How to Stick With the Mini-Fast
Julian Whitaker, MD
The mini-fast with exercise, which involves skipping breakfast and exercising during this morning fast, is a relatively easy and highly effective program that has been enthusiastically embraced by patients at Whitaker Wellness. In addition to weight loss, we’re seeing stunning improvements in blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C, blood pressure, C-reactive protein, cholesterol, and other markers of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
Everyone—and I mean everyone—who has committed to the mini-fast with exercise program has seen results. Even better, the majority of them plan to stick with this regimen and make it a permanent part of their daily routine.
Answers to Excuses
That’s not to say everyone sticks with the program. When I ask “dropouts” why they stopped, they invariably say it was the exercise.
“It takes too much time.” Nonsense. You only need to commit to being active 30-40 minutes a day, and if you can’t exercise the recommended five days a week, then aim for three or four—you’ll still see results.
“The weather (children, work, neighborhood…) prohibits me from leaving the house.”Then get a mini-trampoline, treadmill, stationary bike, or aerobic workout DVD and exercise at home.
“I’m in too old/out of shape to exercise.” All you have to do is walk. Start with five minutes, if that’s all you can handle, and build up over time.
“It’s hard to squeeze exercise in before work.” Is it really that hard to get up 30-40 minutes earlier?
“I’m not a morning person.” Then have breakfast and lunch, exercise in the late afternoon or evening, and skip dinner. As long as you fast for several hours before and after exercising, you’ll burn fat.
Developing an Exercise Habit
If you’re having a hard time getting motivated, you’re not alone. A recent study of the habits of nearly 80,000 Americans reveals that only 5 percentof Americans engage in vigorous physical activity on any given day. It’s human nature to shun unnecessary physical exertion. Heck, it’s nature in general. Puppies and kittens frolic and play, but mature dogs and cats are largely sedentary; and you rarely see cattle and other livestock exert much energy unless they’re trotting toward the feeding trough.
I understand how easy it is to put exercise on the backburner—I’ve been there myself, and it’s one reason why I’ve struggled with my own weight. Two things got me back on track. First, whenever possible, I make exercise social. These days, Connie and I have a standing “date” several mornings a week to walk/jog around our neighborhood. If you don’t have a supportive family member, recruit your friends. One of our employees at Whitaker Wellness has enlisted more than 10 people in her neighborhood to join her in the mini-fast program. They exercise together and encourage one another to stay on track.
Second, I’m motivated by my results. When you do the work but see no improvements, it’s easy to get discouraged—and contrary to popular belief, moderate exercise alone is not an effective tool for weight loss. Only when you exercise in the fasting state is fat-burning switched on. Dropping pounds, feeling your pants get looser, having more energy and endurance: These payoffs are an inspiration to set aside excuses and stay active.
Maximizing the Benefits of Exercise
Let’s assume you’ve made the commitment to exercise regularly. What can you do to maximize your efforts?
You could start by having a cup or two of coffee before heading out the door. According to the 2010 position statement of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), “Caffeine is effective for enhancing sport performance…when consumed in low-to-moderate doses.” “Caffeine is ergogenic [increases physical performance] for sustained maximal endurance exercise… [and] beneficial for high-intensity exercise…”
If caffeine makes you jumpy, then it’s not for you. However, it has a bundle of benefits apropos the Diabesity Challenge, including enhancing insulin sensitivity and dramatically reducing risk of type 2 diabetes. As for the popular notion that caffeine is a diuretic that causes dehydration, it’s a myth. The ISSN position statement further notes, “The scientific literature does not support caffeine-induced diuresis during exercise, or any harmful change in fluid balance….” In summary, pre-exercise coffee is a three-way winner: It wakes you up (which may improve motivation), increases endurance, and provides hydration.
You should also make sure you eat adequate protein. Protein is required to build muscle, and this program not only burns fat but conserves and builds muscle as well. Eating protein also helps control appetite by improving satiety. Studies show that overall caloric intake goes down when you eat more protein and less carbohydrate; therefore, every meal and snack should include some lean protein.
Supplements for Exercisers
Several supplements also optimize the benefits of exercise. We’ve known for years that vitamin D deficiency is linked with muscle weakness in older people and causes symptoms such as easy fatiguing and heaviness in the legs—and that supplementing with vitamin D improves balance and reduces falls. More recent research suggests that this vitamin affects strength, balance, and ability to exercise across all age groups. Several professional sports teams are now testing their players and supplementing those who have low vitamin D blood levels.
Another useful supplement is ribose, a simple sugar required in ATP production. Most of the research on ribose has focused on its benefits for patients with cardiovascular disease, but it has also been shown to reduce fatigue in healthy older individuals. I personally take it before working out and believe it improves my exercise capacity.
BrindallTrim (a combination of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and L-carnitine) and L-glycine promote fat-burning in the liver, which increases endurance during exercise—and reduces hunger while fasting. Finally, a good multivitamin with all the vitamins and minerals required for optimal function is essential.
Never Too Late
Even if you haven’t exercised in years, there’s no better time than now to get started. Being active is positively vital for good health. As Edward Stanley, prime minister of Great Britain in the mid-1800s, said, “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
- Suggested daily dose are vitamin D 2,000-5,000 IU, ribose 5 g, BrindallTrim 4 capsules before exercise, glycine 5 g before exercise, and Metabolic Essentials 2 capsules with lunch and dinner (4 total). These supplements are available in health food stores or may be ordered by calling (800) 810-6655.
Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.