How to survive a fast

There are numerous benefits to fasting. So why doesn’t everyone do it? Well, there’s that whole “fasting” piece that folks have to contend with.

I have a fasting routine that I’ve stuck with for quite some time. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help me through it.

  • Caffeine. It’s an appetite suppressant, and can give you a quick jump start through any lethargy you may be experiencing. I tend to prefer cold brew coffee and green tea as my sources during a fast.

  • Water. Kind of obvious, right? If you want to make it through a fast then make sure to stay hydrated. You’ll have enough challenges to contend with, dehydration shouldn’t be one of them.

  • Stay busy. A large challenge of fasting is the mental game. Now’s not the time to try and be more mindful. Try to get out of your head and into whatever it is you can get into. Once there, stay there as long as you can. Don’t worry, the fast will do its best to get you out.

  • Schedule it; put it on your calendar. Starting a fast tends to be hard enough, if you put it on a calendar then it’s, in a way, not your decision anymore.

  • Fast often. Fasting infrequently, perhaps once a year, will not allow your body and your mind much opportunity to learn to cope. The more often you do it, the more you will build up the stamina to endure.

  • Fast intermittently. There are a few different interpretation of intermittent fasting. One version is called 16/8. Every day you will eat during an 8 hour window, and fast for the other 16 hours. By doing so repeatedly, you will build up your endurance for longer fasts.

  • Ketogenic diet. When your body is in ketosis you are consuming ketones as an energy source. When you fast for a long enough period of time your body will transition to consuming (and producing) ketones once the glycogen has been depleted from your liver. Therefore, the more your body is adept at producing and consuming ketones, the better you will be at coping with this new/different energy source.

  • Easy or no workouts. When you workout you put stress on your body and increase your body’s demand for energy and nutrients. This will make the fast that much harder to deal with. The goal of a fast is to make it through the fast. It is the goal you are trying to achieve. Stacking a hard workout or sauna session will shorten the duration of your fast, and probably will result with a less than optimal workout.

  • Give yourself permission to not be productive. A fast can take over your energy levels which can result in a hit to your work productivity. Remember, making it through the fast is the goal, so give yourself permission to be less productive. Having a fast start or end on a weekend is way to ease up the pressure.

  • Choose an attainable goal. It’s not typical that someone can roll off the couch and run a marathon. The same principle applies to fasting. If you have a goal you’d like to reach, it is perfectly reasonable to work up to that goal over a period of time rather than just diving in and expecting to meet it.

  • Take minerals/electrolytes. As you fast the minerals in your body will naturally deplete. If the quantities get too low you may experience some adverse symptoms like headaches, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, and much more. Add Sodium (commonly Salt), Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium if you’re experiencing some unpleasant symptoms (no, hunger is not one of those symptoms).

This post was inspired by a reply to a tweet.