I love fasting, and I embraced intermittent fasting from my 20’s at university intuitively. It felt right to listen to my body and eat when I was hungry and choose water and lemon and fresh veggies juices till lunchtime.
It stands to reason that if you are consuming three meals a day and snacks day in and day out, not to mention adding in tea, coffee and other drinks, the body only has a limited time during your sleep to detoxify.
This is fine if you are healthy but if you want to improve your health and heal from disease, taking the pressure off your digestive system, reduce inflammation and giving the body time to heal itself through fasting is a powerful lifestyle choice.
As a lifestyle, I love intermittent fasting, and I always do a seasonal cleanse/fast, twice a year when the major seasons change – which is now!
Living in the UAE, I felt it was a great time to talk about fasting. Ramadan and fasting have many excellent benefits on inflammation and particularly gut and overall health.
Why Fasting Is Good For You
Fasting will kick-start your metabolism, detox at a cellular level, boost your energy levels, reduce inflammation and support fat loss. Your fasting also normalises ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone), slows down ageing, increases your human growth hormone levels (supporting healthy muscle to fat ratios), heals your gut. Every fast is a great way to give your GI tract a break to support healing, normalises insulin levels and improves cognition and mental clarity.
A study by Barnoksy et al. in 2014 found that intermittent fasting was as effective as caloric restrictions in reducing visceral fat mass (dangerous belly fat), fasting insulin and insulin resistance. This is, therefore, great news for anyone with blood sugar issues, diabetes, pre-diabetes etc., for I found this to be the key in my past eating disorders and supporting my patients walk out their healings of metabolic and eating disorders over the last 23 years of my career.
Since all populations have embraced fasting for thousands of years, it supports life and reduces disease. A study by Sogawa & Kubu published in Science Direct in 2000 found intermittent fasting decreased body weight and increased rats’ life span.
Fasting isn’t the same as starving yourself and doing crash diets – take that from a past anorexic, I learnt that the hard way!
The definition of fasting is simply abstaining from food and or drink from a specific period of time. It’s been around for thousands of years and embraced with miraculous effects.
Spiritual fasting is part of many religions, and as a Christian, I do regular fasts, just like our Muslim friends are now doing Ramadan. Ramadan is a dry fast, something I tried when I moved to the UAE 5 years ago. I don’t do it any longer as my hair started to fall out (no doubt my body was not used to this type of fasting).
When you fast, instead of having regular meals throughout the day, you have a specific window of time when you can eat and drink. In Ramadan, after sunset, you can eat whatever you want. When I create Ramadan plans for my clients or fast myself, I suggest one main meal, one or two snacks, lots of water, staying off the high sugar and junk foods and continuing with your fast, so you don’t get overfull.
You can pray, take time to connect with yourself and your loved ones and allow your body to cleanse. Starving all day and bingeing all night till sunrise is not the goal, and this will not support the mind, body and spiritual effects desired.
If you choose to eat processed foods, junk foods, excessive sugar etc., it’s unlikely that you’ll experience the benefits of fasting. I prefer to suggest that my clients choose whole foods rich in fruits, vegetables, lean organic proteins and good fats such as avocado and olives, so you experience a great mind and body reset.
5 Types Of Fasting
1. Ramadan – a Spiritual Dry Fast
Ramadan is a spiritual dry fast from sunrise to sunset, so here in the UAE, approximately it is 6 am – 7 pm, 13 hours with no food or drink during the day, leaving 10 hours to eat and drink till sunrise. I always suggest breaking this type of fast with water, three dates and soup before you have your Iftar main meal. Chewing slowly, mindful eating and not overindulging is crucial to get all the benefits out of this fast. Most of my patients then have dinner 4-5 hours later and a snack / light breakfast and water before sunrise. Staying up all night is also not ideal for your circadian rhythms to get very out of balance, so be wise to try still to get some sleep at night.
2. The Daniel Fast – a Spiritual Vegan Fast
This is another spiritual fast based on Daniel’s story in the Bible. In this fast, you eat vegan only from 21 – 40 days, staying with only fruits, salads, vegetables and nuts. No meat, dairy, grains (unless they’re sprouted ancient grains) and drinks like coffee, alcohol and fruit juices.
The goal of this fast is to press closer to God to experience the spiritual breakthroughs like Daniel experienced in his time. Lent and various other religious fasts incorporate these teachings, and you can choose to give up your favourite foods and even activities as a way to detox both your mind and body and remember those less fortunate.
3. Intermittent or Cyclic Fasting
This popular form of fasting is also known as cyclic fasting. It is where you have set times where you eat, and the rest of the day, you fast. Keeping items under 40 calories is critical not to break your fast and why lemon & ginger water and green veggie juice are ideal. I always add super greens powder to my veggie juice to amplify the healing effects.
I use this recipe daily as part of my intermittent fasting and then have my lunch at 1-2 pm, which leaves my fasting window to 17-18 hours & around 7 hours a day to eat.
I mix 250ml of water + 3 teaspoons of Rejuv or Welleco Super Greens Powder + 250ml of juice made from celery, wheatgrass, romaine lettuce, lemon, lime and ginger.
Typical intermittent fast times range from 14 to 18 hours. When I do a water fast during the day, I will give myself a 4-hour window to eat one meal, and the other 20 hours, I sip water and lemon and have one green juice as per above.
4. Alternate Day Fasting
This fast is a type of intermittent fasting where you reduce calories to around 500 calories per day on fasting days and eat healthy whole foods the other days of the week. Some do this as five days healthy of about 1500-2000 calories a day & 2 days fasting.
This is an easy lifestyle for those who are new to fasting, want to take things a little slower, or have significant health issues where long fasts could create a Herxheimer (healing crisis). You can then change the number of days as you become more used to fasting to even do five days on 500 calories and weekends 1500-2000 calories per day.
5. Fit for Life
Fit for Life is the system I used back in my 20’s where you drink lots of water all morning till at least noon, and you are allowed to take fruits if desired. You then have two normal meals for lunch and dinner, but you combine food so either organic protein + salad/ veg or starch like rice but keep it vegetarian by only adding plants.
The Warrior Diet is a little like this, where you eat fruits and veggies all day then one balanced meal at night.
Choosing The Right Fast For You
If you are new to fasting, add some time-restricted with intermittent fasting and swapping breakfast or dinner for water with lemon, a green veggie juice or veggie soup. Incorporating your sleep is ideal, so you add your 8 hours to another 4 hours in the day to create 12 hours of fasting. Over the next month or so, you can slowly add to this as you feel comfortable and work up to you to increase to 14-18 hours.
Don’t forget to listen to your body and use your intuition, so you go at your own pace. Using supplements is also vital to open up your detox pathways, reduce inflammation, heal your gut and reset your gut-brain axis.
An Intermittent Fasting Routine
An example of my daily intermittent fasting that you can use as a cleanse over 2-4 weeks or incorporate a few days a week or do like I do five days a week and then have fun on weekends:
6-7 am First thing
1 litre of pure water (I like the Therasage H20 water filter) + the juice of 1 lemon + 1 thumb of grated ginger
Move my body intuitively for 30 – 45 minutes. This can be anything, walking, gym, dancing, classes, swimming etc
Sweat for 30 minutes
I use a Therasage FIR Sauna to detox, boost my metabolism & support anti-ageing.
10 am Brunch
Fresh veggie juice 250ml veggie juice made of celery stalks, romaine lettuce, a shot of wheatgrass + lemon & ginger to taste
1-2 pm Lunch
Superfood salad with leaves of your choice + cucumber + onion + raw asparagus + raw broccoli + 1/2 avocado + 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds + 1-2 handfuls of almonds + extra virgin olive oil + cloudy apple cider vinegar + 100-150g of wild line-caught fish
OR Vegan Protein smoothie: 400ml unsweetened almond milk + 1 scoop of vegan protein powder by Rejuv or the vegan protein powder I created for Welleco) + if you have a blender, add in a handful of spinach + 1 handful of berries of your choice
500ml water + 1 cup of green
1 sliced apple + 1-2 teaspoons of almond butter or while nuts
or 1 of my Rejuv Gluten-Free Muffins
Nothing Raw After 4 PM
Before dinner; 1 heaped teaspoon of Rejuv Digestive Complex Powder + 1 glass of water
7 pm Dinner
2 Rejuv Liver Support Capsules
2 Rejuv Water Flo Capsules – to cleanse my lymphatic system
I mainly go vegan and keep warm but can rotate in wild fish, organic bone broth or organic eggs. Veggie soup or stir fry of mixed veg cooked with coconut oil (maximum 7 minutes cooked to keep crunchy & keep nutrients alive) + garnish with 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut, pumpkin seeds, raw grated garlic and ginger and chilli.
After dinner; Sleep tea that I invented for Welleco
2 Colon Clear Complex Capsules sometimes if I want to support detox and cleanse my colon or if it is close to my period and I need more colonic support
Think about five things I’m grateful for each day and feel this into my nervous system for at least a minute.
A Balanced Lifestyle
The bottom line is to go at your pace and incorporate intermittent fasting and slowly build up.
If you’re doing a spiritual fast, don’t just abstain and then binge all night, cleanse, nourish and be kind to yourself, so you get all the incredible benefits bit just mind and body but spiritually too.
Living the intermittent fasting lifestyle for five days a week means I can relax on weekends, have fun, eat various foods, and add some red wine or champagne, too, if I feel like it.
I don’t want to binge due to weekday starvation like my old eating disorder days. Instead, I embrace my clean, nourishing weekdays. It is important to love your body into wellness, I keep my inflammation down and then have fun with my family on the weekends—no guilt, just joy and pleasure, living the balanced life I love.