What is Dirty Fasting? Everything You Need to Know

December 12, 2021

You’ve heard of intermittent fasting, a type of time-restricted eating, but what about dirty fasting? 

The Basics of Fasting

Before we explore what dirty fasting means, let’s begin by going over time-restricted eating or traditional fasting. 

Here’s how Healthline explains it:

“Intermittent fasting is a broad term that refers to multiple specific eating patterns.

Each type of intermittent fasting includes fasting periods that are longer than a normal overnight fast of 8–12 hours (1Trusted Source).

“Time-restricted eating,” or “time-restricted feeding,” refers to when eating is limited to a certain number of hours each day (2Trusted Source).

An example of time-restricted eating is if you choose to eat all your food for the day in an 8-hour period, such as from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The remaining 16 hours each day are the fasting period, during which no calories are consumed.

This same schedule would be repeated every day.”

Now, with that out of the way, let’s move on to dirty fasting and exactly what that means. 

What is Dirty Fasting?

Health.com begins by explaining:

“Fasting has long been understood as the absence of calories. But there’s an emerging concept that redefines what it means to achieve a state of physiologic or molecular fasting—basically, when your cells aren’t impacted in the same way they likely are during a “fed” state—that may allow for dirty fasting to still be considered a form of “fasting.”

In a nutshell, when you’re fasting, your calorie and carbohydrate availability is low, which causes your insulin levels to drop. As a result, the hormones glucagon and epinephrine, which trigger the release of stored fat from fat cells, rise. Some of that fat travels to the liver, where it gets converted to ketones and is released back into the bloodstream. These ketones become an energy source for the brain, in place of glucose, its typical fuel. Some would argue that if glucose and insulin remain low and ketone levels remain elevated, physiological or molecular fasting is maintained. And this fasting state can potentially be achieved even with the limited intake of calories that a dirty fast allows.”

So, essentially, dirty fasting means you’re still eating small amounts during the fasting period. But you’re also strategically choosing certain foods to trigger the same response that might come from traditional fasting. 

What are the rules?

Most fasting comes with a different ruleset, including the time of day you can eat, how long to go without eating, and in some cases, the foods you can or cannot eat. With dirty fasting, the rule set can vary since it isn’t yet as popular as traditional fasting so there are different strategies for accomplishing it. 

That being said, here are some of the most common dirty fasting protocols followers adhere to:

  • Consuming food or drinks during fasting periods is okay as long as it’s less than 100 calories
  • Some allow for artificial sweeteners while others say to avoid them because of their potential to increase insulin levels
  • Some followers consume higher protein foods (including collagen and bone broth) during fasting (However, Health.com shares that “one 2021 study in the journal Nutrients points out that a lower protein intake has been shown to be more effective at not triggering metabolic pathways in the body that sense the availability of nutrients.”)

Is This The Right Option for You?

There are more diets than ever to choose from. So, how do you know if dirty fasting or fasting in general is right for you? First, you’ll want to speak with your doctor about whether this option is suitable for you. If you get the go-ahead, there are a number of benefits many people enjoy from fasting. For example, a lot of people find they eat less overall which helps them lose weight.

When comparing dirty fasting to intermittent fasting? Well, there are other benefits that can make this a suitable option for some people. If you’re someone who struggles with not eating anything for a long time, the ability to consume small amounts of food and drinks during fasting periods can be helpful.

Do you want to talk more about the nutritional options that will suit your lifestyle and goals best? Get in touch with the nutrition coaches at Xtend Fitness so we can help! 

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