A protein fast involves consuming only protein over a 36 hour period. The primary reason for doing a protein fast is merely to overcome the psychological barrier to fasting.
Overcoming The Psychological Resistance To Fasting
Unless you’re an unusually disciplined person, fasting is intimidating. A protein fast can be used to help you build up to a level of confidence that allows you to do a full 24 hour fast. Why? There are a whole host of benefits related to fasting. I’ve covered some of these benefits in previous blogs, but if you want to study that stuff in detail you can check out an excellent ebook called Eat Stop Eat. I highly recommend it.
Fast Facts on Fasting
- Intermittent fasting is great for both fat loss and for lean muscle maintenance while losing fat. There are also a bunch of health benefits associated with fasting, which is covered in Eat Stop Eat.
- But fasting can seem intimidating at first, and a lot of people aren’t ready to commit to it. Especially given the mainstream media’s insistence on things like always eating breakfast, and consuming a meal or snack every 2-3 hours. We’ve been told that if we don’t eat or snack frequently, we’ll waste away to nothing or lose all cognitive capacity.
Enter the “protein fast”!
Consuming a feeding of protein periodically throughout your day will help you conquer your fasting fears. Knock down those initial reservations and you’ll find it much easier to take the next step: a true fast.
Optimizing Satiety During A Very Low Calorie Day
Protein has been shown to increase satiety (the feeling of not being hungry) more than either carbohydrates or fats. Cutting hunger as much as possible while drastically reducing calories at the same time kicks off a seriously effective day of fat burning. Throw a bit of fiber into the mix and you’ll remain satisfied even longer.
Prevent Muscle Loss
If you’ve been restricting your calories and carbohydrates heavily over an extended period you might have to worry about losing some lean muscle mass during your fast. Consuming a few “hits” of protein during the day will allow you to enjoy many of the effects of fasting while pretty much eliminating muscle loss.
Most of our cells can function using fat for fuel. The brain and the central nervous system are the exceptions. They require at least some glucose, which is derived from dietary carbohydrates. The brain can get about three quarters of it’s energy from ketones (a product of fat metabolism), but it still has to get the rest from glucose.
When you go super low carb for an extended period and you engage in some form of fasting, you might start using lean muscle to fuel your brain.
In the absence of sufficient dietary glucose, and after all the body’s stores have been used up, the only way for the body to make new glucose is through a process called gluconeogenesis. The main ingredient your body uses to make this happen is amino acids (protein building blocks). In the absence of dietary protein intake, the body has to borrow a little protein from the most readily available source: your muscles.
But again, you don’t have to worry. This is not really a problem for shorter fasts lasting 24 hours, unless you’ve been under serious caloric and carbohydrate restriction.
Create A Massive Calorie Deficit
Of course, the ultimate goal of a protein fast is to incinerate as much fat as possible in a 24 hour period while enjoying the benefits mentioned above. I believe that the best approach to fasting is the full 24 hour fast. This kind of fasting allows you to drink unlimited water, tea and coffee, but nothing else. The health benefits of this approach extend beyond fat loss. There’s more detail on that in Eat Stop Eat.
If you’re not ready to make the leap to full on fasting, try a protein fast first. It’s a lot easier to do, and it still provides many of the benefits of the traditional fast. Simply ingest a blend of high quality protein powder, a touch of fiber and consume every 4-6 hours.