If you’ve downloaded Zero, chances are that you’re here to create or maintain a fasting habit. Fasting is a wonderful tool for achieving all sorts of health goals, but that’s exactly what it is — a tool, not your final destination. To truly optimize your health, it’s important to consider the larger ecosystem of what it means to be healthy. If we zoom out, we’ll see that optimal health is a balanced approach to how we eat, move, sleep, and restore.
Compounding each of these aspects — or Pillars, as we call them — can have a transformative effect on your health. You’ll be able to achieve lasting weight loss, improve your metabolism, and even lower your risk of chronic disease. Ultimately, by combining each Pillar and making them a tangible part of your daily routine, you’ll find yourself on the path towards a healthier, happier, and longer life.
Tapping into these synergistic effects is what Zero is all about. In this article, we’re going to show you how to start at Zero — beginning with when you eat — and how that connects to the other major areas of your health.
Pairing Fasting with the Four Pillars of Health
The Four Pillars of Health are Nutrition, Activity, Sleep, and Restoration. Nutrition includes everything you put (and don’t put) in your body. Activity encompasses things like walking, sports, and other forms of physical movement. Sleep, as you may have guessed, describes a long stretch of sleep, which people usually get at night, as well as naps. Finally, Restoration is all about how you recharge and recover from the inevitable stressors in life, whether mentally, physically, or at a cellular level.
Fasting is a part of the Nutrition Pillar, and not only is it an easy and accessible habit for virtually everyone (you already fast for about eight hours a night!), it’s also integral to your health journey. Whether you opt for a shorter 12-hour fast or a more intentional 16-hour fast, your fasting practice is a great foundation for building other healthy habits. Once you feel confident about your success, you can combine fasting with the rest of the Pillars to maximize your progress towards your health and weight-loss goals.
Fasting + Healthy Nutrition
To track your healthy Nutrition habits, tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab.
Even on the days you don’t complete an intentional fast, you can still make great strides in your health by eating mindfully and incorporating minimally-processed whole foods on your plate.
Mindful eating has been shown to increase the enjoyment of a meal while also decreasing portion sizes and calorie intake, often resulting in fat loss. Start small and work your way up. Something as simple as logging one meal a day can help bring awareness to the choices you make around food and encourage a more balanced approach to eating. You can also create a mindful eating experience by minimizing distractions and practicing using all five senses as you savor each bite.
The quality of the foods you choose can also make an impact on your health goals. Studies have shown that, regardless of your diet, if you prioritize whole foods (such as vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit) and keep added sugars and refined carbohydrates to a minimum, you can sustain long-term weight loss and enjoy overall benefits to longevity.
Tip: Couple balanced meals that are full of whole, minimally-processed foods with mindful eating practices.
Fasting + Healthy Activity
To track your healthy Activity habits, tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab. Using Apple Watch or another app or wearable? Connect Zero with Apple Health and we’ll automatically sync your daily progress.
Bookending your fast with bouts of physical activity can further improve your metabolic health and stimulate a fat-burning environment.
If you like to move your body in the morning, consider extending your overnight fast so that your eating window begins after you exercise. This will encourage your body to burn fat during exercise — something it tends to stop doing if you eat beforehand. Even if you prefer to move at another time of day, consider going on a short walk or completing a brief yoga session before breakfast to take advantage of that fat-burning state.
If you prefer evening workouts, combine your exercise and fasting practices by finishing your last meal of the day prior to working out. That way, your physical activity will burn the fuel you’ve been consuming throughout the day, start depleting your glycogen stores, and get you into a catabolic and then a fat-burning state more quickly.
Tip: Log your Activity at the beginning or the end of your fast.
Fasting + Healthy Sleep
To track your healthy Sleep habits, tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab. Using Apple Watch or another app or wearable? Connect Zero with Apple Health and we’ll automatically sync your daily progress.
Starting your fast well before bedtime helps you sleep better and keep your blood sugar under control. Avoiding food 2–4 hours prior to sleep has a direct impact on the quality of your sleep, and can even magnify the metabolic benefits seen with fasting. Studies have shown that eating more calories (especially from fat) within 60 minutes of bedtime is associated with difficulty falling asleep and decreased REM sleep.
In addition, melatonin suppresses insulin secretion from the pancreas. So, if you’re eating a meal later in the evening when melatonin levels tend to be elevated, there will be less circulating insulin to shuttle glucose into your cells — resulting in higher blood sugar. Why is this bad? Because consistently elevated blood sugar can increase your risk of diabetes and metabolic disease.
Tip: Start your fast at least 2–4 hours before bedtime.
Fasting + Healthy Restoration
To track your healthy Restoration habits, tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab.
The beauty of fasting is that it cuts down on cooking and eating — freeing up time for things you may be more likely to neglect, like relaxation and other restorative practices. Activities such as foam rolling, yoga, and stretching can diminish physical stress and reduce muscle soreness. Meanwhile, laughter, music, and socializing have been shown to decrease stress and stress hormones, boost the immune system, ameliorate symptoms of depression, and enhance overall mental health.
At a cellular level, fasting helps your body become more resilient to stress. Dietary restriction, which includes fasting, is a mild stressor to the body, but, because it’s a hormetic stressor, the small amount of stress it creates actually teaches your body to become stronger in response to that stress next time you encounter it.
Another example of a hormetic stressor is exercise. During physical activity, muscles are broken down, but afterwards, they learn to repair and grow tougher than before. Occasionally experiencing these hormetic stressors can lead to better resilience and longevity.
Tip: Fast consistently and find time during your fast for a dedicated Restoration activity.
How Zero Helps You Balance Your Health
The best part about embarking on a health journey with Zero is that you’re not alone. In addition to a wealth of articles and videos, Zero has three important features that will help you assess your big-picture progress. Let’s get to know them!
The Fasting Timer
Start the Fasting Timer at the beginning of your fast and watch it count down to your fast’s completion. As you fast, you’ll receive custom Fasting Tips based on your goals, gender, mood logs, and more. You’ll also be able to access Zero’s Personalized Fasting Zones, which detail your body’s inner workings during a fast. iOS users can even load Timer widgets to their iPhone lock screen, home screen, and Apple Watch for a quick overview.
Visualize your journey and celebrate your wins across the Four Pillars of Health. As you log or sync your data, you’ll see the corresponding color for each Pillar added to the Loop. You can review the last seven days on the Today tab, or visit the Me tab for a calendar view of your progress. Watch as your smart choices add up over days, weeks, months, and years.
The Habit Tracker
Build actionable, data-driven habits with the Habit Tracker. Log your meals, workouts, and more by tapping on the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab. If you’re using your Apple Watch, Fitbit, Oura, or other apps or wearables, you can sync them with Zero to make this a completely automated experience.
Combining fasting with the Four Pillars of Nutrition, Activity, Sleep, and Restoration creates the foundation for our health and general well-being. Alone, each Pillar can provide numerous benefits, but integrating all four of them, especially with an established fasting practice in the mix, can transform your health in the short and long-term.
That’s why Zero goes beyond just fasting. Our mission is to extend the lifespan and healthspan of the human race, and it all starts here, by building healthy habits to live better, longer.