Thank you for sharing the article. I purchased Dr Jockers book, "The Fasting Transformation". I found it quite informative.
I am on day one today of fasting (aiming for 3-5 days while listening to my body) and read through this book. I thought I'd share some quotes from it, if that might be useful to someone. It's a quick read, and much of the information in it will not be new here, since so much of what he covers is discussed in various threads on the forum.
This quote from the beginning stood out as interesting as a useful motivating factor for starting to fast:
Before we understood much of the scientific basis of fasting, it was understood that fasting could be used as a tool to gain heightened mental clarity and even be used as a tool to achieve higher levels of spiritual enlightenment. This is likely due to shifting into a state of ketosis that provides the brain with a stable supply of ketones that calm the mind and provide a state of calm focus that is difficult to obtain otherwise. During these periods of heightened mental clarity, people claimed to be able to access higher levels of consciousness and obtain profound insights.
Heightened Intuition, Spiritual Guidance, Decision Making
This is a list of foods to break a fast of 48 hours or less:As I have mentioned already, fasting has been used throughout history to heighten mental attentiveness. It has been used by every major religion and spiritual practice in order to increase connection with divine sources of guidance. Even major innovators responsible for great accomplishments have been known to fast leading up to major mental breakthroughs. Many people report being able to connect deeper with their inner voice of truth and feel grounded in their daily decision making knowing that they are making decisions in a clear mind free from distraction. It may come down to the fact that without the constant draw to external stimuli, we are able to pinpoint the decisions and behaviors that are really important in life. We are able to identify and shed behaviors that we partake in as distractions from other problems in our lives, allowing us to rebuild a clear vision on what we really want in life. No matter your beliefs, progress in life requires a vision. Developing a vision requires the ability to focus on what is important. Fasting provides stable energy and a clear mind to help you develop your vision. It also helps you identify destructive behaviors that are holding you back from seeing that vision. Fasting is the epitome of self-development when implemented in this way.
He discusses different daily intermittent fasting strategies:Some of the best satiating foods to eat when you break an intermittent fast include: • Eggs • Grass Fed Red Meat (Especially Fatty Cuts) • Wild Caught Fish • Grass Fed Dairy (If you tolerate dairy) • Saturated Fats (Butter, Coconut Oil) • Organ Meats • Soups or Stews Made with Bone Broth • Avocados and Avocado Oil • Coconut Milk and Coconut Oil • Olives and Olive Oil • Fruits, Especially Berries, Lemons & Limes. • Artichokes & Asparagus • Cruciferous Veggies (Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc.) • Dark Green Leafy Veggies • Sweet Potatoes • Sprouted and/or Soaked Grains, Beans, Lentils, Nuts, and Seeds • Nut Butters • Vegetable Soup *Note: The foods above are specifically for breaking fasts shorter than 48 hours. Fasts longer than 48 hours will cause the digestive system to down-regulate itself and will need gradual reintroduction of easy to digest foods. We will discuss how to do this later in this book.
He then goes into weekly strategies:There are 6 main fasting strategies that are programmed on a daily cycle: • Simple Fast: 12 Hours • Brunch Fast: 14 Hours • Crescendo Fast: 16 Hours – 2 days out of the week • Cycle Fast: 16 Hours – 3 days out of the week • Strong Fast: 16-18 Hours • Warrior Fast (Sometimes referred to as OMAD or, One Meal a Day): 19-21 Hours
Chapter 5: Weekly & Extended Fasting Strategies This chapter will focus on weekly and extended fasting strategies. There are 6 approaches detailed in this chapter: • One Day a Week: One 24-hour fast per week • 5:2 Fasting: 24-hour modified or pure fast, 2 days out of the week • 4:3 Fasting: 24-hour modified or pure fast, 3 days out of the week • Alternate-Day Fasting: 24-hour fast, every other day • Rolling 48-Hour Fasting: One meal every 48 hours • Extended Day Fasting: 3–5 day fast (or more), typically performed on occasion You will likely notice that some of these strategies are similar to the intermittent fasting strategies discussed in Chapter 4. The main difference in the weekly fasting strategies is that they involve a 24-hour fast (or multiple), employed on a weekly rhythm.
Perhaps, a warning to keep in mind for women when considering fasting:
Female physiology can be very sensitive to fasting or caloric restriction. Many females find that if they fast too strictly for their body type, there can sometimes be hormonal changes that lead to irregular periods, amenorrhea, infertility, bone density changes, and reduction in ovary size (1, 2, 3, 4). This is because of a gland in the brain called the hypothalamus that regulates the release of reproductive hormones gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone pathway is designed to prepare the female body for pregnancy. When the hypothalamus senses an energy deficit in a woman with a low body fat%, it will begin to shift towards ‘survival mode’. This basically means the hypothalamus will begin to shut down energy demanding processes – in this case growing a fetus – in order to keep you healthy. This makes crescendo fasting one of the most optimal fasting strategies for women who are already low in body fat and live a very active lifestyle with a lot of stressors. For these individuals, crescendo fasting allows for greater fasting benefits without the potential negative side effects.
He recommends a fat or keto fast if the body has not responded well to water fasting.
Comparison of partial fasting and water fasting:
This bit on Vitamin C was new to me:Advantages of Partial Fasting Compared to Water Fasting Easier and Generally Safer While water fasting isn’t particularly dangerous for most people, it still has its risks. It is also only recommended that you complete an extended water fast after you’ve become very comfortable with 24-hour fasts and daily intermittent fasting. Partial fasting is much more tolerable for people new to fasting or who have not responded well to water fasting in the past. More Doable for People Taking Medication Many medications can be hard on the digestive tract when taken without food on a regular basis. The same goes with supplements. In fact, some supplements don’t get absorbed very well without some dietary fat present. If you are taking medication and/or supplements, partial fasting can be an approach that allows you to get fasting benefits and still stay on your medication regimen. If you are considering a fast and are on medication, you should consult with a physician and have supervision to ensure there are no major adverse events. Provides Micronutrients The partial fasting strategies mentioned above are nutrient-dense. This allows for many of the benefits of fasting plus added nutrition that may assist in healing the body. This added nutrition may also help prevent fasting side effects like cravings, fatigue, and dizziness. Less Weight Loss While weight loss is a natural effect of fasting, many people are happy with their current weight and would rather maintain as much of their body mass as possible. Partaking in a partial fast is a great way to preserve muscle mass on longer fasts. Bone broth fasting is particularly helpful for this purpose.
Downsides of Partial Fasting Compared to Water Fasting Less Autophagy As we discussed in Chapter 2, one of the main benefits of fasting is the breaking down and recycling of old cells – called autophagy. The amount of autophagy from fasting is directly related to the intensity and duration of the fast. This means a 5-day water fast would produce significantly more autophagy than a 5-day bone broth or green juice fast. Less Growth Hormone Human growth hormone (HGH) tends to increase significantly during a fast. High amounts of HGH extends cell lifespan and improves cellular repair. While intermittent and water fasting tend to create large increases in HGH, partial fasts do not create a true fasted state. This means partial fasting will not create the same surge in HGH. Less Stem Cell Production Fasting is particularly effective at raising stem cells within the intestines. Even a 24-hour fast can raise stem cell production within the intestines. Since partial fasting does not actually exclude food entirely, these benefits may not be the same. While partial fasting may not provide all of the benefits as water fasting, it is still an excellent option for those who are trying to prepare their bodies for longer fasts. Partial fasts are more tolerable and provide many fasting benefits to a lesser extent.
In order for white blood cells to operate well, they need an adequate supply of Vitamin C. This was discovered by Linus Pauling in the 1960’s, who won a Nobel prize for his research. In the 1970’s Dr. John Ely postulated the Glucose-Ascorbate-Antagonism (GAA) Theory. What he discovered was that both glucose and Vitamin C are similar in structure and rely upon insulin in order to enter cells through the Glut-1 receptor. Another really important discovery to note is that glucose has a higher affinity for this receptor than Vitamin C. This means that when there is elevated blood glucose, or in the case of insulin resistance, Vitamin C will not be able to absorb into cells.
He goes into a day by day detail of what to expect on a 5 day fast, and how to handle difficulties or side effects that may arise.
On re-feeding once breaking the fast:
Preparing for a fast, and tips while fasting:For example, if you fasted for 5 days then you’d want 2.5 days to work your way up to that juicy grass-fed steak you’ve been dreaming about. A 2.5-day food reintroduction plan would look like this: Day 1: Protein Shakes with berries, fruits, green juices, bone broth, coconut water kefir, slow-cooked or pressure-cooked soups Day 2: Add in small amounts of fish, slow-cooked meats with bone broth, and fermented vegetables Day 3: Return to more solid foods including healthy fats, vegetables, starches, and meat For shorter or longer fasts, use this same principle. A 3 day fast would need a 1–1.5 day reintroduction period while an 8–10 day fast would need 3–5 days. This is also individual specific so test what works best for you and create your ideal fasting schedule.
Supplements:This chapter is oriented around the 1–2 weeks leading up to your extended fast. Coming from a clinical perspective and working with very sensitive individuals, I like to see that most people have done the following before embarking on their first extended fast: • A minimum of 2–3 weeks of intermittent fasting with ketogenic diet • Ideally the individual has completed several 24-hour fasts with relative ease to ensure they are adapted to fasting • If you are on a tight time window, try to complete at least 2, 20–24 hour fasts in the 1–2 weeks leading up to your extended fast
Strategy #1: Reduce Your Schedule Demands Being overly stressed will significantly throw off your fasting resilience. This is because, when you are stressed, hormones become erratic, blood sugar dysregulates, and it can become quite easy to talk yourself out of fasting. Take some time to plan out your schedule so that you can spend a little more time relaxing than usual. If you have a very demanding job, this is a great time to take a vacation or work a limited schedule. This is also a great time to begin a mindfulness practice that teaches you to control your stress response. This could be anything from short 10-minute breathing exercises (Heart Math is a great one), sitting quietly in the sun, or engaging in a low-demand movement practice.
Assist your body in this process by consuming high-quality water like reverse osmosis or bottled spring water in glass containers. Adding in a pinch of salt or making an electrolyte solution as outlined in Chapter 5. Here it is again so you don’t have to flip back: Mixed in 1 Liter of Water, Sea Salt – ½–1 tsp (providing about 1000 mg of sodium) Potassium chloride – ½ tsp (providing about 1600 mg of potassium) Magnesium Glycinate – ½ tsp (providing about 200 mg of magnesium) You would want to slowly sip on this solution throughout the day. If you are urinating very frequently or have loose bowels, then that is a sign to back off or drink plain water temporarily. To reach the RDA amounts of each of these electrolytes, you would need to drink approximately 3 Liters of this solution. Ideally, you will want to drink a minimum of one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight. Oftentimes, clients find it helpful to consume a gallon of water or more during a fast. You will likely feel hungry around the times of day you regularly eat. This is because your body has adapted to a natural rhythm of eating and hunger hormones such as ghrelin will surge during these times. This is a good time to drink water to help gently stave off hunger and keep on track with your fast. You may also find it helpful to consume herbal teas like green tea, chamomile, or ginger tea. The warm liquid can help soothe the belly and get you through your hunger.
Detoxification reactions are common during fasting even in those who are not dealing with constipation. This is because we are exposed to a wide variety of toxins every day that, many of which, are stored in fat tissue. When you begin fasting, you will undoubtedly begin to release some of these toxins as you begin to burn off body fat. Again, luckily this is more common in the beginning stages of fasting and is easily mitigated if you plan properly. Another, often overlooked, contributor to these toxic reactions is actually a very beneficial resetting of the gut microbiome. Fasting will begin to drastically shift the microbial balance of the gut as pathogenic bacteria and fungi begin to die off. This die off releases toxic byproducts into the digestive tract that can sometimes become absorbed into the blood stream and cause inflammatory reactions. This reaction can be mitigated by taking activated charcoal or a bioactive carbon supplement.
Challenge #4: Re-feeding Syndrome Re-feeding syndrome is a very rare, yet quite dangerous, complication that can occur from extended fasting or chronic malnourishment. Upon re-feeding, intracellular and blood electrolyte levels experience a temporary shift. While most people can handle this shift with no problems, it is still important to understand how to minimize your risk. Re-feeding syndrome occurs mostly in people who are severely deficient in phosphorus. Because phosphorus is prevalent in most foods, people who are mostly at risk are those with eating disorders or other conditions which have created chronic malnourishment such as anorexia or alcoholism. Other factors that are important to note in determining the risk of this dangerous electrolyte shift are: • Salt intake during the fast • The intensity of insulin stimulation following the fast (how hard you spike your blood sugar upon re-feeding) This is why I recommend electrolyte intake while fasting and a gradual introduction of lowglycemic foods upon breaking the fast. Following these recommendations will make this already rare phenomenon a non-issue.
Will Taking Supplements Break a Fast? I get asked this all the time and here’s what I have to say about it… sometimes, and technically yes – but not really. I know, that’s really confusing but it’s actually easy to understand with a little bit of understanding of how certain supplements affect insulin levels. Many fasting purists will say absolutely, without a doubt, supplements will break your fast. Technically, you are consuming something solid. The nuance to this is that, if that supplement does not stimulate insulin levels, then it will not negatively impact things like fat-burning, ketosis, or growth hormone. This is my stance on fasting supplementation. If it does not stimulate an insulin response, then it is most likely fine. If your supplement contains any amount of glucose or sugar, especially in excess of 20 calories, then chances are that it will create an insulinogenic response. Although very minimal, if you are looking for maximum benefits then you’d want to avoid those supplements. Other supplements you would want to avoid while fasting are those that are designated to be taken with food. These are things like zinc, iron, multi-vitamins, oil supplements (fish, hemp, etc.), and digestive supplements such as betaine HCL and digestive enzymes.
Magnesium: As one of the most abundant and diversely used minerals in the body, low magnesium levels cause a lot of problems. When the body is under higher amounts of stress, such is the case while fasting, magnesium is used up at an accelerated rate. Interestingly enough, magnesium deficiency symptoms are almost identical to low blood sugar symptoms. Increasing magnesium intake through the use of a ketone salt or a chelated magnesium supplement is very helpful while fasting. Not all forms are absorbed effectively though. Good forms to use would include: • Magnesium malate • Magnesium citrate • Magnesium glycinate • Magnesium orotate • Magnesium taurate • Magnesium L-threonate (especially good for crossing into the brain to calm stress)
If you are someone who is healing from poor health, chances are your body either over or under-produces cortisol and does not regulate blood sugar efficiently. An adaptogen is a compound that helps the body deal with this cortisol response more efficiently. By doing so we can assist the body in restoring a normal blood sugar balance and experience less symptoms. Some of the most well-studied adaptogens include: • Ashwagandha • Rhodiola • Holy basil • Ginseng • Cordyceps • Reishi mushroom • Lion’s mane There are plenty of options available for adaptogens on the market. For best results make sure you look for organic or wild-crafted adaptogens with 3rd party testing for heavy metals, pesticides, and other common toxins.
Hydrogen-rich water is one of the supplements I highly advocate for anyone during a fast. You can buy hydrogen-rich water or make your own with hydrogen water by using molecular hydrogen tablets that you simply dissolve in a glass of water.
Supplements to Support a Healthy Gut Environment While Fasting Activated Charcoal, Bioactive Carbon, or other binders: The first step in preventing unwanted effects of gut-mediated endotoxemia is to prevent the opportunity for endotoxin to enter the blood stream. The best way to do this is to consume a compound that has a high binding-ability within the gut. Taking things like activated charcoal, bioactive carbon, or bentonite clay. Bioactive carbons, as I’ve mentioned, are a relatively newer compound that have the ability to pass through the gut and even help bind toxins within the blood stream. In my opinion, this capability makes bioactive carbons my preferred binder over charcoal and clay, but they do cost more as well. Activated charcoal is the lowest cost binder and it works most specifically in the gut. Oxygen-based Intestinal Cleanser: Using a gentle intestinal cleanser is powerful at the beginning of a fast. Simply put, if you don’t clear your bowels before a fast, chances are it’s going to sit in there… and for the reasons above – you don’t want that. I would highly suggest using an oxygen-based intestinal cleanser such as OxyPowder, receiving a colonic, or doing a coffee enema during the first full day of fasting to reduce the impact of endotoxins and optimize the benefits of your fast.