The 24-Hour Fast

Why a kinesiology expert (and former body builder) recommends spending a day food-free.

Grandiose new year promises will get you nowhere fast. In true anti-resolution spirit, we asked our Q Advisory Board members to divulge the one simple health habit they swear by. Next up: John Berardi, Ph.D., nutrient biology expert and founder of Precision Nutrition, a nutritional coaching and education program. Here's what he had to say:

I fast for 24 hours once every few months. Why do it? The idea is to experience hunger intentionally in order to get accustomed to the feeling, and, well ... not freak out. The ability to manage hunger is essential to fitness and good health, and this is something that I recommend for all my clients.

Interested? Here are my tips:

Essentially, you'll just need to pick any 24-hour period, and not eat for the duration. But I like to add a few things to make it easier. Here, we’ll assume a Sunday fast: 

10pm Saturday:
Eat your last meal of the day
Drink 500 mL (2 c.) of water 

10am Sunday:
Drink 1 L (4 c.) of water plus 1 serving of greens powder (I like greens+)
Drink 250 mL (1 c.) of green tea
Take 5 grams BCAA (branched chain amino acids) powder (or 5 capsules)
Note: The tea, greens and BCAAs aren't essential, but in my experience they make it a lot easier — and drinking water helps to mitigate feelings of hunger.

3pm Sunday:
Repeat water, green tea and BCAA morning routine

10pm Sunday:
Eat a small snack before bed
Drink 500 mL (2 c.) of water
 
Monday:
Eat normally
 
While you're fasting, be aware of your body's cues. If you're feeling stressed out or "upset" during your fast, relax. Take a few deep breaths, and pay close attention — this is what hunger can feel like. The more you know about the feeling, the easier it is to manage in the future. Have healthy food (lean meats, veggies, etc.) in the house and ready to go when you "break" the fast on Sunday night with a small meal. Also, having healthy food in the house is good insurance that you won’t binge on Monday when you return to normal eating. For an in-depth discussion of my experiences with intermittent fasting, download my complimentary e-book.

Stay tuned for more healthy habits next Monday. And don't miss a doctor's diet secret or an anatomist's morning wake-up ritual.