Fasting One Day a Week

Saturday Apr 18 | BY |
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Apple juice on juicer machine - juicing concept. Apples in bowl

I recently started fasting one day a week — either a juice fast or a 24-hour water fast.

Intermittent fasting is becoming popular, especially in bodybuilding circles. Why? Because intermittent fasting gives bodybuilders an edge; they find that they recover faster and they achieve a leaner body with just as much muscle mass when they include some intermittent fasting in their routine.

Fasting one day a week has been a part of many traditions; taking one day a week without food is not new.

Typically, during a fast (a water fast, that is), your body will eliminate toxins and burn fat, but this only happens after you’ve been fasting for a couple of days.

During the first 24-72 hours of fasting, your body is still feeding off its immediate energy reserves; you’re still thriving on the food that is being digested in your intestinal track. You still have glycogen reserves in your muscles and liver. Once those immediate reserves are used up, the body shifts its metabolism to a fasting metabolism; it will use ketones for energy production instead of glucose, and those ketones are produced by burning body fat.

The Two Phases of Fasting

In the first phase of a fast, you’re still in glucose metabolism. In the second phase, you shift to ketone bodies metabolism, when you shift to burning off body fat as a source of energy.

When you shift to ketone metabolism, it’s very difficult to keep up your energy, your thinking is alterned, you don’t feel like yourself, and you may have bad breath or other symptoms. However, the benefit of ketone bodies metabolism is that you’re burning off body fat and eliminating all of the toxins that might be stored in that fat.

Fasting one day per week will not put you in that second phase.

With a weekly fast of 24 to 36 hours, you’ll still be in glucose metabolism; you’ll still feel quite normal, but you’ll be hungry.

The benefits of a weekly fast are that it’s a true digestive rest. Weekly fasting gives your body a break from digesting. And there are some immediate detoxification benefits as well.

When feeding our bodies meal after meal, especially delicious, well-seasoned and sometimes heavy meals, we sometimes need a break.

A weekly fast can do that.

I recently started following a weekly juice fast and occasionally a water fast.

In a weekly juice fast you still consume calories. When I juice fast, I consume roughly 1,600 calories, which is about 900 calories less than what I normally eat. Also, because I only consume liquids during that day, it is a form of digestive rest. When I juice fast, I break the “fast” the next day, in the morning. So it is a 36-hour juice fast.

A 24-hour water fast is more difficult, but can also be rewarding. It’s not for everybody, but many people find that it helps them stay more balanced. It’s been shown that the benefits are actually achieved after 16-20 hours; you could end a little early.

A 36-hour fast is not recommended weekly because it puts more stress on the body. This is where you stop eating on Sunday night and resume eating on Tuesday morning, for example.

All forms of fasting can bring tremendous health benefits but they’re not for everybody. Ask your health professional about it first.

But most people can benefit from a weekly fast or even a monthly fast. The best way to see if it can work for you is to try it, but like I said, start with something simple like a juice fast.

What Happens During a Short Fast?

A short fast (with juices or not) is easier to follow than you might think. I recommend doing it on a day when you’re very busy. I always fast on a Monday because I usually don’t plan any social activities then and I have lots of things to do.

A Monday is an ideal day for most because you’re busy: you’re back at work, so you’re not going to plan a night out with friends or go to a restaurant, so you can focus on your work and not have to think so much about food. You will get hungry because your body is used to eating at certain times, but the first time you get hungry it will be false hunger, not true hunger. It will pass within an hour or two.

Around noon is when you will feel truly hungry, and at that time is your hour of glory. This is when you can decide to pursue the fast even though you don’t feel like it. This hunger will also disappear, but it might actually get a little stronger in the evening.

Of course, if you’re doing a juice fast, your hunger is relieved every time you drink. You might find yourself tired earlier than usual. This is normal because your body is dealing with the stress of not eating. Go to bed early. There is an old saying in French that roughly translates as, “who goes to bed has dinner,” which means sometimes the best way to deal with hunger is to go to bed.

You might experience headaches during your day of fasting. This is usually caused by caffeine withdrawals. If you haven’t given up caffeine completely and you’re starting to get serious headaches that impair your ability to work, have a little bit of caffeine. This is not going to affect the other good results you’ll get from your fast, but will get rid of your caffeine headaches. Think about ways you can reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake so that next time you fast, you will not get a caffeine withdrawal headache.

My first health mentor, Albert Mosseri, said that if someone has trouble following a natural hygiene diet and often tends to cheat, a weekly fast will correct those mistakes. It will help maintain their equilibrium.

But fasting is not about eating junk all week and then”detoxing,” it is supposed to be part of a healthy lifestyle — but only if it makes sense for you.

I can only speak from my experience:

I’ve found short fasts extremely beneficial for me. They tend to improve my mood. On my fasting day, I feel more optimistic. I feel better. I feel more at ease. In some cases, it even increases my energy (especially a weekly juice fast.) I find that it’s just a great way to start the week and it also helps me eat better the rest of the week. Fasting is great to restore your taste buds — after a short fast, you naturally feel like eating healthy foods.

Have you ever experimented with short fasts? 

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Jeff says:

    Frederic: Can you give a breakdown of the roughly 1600 calories you consume when you juice fast? Do you add any powdered protein or supplements? Or all vegetables and juice?

    • One hemp milk (16 grams of fat, 400 calories), and then 5 juices of roughly 220 calories each (about 2 cups of juice), more or less depending on the type of juice. No powdered protein or supplements. All juice except for the hemp milk! (which contains some maple syrup)

  2. suzanne says:

    Are you using the store-bought juices you talked about before or are you juicing yourself? Which juicer do you own and use?

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