Fasting For Longer Periods of Time
At this point we have likely all heard of the benefits of intra day fasting or intermittent fasting, but what about the benefits of fasting for a longer period of time?
I recently set out to do a 24 hour fast and now I want to share with you what I experienced.
I set out to do a 24 hour fast hoping to reset my ”hunger meter” and give my body a chance to reset. I’ve read a lot about the benefits of a longer fast and thought it would be a good mental challenge for me. I started this fast like any other day when I do intermittent fasting. I ate my lunch and then began the fast. It’s worth noting, I have been doing intermittent fasting on and off for the last few years, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect in the first 14 to 16 hours, but I’ll briefly review those as well.
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Typically, about 5 or 6 hours into the fast is when my first hunger craving starts, right about the time I would normally be eating dinner. Pushing through that was easy for me because it’s something I have done hundreds of times over the last few years. The next hunger craving wasn’t until I hit hour 18. At this point I would typically be breaking my fast, if I didn’t do so sooner. My brain was certain it was time for us to eat again. Not this time brain, this time we are pushing through. I drank some black coffee and went on about my work day. Thankfully, work was extremely busy that day and I was on back to back conference calls with no opportunity to go get anything to eat.
Before I knew it, I had surpassed the 24 hour mark. I had successfully fasted for 25 hours, NOW it’s time to eat…. But wait, I’m not hungry. I thought about it for a few minutes, I wasn’t hungry in the slightest, and looking at my to do list for the day, I was slaying. I felt super focused and more efficient than ever before. A quick google search followed with a message to my good friend and Professor revealed that I there were no health risks for me to continue the fast for several more hours. Given this new information and the mountain of work I had to accomplish I reset the goal, 36 hours would be my new goal, and a personal record for me.
As terrifying as it sounded to fast for 36 hours I didn’t have the time to focus on it. I continued getting my work done and before I knew it it was 5:00 PM, then 6:00 PM came along, and as I wrapped up my work day to head home I realized that not only did I not hit a wall at 2:00 PM like I usually do, but I had an insane amount of energy and focus. I came home, knocked out some chores around the house, played with the kids, took them for a bike ride, and then once they were in bed, got back to work.
Typically I shut down around 10:00 PM. Waking up at 4:30 AM every day I am usually productive until about 2:00 PM but can barely function as the night goes on. This didn’t happen this time. In fact, quite the opposite. I continued to get more energy and more focus as the hours passed. I wasn’t even thinking about food at this point. Doing a quick calculation, I could eat at about 1:00 AM. That was my 36 hour goal. I wrapped up my work around 11:30 PM and decided to see how I felt in the morning.
As with any day at 4:30 AM my alarm went off, I got up and headed to the gym telling myself, I’ll eat after the I earn it in this workout, it’ll be glorious. I felt really strong and focused at the gym. Stronger than I typically feel, and certainly stronger than I expected to feel after not eating for 40 hours or so at this point. After the workout I had a slight hunger craving, but at this point I was so close to hitting a full 48 hours that I decided to push through and continue my fast. This day was much like the previous. Tons of energy, insane laser focus on the tasks that needed to be completed, with little thought of food or hunger cravings.
I decided to break my fast at just over 49 hours. I wasn’t starving, In fact, I only broke the fast because I had reached a huge milestone for me personally and now I wanted to experiment with coming out of the fast. I made a big salad with all of the typical Keto friendly items, avocado, lean meat, and oil as dressing. After eating the salad I knew I had overdone it.
It’s hard to remember that I didn’t eat for the last 2 days. My stomach was not prepared for a typical size salad. I didn’t feel great at this point, knowing I had overdone it on food, my body just needed some time to process it. My advice when coming out of the fast is to take it slow and ease back into the your eating, but also use this as an opportunity to reset your portion sizes. Often times we tend to overeat because of habit rather than actual hunger.
Here are my final takeaways. I plan to do a 24 hour fast once a week in conjunction with my standard intermittent fasting. I plan to use this as a reminder to keep my portions in check and also build discipline when it comes to eating. I am also planning to do a 48-72 hour fast once a month, again, to continue to build discipline and reset my “hunger meter”. When coming out of the next fast I plan to do so with bulletproof coffee and then very, very small portion sizes to eliminate the issues I had this time. All in all, I strongly recommend giving it a try. It was an incredible experience for me personally, and I’d bet you will have a similar experience as well.
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Remember, as always, consult with a doctor before making dietary changes just to evaluate risk and make sure you aren’t going to cause any problems, especially if you have a condition that is strongly tied to your diet like diabetes. If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting and the day to day of eating well, fasting, and being fit, there is no better place to start than “Ripped In 12 Weeks Intermittent Fasting & Easy Bodyweight Fitness by Tom Deblass”. Professor DeBlass is a professional athlete who has competed at the highest levels in Jiu jitsu, all while maintaining the demands of running an academy, being a parent, giving back to the local community, as well as the Jiu jitsu community, and so much more. If there were ever a man to figure out the secret to unlock unlimited energy, focus and discipline, I’d say it’s safe to say it’s like Professor DeBlass.