All About Fasting
When I was coming of age, as an adolescent, my father advised me to drink warm water with lemon en ayunas. He assured me that this drink would help me to maintain a flat stomach. He told me that the warm water would be very good to my body. Cold water could shock my warm body in the morning, according to his (and his mom and grandma’s) creencias. I am not sure if his advice worked or not, but the idea behind it has lingered in my mind for years. Whenever I think back to it, I am reminded of this: the first thing I put in my body en ayunas significantly affects how I will feel that day, and perhaps even in the long term.
What is fasting?
Intermittent fasting refers to not consuming food for a set period of time. For example, while we sleep, we are technically fasting. When we wake up and have breakfast, we are quite literally breaking the fast from the night before. A simple formula for intermittent fasting is eating in a 12-hour window and not eating in the next 12-hour window. Another example would be an 8-hour window of time to eat followed by a 16-hour window of fasting. The 16/8 ratio is the most popular. The key here is that you commit to not eating for a certain interval each day. This, it itself, can have several benefits.
How long should I fast for?
As disclosed above, the most popular fasting formula is 16/8. Eat for an 8-hour window of time. Fast for 16 hours. If you skip breakfast, and have an early dinner, this may be quite easy to achieve.
How do I fast?
A typical day of fasting can look like this:
- Wake up at 8 am, drink a liter of water
- Get to work at 9 am, drink a cup of black coffee
- Drink a smoothie at 10 am
- Noon, enjoy your lunch
- 3 pm, snack on some nuts or fruit
- 6 pm, enjoy dinner
- Enjoy herbal tea in the evening
Here is another example:
- Wake up at 7:30 am, drink a liter of water
- Get to work at 8:30, drink black coffee
- Sip on some more water throughout the morning
- Enjoy green tea at 11 am
- Enjoy a healthy lunch at noon
- Have a snack at 4 pm
- Eat dinner at 7:30 pm, finishing before 8 pm
- Enjoy herbal tea before bed
If you review the above two examples, you will see they include an 8 hour period of consuming food, followed by a 16 hour period of fasting.
Am I just supposed to aguantar hambre for 16 hours?
Like I said above, fasting refers to not consuming food for a certain amount of time. You can, however, consume other things. (Like air, homie, get used to it. I kid. I kid.) For instance, when you are fasting, water is your best friend, ok? Water is a real one. It hydrates you and has no calories. (It also has no flavor, but we’re going to ignore that for the sake of this article.) I heard a long time ago that sometimes, the body confuses thirst for hunger. Therefore, if you are watching your weight/health, you can drink water to curb cravings, or drink water before a meal to prevent overeating, etc. So, drink up and chug that water while you fast. It can help you to feel more satiated. Be like my pops and add lemon to that water to make it more interesting.
Up next on what the heck you can consume while fasting is herbal tea. The key here is to ensure the tea is unsweetened. Tea can offer you something that water cannot— flavor. (I gotta keep it real, right?) Tea can offer a lot of benefits, depending on what kind you are consuming. For instance, Green Tea has a wealth of antioxidants. If your tea is caffeinated, even better, as caffeine can curb hunger. Which brings me to the third item you can enjoy during your fast…black coffee!
Black coffee reminds me of how I like my men—dark, bitter yet uplifting, stimulating and slightly addicting. But really, black coffee is something you can enjoy without breaking your fast. Be sure to avoid adding sugar, milk, creamer, honey, etc. The point here is to enjoy the drink in its purer form. It will keep you alert and contribute to curbing your appetite.
Water, coffee and tea are all zero calories drinks that can be enjoyed during your fast without taking you off track. In fact, it can help to get you through your fast.
What are the benefits of fasting?
Once, when I worked retail, I was shivering after returning from my lunch break. I asked the manager to adjust the air conditioner. She told me that a body’s temperature often drops during digestion. The body’s resources focus on digesting and therefore cannot focus on keeping the body warm. “Ya te va pasar,’” she told me. At the moment, I was pretty sure she was being selfish and didn’t want to adjust the air. Now looking back, I can (kinda) see she had a point. Digesting does tax the body. That is why we are often advised to not eat before bed. The body repairs itself while we sleep. It needs to focus on repair and not digestion. With this in mind, let’s look at how the body benefits when we fast.
Have you ever felt really sleepy after lunch? Sometimes, after my lunch, I find it so hard to focus, I hardly get anything done. (I hope my jefe isn’t reading this). On the contrary, have you ever been so laser focused that you do not even feel hungry and work through lunch? Fasting can help sharpen your focus. If your body is not focusing on digestion for a certain amount of time, it can help you to feel more alert during your fast.
Research shows that while fasted, the body’s “cells initiate cellular repair processes… where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.” (Check out the source here). While fasted, our body’s cells remove waste. Therefore, fasting can be seen as a sort of detoxing process as well.
Aids in Weight Loss
I don’t know about you, but I am most prone to break my healthy eating lifestyle typically after dinner. My husband (dark-ish, addicting and stimulating—you know this) and I make point to eat dinner together every night. As we eat, we talk about our day. After dinner, we relax with our favorite Netflix show. This is the time when the snacks can creep in to mess up my diet. We try to keep it healthy with berries, nuts, or unsweetened Greek Yogurt (with cinnamon and honey). Somehow, chocolate, chips, cookies or ice cream comes into the mix! How did these infiltrate my evening? And where did they even come from?? When Bae and I tried fasting, it was like a fun competition:
“pues te dije that we were not going to eat anything after a certain time. We want the benefits. I’m sticking with it. Are you?”
“…Okay…Let’s sip on some water or herbal tea instead.”
If you commit to only eating for a certain set time, you may be less inclined to overeat, mindlessly eat, excessively indulge, etc. After all, you do not want to break your fast. You want to enjoy the benefits. Plus, only eating in a certain interval of time can help to keep your calorie consumption under a certain limit.
The most important thing to realize here is that inflammation is a defense mechanism in the body. It helps us fight shit off. That being said, too much inflammation can be hard on the body. We are talking about chronic inflammation here. Think of auto immune diseases- an excess of inflammation in the body, simply put. Think of arthritis. The condition is related to inflammation. Even urticaria in the skin (hives) is related to inflammation. By reducing the excess of inflammation in the body, we can promote our overall well being. Studies show that after fasting for one month, adults showed a decrease in overall inflammation in the body.
“Your body’s fat-burning ability peaks after you’ve been fasting for 12 to 14 hours,” according to this article. When the body is not digesting, it can focus on burning the glycogen stores, or burning fat for fuel.
What should I eat when I break my fast?
Now that you know about all the good stuff your body did for you while you fasted, don’t you want to reward your body? The first thing you put in your body after fasting for about 16 hours is crucial. Sometimes, I fast for a little less than 16 hours. Regardless of how long I fast for, I always make sure to break my fast with something that will be good to my body. After fasting for so long your body is craving something good! Reach for something lean, clean and green. Try to avoid sugar or bread, to prevent the chance of spiking your insulin in a crazy way. If you are a mujer on the go like me, then you may want something easy to prepare. For instance, The Compton Detox is great after an indulgent weekend. The Get Yo’ Greens Mix is great for an every day drink to flood your body with greens and kick start your day. The Keto Mix and even the Beauty Blend are also great options if you want to mix it up. Check out all the formulas here.
Some time after you enjoy a mix from CHB, you can benefit from eating a nutritious lunch that consists of:
- Healthy Carbs like brown rice, quinoa, potatoes or yams
- Vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, salad, you get the point
- Lean protein like chicken or fish
- Healthy fat like avocado or olive oil
- Some fruit for dessert
The Bottom Line
Fasting is worth trying. Try it for yourself and see if it fits into your lifestyle. Does it work for you? Does it help you reach your goals? Or are you a hangry bish (like me)? Some schools of thought believe fasting offers great benefits. Others believe that eating small meals every few hours revs your metabolism. It is ultimately your choice- what benefits you, your lifestyle and your goals. Have you tried fasting before? Did you love it or hate it? Tell us in the comments. Hasta la proxima, amigx!