A long spiritual time ago, in an apartment far away from my current abode – if you’re walking — I wrote a blog post about my first experiment with extended fasting.
Recently, I’ve adopted the practice of fasting for 3 days at the beginning of every month and doing an extended fast of 5-7 days every three months.
A lot of you have been asking, “why the hell are you doing this?”
One of you has said, “I’m losing faith in you.”
Many of you have also said, “I want to try that!”
Whichever group you’re in, it’s okay. I’m here to help you understand.
Why I Fast
At first, I just wanted to try the next crazy dietary intervention. I had heard of intermittent fasting, which I had understood as eating for 8 hours, followed by not eating for 16 hours. I tried it, succeeded, and realized that I didn’t really need to eat the entire time I was awake.
I felt empowered.
I kept doing this most days out of the week, and then discovered that there were people who were doing 3-day, 5-day, and 7-day fasts.
Being a nerd, I picked up their books and read about it. Outside of realizing that I was a slave to eating-on-the-clock and my own blood sugar fluctuations, I learned that fasting can help with the following:
Lowered blood sugar.
- Huge in a population of people with Type II Diabetes and Prediabetes.
- Insulin tells your body to store and build and stop burning fat.
Improve insulin sensitivity.
- Your cells open the door instead of stranding sticky sugar in the blood.
Improved leptin sensitivity.
- Your cells listen to the hormone that says, “Hey, we’re full!”
Regeneration and repair of the small and large intestines.
Immune system regeneration.
- The majority of this is in your digestive tract.
Production of ketones.
- Which will fuel muscular contraction as well as the brain now that sugar is gone.
Increased metabolic rate from increased adrenaline secretion.
- Cells, no longer focused on utilizing incoming energy and nutrients (or neutralizing junk and free radicals), can turn to autophagy, which is the process of recycling and discarding old, broken down components. Autophagy is literally self-eating, and it’s good.
- Old dirty cells can die.
- Due to decreased dependence on sugar.
Reduction of body fat.
- Your body depletes sugar within 18-48 hours depending on your activity level and diet. It then switches to fat for it’s primary source of fuel.
Reduction of cancer promoting hormones, like:
- IGF-1 (cancer cells have extra docks for these because they like it so much).
- Due to suppression of mTOR, which boosts insulin, leptin, and IGF-1.
- Fasting boosts BDNF which signals neural growth and repair.
These are all research backed. For more info, you can check out my more comprehensive blog post, Dieting and the F-Word.
Why You Should Fast
I’ve already outlined a whole host of reasons above.
Outside of that, I’ve found that fasting improves my self-discipline in other areas of my life.
When I’m just not eating anything, it’s a hell of a lot easier to avoid the pizza at staff meetings.
When I’m not eating, it’s a hell of a lot easier to dedicate an extra 20-minutes of planning time for work or take an extra 20 minutes for personal development to read a book. I’m not tired, or groggy, or rushing-because-I-have-to-take-lunch.
When I’m not eating, it’s a hell of a lot easier to crank out 5 extra reps or run 5 extra minutes. That’s way easier than fasting for 3 days.
If you’re not into fasting, that’s cool. You do you. Eating on your schedule is your thing, and you should keep doing it.
You’re going to be hangry? That’s because you’re addicted to sugar. Either take steps to deal with it, or don’t. It’s not my problem. It’s yours. But in my opinion, you have to do something about it if you’d like to live a long, happy, and healthy life. But then again, you should do you. I can’t tell you what to do.
How You Should Fast
Stop eating 3-hours before bed.
- You’ll create less cellular damage from digesting while sleeping.
- You’ll store less sugar and fat.
- You’ll miss out on detox fasting time.
Start with a 24-hour fast.
- Eat dinner, and then drink water, coffee, and tea until dinner on the following day.
- You may do this accidentally, good job!
Alternate day fasting.
- Eat today, fast tomorrow, then eat the next day, and fast the following.
- You can have 500 calories on your fasting days. No, you can’t have candy, but you could have a bulletproof coffee:
- 1-2 T unrefined virgin coconut oil,
- 1-2 T Kerrygold Grassfed Butter,
- 1-2 T Organic, Hormone Free Heavy Whipping Cream,
- Lots of cinnamon,
- Blend it.
- Almost the same as alternate day fasting, you’re just fasting for two consecutive days instead of alternating.
- Day 1 = 1000-1100 calories of fats (like bulletproof beverages).
- Day 2-5 = ~700 calories of fats (bulletproof.
- A 2015 study saw declines in risk factors for diabetes and cancer, and found an increase in autophagy.
Wrapping It Up
Why do I fast? Well, I want to live a long time, and I want to be able to do anything that I want during that time. I want to have a clear head and a body that feels good.
Why should you? I don’t know. That’s up to you. I hope today’s post helps to clear up any questions and misconceptions.
How should you do it? One small step at a time. Start by cutting off consumption 3 hours before bed time, then try a dinner-to-dinner, and then go from there.
I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice. I’m just a nerd who likes to read research, and I figured I’d be productive by sharing it with you.
I’m a nerd, I know.
I read it so you don’t have to.
ps. If there’s anything you’re curious about, and don’t have the time, patience, or know-how to learn about it, let me know. I’ll be sure to post on it if it’s worth-while.
pps. Considerable thanks goes to Dr. Jason Fung M.D., whose book, “The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate Day, and Extended Fasting,”guided me through the process and inspired me to write this post. Also Dr. Joseph Mercola, whose book, “Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brainpower, and Increase Your Energy.”
- Photo by Saif Salim from Pexels.