About 4 months ago I wrote a post called Experiment with Life in which I described my first experience with fasting. Since then I have completed two 36-hour fasts and I am currently in the midst of a 24 hour fast.
I decided to do my first 36 hour in mid-July on the basis that I felt quite disgusting after eating possibly the largest burrito ever assembled this side of Mexico. At the time of eating said burrito I was at the home of a girl I was then dating. As she observed the look of plentiful satisfaction on my face as I polished off my dish I wasn’t sure if the look on her face was, “I’m impressed he finished that whole thing”, or “That’s disgusting”, either way, I thought to myself, self you won’t be needing to eat tomorrow. Just like that on a Saturday night I decided that if I was man enough to eat that whole burrito I was man enough to not eat for the next 36 hours.
In the midst of Sunday I was a total vegetable with small pains of hunger and next to zero mental capacity, my concentration levels were also at an all time low. I have since found that stimulating the brain with activities like reading is an incredible way to get your cerebral muscles flexing without challenging them too much. Though my first 36 hour fast was definitely arduous, it was oddly much easier than my first 24 hour fast.
As I awoke at 7am on Monday morning I felt like the scarecrow from the wizard of oz. I existed in a state of numbness, no fatigue yet no energy, no opinions and nothing particular to say. I just was. But when I walked into the kitchen I had a smile on my face and a goal to accomplish. I felt like Frankenstein on a mission from his creator, “foooooood”.
I made myself a 4 egg omelet with every vegetable I could find in the fridge; tomatoes, eggplants, onions, peppers, zucchini, all topped with a generous helping of goat cheese. Gordan Ramsay himself would have been shaking my hand. After finishing my triumphant breakfast I felt amazing. It was as if I could literally feel my physical body and brain being fed all the nutrients and resources it had been looking for. I was calm, alert, and nothing short of a nuclear bomb or a Sarah Palin supporter could have raised my stress levels.
The fast I am in the midst of now was supposed to be a 36 hour jobber but I need to do some work tonight so I will be making myself a nice bean salad around 830pm. This go-round has also been my first time experimenting with supplements while fasting. I took an omega 3 capsule in the morning, and just before writing this post and my mental clarity immediately jumped from “out to lunch” to “ready and able”. There’s no way I could have written this post before that capsule.
The effects of fasting are unbelievable and I still highly suggest anyone that is in decent shape give it a shot. If you have diabetes or are considerably overweight I would suggest speaking with your doctor, although unfortunately not many doctors know what they’re talking about when it comes to fasting, which is a shame. Thankfully there are a number of forums and groups regarding intermittent fasting that are very reliable. Because there is seldom anything to sell when it comes to fasting it is much easier to find an accurate depiction of someone’s experiences.
One of the only books I have seen written on fasting is an ebook called “Eat Stop Eat”. This is an ebook on Intermittent Fasting which recommends a lifestyle of fasting every few days to allow the body to heal itself and function as nature intended. The best part about the book is that helps dismiss many of the typical myths about fasting. i.e. a 36hour fast is starving yourself (it isn’t). There’s a great review about it the book that you can see here: Eat Stop Eat Review.
The reason why I think I may be addicted to fasting every few weeks is because its an incredible feeling. I never breathe as clearly as I do on fasting days. During normal days for whatever reason I can typically only breath clearly through my right nostril but today the left side is functioning at an unheard of level. Its still not perfect but its a monster improvement. My skin is clearer than it normally is, and I’ve even lost a couple pounds, nothing drastic (fat loss is just a sweet byproduct of fasting) but just a little fat that had built up on a count of a couple Italian thanksgiving dinners.
The future of my fasting lifestyle will include a number of experiments I want to test drive. I want to hit the gym on a fasting day and I also want to force myself to write something like an involved post or story while fasting to see if I can force my brain into a higher level of thought without any fuel.
The body, I’ve learned is very adaptive to necessity. For example when you lift very heavy weights repeatedly your body adapts by producing more muscle and becoming stronger. My hypothesis is that I can train my body and mind to function at a decent level without consistent access to food.
I base my hypothesis on the difference in difficulty between my first and subsequent fasts. My first fast was torture. Its believed that during the first fast the body is trying to distance itself from the brain’s addiction to food as it has been taught through habit to eat often and on schedule (breakfast, lunch, dinner). During the last few fasts I have not felt any hunger pains at all and I believe this is because my brain knows it needs food, but now understands that there is a purpose for this abstinence from eating.
As I said before, and I will continue to say on my blog, I highly recommend anyone out there to try a 24 hour fast. Do it with a friend or spouse if you need help with willpower. During my first 36 hour fast I found myself repeatedly walking into the kitchen and opening the fridge without evening thinking. At one point I took out an apple and was halfway through washing it before realizing I was still in the middle of the fast and had more than 12 hours to go.
I would obviously like to toss out a disclaimer that I AM NOT A DOCTOR, PHYSICIAN OR NUTRITIONIST of any kind. I am simply providing you with my opinions and experiences with fasting and making my recommendation on those basis.
If any of you decide to take me up on this please come back and report your results. Or should you have any questions for me please don’t hesitate to ask.