Intermittent Fasting (IF) has been of interest for me since I saw some presentations by Dr. Jason Fung about a year ago. It took me awhile to work up the courage to try fasting. I was apprehensive due to my health issues. Little did I know the benefits of intermittent fasting that I would see. See “Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Charcot Marie Tooth,” where I detail the benefits of IF for CMT.
Prolonged vs Intermittent Fasting
The more I enjoyed the benefits of intermittent fasting, the more I began to wonder if there were ways to boost fasting benefits. I started slow with intermittent fasting before moving on to prolonged fasting. There are differing opinions about what these two types of fasting mean. For this post, I define these types of fasting as follows:
- Intermittent Fasting – Fasting for 24 hours or less. Example: 16/8 Fast, 16 hours of no calories with an 8 hour window to eat each day.
- Prolonged Fasting – Fasting for longer than 24 hours. Usually limited to 72 hours, but some people go for even longer than 3 days.
One can gain the benefits of fasting from either of these techniques. It really comes down to personal preference and which one is most convenient for one’s lifestyle. I personally prefer the prolonged fasting. I find it convenient to not eat for two days out of my week. My routine is currently a 48 hour fast each week. After reading this study about IF and CMT, I may switch my routine to Alternate-day Fasting, or a cycle of 24 hour fasting followed by 24 hours of food.
I was feeling the benefits of fasting, but I wanted to find out if I could maximize the efficiency of each fast. I wanted to burn as much fat as possible during my fast.
Boost Intermittent Fasting Benefits
There are two tools I now use to maximize the efficiency of my fasts: Bulletproof Coffee (BPC) and cardio. Combining these two the morning of my fast immediately puts me into ketosis and keeps me there throughout the fast. I’ve tested doing a fast with and without these two and different combinations of both to see just how my body would behave. I always lose the most weight and feel the best during a fast when I start it with a BPC and cardio.
Starting my fast with a Bulletproof Coffee helps me sustain my energy throughout the fast. If I don’t start my fast with a BPC, I always seem to wake up groggy the next day and have a hard time prolonging the fast over 24 hours. I also seem to get more hunger pains when I don’t have a BPC before my fast. I believe it’s all the fat in the BPC that helps me feel sated throughout my fast. After trying to fast with and without a BPC several times, I have decided to always start my fast with a BPC. If you’d like to know more about my experiences with BPC, please read my Bulletproof Coffee for Thirty Days and Beyond post.
The Bulletproof Coffee at the start of each fast helped sustain my energy and sate my hunger throughout the fast, but it didn’t make much of a difference in how much fat I was losing during the fast. There was a slight difference in weight loss, but nothing significant. I knew I was in a higher state of ketosis during my fast, but was there a way to increase my fat burning during the fast?
An obvious answer to boost fat burning during a fast seemed to be exercise at the beginning of the fast. I started with just an hour of cardio the first time I tried cardio with fasting. The next time I fasted, I did the same hour long cardio session. I seemed to consistently lose an extra 1.5 pounds or so when I included an hour of cardio at the start of my fast. Keep in mind that this cardio is not intense. It’s just steady, easy cardio. I keep my heart rate in the fat-burning to just at cardio level, 100-140 bpm for me.
After a few times of doing this, I started to wonder how far I could push it and if I could control the amount of fat loss I had during a fast. I eventually got to where I could do four hours of cardio at the start of each fast. Doing four hours of cardio seemed to consistently help me lose 2.5 to 3 pounds during a fast. I don’t do four hours of cardio at the beginning of each fast mind you, but it was nice to know that it was possible for me to control my fat loss. Now I average 2-3 hours of cardio at the start of each of my fasts.
After many experiments, I believe I have found my optimal way of fasting. Each person will have their own way, but I felt like sharing my experiences might help others find a way to experiment themselves. For me, the best way I’ve found to fast is to have a 24-48 hour fast each week and to start that fast with a Bulletproof Coffee and 2-3 hours of cardio to boost fasting benefits.
Note: I only do BPC and cardio at the start of the fast. Afterward, I do not continue to do cardio throughout the fast. I tried this once and consequently ended up fainting. I do not recommend doing cardio or any other exercise throughout a fast. Please consult with your doctor before significantly changing your diet or exercise routine.