
Yes you can! And the benefit is that you’ll burn up your glycogen stores, and get into the fat burning state much quicker.
Use your own judgement of course.. try a relaxing walk first, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can try some weight bearing exercises with dumbbells, light jogging, or even interval training for maximum effect!
How much Weight Can I lose?
In my own experience, fasting for a day it’s possible to lose around around 2.2lbs or 1Kg per day. In the early stages, this will be mostly water weight (glycogen), with some fat loss. Once glycogen stores have been depleted, weight loss will slow down to probably around 50% as you’re only losing fat at that stage.