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Guest Post: Mix Up Your Fast Days

by Sabine

Hi! My name is Sabine, and I've been doing ADF for about five months. I'm female, mid-forties, don't exercise, and I started off about 50 pounds overweight. I also do primal low-carb, and though it makes me feel great when I eat that way, I found it hard to sustain long-term (cheats!) and hard to get back on after cheating. The biggest benefit I have seen from ADF is that it is now easy to get back on plan after I eat something I shouldn't instead of falling into a downward spiral that can take weeks or months to recover from. And, oh yeah, I'm down 25 pounds so far. I don't always do the same thing on my Down Days (the JUDDD term for fasting days). Here are some different types of Down Days, that are helpful to have in your toolbox:

Zero-Calorie (Water Fasting)
This is what most people think of when they hear "fasting." Water, that's all, right? But even eating nothing has some tricks to it. Have different kinds of water. No, don't go buy fancy bottles. But have regular water, have water with lemon juice and salt (8 cups water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp sweetener - great for maintaining your electrolyte balance), have a pitcher of water that has some cucumber slices floating in it. Switch off between your different types of water, and have some herbal tea, as well. The change in flavors, though subtle, really helps. 

Drink at least 12 glasses of water, shoot for 16. (Unless you have issues which make drinking lots of water unsafe. Rare, but it can happen. Know thyself!) Accept that you will be visiting the bathroom a lot. Brush your teeth every time you're in there, while you're at it. It really helps. Do not chew gum. It makes it worse. Don't feel that you need to "do nothing" while you are fasting. It is better to be busy. Plan projects, errands, any kind of physical activity. Mental activities, save for Up Days (the JUDDD term for feast days), at least in the beginning. There's something about having to think, that makes your body say, "Hey, let's eat!"

You're still drinking, but you're getting some nutrition. The main reason for drinking your Calories, is to minimize your "meal" experience. When you first start Down Days, you will be amazed at all the time you now have, that you used to spend eating, preparing food, cleaning up, and thinking about food. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with yourself! And sometimes you find that dealing with food at all, makes you want to go all the way, and have a meal, a real meal, and no, you don't want to wait until tomorrow, you want it NOW! This is when drinking a meal helps you out. You slug it down, and it's done, then you can stop thinking about it. Protein shakes are good here, probiotic drinks, and vegetable smoothies. And for those who like to have something going into their mouths all day, sipping on a nice iced coffee with milk or cream, can make the day a lot happier.

I started doing these kind of Down Days because I have had good success in the past with the Atkins Fat Fast. It gets you into ketosis (the good kind) super fast, and knocks cravings flat on their back. The challenge with High-Fat Down Days is that fat packs quite the caloric punch. You really can't eat a lot on these Down Days, but used wisely (after you have been low carb for a while, and are experienced with Down Days and their wiles) these can be great. One of my favorite "meals" is to cut a slice of liverwurst (~60 calories) into 24 little chunks, and eat them S-L-O-W-L-Y, letting them melt in my mouth. Unlike the All-Liquid Days, where you are trying not to think about food, High-Fat Days are all about savoring every bit of flavor in your mouth. Brie cheese, pork rinds with sour cream, macadamia nuts, and a spoon of peanut or almond Butter are all favorites.

ADF is supposed to be muscle-sparing, but once in awhile you just start wondering: are my muscles wasting away? Protein to the rescue. At four calories per gram, you can get a lot of protein into a Down Day. Fish is great, because there's not much fat going along with it. Every bite is mostly protein. Protein shakes, of course. And jerky! I was amazed to discover how satisfying it is to tear into bites of jerky on a Down Day. Don't forget the humble egg. Double up on your whites, and save the yolks for your Up Day, or hard-boil them, and have egg-white egg salad. Amazingly good, especially when you consider that the best part (the yolk!) is missing. Also good is diet Jell-O (if you do chemicals) made with extra gelatin. I love being able to have a "dessert" on my Down Days sometimes.

Sometimes, you just want to chew. Or stuff your face. And the fact that it is a Down Day, and you need to keep it to 500 calories or less, matters not. Vegetables are your friends. Those big bags of cut cabbage? They make great stir-fry. Yes, you CAN eat the whole bag yourself! Everyone has their favorites, but let me show you what 500 calories will get you in the produce aisle:

~56 Kcal = 16 spears of asparagus
~20 kcal = a head of broccoli
~60 kcal = 4 cups shredded cabbage
~62 kcal = 2 big carrots
~26 kcal = 1/4 head of cauliflower
~24 kcal = 4 stalks of celery
~24 kcal = a bag of cut lettuce
~28 kcal =2 cucumbers
~48 kcal = 8 oz of mushrooms
~40 kcal = a nice big bell pepper
~36 kcal = a bag of spinach
~72 kcal = 20 cherry tomatoes
~496 calories TOTAL

You can eat on that all day and maybe even run out of time. Yes, there's no butter, or cheese, but it is one day! It can be done. And, amazingly, some days, you don't even want the butter. Your taste buds  and enjoyment of food DO change when you are doing ADF. I really look forward to my Down Days now, which I never would have thought would happen at the beginning. And if you have to have the butter or olive oil, well, drop the cucumbers and tomatoes, and stir-fry the rest up with 1 tablespoon of the butter or oil. You'll still have a huge quantity of food.

This is good for those days when you have a long, tedious project to do (think paperwork) and you will be desperate for breaks. In days past you might have had chips, or a candy bar, or a handful of nuts, or heck, all three, just a reason to get away from the project. You make real meals (yes you can have meals that are just ~140 calories) but you divide them even smaller. Just a bite or two. Say, one half of a deviled egg (made with sour cream and mustard in the yolks) which is ~40 calories. Forty calories, you say! That's crazy! But... you get 12 of these little meals. You're eating something every hour. And sometimes, it is okay to have just a bite. You enjoy it, you set the timer for another hour, and you head back to your project. Cherry tomatoes filled with cream cheese are especially good for this. You can have four of them for ~40 calories!

I'm-Not-Dieting-I-Just Feel-Like-a-Salad!
Sometimes you have to meet people for a meal on your Down Day. People you may not be interested in telling what you are doing. For whatever reason. I've had one too many eye rolls to judge anyone. You eat nothing else that day. You order water with lemon, or unsweetened iced tea. You order a salad with protein (chicken breast/steak/salmon) on top and not too many of the crazy extras (pineapple, craisins, nuts, croutons, you know what I mean) in it, and the dressing on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing before you spear your bites, and exclaim over how fresh it all tastes. You ORDER A DESSERT to go, saying you are too full, but it all looks so good, you just can't resist. (You get to eat it tomorrow, not tonight. Or you can give it to someone.) No one who orders a dessert can possibly be on some weird fasting plan, right, so your secret is safe!

Yes, it can be done. Get out your calorie book, and start thinking. Here's one of mine for inspiration:

Breakfast: 1 poached egg (~70 kcal) served over 2 cups spinach (~12 kcal), steamed, and mixed with 1 tsp butter (~33 kcal). Total = 115 kcal

Lunch: 1 small salmon fillet (~100 kcal) with 1 tsp mayo (~33 kcal) and a squirt of lemon juice (~10 kcal) and a shake of dried dill (free!),1 small zucchini (~9 kcal), 4 mushrooms (~12 kcal) sauteed with 1 tsp butter (~33 kcal). Total = 197 kcal

Snack: 1/2 apple (~41 kcal) and 1 tsp peanut butter (~32 kcal). Total = 73 kcal

Dinner: Homemade vegetable soup (~60 kcal) and a dessert of diet Jell-O made with extra gelatin (~45 kcal). Total = 105 kcal

If I count correctly, that's ~490 calories. Go hog wild with the other 10!  :)

Hope these ideas have been useful for you. Down Days can be a challenge, but they can also be fun. Find the right kind of plan for your situation, and enjoy your food!

Sabine started the Alternate Day Fasting Support and Chat forum thread of Mark's Daily Apple, a website that is a hub of resources and discussions about healthy living and the primal lifestyle. I met her through the forum thread when I first started alternate day fasting and was looking for advice from other people practicing the ADF way of eating. For more information on primal eating and living, check out Mark's Daily Apple.

This post first appeared on Lauren Tries Out Alternate Day Fasting, please read the originial post: here

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Guest Post: Mix Up Your Fast Days


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