Is Fasting Part of Healthy Weight Loss?

Losing and Maintaining Weight Naturally

As we’re now firmly into the season of Lent (Easter is April 1st this year), many people are taking time to reflect, slow down, and sacrificially give up something they enjoy. Coffee and chocolate are among perennial favorites. Maybe you’ve considered occasional fasting, and perhaps you are wondering if fasting is actually a help or a hindrance to losing and maintaining a healthy weight.

In this post, we’ll also explore whether occasional fasting is compatible with a healthy diet such as Weight Watchers. Personally, I love Weight Watchers’ method of gradual, healthy weight loss through proven means and great community. If you’re interested in joining, save yourself $10 with my Ebates link here.

Purposes and Traditions of Fasting

Fasting, or abstaining from food and often drink besides water, is a common tradition in Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam. The traditional purposes of fasting are many, but unsurprisingly, are not connected with weight loss. First world, modern day problem, am I right?

But we can still gain some perspective from looking back in history. In the Old Testament, we can see Jews observing a fast for several occasions and reasons. There were fasts on calendar-specific days of remembrance, in times of mourning, in times of seeking the Lord’s favor, for atonement, and for personal piety, to name the major ones. Did you know, some Medieval Jews even observed fasting after a bad dream, in order that it not come true?

Stages of Fasting for Your Body

Some health proponents of fasting discuss several stages of progress and change as fasting moves through days, and perhaps weeks in duration. The phases cited in a prolonged water fast include:

  • Hunger, lack of energy
  • “Battery save mode,” in which your body uses energy very efficiently
  • Increased heart health
  • Ketosis, in which your body burns primarily fat
  • Weight loss
  • Detoxifying
  • Clear-mindedness
  • Deeper healing and resolving of health issues

Types of Fasting

You may think, fasting is simply not eating, right? I thought so too, until I looked more into the wide world of fasting and various diets that employ it. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Dry fasts, as practiced during Ramadan
  • Water fasting
  • Cleansing fasts, such as for the colon, which employs only liquids with lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and cayenne.
  • Partial fasts, which requires abstaining from particular kinds of food. An example is The Daniel Fast.
  • Liquid protein fasts, often medically supervised for weight loss for obesity.
  • Diagnostic fasts, in preparation for a medical test or procedure.

Getting Back into Regular Eating After Fasting

After a period of fasting, it’s important for your body to ease back into regular, healthy eating with foods that are easy to digest. According to Sarah Pope of The Healthy Home Economist,

“The correct way to break a fast after eating no solid food whatsoever for 10 days is gently and slowly with foods that are very easy to digest like homemade soup or perhaps eggs and fruit and maybe a slice or two of bacon .  .  .”

Fasting: the Takeaway

Bottom line, your body and your health are your own. If something in the health world sparks your interest, it could certainly be worth taking a harder look into.

People have had success treating Lyme disease with a raw milk fast? The GAPS diet, which begins with a bone broth fast, is employed to heal a range of issues from digestive to neurological?

It is fascinating to me after looking into fasting what a break from “regular” foods can do for our bodies. I for one now see fasting less as a fad or extreme way to lose weight but as an age-old way to reset and heal. When done safely and properly, fasting can additionally be part of a health regimen for long-term weight maintenance.

Healthy Junk Food Replacements while on Weight Watchers

They say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. And this maxim is so true, especially with lifelong journeys such as healthy eating. So what does it look like to take that “one step”?

Perhaps it’s keeping a water bottle in your purse, filled with lemon water to keep you hydrated and refreshed throughout your day.

Maybe it’s looking into the wildly popular Instant Pot and seeing if it could help streamline preparation of homemade meals for your busy week.

Perhaps you’ve wanted to try the accountability, community, and positive results of joining Weight Watchers. If that’s you, give yourself a $10 gift card when you sign up through my referral link.

Healthy Junk Food Replacements

Smart Junk Food Replacements

And perhaps another big step in your health journey is deciding to tackle one stumbling block of a food after another. It’s a win-win when we seek out replacements for poor quality, high calorie foods with high quality, high nutrient foods instead. One by one, when we upgrade our go-to foods in this way, our whole diet improves in an incremental yet powerful way.

Here are some ideas about how to make this happen and experience success on Weight Watchers or any diet!

Sugar

Sugar is the bane of all our good eating intentions, is it not? High in calories and disastrous to our dental health, immunity, and mental acuity, sugar is easily at the top of the list to replace. Some excellent sweet replacements to use in moderation:

  • Raw Honey, high in probiotics, helpful to digestion, and can help alleviate allergies if bought locally.
  • Maple syrup, high in calcium, potassium, and iron.
  • Blackstrap molasses, nutrient rich in iron, calcium, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Rapadura, or unrefined raw sugar cane, contains potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
  • Stevia and Lo Han Guo, both plant extracts with no sugar content. 

Chocolate

Chocolate is just too good to give up completely, in my opinion! And really, it’s unnecessary to do this, as there are so many healthy options to enjoy the rich, irreplaceable taste of chocolate. New treats to try as healthy replacements:

  • Carob. A versatile chocolate replacement high in calcium and other vitamins and minerals, carob is a worthy addition to a healthy Weight Watchers diet.
  • Cacao. Nibs are fun and satisfying. Try nibs as a snack, sprinkled on oatmeal, or integrated into trail mix. Or grind with coffee beans before brewing! Cacao powder is a seamless substitute for the more processed cocoa powder.
  • Dark chocolate, a few squares here and there. In general, the less sugar and more cocoa in a product, the better.
  • Homemade hot chocolate. Here’s a recipe for a healthy, ready-to-go mix. And here is my favorite, made by mixing the following:
    • 1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder
    • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
    • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
    • pinch of ground nutmeg
    • pinch of sea salt
    • tiny pinch of cayenne
    • 12 oz hot water
    • 4 oz raw cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Coffee

You may already be cutting down your coffee intake, switching to decaf, or opting for cream but no sugar. These are all good steps, but did you know that there are a couple healthy replacements for your morning joe available as well?

  • Dandelion coffee, sold by Dandy Blend in an easy-to-use instant powder. Consisting of dandelion root, chicory, barley, rye, and sugar cane, this beverage is sugar-free, gluten-free, and beautifully silky and rich.
  • Red Rooibos tea, a caffeine free option that is richer like black tea and is terrific with honey and milk. Lots of benefits, too!

Soda

  • Club soda or seltzer water, with the addition of a splash of juice, can easily replace soda and other carbonated  beverages. You can also make your own carbonated water with a Soda Stream. Avoid tonic water, whether regular or diet, as it contains either high fructose corn syrup or harmful artificial sweeteners.
  • Kombucha, bubbly and refreshing, is also a fantastic substitute for soda. A wonderful addition to your repertoire of beverages. Kombucha provides probiotics and a satisfyingly crisp, carbonated taste that’s in our genes to crave.

Wine

  • Cense, Weight Watchers’ recently debuted light wine, is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with a removable label if you’d like to be discreet while bringing it to a party.
  • Clean cocktails, utilizing fruit juice such as cranberry juice, seltzer water, etc.

Chips and French Fries

If reaching for a bag of salty, fatty potato chips or a sleeve of French fries is a vice you’d like to change, a fantastic replacement is homemade chips using virtually any veggie. 

Think about it – chips are simple. Usually consisting of thinly sliced potatoes, oil, and salt at its most basic, the chip can be easily transformed into a health food by changing up the veggies and using healthy fats rather than canola, soybean, or vegetable oils.

Tantalizing recipes gathered at SheKnows gives us over a dozen options, including beets, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and more. Time to maximize those Zero Point vegetables on the new Freestyle program!

What Healthy Replacement Foods are You Trying in the New Year?

Weight Watchers and Bone Broth

If you’re following the Weight Watchers guidelines and committed to not only counting points but seeking lasting, meaningful diet changes, this post is for you! And if you haven’t joined yet but would like to, save $10 using my referral link here.

Incorporating whole, real foods into your everyday diet is paramount and will help you maintain a healthy weight for life. And what’s easily the best way to start the shift toward whole foods? Homemade bone broth!

What’s so Wonderful about Bone Broth?

Also called stock, this “liquid gold” is something our grandmas could probably teach us a thing or two about. Satisfying and delicious, bone broth makes savory dishes like soups and stews robust, hearty, and filling.

Health wise, the benefits are far-reaching, not only for weight maintenance but overall health of virtually all body systems. As elaborated by the highly influential Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell:

“Today we are witnessing an epidemic of chronic disease that threatens to unhinge our modern world—cancer, arthritis, allergies, digestive problems, mental disorders, and even new types of life-threatening infectious illness. Bone broth, rich in the elements of cartilage, collagen, and healing amino acids, can provide protection from these ailments, can serve as an important element in recovery, and can nourish and enrich our lives in many ways.”

Additionally, here’s a deeper understanding of bone broth and its many facets of health.

Chicken broth weight watchers

Where Do I Buy Bones?

There are several options in ingredients when making broth, including meaty bones, a whole uncooked chicken, or a chicken carcass.

Whole chickens can be purchased through CSAs (community supported agriculture), from local farmers directly, at farmers’ markets, and at many grocery stores, including Costco. Chicken feet are especially high in gelatin and are often given away by farmers after processing day!

Beef bones can be found at butcher shops, through local processors and ranchers, and even at your local grocery store! Ask for “pet bones” or “soup bones.”

How to Make Bone Broth… the Easy Slow Cooker Way

Just about every cook has a subtly different method in making broth. That’s alright! Two of the most significant things to remember are quality of bones, and length of simmer.

Here is my tried-and-true take on easy slow cooker broth:

  1. Start with beef bones, a whole uncooked chicken, or a chicken carcass, preferably grass-fed, organic, and/or pastured. Place in slow cooker.
  2. Add in one roughly chopped onion for a great-tasting broth.
  3. Optional: add in roughly chopped carrots and celery.
  4. Fill the slow cooker with filtered water to an inch below the rim of the crock.
  5. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar.
  6. Turn slow cooker on High to get it simmering, then turn to Low. Cook for 12-24 hours if chicken, 24-48 hours if beef.
  7. Turn off slow cooker. Ladle liquid through a sieve into a large jar. You can keep any meat and discard bones and leftover veggies. After a little while of settling, the light yellow fat will rise to the top; ladle off in a separate small jar for a healthy fat for the next time you saute meat or vegetables.

Mug of homemade broth

How to Use Bone Broth in Everyday Recipes

Now that you’ve made bone broth, now what? Luckily, this is an extremely versatile food, and once you begin incorporating it into recipes, you’ll soon wonder what you ever did without it.

When making soups, stews, chili, and beans, simply add all your ingredients to your pot or slow cooker and fill to this level with homemade broth. Simmer just as you would with water.

If branching out into fish stock, miso soup can be made by heating broth on the stove and adding naturally fermented miso, naturally fermented soy sauce, scallion greens, and shredded cabbage or wakame seaweed.

You can also choose to drink bone broth plain and hot in a mug with a pinch of salt for an extraordinary way to start your morning. Or add a thermos of broth to your lunch-on-the-go to feel more satisfied throughout the day.

You can also “stock up” so to speak, and freeze broth in glass jars or gallon bags for convenience and easy access in times of illness. If using plastic bags, be sure to ladle in while cool to prevent chemicals leaching into the broth.

Bone broth with an egg, either hard boiled or cracked directly into the broth as it simmers, is a wonderfully healing food when recovering from illness, surgery, or childbirth.

Weight Watchers and Bone Broth

Calculating Smartpoints

If you’re currently on Weight Watchers, a beautiful thing about broth is that it is both 0 Smartpoints and a Simply Filling food, meaning you can use it liberally in all your cooking!

I encourage you to throw a few bones or a chicken into the slow cooker this weekend and enjoy the ultimate in healthy food: homemade broth!