Three days with no food, only water. It was actually easier than expected (for me anyway).
To be honest, we didn’t just do it. We did it back in October 2016 and that’s when I wrote this, but for some reason I never posted it. I’m revisiting it now for three reasons:
• because I’d like to do it again over the New Zealand summer
• I promised it in yesterdays post on starting a Real Food diet
• @joewantsfreedom has just issued a fasting challenge, and I think our posts will go well together
So now read on, remembering most of this was written three months ago.
Why would we do such a thing? Well, this year (2016) has had its challenges, including family health stress, financial concerns, and injuries from a car accident. All in all, our health has suffered a bit, and it just felt wise to have a bit of a reset.
The last time I tried to fast, I was 14 and mum and I had been going to yoga classes. It seemed like a good idea at the time, though we actually only lasted about 22 hours before cracking. A tin of cold baked beans has never tasted so good!
This time (many decades later), I was better prepared.
How we prepared
Well, to be honest, @sift666 didn’t prepare at all. I mentioned an article I’d been reading about the benefits, and he decided, on the spur of the moment, to start right away. But we have done elimination diets a couple of times before, so he knew what to expect.
I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but it never felt like the right time. This week, I had a free weekend, with no specific commitments from Wednesday night through till Monday morning. Plenty of work, but nothing that involved other people, or being somewhere at a particular time. This doesn’t happen often, so I had been mulling the idea over for 2-3 days.
I’ve also been intermittent fasting for a couple of weeks. Not in a particularly strict way, just cutting down to 2 meal periods a day. A couple of hours round midday and a couple of hours in the evening. So my body had started to acclimatise to longer periods without food.
What we drank
There are different types of fasting. One is dry fasting where you don’t eat or drink anything. This seemed unnecessarily difficult, so we didn’t go with that.
There are also juice fasts, but I wanted to eliminate all carbs, even from vegetables, so that was not a goer. That doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for other people, but I am a Hunter-Gatherer type, read more here, and need to be careful with carbs anyway.
So a water fast it is! We did add some liquid supplements to our water for a couple of reasons and @sift666 also had some herb teas.
First we added electrolytes to our water to make sure we could absorb what we drank. I was going to be drinking 3 to 3.5 litres a day, so wanted it to be well utilised.
One thing I hadn’t prepped for was cutting out vitamin C. I had been taking between 3 and 6 grams of micro liposomal C a day, and didn’t want to cut it out suddenly. So I did keep taking some – 2 grams in with my water, spread over the day. I also added in some vitamin B drops.
I prepped my water plus supplements in the morning and put the bottles on my desk, so that I could make sure I got it all down over the day.
How we felt
We have previously done elimination diets a couple of times. These involve eating a select few low allergy foods for a few days, then adding foods back in one at a time to see what effect they have. On these occasions we have both suffered withdrawal symptoms in the first few days.
Withdrawal isn’t pleasant. It can be anything from flu like symptoms to headaches to nausea to intensification of existing symptoms. It typically lasts 2 to 4 days. Luckily, this time, we didn’t have any of those this time, probably because we’ve been eating fairly clean for years.
We did feel hungry, but not as much as expected. @sift666 is fairly lean anyway, and is a carb burner, so he had it worse than me. My body prefers dietary fat as fuel, so was happy to start in on my stored reserves. When we felt hungry, we drank.
The other thing that seemed to help with hunger pangs was a hand Yoga mudra that I came across in this post. It’s the 5th one down. Whenever we felt pangs, we held the pose for a few minutes. Thanks to @stranger27.
We avoided doing anything too strenuous, though did walk for about 15 minutes each day. After the first day, I didn’t feel weak or wobbly at all, though @sift666 did feel weak and got weaker as time went on. So if you want to give it a try, make sure it’s at a time where you can be restful.
Mostly I didn’t have trouble avoiding food. It was easier because we were both doing it at the same time. Any urge to have some was more psychological than physical, and even that wasn’t as hard as I expected. Though one night I did have a dream where I kept preparing food, then remembering at the last minute that I wasn’t eating!
I did get a bit sick of running to the toilet, but even that was not as often as I expected.
How we came off the fast
I went a little longer in the fast, to 3.5 days. On the last morning, I felt weak and shaky and my blood sugar was low. So I know that 3 days is my limit.
Most experts seem to suggest coming off with juices and a little raw fruit, but this didn’t seem right for either of us. So we came off with bone broth.
• We started with a cup of diluted bone broth at about 10am
• Then an hour or so later, full strength broth, which we had a couple of times over a period of a few hours
• Then moved up to well diluted carrot and broth soup
• Then full strength soup
• Then well cooked solid vegetables
• And finally a meal with protein and vegetables (salmon for @sift666, red meat for me)
• The next day we went back to fairly normal meals, but in smaller serves than usual
What the results were for @sift666
• less pain from old injuries
• clearer thinking
• clearer skin
• runny nose dried up (we know this was from cutting out unfermented dairy, which had crept back into his diet – butter, cheese and yoghurt or kefir are fine)
• drop of 3kg in weight
Would he do it again? No, he wouldn’t. He felt weak all through, and found it exceedingly unpleasant. The improvements he had were temporary, as a couple of the foods that he added back were unsuitable for him, even though they are Real Foods.
For somebody of his metabolic type / body type, a broth fast might be more suitable. A more extreme Carb type might go ok on a juice fast.
But what probably works best for him is an elimination diet - cut back to meat or fish and low starch vegetables for a few days and then start adding other foods back in gradually. He has done that recently with similar results to the fast, but a lot more comfortably. We already knew certain foods that don’t work for him, but we have good success with this in finding a couple more.
He will no doubt comment below with more details of how horrid he found it!
My primary aim was to reduce my fasting insulin. I’m not diabetic, but my fasting insulin is much higher than you would expect, given that I have been fairly low carb for many years. It perplexes my holistic physician as well.
I had read that fasting for 3 days would reset it, but it didn’t, which was a disappointment. But my weight did decrease by about 3kg, which I have maintained in the three months since.
Would I do it again? Yes, I would. My body is used to burning fat and I felt reasonably well for most of it. I would like to have another go at getting my insulin readings down.
But for now, I'm going to get myself back into Intermittent Fasting. The pattern I'm aiming for is a little unusual - 15 hours fast, 2 hours eating window, 5 hours fast, 2 hours eating window. My fellow paleo-trail curators also"IF" with different patterns, and so do some other Steemians. So they may comment more below, or you can see their comments on @joewantsfreedom's post.
I’m no expert on fasting. Usually my clients are more in need of nurturing, rather than cleansing. Or maybe I should say, they need to nourish before even thinking about cleansing. So this is just what I did, and how it was for me.
If you want to fast yourself, make sure you get more information from an expert before starting, especially if you have any health issues.
Here’s the link to @joewantsfreedom’s fasting challenge again.
Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to ask questions.
Images are from Pixabay.
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Some of my previous posts on NUTRITION:
• The wide variety of healthy diets out and what they have in common
• The travels of Weston A Price and his discoveries about healthy diets
• Good fats vs bad fats
• DNA testing for better Health & Fitness
• DNA testing part 2: How Well Do I Digest Carbs?
• DNA testing Part 3: I can’t eat Carbs & How to Manage that
• About the Gut & Psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet Part 1 – Can it help autism?
• GAPS diet Part 2: Foods we can’t have
• GAPS diet Part 3: Foods we CAN have
• GAPS diet Part 4: What if I can’t eat some animal foods
• Salicylate intolerances
• Introduction to the Paleo diet
• How to get started on a Real Food diet Part 1
• Why use Real Food diets for healing
• How to get started on a Real Food diet Part 2