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Feeding The Fast: The Pre & Post Fasting Meal Strategy

When you embark on fasting, the timing and content of your meals become crucial.


"Fasting isn't a magic fix for a poor diet; it's about WHEN and WHAT you eat."

Breaking your fast is where food choice matters most. Here's why:


The meal you consume immediately after fasting has a more significant impact than later ones. It's not to diminish the importance of pre-fasting meals, but this meal's role is vital.


During fasting, your body shifts away from glucose and taps into stored fat (ketosis). When you break your fast, your body must transition from fat to glucose metabolism, and this shift isn't instantaneous.


This transition makes you highly sensitive to glucose in the hours right after fasting. Consuming the wrong "fast breaker" can spike your blood sugar.

In essence, steer clear of large carb or sugary meals and embrace protein, healthy fats, and vegetables immediately after your fast.



The 5 Principles of the Ideal Fast Breaker


To craft a perfect fast-breaking meal, consider these principles:


  • Prioritise Protein: Maintaining lean body mass and a revved-up metabolism requires ample protein. When you fast, growth pathways such as IGF-1 and mTOR are suppressed. After fasting, aim for 30-40 grams in one meal. Your daily protein target should be 1.6 - 2.2 grams per kg of bodyweight.


  • Mind Fibrous Vegetables: Fasting gives your digestive tract a much-needed break, but it can reduce digestive enzyme output. Particularly, cruciferous vegetables' compound raffinose can be hard to digest, especially for fasting newcomers. While high-fibre foods are essential, consider limiting them or cooking them in your fast-breaking meal.


  • Delay Carb Intake: Consuming carbs post-fast is acceptable; just prioritise veggies first, then protein and healthy fats. Starting with protein helps manage post-fat blood sugar and ensures you meet your protein goals.


  • Boost Your Gut Microbiome: Fasting can enhance your gut microbiome by reducing harmful bacteria and promoting beneficial ones. Fasting helps to increase the number of butyrate producing bacteria, which can help mental health, immune system and reduce inflammation. Your fast-breaking meal is a prime opportunity to further improve gut health by incorporating fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, or kefir.


  • Savour Each Bite: Particularly for midday fast-breakers, the temptation to rush through a meal is strong. However, mindful eating is key. Take a lesson from an Okinawan elder (blue zones), they will tell you, "Hara Hachi Bu": Stop Eating When You're 80% Full. Eating slowly allows your body's natural fullness signals to kick in, releasing satiety hormones like GLP-1 and peptide YY, preventing overeating.


  • Lactose Consideration: After fasting, it's wise to avoid high-lactose dairy like milk, yogurt, or ice cream. Lactose digestion can be challenging, especially with age. Opt for low-lactose dairy options such as butter, hard cheeses, or lactose-free milk.



Bringing It All Together


What makes a "good" fast-breaking meal?


It varies based on your dietary preferences, seasonal produce, and daily cravings. For longer fasts exceeding 24 hours, we recommend starting with around 500 kcal or 50% of your usual intake and gradually increasing.


Explore these meal ideas:


  • Eggs & Avocado Salad: Rich in fibre and healthy fats

Ingredients:


- 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and finely diced

- 4 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped

- 2 tbsp of Cold Pressed Extra Virgin olive oil

- 1 tbsp chives, chopped

- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped

- 1 tsp lemon juice

- Salt and pepper



  • Bone Broth: Packed with vitamins, minerals, collagen, gelatine and amino acids.


  • Homemade Nut Bars: A convenient and nutritious snack.

Ingredients:


- 2 cups chopped pecans.

- 1 cup chopped walnuts.

- 1 cup chopped almonds.

- 20 dates finely chopped.

- 3/4 cup egg whites

- 2 tablespoons cinnamon

- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  • Protein Shake (avoid whey-based): A quick protein source.


  • Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocado: A flavourful and balanced choice.

Ingredients:


- Canned tuna

- Avocado

- Cherry Tomatoes.

- Cold Pressed Olive oil

- Salt and pepper

- Pressed lemon



Unlocking the Power of Pre-Fasting Meals


For most people, abstaining from food for 12 - 18 hours daily offers a great way to enhance metabolic health, shed fat, and manage or reduce weight.


Yet, if your goal is to swiftly enter ketosis (the state of fat burning), consider pairing each fast with a purposeful pre-fasting meal.


Why is this Pre-Fast Meal Essential?


What's the significance of prioritising this meal?


Human bodies typically store around 42,000 kcal of energy, with 2,000 kcal in glycogen (sugar) and a substantial 40,000 kcal in fat reserves. Your body is signalling a preference for fat as its primary fuel source over sugar.


Fasting plays a role in this "fuel switch," but so do your food choices within your eating window.


The PRE-FASTING meal stands out because it directly influences how swiftly you transition into Fat-Burning Mode during your fast.

Particularly, the meal's size and macronutrient composition, especially carbohydrates, can either hasten or decelerate the process of efficient fat burning and sustaining energy.



The Role of Insulin and Carbohydrates


It's worth noting that insulin is released when protein and carbohydrates are consumed, and high insulin levels inhibit fat store access. Thus, minimising carbohydrate intake allows the body to expeditiously remove insulin and initiate metabolic switching.


If you do not eat carbohydrate, the body makes it's own, which takes a lot of energy. You are better off eating carbohydrate, but at the right times rather than not al all.

Uncontrolled sugar spikes can lead to inflammation, mood disturbances, heightened hunger, and exacerbation of menopause symptoms. While carbohydrates are essential for hormone health, it's crucial to avoid converting valuable protein into glucose (gluconeogenesis).


3 Pillars of The Perfect Fast Starter.


Reminder: "You cannot fast your way out of a bad diet. So, WHEN and WHAT you eat is important."

If you regularly fast for at least 12 hours a day, that’s when it’s time to start thinking more seriously about the components and proportions of your pre-fast meal, or Fast-Starter.


Our 3 Pillars Of Your Fast-Starter Meal will help with your fasting experience.


1. Choose Your Carbohydrates Wisely


The more carbohydrates you consume, the more insulin you release and the longer it will take for your insulin to return to baseline. Remember at night your insulin release is restricted by melatonin, so large amounts of carbohydrate before bed are not always a great idea. This is because it takes longer with less insulin to remove the glucose from your blood and longer for insulin to return to baseline.


If you choose carbohydrates, make sure they are higher-fibre, low-glycaemic and non-starchy vegetables such as vegetables carrots, cabbage, courgettes, Avocado (fruit really!), leeks, asparagus, and butternut squash. You could also choose nuts, full fat yoghurt etc if you wanted a desert.


Pro-tip 1:


Food order is key to reducing post-prandial glucose levels by (50%):


Eat 1st - Vegetables

Eat 2nd - Protein / Fat

Eat 3rd - Carbohydrates


Pro-tip 2:


Take citric acid (lemon juice), acetic acid or lactic acid ideally 15 mins BEFORE or during/after meals will lower your glycaemic response while increasing your gastric secretions and gastric emptying rate.


Researchers believe that the reduction of the glycaemic response is mainly due to the “interruption of starch hydrolysis by the acid-inhibition of salivary alpha-amylase.”


2. Balance that Plate


Without a doubt, carbohydrate choice will have the largest impact on your insulin levels, but so will the balance of protein and fat your meal contains. Your body can only consume around 30 - 40 grams of protein at a time, so max out on that for your pre-fast meal. Breaking down protein requires more energy, around 15 - 35% of the calories from your protein will be used to metabolise the protein.


Healthy fats can help blunt the glycaemic response of your meal. So fat such as

  • Grass-Fed Ghee:

Grass-fed ghee, or clarified butter, is a source of saturated fat that can provide steady energy during fasting.

  • Avocados:

Avocados are a fantastic source of healthy monounsaturated fats. They also provide fibre, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health and satiety.

  • Cod Liver Oil:

Cod liver oil is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and vitamin A. To achieve ketosis, we need Omega-3 in our diet. Omega-3 may support immune function, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being.

  • MCT Oil (Medium-Chain Triglycerides):

MCT oil is rapidly absorbed and converted into energy, making it an excellent choice for fasting. Try in coffee with butter after a fast

  • Flax, Hemp, and Chia Seeds:

These seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and plant-based protein.

They can be added to smoothies or incorporated into recipes for added nutrition.

  • Raw Nuts:

Raw nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews provide healthy fats and protein.

They offer a satisfying crunch and can serve as a convenient fasting snack.



  • Nut Butters:

I only recommend cashew butter and make sure it us raw and no sunflower, rapeseed, or palm oil.

  • Butter and Cream:

Raw butter and cream can be enjoyed in moderation, but they contain some protein, which may impact autophagy during fasting.

Consider limiting their consumption if you aim to stimulate autophagy.

  • Cheese:

Like raw butter and cream, raw cheese should be consumed in moderation due to its protein content. Consider portion control to align with your fasting goals.

  • Cold Pressed Coconut Oils:

Coconut oil is a popular source of saturated fats. However, be cautious if you have liver or small intestine issues, as it may increase cholesterol levels in some individuals. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

  • Fatty Cuts of Meat:

The high concentration of stearic acid in beef fat is great for health and keeping you fuller for longer.

  • Beef Suet:

Grandma’s suet pudding. Full of fat soluble vitamins, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and stearic acid.


3. Meal Size


Today, we are overfed and under nourished. So, a smaller meal packed with nutrient dense food is better than focusing on volume. Remember we have 42,000 kcals stored on our body, so adding 500 kcal extra calories will not make a difference, it is more about how fast and easily you can access your own energy stores.


So, this will seem counterintuitive, to optimise your Fat-Burning potential, eat your smallest meal at NIGHT (Pre-Fast Meal) and eat a LARGER meal when you break your fast.

Your night time part of your fast is one of the most important ones.



In summary:


  • Prioritise fat over sugar as your fuel source.

  • Your pre-fast meal influences your transition into Fat-Burning Mode.

Choose your carbohydrates wisely, emphasising higher-fibre, low-glycemic, and non-starchy options.

  • Balance your plate with protein and healthy fats.

  • Opt for a smaller, nutrient-dense meal, as excess calories won't make a difference. Eating a smaller meal at night (pre-fast) and a larger one when breaking your fast can optimise your fat-burning potential. Your nighttime fasting period is particularly crucial.


Do not forget a gentle walk, some squats or any exercise will help to start the utilisation and storage of your glucose in your blood quicker. This returns your insulin to baseline quicker and then you can start using stored fat as energy!


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