10 Tips for Your First 24-hour Fast
“Fasting is a mindset — a positive habit to jump-start the natural healing process in the body and mind. It triggers autophagy, the cellular self-cleansing process.”
Fasting has been used for centuries to treat or prevent health conditions. It allows the body to rest and recover. While fasting is not for everybody*, it can be an effective method to cleanse the liver, colon, or kidneys.
Fasting for 12 hours or longer has been linked to a wide range of health benefits such as decreased inflammation, an increase in growth hormone secretion, or weight loss.
While most of these health benefits start kicking in after 12 hours, you will get better results if you’re able to extend your fasting period to 24 or 36 hours.
24-hour fasts aren’t easy, but here are some tricks that can help you to “survive” a day without food:
#1 One hour at a time
It can feel daunting to stop eating for 24 hours (or more), so I suggest that you plan for 12 hours to start with. From there, treat every additional hour as a success.
#2 Have your last meal before noon
Having your last meal early in the day has various benefits: your body can use the energy to get you through the rest of the day and can then concentrate on its recovery during the night.
#3 Wait a little
Hunger comes in waves, and it goes in waves. If you feel that you’re starving, wait for 10–15 minutes and see if the hunger is still there. Chances are high; it’s gone. However, if
#4 Move but don’t push yourself through a hard exercise program
Movement and fasting can be an excellent combination. However, I would stay away from intense workouts during a fasting period longer than 16 hours. Walking outside or treating yourself to a gentle yoga session, on the other hand, can further improve the outcome of your fasting protocol.
#5 Take L-Glutamine
Taking supplements isn’t allowed in every intermittent fasting protocol. However, I made good experiences taking L-Glutamine during fasts because it can help to curb hunger cravings.**
#6 Try sparkling water
Drinking sparkling water can make you feel fuller than drinking still water. I love a brand called “Gerolsteiner,” as it also contains minerals such as calcium or magnesium.
#7 Drink hot tea
Hot drinks can help you feel full. Apart from that, drinking hot fluids can help if you’re feeling cold, which can happen if you’re new to fasting.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you can opt for green tea or Oolong tea. Both have been linked to a short-term increase in metabolism.
#8 Stop if you need to
As with all physical challenges (and fasting is definitely one of them), it’s crucial to listen to your body. Our energy demands are influenced by many factors, including physical activity, stress, illness, etc. If you feel that you’re lacking energy or feel terrible while fasting, it’s totally fine to stop and to postpone your fasting adventure to a time you feel physically more fit.
#9 Embrace the experience
Fasting can be a great experience if you treat it as such. If you’re used to numb emotions through food, you might (re)discover feelings that you didn’t want to deal with before. Embrace it. Fasting is not only a physical but also an emotional experience.
#10 Prepare your first meal in advance
A common mistake is to break a fasting period with foods that are high in simple sugars, which can lead to insulin spikes and thus trigger overeating. An ideal meal after a 24 hour fast is a snack high in protein and healthy fats such as almonds, nuts, eggs with avocado, or Greek yogurt with berries and seeds.
*Important note: fasting is NOT for everyone. Please check-in with your physician before starting a fasting protocol, especially if you’re suffering from any chronic conditions. Kids, teenagers, and pregnant women should generally not fast until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider. Also, please don’t fast if you’re suffering from an eating disorder or recovering from one.
**Please check-in with your physician before taking glutamine, especially if you’re suffering from any chronic condition or are taking medication.