I recently have listened to a couple podcasts on what fasting is and what the health benefits of it are and why it can be effective for weight loss AND for overall improvement of health.
I learned a lot from the last podcast (The School of Greatness with Jason Fung) but I always take both sides to the story before making an informed decision which in this case was “to fast or not too fast”?
To be honest I’ve never considered doing it because what I do right now to stay healthy works for me and my current lifestyle. But this podcast intrigued me so I decided I was going to challenge myself to a 24hr fast.
I started out by digging into “why” am I doing it. I feel like it’s always important to do your research and not just do something because someone tells you “it’s healthy”. So here first are some common misconceptions that were debunked which ultimately intrigued me to give it a try.
- It will burn my muscle – This is false. Our bodies historically were built to fast going WAY back to the years with hunters and gatherers. Sometimes there wasn’t enough food so people were forced too fast. Our body mechanisms were designed this way, in which we could ultimately use our excess fat for energy and NOT our muscle. That being said if you are trying to BUILD muscle, fasting will absolutely hinder this process as you need nutrients to build.
- I will be hungry ALL day and suffer if I fasted – This was debunked as in the research, the hormone that makes us hungry is called Ghrelin. During a fast at some point ghrelin turns on but it peaks around 2 hours, drops, and doesn’t come back. So this means if I could make it past the 2 hour hunger surge I won’t feel hungry for the rest of the day. I wanted to give this theory a try (more later on this).
- If I don’t eat my body will go into starvation mode and my metabolism will slow down – False! There is no such thing as “starvation mode” but rather it is called metabolic adaptation. This happens over a period of time if you change up how many calories you eat, or the exercise you do, your metabolism will adjust. Sometimes when people diet their body gets so used to a very low caloric intake, their metabolisms are slow and if you eat anything above that maintenance level, it will start to store fat. Now this happens over a long period of time and is impossible to happen in just one day.
So now that I knew I wouldn’t lose my muscle or my metabolism in one day and that there may be a chance I won’t be hungry and miserable all day, I decided to try it out.
My why was giving myself a new mental challenge learning more about my body and how my mind works and maybe experiencing some health benefits too.
Some of the benefits described with fasting are:
- Body going through a “cleansing or detoxing effect”
- Regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels
- Reducing inflammation in the body
I first made a game plan and that was what I could consume. Some people choose to have about 500 cals during a 24hr fast but I decided to go hard core. What I allowed myself was:
- Black coffee
- Green Tea
- Herbal tea
- Soda waters
- Vegetable broth (made from scratch)
- Zero cal electrolytes in my water
When I woke up I had a black coffee, went for a run, stretched, and went about my morning and usual activities.
I started to get hungry about four hours into the fast probably later than normal for me because I ate a lot before bed the night before. This was my ghrelin kicking in and it was quite intense for only about 1.5 hours. I distracted myself during this time and went for a light but long hike with the dogs. I found myself VERY thirsty from the hike because I forgot water and it was very clear that this was thirst and not hunger (should have been smarter and brought water).
I will say that I don’t believe the ghrelin did ever return BUT after that hike I was DONE for the rest of the day. I was sooo tired and lethargic, I didn’t want to do anything… I think from feeling so tired I thought that I was hungry because I know sometimes I get that way.
Everything I had such as the BCAAs, the veggie broth, the soda water was SOO good but that feeling didn’t last long enough to satisfy me. By 07:15pm I got CRANKY (poor Blair lol). Still don’t believe I was necessarily hungry but just really tired and cranky and wanted to give up and eat so bad. I made up my mind I’m never doing this shit again haha.
I cracked at 08:30 p.m. and had a diet gingerale which wasn’t necessarily “breaking” the fast because it was zero calories but I didn’t want to consume any artificial sweeteners in this fast, so I blew it there which I consciously at that time would rather drink that than ruin the whole thing.
I decided at the 24 hour mark I was going to have a casein protein shake as this is a slow digesting protein just to reintroduce something into my stomach before bed. Because I went to bed around 22:00, this ended up being more of a 32 hour fast with the exception of the protein shake.
I found I wasn’t starving in the morning either but really wanted to be careful of what I reintroduced into my body so had a nice light healthy breakfast to end it all off.
What I learned from this experience is:
- I think 16 hour fast to 8 hour feeds are TOTALLY doable if this is a method that works for you. I only got really miserable around the 20 hour mark so if you can push past the ghrelin surge each day than intermittent fasting could be a great option.
- How much I love coconut rice… I thought about coconut rice probably every hour on the hour haha At one point Blair and I decided what our last meals would be if we knew we were going to die, I chose butter chicken with coconut rice and naan bread. YUMMMMM! (Don’t suggest talking about this when fasting lol).
- The mental warfare that it takes to fast especially if your a foodie like me. It was WAY harder mentally than it was physically.
- I get really lazy and tired without fuel. I know they say if your doing a multiple day fast that after that initial day you start to feel great and energized but I don’t think I will ever have the disciple or the will to test out this theory.
- The experience of a fast. So if any of my clients want to try it out, now I can inform them of some things they may experience and how important it is to HAVE A PLAN! (Thats what got me through).
If you would like to learn more about fasting and the health benefits follow Dr.Steven Gundry, listen to Lewis Howes School of Greatness podcast with his episode and also the most recent one I listened to (which was endorsed by Dr.Steven Gundry) with Jason Fung.
Any questions or comments feel free to reach out:)