Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best ways to support your overall health. Excess body fat increases your susceptibility to serious conditions like type II diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, sleep apnea, fatty liver, cancer, and joint problems. Many fat-loss fads, diets, and pills come and go, and very few yield lasting results. One method of losing fat that’s tried, tested, and consistently proven effective is adopting a ketogenic diet.
Knowing this, I began my research into improving the typical ketogenic diet. People who are familiar with my work know that I’m always trying new cleanses, detoxing programs, and diet plans in my ongoing quest to discover new ways to improve my health. I kept coming across the many benefits of different types of fasting, and I thought, “Why not combine the two to get the best of both worlds?”
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a diet that provides fat and protein, but few or no carbohydrates. Your body prefers glucose and glycogen, both derived from carbohydrates, as its primary fuel source. The sugar-burning state, called glycolysis, is standard operating procedure for the human body. Depriving the body of carbohydrates, however, forces it to use stored fat for energy. This special fat-burning mode, known as ketosis, is incredibly effective at burning through fat reserves. The catch? The body greatly prefers carbohydrates. It sends orders to your brain to refuel on carbs when your blood sugar dips. This physiological response makes it a tremendous challenge for many people to adhere to a low-carb diet long enough for their body to enter ketosis. It takes about 24-36 hours to completely burn through the stored chains of sugar in your muscles and liver, called glycogen, and the sugar circulating in your blood.
Why a Ketogenic Fast?
The reasoning behind adopting a ketogenic diet is strong, especially if you’re resistant to the effects of insulin. Sugar provokes a much stronger release of insulin than fat, but fat still triggers insulin release, though to a smaller degree. A ketogenic diet sparks the fat-burning process, but fasting ignites it.
During fasting, blood sugar levels remain stable while insulin levels drop. With a straight ketogenic diet, you’re still signaling insulin release, signaling your cells to store energy. With daily fasting, you transition to burning rather than storing energy. The low insulin levels that result from fasting prompt the breakdown of fat, a phenomenon called lipolysis.
Understanding how these two methods of fat loss can work in tandem lead me to develop my 5-day, vegan ketogenic fast. It combines the incredible benefits of fasting with a ketogenic diet, generating exponentially better results than using either independently.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting has a negative connotation for some. Many people think of it as intentionally starving, but fasting is not starving—it’s committing to eating on a regimented schedule. There are many different types of fasting. True, or absolute, fasting is the practice of abstaining from eating and drinking for a set period. Water or juice fasting allows for the consumption of certain fluids during the fast.
Fasting simply means avoiding food for longer stretches of time than usual, something like 12 or more hours. After this period, the participant can eat as they normally would. You probably accidentally do this a few times a week if you skip breakfast or can’t fit lunch into your schedule.
The physiological benefits of fasting include increased metabolism, stable blood sugar, decreased blood pressure, and slowed aging over time.
Dr. Group’s Ketogenic Fast: The Best of Both Worlds
This fast goes one step further than other ketogenic diets by taking advantage of the beneficial effects of fasting on overall wellness and longevity.
This ketogenic diet is different from others because it does not include any animal products. Rather, I’ve constructed the diet to include nuts and fatty fruits like olives, coconuts, and avocados which are full of healthy fatty acids, fiber, micronutrients, and phytonutrients.
I experimented with this diet myself to see how it would affect me to give you some insight into how your body might react.
Major Benefits of a Vegan Ketogenic Fast
Many ketogenic diets advocate consuming animal-based fat. The problem, however, is that a diet rich in animal products increases your risk of developing health problems like kidney stones, diet-related cancers, heart disease, vascular issues, and dying from cancer or cardiovascular diseases. Conversely, a low-carb, plant-based diet coincides with lower, overall mortality rates. Applying a vegan-oriented approach allows for all of the benefits without any of those downsides.
A ketogenic fast accelerates fat-burning and activates your body’s innate ability to rid itself of toxins. Many of the worst toxins are stored in fat cells. When your body starts burning through your fat reserves, toxins are released and prompt detoxification at the cellular level.
One of the most powerful benefits is how your brain responds. Studies have found that people on ketogenic diets experience better, more stable moods. Continuing your fast past five days may enhance the effect; some individuals feel profoundly happy, peaceful, and at ease from days six through nine on a fast. If you can make it and you have the extra fat stores, you may continue for up to 21 days.
Recent findings from animal studies also indicate that fasting may target leukemia cells. More research is needed before human clinical trials can begin, but the initial results are promising. Another study found that a protein that’s upregulated by fasting may help resist cancer development by promoting normal cell division.
The following is an account of my personal experience with the 5-day, vegan ketogenic fast.
I started the day with 1 ounce of nuts and my standard supplement routine at 6:30 AM. Around noon, I had one tablespoon of coconut oil as my lunch. Between 2-3 PM, I felt hunger pangs, which I expected. At that point, my body was still running on my glycogen stores and telling me to eat carbohydrates. For dinner, I ate the avocado and six olives.
I weighed myself when I awoke and was astounded to discover I was nearly 9 pounds lighter in just 24 hours! I know this was mostly water weight, but it’s remarkable to see such an incredible drop in weight. Overall, I felt more energetic than I did yesterday, and I was decidedly less hungry than Day 1. My morning workout was great—I felt like I had the energy to continue for another hour.
I kept the same diet schedule as day 1. I was still hungry after the tablespoon of coconut oil for lunch, but the sensation was less intense. Water with a shot of apple cider vinegar eased the hunger pangs. Later in the evening, I tried my first ketone test strip, and I was indeed in ketosis—the fat-burning state.
This was my worst morning yet. My morning workout did not go as well as I hoped. I felt disoriented and disconnected. I noticed my thinking wasn’t as clear or sharp as normal. I stuck with the same diet schedule; I didn’t experience any hunger, but I did feel somewhat shaky.
I began feeling better as the day wore on. I did experience minor hunger pangs around 2:30 PM that lingered until my avocado dinner. As evening came, I found myself in a much better state and mood.
The morning of day 4 was like waking up from a dream. I felt incredibly energized and alert. The brain fog and weakness from day 3 was entirely gone. The real breakthrough was the mental clarity. So many people experience this incredible effect, and it’s reason enough to try fasting. I felt focused and optimistic. The ketone test strip revealed I was still in fat-burning mode and my noticeably looser pants confirmed it.
I didn’t experience any hunger, but I switched up the eating schedule and had avocado and olives as my lunch. It felt like the right decision. My body needed the larger meal to keep me sustained through the rest of the work day.
I felt even better on day 5. My energy levels were high and I didn’t experience any hunger. My mood was elevated and my mind was focused. I felt like I could sustain this diet for longer.
Getting Started with Dr. Group’s 5-Day Vegan Ketogenic Fast
It’s easy to get started with my 5-day, vegan ketogenic fast. It just requires just a few supplies. First, you need ketone test strips. Ketone test strips are dipped into urine to measure how many millimoles of ketones are present in the urine (which will require you to catch your urine in a cup). They are readily available online and easy to use. The average reading should be about 4-6 millimoles (mM), but you may see readings as high as 8 mM. Additionally, they’re color coded. Darker readings indicate you’re burning more fat. You’ll need enough strips to test your urine twice a day for the duration of the fast.
You’ll also need to the nuts described in the diet below. I recommend dividing them into 1-ounce servings before beginning to remove the guesswork and reduce temptation. For the olives, I recommend whole (not pitted) kalamata olives because they’re brimming with antioxidants. Make sure everything is organic and minimally processed.
- 2 Ketone Test Strips
- Pecans: 1 ounce (about 19 halves) = 196 calories
- Walnuts: 1 ounce (14 halves) = 184 calories
- Macadamia Nuts: 1 ounce (12 kernels) = 204 calories
- Pine Nuts: 1 ounce (about 167 kernels) = 191 calories
- 6 Organic Non-pitted Olives = 24 calories
- Organic Medium Avocado = 322 calories
- Organic Raw Coconut Oil: 1 tablespoon = 120 calories
- Average Daily Calorie Intake = 700-1240 calories
Dr. Group’s 5-Day Vegan Ketogenic Fast Daily Protocol
I’ve outlined the meal structure according to my preference but you can adjust the meal order to suit your needs. You’ll only eat over the course of 12 hours. I recommend starting at 6 AM and finishing your last meal around 6 PM unless you’re able to start breakfast later. If you can wait to eat, you’ll adhere to a more strict fasting schedule. Use a ketone strip when you first wake up and just before going to bed.
1 ounce of nuts, either a mix or just one kind
6 Organic, Non-pitted Olives: 24 calories
1 Organic Medium Avocado: 322 calories
Organic Raw Coconut Oil: 1 tablespoon = 120 calories
Supplements of Your Choice
Continue your supplement routine while you’re fasting so you don’t miss out on important nutrients. I continued taking VeganSafe™ B-12, Floratrex™, Intramax®, Detoxadine®, Cell Fuzion™, and Livatrex®.
Even though you’re not eating a lot of food, a half serving of Oxy-Powder® every other day will help support the detoxification process.
Tips and Things To Know
The trick is sticking to it long enough to reap the benefits. Most people find it extremely difficult to fast for extended periods, so I wanted to include enough food to make this plan accessible to more people.
It’s a strict diet, and you must follow it to the letter to achieve your weight loss goals.
Only those who are overweight by 15 lbs or more should adopt this fast. It’s not intended for children, people with type 1 diabetes, breastfeeding or pregnant women. Always consult your trusted healthcare professional before starting a new diet regimen.
If you feel your energy lagging, take vitamin B-12 for a boost. I also recommend drinking plenty of water and taking 1-2 capsules of Oxy-Powder every other day while on the fast to help flush your system.
I recommend starting with five days to achieve a state of consistent ketosis. However, if you want to keep going by the end of day 5, you may continue this fast for up to 21 days.
To settle a sour stomach, drink 8 ounces of water with apple cider vinegar. If it doesn’t help, drink 4 oz of unsweetened organic almond milk.
Continuing to fast after five days can produce varied results. For some, they feel incredible and continue on an upward trend toward euphoria. Others feel a strong desire to break the fast. Listen to your body. If your body is telling you to stop fasting, stop.
For regular maintenance, cycle through this fast a few times a year.
Maintaining Your Progress
One of best ways to maintain your progress is to make sure you have the best microbiome for your body. Health begins in the gut, and a chaotic microbiome that doesn’t work with you works against you. The overall shift toward a carb-heavy, fiber-deprived diet has fundamentally altered the microbiome of most people. An investigation into the microbiome of obese individuals revealed that they have less microbial diversity in their microbiota. Bad gut bacteria repress fast-induced adipose factor (FIAF), an essential protein that regulates the use of your fat stores, while fiber-loving bacteria upregulate FIAF.[8, 9]
Don’t switch back to a carb-heavy diet immediately after your fast ends. If you make it to at least day 5, you shouldn’t feel this impulse, but if you do, resist it. Gently adjust your macronutrient ratios, reducing yourself from a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet to something you can easily maintain that works for your body.
Does Fasting Cause Muscle Loss?
This is a question that’s often asked. The human body needs a lot less protein than most protein powder manufacturers and fitness websites would have you believe. Most Americans eat several times the amount of protein that their bodies need in animal products alone, which is a huge marketing success on the meat industry’s part. The truth is that the human body has the incredible ability to recycle its proteins, taking worn out peptides and transforming them into new products the body needs. The vast majority of the protein the body needs is dedicated to enzymatic activity, not the maintenance of muscle mass. Some muscle may be lost during a low-calorie diet but the amount should be negligible, especially compared to the fat loss. If you see your muscles decrease in size, it’s not muscle tissue loss. The glycogen stored in your muscles bulks them up and helps them store water weight. Even though it’s a vegan diet, it provides all nine essential amino acids to support muscle mass maintenance.
Do you have experience with fasting or ketogenic diets? Report back to the community and share your experience!
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- “Health Risks of Being Overweight.” NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 29 July 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- Mattson, Mark P., and Ruiqian Wan. “Beneficial Effects of Intermittent Fasting and Caloric Restriction on the Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Systems.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 16.3 (2005): 129–137. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- Christensen, Damaris. “Dietary Dilemmas: Is the Pendulum Swinging Away from Low Fat?” Nutrition. Science News, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- Fung, Teresa T., et al. “Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: Two Cohort Studies.” Annals of Internal Medicine 153.5 (2010): 289–298. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- El-Mallakh, RS, and ME Paskitti. “The Ketogenic Diet May Have Mood-Stabilizing Properties.” Medical Hypotheses 57.6 (2002): 724–6. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- Fond, Guillaume, et al. “Fasting in Mood Disorders: Neurobiology and Effectiveness. A Review of the Literature.” Psychiatry Research 209.3 (2011): 253–258. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- “Fasting kills cancer cells of most common type of childhood leukemia.” University of Texas Southwestern. 12 Dec. 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- Grootaert, Charlotte, et al. “Bacterial Monocultures, Propionate, Butyrate and H2O2 Modulate the Expression, Secretion and Structure of the Fasting-Induced Adipose Factor in Gut Epithelial Cell Linesemi_2482 1778..1789.” Environmental Biology 13.7 (2011): 1778–1789. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
- Kersten, Sander, et al. “Characterization of the Fasting-Induced Adipose Factor FIAF, a Novel Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Target Gene.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 275.37 (2000): 28488–28493. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.