Please let me caveat this post by saying that intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Women in particular need to be very careful about skipping meals, as it can stress the adrenals and cause adrenal fatigue. If you suffer from diabetes or are pregnant, intermittent fasting is NOT for you.
If you currently skip breakfast, or miss a lot of meals, then you may want to try the opposite of fasting…EATING. The body has an amazing capacity to hold onto fat. Not because it’s out to make you unhealthy, but to protect you from starvation in times of famine.
If you are not eating, or eating a very low-cal diet, yet still not losing weight, then your body likely thinks it is in the midst of a famine and won’t let go of the weight until the stress of famine is over. The Fast Diet, or “intermittent fasting” is basically “tricking” the body into thinking “All is good, no famine here” whilst restricting calories.
In order to accomplish this, the body cannot be on a restricted calorie diet very frequently, or for a long period of time. Hence the “intermittent” part of the Fast Diet. The thinking is that if you restrict calories only two days per week, the body, or rather metabolism, will happily continue on at it’s current pace and won’t panic, slow the metabolism, and start hitting the SAVE button every time a calorie comes down the pike.
Instead, those restricted calorie days will have the opposite effect, and actually rev, or boost the metabolism on the other 5 days per week where one eats normally. Wonder if the Fast Diet is healthy? Read my article Is the Fast Diet Healthy? here.
Some people really do an all out fast on the two fasting days per week. I find that to be unnecessary and uncomfortable. Most people need to go to work, pay attention at school, feed their families and function like normal human beings. Plus, fasting is just plain not fun. So, when a client told me that he really wanted to try out the Fast Diet, I designed this smoothie, along with a meal plan for the day (read the Client File below) that would keep his blood sugar stable, and his mind functioning.
Guidelines for meals on Fasting days:
Breakfast– Within one hour of waking, drink the Fast Diet weight loss smoothie (recipe below). There are plenty of substitutions that I’ve included that will keep the smoothie at the recommended calorie level. Please don’t be too stringent on calories. If you go over by a bit, it’s okay, you’ll still lose weight.
Drink A LOT of water! Lemon water is great for helping the body to detoxify. Remember that toxins are stored in the fat tissue, so whenever you are trying to lose weight, you want to make sure to flush those toxins right out of the body.
Lunch– It’s important to eat a protein and fat rich lunch so that your blood sugar stays stable. This will help you to stay awake, alert, and have the capacity to focus. A salad with protein and fat (chicken salad with olive oil and vinegar), a cup of chili, or hearty protein containing soup are all good choices. Basically it’s best to stay around the 500-600 calorie mark and keep carbs (bread, pasta, potatoes, beans) to an absolute minimum.
Snack– If you need a snack to get you through until dinner try some beef jerky, a small bit of cheese and half an apple, or a few nuts (around 10 almonds for example).
Dinner- Similar to lunch. Salad, bowl of chili or hearty soup, or have another smoothie (no more than twice per day).
Before bed– If you can make it until breakfast without feeling shaky, light headed, or starving, then that is best. However, if you have any of those symptoms then do not persevere. Your body has gone into “famine” mode and is slowing your metabolism. Not good! This may simply be because you haven’t eaten enough carbohydrates, it may also be that your blood sugar is too low. Eat a tablespoon of coconut oil, have a sweet potato with butter, or another serving of chili.
Guidelines for meals on the non-fasting days:
Eat three meals per day, preferably with each containing:
-20-30 grams of protein (purchase the very best quality you can afford- grass fed, pastured being the best)
-Healthy fats (coconut, olive, tallow, or lard)
-Safe starches such as skin-on baked potatoes (with butter), sweet potatoes, plantains, yarrow root, etc. Drink plenty of lemon water (for detoxification purposes) and fill your plate with veggies.
For those of you who want to give the Fast Diet a try, this smoothie will help your blood sugar remain stable, and will help see you through a low-calorie day.
Fast Diet Weight Loss Smoothie Recipe
Calories: 252 (when made with peanut butter powder)
1 scoop Whey protein powder 20 grams protein= 120 calories (here’s the brand I use in the video)
3-4″ of slightly green banana 50 calories
1/4 cup cottage cheese (full fat) 60 calories= 7 grams protein
1 Tbs. peanut butter powder 22 calories= 2.5 grams protein
1 packet Starbucks VIA instant espresso powder 5 calories (use instead of peanut butter powder)
1 cup ice
1/2 cup-1 cup water (depending on consistency you like. I start with 1/2 cup and add more if it’s too thick.)
Blend all ingredients in Vitamix (what I use in video) or blender of choice. Serve immediately.
For a complete list of various protein powders I use and recommend, click here.
Cottage Cheese Substitutions
I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they would like a substitute for the cottage cheese. I put the cottage cheese in because it is very high in protein, low in calories, inexpensive, and more of a “whole food” than protein powders. Yes, it contains a lot of salt, however during a day of fasting, when you’re likely to be drinking a lot of water, your body actually needs more salt.
I’ve had many commenters tell me that they gag at the very thought of cottage cheese. I’ll say the same thing to you that I tell my kids, “Just try it once.” The people who have done that and just tried it once tell me over and over again that they cannot taste the cottage cheese AT ALL!
That being said, there are a couple of substitutions you can make:
Cashews- Soak 10 raw cashews in water for at least 30 minutes. Add to smoothie= 3 grams protein, 87 calories. Remove peanut butter powder and cottage cheese to make up for added calories.
Almond butter– Remove the peanut butter powder and cottage cheese and add 1 tablespoon almond butter= 2.5 grams protein, 90 calories.
Pumpkin seed protein powder= Remove cottage cheese and add 1 scoop pumpkin seed protein powder= 10.6 grams protein, 52 calories.
2 raw Egg yolks– I used to recommend egg white protein powder. However egg whites are not properly digested raw, and contain an ingredient called albumin, which inhibits the absorption of some essential vitamins and minerals. Egg yolks on the other hand, are BEST when eaten raw, contain 2.7 grams of protein and 55 calories per yolk. You are adding 55 more calories here than cottage cheese, and fewer grams of protein, so seriously TRY THE COTTAGE CHEESE, it will keep you full for a longer period of time!!
Many of you have asked about yogurt. If you’d like to substitute yogurt of any kind, or some other dairy product, make sure to use PLAIN, whole/full fat and then enough to equal roughly 60-80 calories.
Peanut Butter Powder Substitutions
I’ve also had many people tell me they are allergic to peanuts or want to use peanut butter in place of the peanut butter powder. You may either completely omit the peanut butter powder (my client had alternating days of smoothies using pb powder or espresso powder), or use a tablespoon of peanut butter in its place. Using peanut butter ups the calories and fat content, however, it also keeps your blood sugar nice and stable, and helps you to stay fuller longer (so I wouldn’t worry about the calories).
Whey Protein Powder Substitutions
You may use any protein powder that works for you: rice, pea protein, goats milk, egg white (again, I don’t recommend the egg white protein powder, but decide what is right for your body). I personally look for stevia sweetened protein powders that have few “other ingredients” and are of high quality. If you’d like help finding a protein powder, click here or simply search my website for “protein powder” as I’ve reviewed many and have links to exact protein powders that I have used and approve of.
Client Files: Losing 20 lbs in 20 days
A male client of mine (let’s call him Pete) in his early 40’s had about 30 excess pounds that he wanted to be rid of. Pete had heard of the Fast Diet and felt like it was something that he could be successful at implementing. I’m not a calorie counting type of Nutritional Consultant, but Pete really wanted to try this diet, and my job is to support my clients, not tell them what they must do. So, together we came up with an eating plan for the “fasting” days (2 non-consecutive days per week) and the non-fasting days (5 days during the week).
Because he wasn’t fond of eating in the morning, and “breakfast” usually meant only a vanilla latte, I came up with a high-in-protein smoothie (see video) that mimicked the sweet flavor of his usual morning treat, but that actually had some nutritional value in it.
My goal was to jumpstart his metabolism, as well as keep him from his late-night binges (thus, adjusting his eating schedule to a 7am-7pm routine), by getting around 30 grams of protein in for breakfast, effectively “breaking the fast” from the previous 12 hours. Pete would drink the smoothie for breakfast on both his fasting and non-fasting days.
As far as exercise, Pete has a job where he stands most of the day and does a modest amount of walking. Although I recommended a daily 2-3 mile walk, Pete did not want to start a new exercise regime, as he wanted to lose weight first.
A week in Pete and I met. He loved the diet, didn’t feel hungry on his fasting days, and had already lost 5 pounds and 1/2 of an inch off of his waist! He reported that he was glad that he had decided not to increase exercise as, calorically, he felt that exercising would make him too hungry.
Pete also reported that on his five “off” days he wasn’t eating after 7 pm and was keeping his calories to a minimum (around 1500). I encouraged him to take a day off of the diet per week and have no calorie restrictions so that his metabolism wouldn’t decide that it was in the midst of a famine and slow down.
Pete decided to take me up on the one day per week food fest, and ate and drank to his heart’s content. Just as in the 4 Hour Body Diet, where people take a day off and “binge,” Pete reported a 3-5 lb weight gain on the day after his binge day, and then it was lost again two days later.
By the time we met at the 2o day mark, Pete glowingly reported that he’d lost 20 lbs and 2 inches (around the waist) from his start date!
To be clear, I typically do not recommend weight loss at such a rapid pace as I don’t find it to be sustainable. However, because Pete was eating foods that he enjoyed, didn’t feel deprived, and had an exercise plan that he was going to start when he was at a healthier weight, I was all for it.
What Pete ate on his “fasting” days: Throughout the day he drank homemade iced tea (caffeinated mix of black and green) sweetened with liquid stevia. For breakfast he had the low-cal smoothie listed above. Lunch consisted of a small cup of chili from a local restaurant, and dinner was usually a chicken salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pete reported that he “Never felt too hungry, and much of the time actually had little to no appetite.”
What Pete generally ate the other 5 days of the week: The low-cal shake for breakfast, a bowl of chili and salad from his favorite restaurant, or a bowl of Wonton soup filled with fresh veggies, meat, and a couple of wontons. Dinner was generally meat and salad. Carbs were generally eaten in the form of beans and vegetables and grains (wheat/oats/corn) were kept to a minimum.
Making small changes, like eating breakfast, and not eating after 7pm, don’t seem like they’d make a huge difference, but even if Pete goes back to eating regularly 7 days a week with no fasting days, he will stay at a healthier weight if he can just make those two habits stick.
Want to know more about the Fast Diet? Click here for my article on The Fast Diet and Intermittent Fasting.