Intermittent fasting is a relatively new diet craze, albeit an ancient approach — involving periods of eating and fasting.
Intermittent fasting has recently gained popularity due to its purported health benefits such as rebalancing insulin sensitivity and weight loss (1).
When it comes to intermittent fasting, the fasting duration varies from short fasts (6-8 hours) to long fasts (up to 48 hours).
Regardless of the duration you choose, there are supposed to be benefits as well as possible side effects of fasting.
Time to find out how to fast and avoid the side effects!
How To Fast
In theory, intermittent fasting is simple — you simply decide on the duration between periods of eating.
If it is your first time fasting it is recommended that you begin with a shorter-duration fast.
For example, one common variation of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 method — that is 16 hours of fasting, and 8 hours of eating (which really just takes advantage of the amount of time spent asleep, with an extension of the time before you take breakfast).
Another method is the “alternate-day fasting”, where you limit your calorie intake on fasting days to 500 calories. This method is more sustainable than doing full fasts and could be equally as effective (2).
Starting off with these shorter-duration fasts will allow your body to slowly adapt to the periods of fasting. You can also assess your body’s suitability for longer periods of fasting.
When fasting, one key point that shouldn’t be overlooked is appropriate hydration.
Dehydration is one of the major complications of fasting and you should be consuming adequate amounts of fluids to avoid it.
Despite what many believe, you can still consume zero-calorie beverages while fasting, some examples include water, unsweetened black coffee, and different varieties of tea.
When it is time to break your fast it is important to progressively reintroduce food to your body.
You’ll probably be feeling extremely hungry but you need to remember that your stomach is in a sensitive state — overstimulating it through rapid food consumption may result in nausea, bloating and even diarrhea (3).
It is recommended that you eat a light snack as your first meal post-fast. Some examples include a handful of almonds or a SuperGreen Tonik drink (more on this later), following which you can consume a small meal after an hour or two.
In order to achieve weight loss, you need to refrain from overindulging in high-calorie foods when you are hungry. Doing so may cause your fasting efforts to go down the drain — it is unlikely you will lose any weight from consuming two days’ worth of calories in a day to compensate for your fasting time.
To sum up: intermittent fasting involves alternating between consuming and abstaining from food. You should choose the appropriate fasting durations based on your experience and any existing health issues should obviously be discussed with a medical practitioner.
While fasting may have some benefits here are some possible drawbacks that you should be aware of.
Side effects of fasting
The longer the fast the higher the likelihood of experiencing the side effects. Remember, fasting may not be for everyone. Should you feel unwell, stop fasting!
Your safety is the number one priority.
As mentioned above dehydration is a common issue among people who fast. It is dangerous as there can be potential complications too. It is important to consume adequate amounts of water during the fast and continue to rehydrate post-fast.
Low Energy Levels
This is more common during longer fasting durations. As you fast, the carbohydrate level decreases and your body starts to utilize stored fats for energy.
This results in you feeling weak and sluggish, you may even be less focussed than usual.
Needless to say feelings of hunger are going to be experienced during fasting.
While such occurrences are inevitable during longer fasts (e.g. 24-hour fast) there are ways to improve the situation.
Research has suggested that the addition of a small meal on fasting days may increase the sustainability of the diet as it reduced hunger pangs (2).
While all these side effects may be temporary they can be bothersome to deal with and might also reduce the likelihood of sticking to the diet.
It is important to find ways to increase the sustainability of any diet method as you are more likely to stick to your goals — super greens might just be the missing puzzle piece.
Super Greens: The Ideal Post- and Intra-Fasting Supplement
Super greens are dietary supplements that are made from an array of vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens.
For those who are looking into the “alternate-day fasting”, super greens may just be the thing you need to fulfill your nutritional needs.
At around 40 calories per serving, super greens are packed with an incredible amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here is the typical nutritional profile of super greens:
- Calories: 40 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2 grams
- Sugars: 1 gram
- Vitamin A (as beta-carotene): 80% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 80% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 60% of the RDI
- Sodium: 2% of the RDI
- Calcium: 5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 5% of the RDI
- Iodine: 100% of the RDI
- Iron: 20% of the RDI
- Selenium: 70% of the RDI
- Chromium: 60% of the RDI
With just 500 calories to consume on fasting days, you need to make sure that you are consuming the most nutritious foods without compromising on calories and nutrition — a tall order for some.
Super greens can help you fill in the nutrition deficits on your fasting days, ensuring that despite the absurdly low calories, you are still consuming your daily required nutrients.
Additionally, super greens also make an ideal post-fast snack. When it comes to eating something at the end of your fast it should be easy on the stomach and offer some form of rehydration — super greens do both, with the added benefit of optimal nutrition!
Super greens can be consumed by simply mixing with water.
This allows you to simultaneously rehydrate your body and introduce nutrients back into your system without the need to consume large amounts of food — making it a great way to allow your body to recover from its fasted state before consuming your next full meal.
Lastly, super greens may help with increasing energy levels.
SuperGreen Tonik also contains Ashwagandha Root Extract and Rhodiola Rosea which are natural herbs, known for their ability to improve cognitive capacity and reduce fatigue (5, 6). Both of which may assist in reducing the energy slump experienced during a fast.
Should you find yourself struggling with fatigue from fasting you may want to consider supplementing your diet with super greens.
Need more convincing? You can read more about the benefits of these herbs here.
All in all intermittent fasting is a commitment and like any diet, you need to be able to make it fit your lifestyle in order that it becomes sustainable.
Supplementing your diet with super greens is likely to improve the nutritional profile of your diet and assist you in reducing some of the side effects experienced — increasing the likelihood of you sticking it in the long run!