Initially the idea of fasting for 3 days sounded quite extreme. As I said in part 1, I’d not gone more than 24 hours without food in my life (god bless the western world!).
However once you starting reading up on fasting, you find out 21 – 40 day fasts aren’t unheard of, nor are they life threatening. You’d certainly need a lot free time in order to carry one of those out. There’s risk of over exerting yourself, so your productivity would definitely take a hit.
Having just finished up my 72 hour fast, I can share what was learnt:
- Unless you know your water supply is particularly good; get some good quality mineral water in your house, and keep the supplies topped up, you’ll end up drinking more than you normally do.
- Keep yourself busy mentally. Don’t clear your schedule completely, otherwise you’ll spend too much time thinking about food.
- Do tell a few people what you’re doing, it’s fun to watch their reactions. They’ll either think you’re crazy, or they’ll be inquisitive about the process.
- Don’t chew chewing gum or mints, at least not regularly. This process of chewing stimulates your body into expecting food and it will make you hungry. I learnt this the hard way. That said, whilst fasting your body ramps up its ketone production. This can lead to bad breath, so keep tabs on it. If you need to freshen your breath opt where possible to brushing your teeth.
- Don’t listen to this crap on YouTube about using Enema’s whilst fasting. If you’re already into enemas, then great, but otherwise it really seems over the top. Perhaps if you’re planning to do 7+ days there may be some wisdom/point to it, but otherwise just fast.
- Don’t over exert yourself. Do some stretching and maybe some yoga, but no hard workouts. If you don’t feel it straight away, you’ll notice it later. Fasting puts enough of a strain on your body as it is, without overburdening it and potentially compromising your experience.
- Don’t use water fasting as a way to loose weight. It’s great for a lot of things; self control, physical repair and resting the digestive system. But you slow your metabolism down, and you adopt an unsustainable lifestyle. It doesn’t even make a top 5 list of ways to lose weight. Intermittent fasting on the other hand is a good option.
- Don’t worry too much about what foods you use to break your fast. You can find all sorts of prescriptions on the internet for what to eat post fast. Mostly they involve soup and fruit. Again, I think once you get into these longer types of fasts (7+ days) they may have some merit. But for a few days, your stomach isn’t going to forget how to digest food. Just be sensible and keep it simple. Something like a seafood platter with lots of salad may be slightly overburdening.
Additionally there were a few questions I had going into this experience, here’s my thoughts on them:
- Q: Will I die if I don’t eat for 3 days?
In terms of dying, no such luck. I did however get two dizzy spells from getting up too quick. I don’t think it’s a big issue, just be prepared to duck down and get your head between your knees if necessary (it works!).
- Concentration. I predict it getting worse as my glycogen stores become depleted. But will it improve again once ketosis sets in?
Concentration levels weren’t hampered, but they weren’t improved either. I would say for the first 2 days I was more irritable than normal, but I was still able to get on with work.
- Cravings. How bad are they, and will they subside?
Cravings were there, but they weren’t as bad as I expected. It certainly wasn’t smart to be around food. They didn’t subside for me, but I’d imagine as you get deeper into fasting (4 days+) they may go.
- Headaches. Will they occur, and if so, will they subside? I’ve read that typically these occur for coffee drinks. It’s the bodies reaction to going cold turkey on the caffeine. If you are a coffee drinker, and considering a long fast, it’s best to wean yourself of the caffeine in advance.
- Wellbeing. How do I feel throughout the whole fast?
Not great! It’s certainly not a fun experience. Again, if you fast longer this may improve.
So on the face of the experience, there was nothing remarkable about it. However I can take away one key positive, and this should apply to others. Knowing that it’s possible to go without food for so long will help with self control in the future. Knowing that you won’t starve if you skip a meal will help you stay disciplined. You know it in theory, but fasting gives you real world experience.
Would I fast again? Yeah, I’d be interested in trying 7+ days next time to see what it’s like. Right now I want to stay productive (and not confined to my apartment), so it won’t be any time soon, but the chance may come along again in the future.