One of the most common questions I get are, “will this break my fast?” This mini guide will give you the knowledge to answer this.
Here is just a short list of some of the potential benefits of fasting:
‘Detoxification’ vis cellular autophagy
Enhanced energy via mitochondrial biogenesis
Improved focus and concentration
Enhanced athletic performance via metabolic flexibility
That being said, the majority of these benefits only happen if insulin remains suppressed. It’s not that insulin is the cause of these benefits. Rather, insulin is simply a good indicator.
When fasting, insulin becomes low because our blood sugar becomes low. The body DETECTS this state of low insulin/low blood sugar and thus the above benefits can be triggered.
On the other hand, when we are eating insulin and blood glucose becomes higher. The body DETECTS this and will not trigger the above benefits.
Therefore, if you are trying to figure out what foods, beverages, supplements etc. “break your fast” then simply ask yourself, is the food/beverage triggering a spike in insulin?
Let’s use this as an example. This is a reason for the cancer preventative (and even cancer treatment) properties of fasting. Cellular autophagy is the disposal of senescent, cancerous, or “old” cells.
Can I drink coffee?
Black coffee is OK, even a little bit of MCT oil might be just fine. The reason is because these may not increase insulin enough to put an end to these benefits. Coffee with sugar? You are not fasting. Even coffee with artificial sweetener is not a good bet. Some studies indicate that even zero calorie sweeteners – because the brain perceives the sweet taste – will lead to a release of insulin. Basically, the brain detects the sweetness and thus automatically assumes we are consuming calories, which REQUIRE some insulin to transport the calories into cells of the body.
What about BCAAs or EAAs?
These both contain the amino acid Leucine, which stimulates the anabolic pathway mTOR. This will also block many of the benefits of fasting including cell autophagy. Why? Because these are opposite pathways. mTOR triggers cell growth, cellular autophagy on the other hand (and the CONDITIONS of fasting) trigger cell disposal.
All that being said, above all else you have to be clear about what your GOAL is. Are you fasting to lose fat? Live longer? Reduce inflammation? Just feel better? The answer to, “will this break my fast” is always dependent on your goal of fasting.
Technically speaking, if you want to get 100% of the benefits of fasting you’d probably have to stick to only water.
That’s because the liver and other organs have internal “clocks” that are triggered via different digestive processes. Indeed, this is why if you truly want to reap the full benefits of fasting you should consider an annual, or up to a quarterly, extended fast where you consume just water and salt (for electrolytes). As a general rule, MOST of the benefits of fasting do not seem to commence until after about 24 hours. However, there are exceptions and shorter fasts have benefits too.
How Do I Incorporate Fasting Into My Diet?
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