Strictly speaking, fasting is generally considered abstaining from food and/or drink for a sustained amount of time and this is true, however, it doesn’t always have to be for a very long time and it doesn’t even always have to be ALL food.
If you were to ask me what the best fasting methods are, I could not give you an answer, because not all fasting methods are considered equal and your mental health and personal life have a lot to do with how you will cope during the period of your fast.
What types of fasting are there?
Below is a brief overview of various types of fasts that are around today and it doesn’t really matter which way you go with it, as long as you plan it and stick to it. Fasting, for me, is about taking control and showing strength in the face of the temptation.
Water fasting: Mainly drinking water for a set amount of time. Can possibly include tea, coffee or infused water. As long as there is very minimal calorie intake.
Juice fasting: This is only drinking fruit and vegetable juices for a set time. Can also include tea or coffee.
Intermittent fasting: Calorie intake is restricted from a few hours up to a few days at a time, but a normal diet is permitted on other days.
Partial fasting: Eliminate particular foods such as processed foods, caffeine or animal products for a set time.
Restrict calories: Have a restriction on the number of calories consumed for a few days per week.
Please note that with all these fasts, consuming plenty of water is always advised. Always stay hydrated!
I have read some things about “Dry Fasting”, however, I personally would not even attempt it.
Walk Before You Run
If you are new to fasting, then my best advice to you would be to start off small, test the waters a bit. Chances are that at some point you have gone a certain time without eating or drinking in the past and you already have an idea of how your body reacts.
It’s highly likely that it would usually of been a negative experience too, as you would likely be entering into ketosis where your body is switching its energy source from glucose to ketones. This is known as the “Keto Flu.”
The symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps, irritability, fatigue and sugar cravings. Basically, you will may generally feel pretty crappy for a couple of days and the best way to deal with it, if you are able to, is to make sure that you are hydrated and have a lay down for a bit.
It will pass and the worst of the symptoms are usually felt in the first 2-3 days, when your body is adjusting to the change. Headaches are very common, but I always avoid taking any types of medication at all during a fast, so if you are regularly taking medication for anything, then you should get further advice from an expert before thinking about fasting.
Which Fast Is Right For You?
This is not a question that I can answer, because it is a very personal one and really depends on the reasons on why you are fasting and what you are hoping to achieve.
If you are a chocoholic and goal is to “fast” from chocolate for a week, then go for it! If you can’t pass that test, then it’s unlikely that you will be able to push harder to juice or water fasting.
It is a true test of character to abstain from something that may have a hold on you. We rely so much on sugary, fatty foods and carbohydrates in our lives that our body is constantly craving them. Being able to control those urges and push through the physical “addiction” to these foods, is to be commended.
My Fasting Motives
In my personal experience, one of the main reasons I decided to fast was because, at the time, was to detox. I was traveling, drinking every day, eating a lot and putting on weight. I felt the need to take a break and try to flush my system out.
Most of the information that I found at the time lead me to believe that fasting was the most effective way to do this and there would be added health benefits on top of just detoxing, and these benefits would be reached quicker than other methods.
This was in 2007 and the only two ways of fasting presented to me at the time were juice fasting and water fasting. The description of water fasting sounded a bit too hardcore (Yeah, weak as piss…) for me at the time, so I opted for a 10 day juice fast.
What Happened To ” Walk Before You Run??”
Unfortunately, I am a glutton for punishment. I figure that if I am capable of drinking 3 litres of wine in a night and still wake up in the morning, then surely I can handle going without food for a few days. That’s not exactly the greatest comparison but it gives a good insight to why I really needed to detox!
Prior to this, I had never even thought of fasting for any long period, but at least with juice fasting, you are still consuming some sugar and vitamins from the juice so that the effects (Keto Flu) of the fast do not hit you so hard. And I figured that if I was having any issues, then I would just stop my fast and that would be it.
Knowing what I do now, after always having participated in extended fasts rather than short or intermittent fasts, I cannot say that shorter fasts are for me. The reason being, is that I have felt what it has been like to go through a long fast and I know that the worst part happens in the first 2-3 days, when the body is adjusting. After that, it becomes easier.
I am not that interested in intermittent fasting because I hate the initial adjustment into ketosis where you are still feeling hunger and cravings. It’s unpleasant and can cause you to cave in and start eating again.
No Pain, No Gain
For me, the best part of a fast has come 3-4 days into it, when your energy begins to come back and your mind becomes clearer and you feel more in control of what’s happening. It’s such a profound feeling that can’t really be described.
There have been times where I have reached the duration that I had planned to fast for and not really wanted to stop because I’ve felt so good.
I say push yourself a little bit. Stay within your boundaries, but push your body to its limits. You will be surprised at the results.
Just be careful. If you are feeling really unwell or feel unusual pain for an extended amount of time during a fast and it doesn’t seem to pass after a bit of rest, then it is likely that you may need to stop your fast and seek some medical attention.
You may have an underlying medical condition that you are unaware of that can be aggravated by fasting.
There are many that consider extended fasting to be dangerous and for some it can be. My advice is to research as much as you can, listen to your body and go with what feels right to you.
Please leave any questions or comments about your fasting experiences below or message me directly here.
2 Replies to “What Are The Best Fasting Methods? – Is There a “Best”?”
Thank you for this post. I am considering a fast but I just don’t know which way to go. I’m on a low carb program now and it’s doing well for weight loss. I’m looking to detox too but I’m not sure if I should be trying both simultaneously.
For a simple general detox, what’s your fasting recommendation? Should I wait until my low carb deal is complete or can I do both at the same time?
Does sex, age, height to weight ratio play a role?
I’m thinking’s if starting simple and cutting all drinks except water and then moving into a water fast once I’ve weened myself off sodas, etc.
I would suggest trying to avoid sugars and foods with preservatives and eat organic fruit and veg, if you can, as a start.
Avoiding foods that could possibly have unnatural chemicals in them should help you slowly flush them out over time. Just be mindful of everything you are eating and drinking. It can take a bit of research and looking at labels.
Fasting and low-carb diets go well together, because your body can sometimes already be in ketosis, so the adjustment period shouldn’t be so bad. You should be able to go straight into a fast, no problem.
In regards to sex, age, height etc.. Children or the elderly shouldn’t fast without medical advice. Your sex or your height are not an issue, it’s mainly weight.
If you are considered underweight, then it’s not advisable to fast for long periods. Intermittent fasting may be of benefit though, which I will be covering in a blog in the near future.
You are right to just start slow and cutting things out of your diet, then work up to an extended fast, if you feel the need.