“When should I fast? How long should I fast for? What can I consume while fasting? Fasting for women versus men? Exercise and fasting?”
If you follow a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle, struggle with insulin resistance, or are simply concerned about your blood sugar levels, chances are you have heard about fasting. Chances are you also have lots of questions surrounding fasting and how you can feasibly incorporate it into your every day.
We are fortunate here in Toronto to be home to the Intensive Dietary Management, a program co-founded by Dr. Jason Fung (aka THE fasting guru) and Megan Ramos, designed to naturally treat weight and other metabolic related issues through the use of various fasting protocols. Given the growing popularity of fasting, we, of course, had to reach out to IDM and bring this information to you!
Our recent meet up included an all-star team with whom we got to dive into all things fasting, low carb, keto, and more! If you were not able to attend or maybe want to review the information, the event was recorded and you can watch the video below! Don't miss the cameo at the end by Oscar himself!
00:30 - 8:30 Introductions
8:40 - What is the best way in your opinion to approach fasting? (Answer: What regimen is right for YOU? What's your goal? How do you feel?)
13:30 - What are your thoughts on low carb diets and fasting long term?
17:00 - How do you incorporate fasting in your own life?
23:00 - What's the best way to end a fast? What should I eat so I'm not on the toilet all day and so I minimize the weight I gain back?
24:15 - What type of beverage breaks a fast? Does diet pop break a fast? (Joanna from @ketoincanada asked that one!)
28:00 - How about somebody with a lower BMI? Is it okay for them to fast when they don't have a lot of fat to burn?
30:25 - Can you share your thoughts on autophagy? (Answer: Research is very new in this area. We're not rats, we don't have tails!)
35:20 - Andrea drops truth - "Ask yourself the question - what am I trying to battle RIGHT NOW. What issues am I STRUGGLING WITH?" Example - fix your diabetes first if that's what you have. fix your scurvy first if you that's what you have!
36:30 - How did Megan Ramos reverse her osteoporosis? Was it diet and exercise?
40:10 - "Being an Italian such as myself, how do you fight that craving?" :)
43:30 - Dr. Jason Fung had ice cream! "We are all human."
45:40 - There's a lot of talk about fasting being different for men and women. Is there such thing as fasting too much for women? 49:30 - a nice laugh :)
49:35 - I often like a little sweetener in my coffee. But when I fast, I don't have sweeteners. What are your thoughts on sweeteners?
53:25 - How do you help patients decide or come up with their fasting schedule? Do you ever lose benefits if you fast too much or if the fast is too short?
58:00 - What do you ever think of dry fasts? If you don't recommend it, how much liquid do you recommend during a fast?
1:00 - Fasting leading up to cholesterol tests
1:02:50 - If I do intermittent fasting, do I need to also introduce longer fasting? How does the keto diet impact performance?
1:05:40: Can the keto diet cause hair loss and is there anything we can do to manage that?
1:08:15: Would you have recommendations about fitness and working out while in a fasted state? Would you recommend any supplements?
1:11:15: Question from Instagram - What are your personal favourite books that you would recommend and why?
1:12:15: Is there something we can do to impact the Canada food guide?
1:14:35: You talk a lot about the benefits of fasting and type 2 diabetes. My husband has Type 1 diabetes and I'm very interested in your thoughts on keto / low carb and fasting on Type 1 diabetics.
1:18:35: Megan's on the dawn phenomenon
1:23:20: How does someone work with IDM? and with Crowd It Out?
Don’t have time to watch the video right away? No problem! We have summarized our Top 5 Takeaways (and one bonus!), just for you!
But First...Let’s Meet the Team!
Oscar, better known on Instagram as @ihackeddiabetes, is an avid fasting enthusiast. Oscar was diagnosed with diabetes 5 years ago and began following ketogenic diet within the last 2 years. He fell into fasting by watching Dr. Fung’s videos on YouTube, quickly becoming a fan of both fasting and the IDM Program. Oscar identifies as a recovering carbaholic and diabetic and has used many of the IDM principles to help him with his own journey.
Andrea is a physician assistant who specializes in family medicine, a nutritional coach with IDM, and the founder of Crowd It Out. Andrea has personally followed a ketogenic and low carb diet since 2014 and began experimenting with fasting protocols in 2016.
Megan Ramos is the co-founder and Program Director of IDM, a clinical researcher and an authority on fasting. She has also personally followed the IDM protocol and successfully lost 60 pounds (click here to read Megan’s own IDM patient profile).
TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS
If you have never fasted before, your “fasting muscle” will likely be weak at first
But the more you train it, the stronger it will get!
If new to fasting, consider where you are at and then start small
For example, can begin by sticking to eating just three meals a day and cutting out snacks
Can then progress from there to a 24-hour fast…. and then a 36 hour fast… and so forth
The goal is to gradually build that fasting muscle!
Take it slow, assess, and re-adjust
Just like you can hurt yourself if you go to the gym and overdo it too quickly, the same can happen with fasting… you must exercise that fasting muscle first!
Do not jump into a fast after over-consuming carbohydrates. Why not?
Consuming a higher carb intake can dysregulate hormones and lead to increased water retention - conditions that are not ideal for fasting
What to eat before an extended fast:
Eat a little bit beyond satiation for the three days leading up to the fast
Follow a relatively low carb/ketogenic diet prior to the fast
How to end a fast
If a multi-day fast, go slow: have something small (e.g., a handful of veggies, nuts, avocado, a piece of cheese, olives, pickles) 20-30 minutes before your first post-fast meal
If a 24 hour or 36 hours fast, gradual eating is less likely to be required and you should be able to consume your first meal right away. Important to self-experiment!
Exercise and fasting?
Perfectly fine to engage in fasted workouts!
If you are new to fasting, however, you may have to practice fasting first, before incorporating workouts (remember: it’s all about training that fasting muscle!)
Best to consume sodium and water at least one hour before working out.
Balancing fasting and feasting
16/8 intermittent fasting involves limiting eating to an 8-hour window and then fasting for the remaining 16 hours
For example, stop eating at 8 pm at night, and then break your fast 16 hours later, at noon. Your eating window would, therefore, be from noon to 8 pm.
24 or 36-hour fasts:
For women, in particular, best results are achieved when doing three, 36-hour fasts per week
For men, best results are achieved when doing three, 24-hour fasts per week
Also recommended to periodically engage in a 5-7 day-long fast
Best completed twice a year, the same as you would do with seasonal cleaning
It is possible to fast too much:
Important to remember that we are a highly adaptable species, and can therefore also adapt to fasted states
Too much of a good thing is not optimal either … always change it up!
IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOUR GOALS!
1) Is your goal autophagy?
- Autophagy is the process in which your body seeks out old and/or damaged cells, takes them apart, gets rid of the bad stuff, and makes a new healthy cell
- Autophagy is a physiological process that researchers have only become aware of in the last decade, so human data is still limited (e.g., How do we measure autophagy? How much autophagy is needed? etc. Still don't know…)
- If autophagy is the goal, then you want to opt for a “clean fast,” limited to water, salt, and electrolytes only
2) Is your goal weight loss, diabetes reversal, lowered blood sugar, or other metabolic issues?
Can fast with “training wheels,” which are essentially anything that will help you adhere to the fast
Best training wheel options include bone broth, tea, and black coffee (without milk, cream, sweeteners)
The role of training wheels is to help you build that fasting muscle, with the goal of losing the training wheels once you have strengthened your fasting muscle
What if both autophagy and metabolic repair are your goals?
Recommended to focus on getting blood sugar levels lowered first, to let the body adapt and get into a healthy state, and to then progress to water fasting for autophagy
- Women get great results, the same as men!
- The trajectory, however, may look a little different
- For the first two months, women may experience slower weight loss, compared to men. This discrepancy, however, narrows after the first months, such that in the long term, men and women tend to experience similar results
- Cyclewise, the 2-3 days leading up to menstruation may be more difficult to fast; recommended to engage in shorter fasts leading up to menstruation, resuming regular fasting protocol afterwards
- Eventually, hormones will regulate and fasting will be less sensitive to cycle fluctuations (after about 6 months)
- Fasting in women has been shown to enhance fertility, to lead to metabolic improvement, and to demonstrate some age reversal
- For women who work out fasted with the goal of burning body fat, research suggests extending time after the workout by a few hours (i.e., delay post workout meal) in order to maximize benefits of the human growth hormone (men can breakfast right after workouts).
- Contrary to popular belief, some sweeteners (e.g., stevia, erythritol, etc.) can actually increase insulin and blood sugar
- Psychologically, sweeteners also perpetuate sweet cravings
- Your relationship to sweeteners with ultimately depends on your own metabolic profile: individuals who are more insulin resistant are likely to have more issues with sweeteners
- Bottom line: everyone is different! The best way is to test blood sugar levels and ketones before consuming the food, and then again two hours after - self-experimentation is key!
WHERE TO GET MORE
More on the Intensive Dietary Management Program:
Books by Dr. Jason Fung:
- The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body through Intermittent, Alternate-Day and Extended Fasting
- The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally
- The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
Check out some photos from the meetup: