Welcome to my practical guide on how to fast to lose weight, where I show you exactly what it might look like if you wanted to make fasting part of your daily routine or even part of your weekly schedule.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
First, I want to let you know that I have a mini-course called Fasting Foundations where I dive into personal adaptations, science and individual methods. If you love this practical adaptation to fasting I’m about to show you and want to learn more, I recommend you check this out. Click here to view the mini-course.
Okay, so since there are plenty of other resources online that talk about the benefits of fasting and the nitty-gritty science behind the reasons for fasting, I’m not going to cover that. This video is about how to apply fasting to your lifestyle in a practical way without all the hyped up fluff.
Here are a couple of reasons why you might want to fast.
- Because you hate breakfast
- Because you want to try to lose some body fat
- Because you want mental clarity which comes with the side benefit of not having to think about eating all the time.
How Long Should You Fast For?
Let’s talk about timeframes. There are a few routes you can take when it comes to fasting,
- Intermittent fasting also called 16:8 or IF
- “One Meal A Day”, OMAD or 24-hour fasting.
Don’t worry, there are other types, but they all piggyback off the concepts of these two timeframes.
Intermittent fasting just compresses your eating window, so you have less time during the day to eat. For example, skipping breakfast and just eating lunch and dinner, or vice versa, skipping dinner and just eating breakfast and lunch (this is my personal preference).
One meal per day just gives you one meal in the day. Super simple.
Which Type Of Fasting Should I Do?
We have covered the time frames of fasting, now let’s discuss the different types of fasting.
You have 4 types.
- Fat fasting
- Regular fasting
- Water-only fasting
- Dry fasting
I generally wouldn’t recommend the latter two unless you’re very advanced.
Fat fasting means you can have fat during your fasting window. This is generally more suitable for people looking to improve mental clarity
Regular fasting means you can only ingest things that have zero calories, for example, black coffee, black tea, herbal tea, electrolytes etc. This is generally best for people who are looking to lose weight.
Water only fasting just means you can only drink water during your fasting window, and dry fasting means you can’t have any water during your fasting window (similar to Ramadan).
Let’s recap. Fasting time frames; intermittent fasting and 24-hour fasting. Types of fasting are fat fasting, where you only ingest fat, regular fasting where you can ingest things like black coffee, tea etc, water-only fasting and dry fasting.
How To Fast To Lose Weight
Let’s back up a little here and put these into perspective. When it comes to fasting, it’s just talking about nutrient timing. When you’re eating and when you’re not, so here is where it sits within your goals.
When it comes to your health, you need to be doing something sustainable. I always think, can I do this for the next 6 months? If you can’t, then it’s likely a fad that you’ll fall off.
Secondly, you need to be maintaining energy balance for your goals. This means that if you’re looking to lose weight, you need to be eating slightly less than what your body burns each day to tap into your stored body fat as energy. Going keto will likely make this easier.
Looking for maintenance? Simply eat enough to maintain your weight.
Thirdly, macronutrients like protein and carbs plus their underlying micronutrients make this approach specific to your goals which is key to a successful weight loss, maintenance or building phase.
And lastly, nutrient timing, also known as fasting. So, when it comes to fasting, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this sustainable for me long term?
- Am I eating enough for my goals (weight loss, maintenance etc)
- Am I getting enough protein, carbs fats and quality to make that goal possible
- How am I going to place those nutrients throughout the day to make this sustainable for me?
Example Day Of Fasting
A 60-year-old female who wants to lose weight is looking to try fasting. She simply skips breakfast and eats lunch and dinner, and repeats this throughout the working week. She drinks nothing but water, electrolytes and black coffee for breakfast.
So, by simply skipping 1 meal, she’s able to reduce her calories which should stimulate weight loss. By having zero calories before lunch, she’s also just doing regular fasting. If this is sustainable for her long term, this is ideal.
Another common example is this; A 45-year-old woman who is looking for mental clarity decides to start intermittent fasting. For breakfast, instead of cereal she consumes coffee with butter and MCT oil and eats a regular lunch and dinner.
This example is utilising fat fasting, since the only calories in her fasting window are fat, and she’ll likely maintain her weight and increase mental clarity due to the breakfast switch of cereal with bulletproof coffee.
Common Fasting Mistakes
There are also a few additional tips
- Collagen in your bulletproof coffee will break your fast since collagen is an amino acid (protein)
- Drinking coffee with milk or cream instead of black would be considered fat fasting.
How Do Macros Change With Fasting?
If you’re tracking macros, this is where I would make adjustments:
- If you’re intermittent fasting, you still want to consume your daily calories, just in 2 meals instead of 3,
- If you’re fat fasting, that fat counts towards your fat macros for the day, so your later meals will likely have less fat.
A simple example would be this. If you have 3 meals of 30g protein, 10g carbs and 30g of fat, if you had two meals, this would equal 45g protein, 15g carbs and 45g fats.
What Type Of Fasting Should You Start With?
If you haven’t tried fasting before, definitely start with intermittent fasting.
If you have been intermittent fasting for a long time and you’re wanting to try and extend your fasting window, you can jump into one meal a day, but here is how I would plan it out.
Quick note, long fasting times tend to be stressful on your body, so if you’re doing one meal a day, or extending this into the 48-hour or 72-hour zone, definitely only do this sparingly and under the supervision of your doctor.
Again, since this is stressful, if you’ve recently started a new job, or you’re having family trouble, or you’re looking after someone who is sick, stick to something easier. You have a finite amount of stress you can handle and recover from, so don’t ramp up fasting without considering your recovery ability.
How To Do OMAD (One Meal A Day)
My clients will start with one 24 hour fast per week. This might be during the week while at work, or on the weekends, it doesn’t matter, but what matters are these few things:
Start your fast after your last meal, say 7 pm on Sunday. You’ll then fast throughout the next day and eat your regular dinner at 7 pm on Monday. Don’t do any fasting the next day, and get back into your regular schedule for the week.
Try to break your fast with bone broth, or something that contains glycine (for example my sugar-free jelly recipe on my website linked below) about 20 minutes before your first meal.
What Do You Drink During A Fast?
I highly recommend drinking electrolytes during your fasting window, but it’s really up to you whether you decide to drink bulletproof coffee, black coffee, or just water. Just remember, these are different kinds of fasts with different benefits and you need to adjust accordingly.
There are circumstances and cases in which extended fasting might make sense, and I cover these in more detail within the Fasting Foundations mini-course which is linked below.
So, to wrap it all up, if you’ve never done fasting and you’re looking to try, start with intermittent fasting. Confused as to whether to try fast fasting or regular fasting? If your goal is weight loss, leave the butter and cream out of the coffee. If your goal is mental clarity, leave it in.
If you’ve done fasting before, then you might like to try a 24 hour fast once per week. Pick a day when you are busy and can keep your mind off food and you’ll likely be more successful.
Fasting, But Not Losing Weight?
If you’ve been fasting for a long time, or even quite commonly what I see is people who are doing one meal a day, but still not losing weight, two scenarios might apply to you;
The first is that you’re simply eating more than what your metabolism and your daily activity are capable of burning within your allocated eating window.
Or maybe you’ve been dieting for a long time and you’ve already lost 10% of your body weight, but haven’t intentionally increased your energy at maintenance which strength training can help with.
What are your questions about fasting? Let me know in the comments below.