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With the welcome arrival of Spring, it's time to get out there, bask in the sunlight, and be active. The human body thrives this time of year — most people report higher energy levels and a general sensation of being alive. But what if you don't? Are you feeling dragged down in spite of the season? Does your body feel like it's laboring, even when you're trying to relax? If so, maybe you should take a look at fasting, a practice that many swear is the secret to healthier living. Our friend Diane V. Capaldi, a.k.a. Paleo Boss Lady, is a fasting aficionado. So, we decided to pry her with some beginner's questions.
Why did you first decide to start fasting?
I have been fasting since 2015 and have had great results. I felt called to fast so I could give my body a break from digesting food so it could just “be”. Just like yoga taught me to quiet my mind I felt my body needed down time too. Fasting is also known to help decrease inflammation and improve energy levels.
How do you set yourself up for success while fasting?
For fasting as well as almost anything we do, I recommend slow, steady, sustainable steps being the best approach. My fasting journey started slowly and grew over years to include daily intermittent fasting with quarterly 72-hour bone broth or tea fasts.
How does intermittent fasting help manage your health?
Fasting allows my body to rest and reset. This is my #1 reason for fasting. In addition fasting produces ketones which allow my body to go from a sugar burner to a fat burner. My diet is generally high in fat and lower in carbs to help facilitate this outcome. Going from a sugar burner to a fat burner has had huge results for me in the management of Multiple Sclerosis.
What challenges might one encounter their first times fasting?
Hunger is the #1 thing that happens when fasting. I suggest adding fat to your morning tea, coffee or bone broth. I also continue this throughout the day to help hunger pangs averaging about 6 cups a day. I have never done a water fast and have no plans to ever do one. My body does well with bone broth and tea-based fasting which includes dietary fat.
You may also encounter slight fatigue. I certainly do when fasting for 3 days and therefore recommend doing your fast when you can rest as needed. I find an afternoon nap helpful.
Many do have a bit of detox happen when fasting. This will depend on your current eating habits and toxic load. I am a super clean eater and still have had detox symptoms when fasting. This is not uncommon.
What is the best way to begin incorporating intermittent fasting into a health plan?
I started with overnight fasts. An example of a 12 hour fast would be eating your last meal at 6pm and not eating again until 6am. You can start with 8 hours and work your way up to doing a 16 hour fast. The longer you can go the better the chance for all the outcomes I mentioned offered by fasting. I try and do 16 hour fasts twice a week.
Let’s say someone has never fasted before. What advice would you give them for their first fasting experience?
If you are coming to fasting to help a serious health condition that needs immediate attention I would work with a professional and decide the best course of action. If you are simply curious about fasting I recommend taking slow, steady, sustainable steps.
Let’s hear more about your personal journey as it relates to fasting. How long are your typical fasts?
I started with intermittent fasting and worked my way slowly up to a full day juice fast over the course of a year. The next year I added longer intermittent fasting times eventually leading up to a 24 hour bone broth/tea fast. The following year I added 72 hour fasts quarterly and in 2019 I have been doing them monthly. So you can see how I take very slow steps to make sure my body is responding and in a favorable way.
When do you fast and with what frequency?
I intermittent fast everyday minimum of 12 hours. I try to have at least 2 -16 hour fast days weekly. 72 hour fasts are quarterly or monthly depending on life.
What tells you it’s time for a fast?
I tell me its time for a fast. It depends on what is happening in my life. Any time I may put huge demands on my mental and physical body I fast. I believe it allows my body the time it needs to not worry about food and support me in other area’s.
What does your typical day look like during a fast?
I generally follow my circadian rhythm so I go down with the sun and get up with the sun whether or not I’m fasting. I am usually in bed by 8pm and wake up around 4am.
In the morning of a fast, I wake up and have coffee with fat and water. Throughout the day I have about 6 cups of bone broth or tea with fat and 70 ounces of water. I do morning yoga and self myofascial release either at home or on the beach. I meditate each morning followed by a dance party. All of this allows me to check in with my body and help my keep my mentals happy.
Do you exercise when fasting, and if so, how do you limit your activity (if at all)?
I do yoga when fasting and maybe a beach walk. Otherwise I do conserve energy when fasting. I personally do have lower energy when I’m fasting. I recommend people do what feels right to them when fasting. Rest if your body needs it. It’s important to listen to what your body tells you as you fast.
Can you explain the different benefits you see from intermittent fasting vs. longer fasts?
Once I started fasting my healing increased. I was able to drive longer, had less joint pain and could simply move better in my body. Adding intermittent fasts increased my driving ability from 4 hours a day to 10+ hours. I know this because this was the only change I made to my healthcare program at the time.
What is the longest you have ever fasted? Tell us that story.
72 hours is my longest bone broth or tea fast. I had my last meal on Thursday night at 5pm and did not eat again until Sunday night at 5pm. My first meal was roasted chicken with veggies and bone broth. I find it to be very easy with little hunger due to the fat I added throughout the day.
How is fasting different while you’re on the road, as opposed to home?
I only intermittent fast when on the road. If I do a longer fast I would not be touring or have any demands on my time. I know many fast when they travel especially by air, but not me. I have found other than intermittent daily fasting I only do longer fasts when the conditions are perfect for a total body/mind fast. I see fasting as a spiritual experience based on total self respect of your body.
Do you ever feel tempted to eat during a fast? Are there any mental tricks you have to prepare yourself?
Adding fat helps curb cravings. When I do have cravings or hunger pains I drink more water and usually go out in nature. I find Mother Nature cures all for me personally. When I get hungry I feel faint and nauseous so adding fat is critical to my fasts. I don’t anticipate trying a fast without it.
What methods do you use for reintroducing food after a longer term fast?
A lot of theories on this and none I subscribe too. I simply eat a balanced meal and enjoy every bite. Many slowly re-introduce, but I am not in that camp. I was raised by old school Italians who fasted every lent and watched them joyfully devour an Italian Easter Sunday dinner to break their fast. They held nothing back and that is the lens use for breaking a fast. Joyfully eating delicious food.
Do you use food reintroduction as an opportunity to reassess food sensitivities as you introduce potential trigger-foods?
I do not do a reintroduction post fasting and just eat healthy foods. I would recommend checking out The Paleo Mom’s blog on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) which offers great insight into the topic of reintroduction of foods for health specifically.
I did AIP to learn about my sensitivities many years ago and have not done it since. I do not eat most night shades due to sensitivity which I discovered doing AIP. My reactions so sever I am not willing to even test re-introduction and simply omitted them from my diet.
Do you take supplements when fasting?
I take 10+ NutriGold supplements daily, but when I am long term fasting I stop after the first night all except Turmeric Curcumin Gold, Women's 55+ Multi Gold and Probiotics Gold. I have found these three are essential for me to always have and are just enough during a fast. I really try to give my body a break from as much as I can when fasting. Once the fast is over I begin taking all of my supplements again.
What key takeaways would you like our audience to better understand about fasting as it relates to their personal health journey?
Fasting has been a huge benefit for me personally and has elevated my healing journey to get me as close to where I was physically before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). I see it as a huge tool in my “Bag of Tricks” and encourage everyone to consider fasting in some way.
What additional resources do you recommend someone review if they want to get more serious about adopting a fasting practice?
My blog has my fasting journey outlined so you can read about it in more detail at www.paleobosslady.com
And I love this book – Dr. KellyAnn’s Bone Broth Diet