In our last blog post sharing my top tips for women struggling to lose weight, we discussed the importance of fasting consistently. We talked about how you do not have to follow the same regimen week in and week out, but you need to do something each week to get results.
In this week’s blog post on my top tips for women struggling with weight loss, we are going to talk about the importance of clean fasting.
What is ‘clean’ fasting?
Clean fasting means you are only consuming water, natural salt and magnesium during a fast. You may also consume tea and coffee, but without the addition of sweetener regardless of it is natural or artificial, and fat. Sources of fat may include heavy cream, MCT oil, butter, ghee, unsweetened almond milk, or coconut cream or milk.
When we first started asking people to follow various 24 or 36 hour intermittent fasting regimens, encouraged patients to add some fat to their tea, coffee and even broth if it helped them be compliant with fasting. In fact, we still do to this very day, but we consider these items to be aids in the transition from eating multiple times a day to fasting. Once you’re able to fast with ease, you need to work on reducing these aids, or training wheels as we call them in the IDM Program, and focus on ‘cleaning up’ your fasting periods.
Many people who are new to fasting and using these training wheels often have great success at the start because of the dramatic shift in their diets, but more often than not the use of training wheels will cause us to stall. This is because many of us are struggling with quite severe insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances.
Most of these training wheels contain food energy and will cause our insulin levels to go up. If we are trying to combat type 2 diabetes (DMII) or obesity, which are diseases of too much insulin in the body, adding more insulin isn’t going to help matters.
Also, if we’re consuming food energy while we’re fasting, how can we expect to burn stored food energy? A cup a bulletproof coffee or tea, which often contains a combination of fats, will fuel us for about 4 to 6 hours. That means for 4 to 6 hours of your fasting period you’ll be fuelling on your coffee rather than your own stored body fuel or fat, which totally defeats the purpose of fasting if you’re trying to drop excess fat. You want your bodies to be ‘feasting’ off of your unwater body fat rather than the cream or butter in your beverage.
Often a man can use these training wheels, even in excess, and lose weight and reach their goals without hitting any plateaus. But over the years we have watched women eventually hit a wall in their progress.
Most of the time women struggle to kick the training wheels to the curb because they provide us with comfort. Throughout most of human history women have been the dominant nurturers. And somewhere along the line we started using food as a tool to help us provide this comfort to our family and communities.
After a stressful day a cup of coffee with a few tablespoons of heavy cream does not seem like that big of a deal. Most women say they can find comfort in a creamy beverage and think it’s a good thing since it’s not the cheesecake or bag of potato chips you would have comforted yourself with like you did in the past. How bad can it really be?
Over the years I have fought some women tooth and nail to drop creamer and sweetener from their tea and coffee after months of plateauing and trying to do extended fasts without results. Eventually they either make the commitment to cut the cream and stevia or give up. And every time a woman agrees to cutting out the cream, the weight starts to melt off.
What’s interesting is how much better women feel and how much easier the fasting becomes for them. Many will often report that they really struggle with fasting, which often results in them adding more cream to their beverages. But when they cut it out altogether, the fasting becomes so much easier. Suddenly 24 hours seems like a breeze and even three days of fasting is not a big deal.
Tips and tricks for cutting out the creamer and sweetener:
- Add a pinch of natural salt like Himalayan salt to black coffee or tea to cut the bitterness
- Use cinnamon to sweeten your beverages or simply boil some cinnamon bark in water to change things up
- Take mint leaves and a touch of lemon and add them to hot water to make your own peppermint tea, which is also an amazing, caffeine-free, appetite suppressant
- Try out a variety of herbal teas in both hot and cold water to change things up
In our next post, we’ll talk about the importance of nutrient dense diets for weight loss success:
Megan Ramos, IDM Program Director
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