Welcome to the WEFAST guide. Here we will provide some background and motivations for intermittent fasting, as well as some pointers on how to get started.
Intermittent fasting may benefit your metabolic state by improving insulin sensitivity, and facilitating weight loss and adipolysis. Various studies have shown that intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss of up to 6 kg over a two month period,1as well as increase insulin sensitivity as measured by serum insulin and glucose levels.2
Intermittent fasting has been known to carry various cardiovascular benefits including lowering of blood pressure. In rat models for myocardial infarction and stroke, intermittent fasting was shown to increase resistence to ischemic injury to brain tissue that normally would occur.3
Research has shown that intermittent fasting may facilitate neurogenesis.4Neurogenesis carries implications for improved cognitive state as well as augmented longevity. Studies have shown that molecular pathways that promote neural health are upregualted by IF, including brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glutamate, insulin, and GLP-1 signaling. Furthermore, intermittent fasting has been found to attenuate cell death in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, suggesting that IF may be beneficial for maintaining or improving cognitive function.5
Studies in animals have shown that intermittent fasting diets are linked to increased longevity.4For example, IF has led to 50-70% increase in lifespan in rotifera6, 20-40% lifespan increase in rats7, 80-100% lifespan increase in worms8and yeast7, and over 130% lifespan increase in bacteria.7
For the 30 hour fast option, a popular way to allocate time is to fast starting from one night after eating dinner, until the morning two nights later. For example, one would start fasting Monday night, and resume eating normally on Wednesday morning breakfast time. Individuals undergoing this option may find the fasting period easier by eating a meal consisting of more fat content than usual during the night before fasting begins.
To maintain energy, items like black coffee, or nootropic stacks for energy and focus can be used during fasting periods. Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) or ketone supplements may be used in small quantities throughout the day (recommended total <200 calories) as an energy source.
Adequate liquid consumption should be maintained throughout the day. One should drink at least 2 L of water throughout the day. To maintain energy and cognitive function throughout the fasting period, items like black coffee, or nootropic stacks for energy and focus can be used.
For the 60 hour fast option, a convenient way to allocate the fasting period would be to begin fasting after dinner on one night, and fast until breakfast time three days later (e.g., fast from Sunday night until Wednesday morning).
Since you will be fasting for an extended period, and probably will need to maintain adequate energy levels in order to be productive at a job or at school, it is beneficial to eat a small amount of carefully chosen nutrients during this period. It is recommended to eat small amounts of food (500 calories or less) during each day in the fasting period.
A macronutrient breakdown of 60 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, and 13 g fat is recommended, although this can be personalized to your individual preference. An example of nutritional consumption during a day of fasting is shown below (can be eaten at once, or split into multiple servings for different times throughout the day):
The above formulation contains about 510 calories, which can be split between lunch and dinner portions. To maintain energy and cognitive function throughout the fasting period, items like black coffee, or nootropic stacks for energy and focus can be used.
Adequate liquid consumption should be maintained throughout the day. One should drink at least 2 L of water throughout the day.
After the fasting period is over, one can resume a normal diet.
A popular option for the 20 hour fast is to skip breakfast, and eat during a 4 hour feeding period starting around lunch time and ending in the evening (e.g., 4pm to 8pm). This regimen has been known colloqquially by some as the Warrior Diet. As with the 30 hour fast and 60 hour fast options, adequate hydration is recommended. Furthermore, to maintain energy and cognitive function, items like black coffee, or nootropic stacks for energy and focus can be used during fasting periods. Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) or ketone supplements may be used in small quantities throughout the day (recommended total <200 calories) as an energy source during the fasting period.
At the end of the fasting period, eat normally. Eat as much as you feel is adequate to satiate your hunger. Many participants in the 20 hour fast eat large quantities during the 4 hour feeding period. However, many participants may find it difficult to eat more than they would in a normal feeding schedule due to feelings of satiety that may last during the 4 hour feeding period.
At a 20 hour fasting period, you start to reap some great effects with respect to metabolic state. There are both psychological and physiological benefits. Psychologically, while initially it may be challenging, many people have experienced more mental clarity during fasting periods. Furthermore, there are benefits on metabolic state. While it varies by individual, the average bowel transit time (time taken for food to move from mouth upon ingestion, through the entire digestive tract and excreted) ranges from 12 to 48 hours. If fasting is performed for a prolonged time, the digestive tract will be able to "rest" more, as it is not actively involved in absorbing nutrients.
A popular option for the 16 hour fast is to skip breakfast, and eat during an 8 hour feeding period starting around lunch time and ending in the evening (e.g., 12pm to 8pm). This regimen has been known colloqquially by some as Leangains. For individuals new to fasting, this may be a great way to ease into the habit. As with the 20 hour, 30 hour, and 60 hour fast options, adequate hydration is recommended. Furthermore, to maintain energy and cognitive function, items like black coffee, or nootropic stacks for energy and focus can be used during fasting periods.
We suggest joining our intermittent fasting community on Slack.
There is a large, and growing, body of scientific knowledge in support of intermittent fasting for its health benefits. We've linked some of the most prominent research below.
Varady, K. A., Bhutani, S., Church, E. C., & Klempel, M. C. (2009). Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 90(5), 1138-1143.
Wegman, M.P., Guo, M.H., Bennion, D.M., Shankar, M.N., Chrzanowski, S.M., Goldberg, L.A., ... & Brantly, M.L. (2015). Practicality of Intermittent Fasting in Humans and its Effect on Oxidative Stress and Genes Related to Aging and Metabolism. Rejuvenation research.
Mattson, M. P., & Wan, R. (2005). Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 16(3), 129-137.
Lee, J., Kim, S. J., Son, T. G., Chan, S. L., & Mattson, M. P. (2006). Interferon‐γ is up‐regulated in the hippocampus in response to intermittent fasting and protects hippocampal neurons against excitotoxicity. Journal of neuroscience research, 83(8), 1552-1557.
Gribble, K. E., & Welch, D. B. M. (2012). Life-span extension by caloric restriction is determined by type and level of food reduction and by reproductive mode in Brachionus manjavacas (Rotifera). The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, gls170.
Kaeberlein, T. L., Smith, E. D., Tsuchiya, M., Welton, K. L., Thomas, J. H., Fields, S., ... & Kaeberlein, M. (2006). Lifespan extension in Caenorhabditis elegans by complete removal of food. Aging cell, 5(6), 487-494.
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