- There are four progressive fasting options detailed in the 131Method
- You success on this program is not dependant on fasting – you do not need to fast
- You will need to consult with your physician and/or practice safe fasting following our suggested guidelines
- Stop fasting immediately if at any time you don’t feel well
- Check the self-assessment before starting any fast
- Level one of the fasting progressions is considered to be the easiest or best place to start
- The more advanced the fast, the more important it is you prepare your body physically before hand.
- When supplementing any fast with food, select foods closest to a whole food, plant based pure fat to maintain ketosis
- Preparing your mindset and your schedule to fast is equally as important as preparing your body to fast.
- When done for the right reasons and with the right preparation, you’ll find fasting one of the most rewarding ways to improve your health and longevity
- The refueling process is covered in detail in an upcoming lesson you’ll find in your fasting guide. Refueling is considered by many to be equally as important, perhaps even more so than the fast itself. So be sure to listen to that lesson before you start any fast.
Here’s a reminder: fasting isn’t for everyone and it might just not be for you right now. Ultimately, you have control over everything you do, and when. Remember, if you’ve decided not to fast on week 4, you simply continue the way you’re eating based on the phase you’re currently on.
Fasting is simply one tool in your tool box, it’s one step in a journey of a hundred miles. Only you can, or should, decide if it’s the right step or you. Either way, the decision and timing is yours.
Your 4 levels from beginner to advanced include:
- Intermittent Fasting
- 4 hour or Shortened Window Fast
- A Three Day Supported Fast
Here how each of these fasts work:
- Level One: Intermittent Fasting
IF is time-restricted eating. This means you’ll limit your nutrients to an approximate eight-hour window. An example of this would be to eat your meals between 12pm and 8pm, or 10am to 6pm. Research shows that the earlier your first and last meals, the closer you’re able to match your natural circadian rhythm. Personally, I find it easier to set my schedule according to when I’m most hungry. For me that tends to mean a later schedule. With IF, you set the schedule and it can change or fluctuate each day, but the closer you can stick to a schedule, the more successful you’ll be in adjusting your hunger hormones.
IF allows your digestive system a chance to do its job and burn through excess glucose and glycogen stores. IF has been shown to aid in appetite correction. It allows your body to burn stored fat as fuel and in some people actually trigger autophagy.
With IF you don’t need to count calories. When used in combination with a low carb diet or fat burning recipes, fasting helps your body deplete glucose and glycogen stores and enter into a mild state of ketosis. If your personal objective is to go deep into fat burning mode or to ensure ketosis, you’ll want to maintain a very low carb intake, in the neighborhood of 5 to 10 percent of your total macros coming from carbs. The easiest way to do that is with quality ingredients and whole foods and referring to our fat burning recipes. However, many experience weight loss and countless other positive health benefits simply by applying the principles of IF and a general reduction of processed foods, limiting refined grains, adding more greens and just cutting way back on carbs and sugar without worrying about the exact macros.
Intermittent fasting is considered by many to be the easiest way to correct hunger hormones, lose weight and not feel like they’re on a diet or restricting. I encourage you to practice several weeks of intermittent fasting before even considering a more advanced fast. To get started with IF… simply push your first meal back by one hour each day. If you normally have breakfast at 8am, tomorrow you would wait until 9am, and the next day, hold off until 9am, and so on until you find the latest you find the 8-hour window that works with your hunger and lifestyle.
For more details on the impact of IF as a lifestyle and the importance of phasing Intermittent fasting so you can avoid hitting that plateau, please be sure to check your Club lessons. However, keep in mind that during the Renew phase, if you haven’t already given your body a break from IF, that’s a good time to do itl
2. Level Two: The 4-Hour or Shortened Window Fast.
The shortened window fast (SWF) takes intermittent fasting one step further by reducing your eating window down to 4 hours. Once you’ve mastered an eight-hour intermittent fasting schedule, you’ll find the SWF a breeze.
On the SWF, you’ll delay your first meal of the day even further, so that you are eating all your meals within a four-hour window each day. Ideally you want to finish your last meal at least two to three hours before bedtime. It doesn’t matter exactly when in the day your four-hour eating window occurs– The exact time isn’t nearly as important as working to eat at about the same time every day for 7 days.
As for how long to practice the SWF, we recommend 6 to 7 days during the Fasting and Refueling week of any phase.
The food that you DO eat during your 4-hour window should reflect the phase that you’re on. But keep in mind that the lower in carbs and higher in fat the more likely you will be to reap the fast mimicking health benefits of a true fast. When it comes to much you eat and how many meals to eat in this 4-hour window should be determined by what feels right for you. Allow satiety or how satisfied your feel be your guide.
If your goal is autophagy and ketosis, you will want to keep carbohydrate intake under 10% to 15% and increase intake of healthy fats.
It’s important that you create intention around your food with the 4-hour window. Create a quiet, undistracted, peaceful space to enjoy your first meal. Then wait until you feel hungry again within your scheduled window.
You might also want to create four smaller meals or eat on the hour every hour, four hours. You could play it by ear and do something different each day. Remember, the only rules are the ones that work for you. Now obviously this is considered a fasting protocol so don’t try to force all your meals in a 4-hour period. The goal is to give your digestion a break. Don’t go crazy or binge during that time. Remember, this is a fast. Don’t worry about calories or try to force food, as if you’ll never make it through the night. In fact, if you sometimes find yourself tempted to binge, this isn’t the right fast for you. Stick with intermittent fasting until you’re ready to move one.
3. Level Three: OMAD, which stands for One Meal a Day
This one is pretty self-explanatory. OMAD is a practice of fasting an entire day, except for one meal. If you choose OMAD, you’ll be testing it for three consecutive days, followed by four days of eating intuitively, using hunger as your guide, not a schedule.
Ideally, you’ll want to eat your meal (and any additional nutrients) within a one- or two-hour window. What time of the day you choose is up to you. Research tends to suggest those who eat earlier in the day experience improved fat loss, however, the meal time that you select should be based on your lifestyle and the time of day when you experience hunger. As with all scheduled eating, it’s best to choose the same meal time each day.
I want to mention that parents have often report they find it most convenient to choose dinner as their meal of the day. This allows them to spend quality time with their children and role-model healthy habits. I love the idea of parents modeling healthy eating for their kids. Our children are always watching, always listening, always!
Instead of talking about diet or weight loss or even body image…. use dinner as a time to talk about food as fuel and the power of unprocessed whole ingredients.
Just as with SWF, When practicing OMAD, be careful to not to binge. The amount of food you eat should be an appropriate meal size. Remember, although fasting comes with many health benefits, it is also a practice in releasing our emotional attachments to food.
There’s no reason to supersize portions or think in terms of a scarcity mindset when it comes to food. Eat to the point of satiety, never discomfort. You’re eating only one meal, so the quality of the ingredients is critical. Do your best to create meals with whole, unprocessed foods. Practice mindful eating. Work to be consciously aware of each bite.
We recommend you follow OMAD for the full 6 to 7 days during the Fasting and Refueling week of any phase or for however many days you deem best for you.
Now just as with all fasting protocols, To maximize the health benefits, meals should be higher in healthy fats, lower in carbohydrates, and moderate in protein to help you stay in ketosis, if that’s your goal. If that’s not your goal, feel free to customize your meal to meet your #1 objective.
Choose complex healthy carbs like vegetables. Avoid consuming calorie-laden drinks. If you do find yourself needing to eat before or after your meal time, again…. That’s okay. This is not a pass or fail proposition. Fasting is a tool, a skill you’ll improve upon. Choose a snack or food using your understanding of how it will impact your insulin levels, therefore, your hunger.
4. Level Four: Three-Day-Mini-Fast
Level 4 is the most advanced fast, but many consider it the most rewarding. If you have mastered intermittent fasting with an eight-hour eating window and maintain ketosis for several days, you should consider a three-day fast.
There is no ONE way to do a three-day mini-fast. You’ll design your fast in the way that works for you.
However, traditionally speaking, most people think of a three-day mini-fast as going 72 hours on water only. Personally, I would refer to that as a 3-day water fast.
Due in large part to the works of Dr. Valter Longo, and others, we now know that many of the benefits of fasting can be achieved without fully abstaining from food. This means your three-day mini-fast can include the support (from a mental, physical, and nutritional standpoint) that you need to be successful.
Regardless of how you design your three-day fast, it is essential you support your efforts with adequate hydration and electrolyte supplementation. As a matter of fact, please be sure to download the electrolyte handout found below this lesson. I might add another key component to a successful fast: use common sense and listen to your body. If you’re not feeling well, end the fast!
A three-day mini-fast probably sounds a bit intimidating. I get it. But going without food for three days will be more of a mental battle than a physical one. Why? Because you will have prepared your body the right way. Your body will have flipped the switch and be using stored fat for fuel. You won’t be low on fuel or energy, but eating for most of us is more than just satiety. It’s about habit, soothing emotions, boredom, love, connection and more.
It’s more important on a 3-day fast than any other for you to plan activities that keep you busy mentally and physically. Think about what you have going on, the social situations you’ll be in, what you have planned, the impact it might have on the people around you, and of course your stress. If you are under considerable stress, level 1 or 2 is likely a better fit.
Your three-day mini-fast starts when you’re ready to start it. Select three days during the fasting and fueling week that make the most sense for your lifestyle; three days where you simply won’t have to rely solely on your willpower.
Pick three days during which you can keep yourself quite busy. Try to avoid scheduling your fast to coincide with a big social gathering, or even a close-of-the-soccer-season pizza party. It’s not the end of the world if you decide to delay the start of your fast by a day or even a week. Remember, no part of the 131 Method can be done incorrectly. It’s not a diet. There are no hard and fast rules. It’s about making health work for you. No part of this should be painful or rigid. This whole journey leads to a healthier version of you. This is real life, not a short term test of your will power.
Once you complete your three-day mini-fast, you will begin refueling and prepare to move on to your next phase feeling lighter, stronger, and more empowered than ever.
The refueling process is covered in detail in an upcoming lesson you’ll find in your fasting guide. Refueling is considered by many to be equally as important, perhaps even more so than the fast itself. So be sure to listen to that lesson before you start any fast.
Your three-day mini-fast will give your digestive system three full days of rest. Three days is sufficient for most people to burn entirely through their glucose and glycogen stores and truly reap the benefits of fasting ketosis and the process of cellular autophagy.
Can you eat a handful of nuts, drink your coffee or chug down your favorite post workout drink while fasting? Well that depends on how you’ve designed your fast. For answers to these and other questions, be sure to listen to the lesson on Customizing Your Supported Fast.
Fasting will give you valuable health benefits, but the insight you’ll gain around your relationship with food is invaluable. If you haven’t yet referred to the mindset and motivation lessons this is the perfect time. Use them during whatever fast you choose.