Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fasting Experiment Journal

(Click on Image to View) 

Nov 13, 2011 08:21 AM - I woke this morning a 7:40 am.  This is my third 24 hour fast in eight days.  I am experimenting with fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week.

Why am I giving fasting a try?  I have read several books and articles on the subject.  Increasingly, the weight of the research evidence shows that intermittent fasting can have positive health and longevity benefits.  Experiments in animals and humans lead to the conclusion that calorie restriction can reduce the risks of many common chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, etc.  My specific reasons are as follows:

  • Fasting should assist me to maintain my weight, and perhaps result in some additional fat loss.
  • The research shows that short term intermittent fasting can result in overall calorie restriction, which has been shown to improve health and longevity.
  • Fasting will help me to further bring my hunger urges under control and recognize the differences between culturally-conditioned 'toxic' hunger and true hunger.  Hopefully, this will help me to continue to improve my ability to avoid overeating.
  • There should be no 'side effects' from fasting.  Research shows that my metabolism should not be adversely affected, that my blood sugar levels should stay normal, that I will not experience muscle loss or decreases in athletic performance.  In fact, if I lose more body fat, my athletic performance should improve.
  • On days that I fast, I should actually feel good and may have even more energy.

Last night for dinner my wife prepared a large salad with organic mixed salad greens, boiled potatoes, steamed string beans, carrots, onions and small amounts of other vegetables.  I had some nuts and dried fruit for dessert and finished eating for the day around 7 pm.  Evenings after dinner around 10 pm I usually start getting hungry, and last night was no exception.  However, I was reading and taking notes on a very interesting book, so I was able to distract myself and avoided breaking my fast.

When I awoke this morning at 7:40 am, I felt very good, full of energy.  I drank a large glass of water, and had no desire to eat anything.  My plan for today is to fast until about 5:30 pm.  My fast will last 22 1/2 hours rather than 24 hours because we have a guest coming to the house at 6:30 pm and need to have completed dinner by that time.

My fasting schedule is very flexible.  Although I plan to fast one or two days per week, the days that I fast are open.  Currently, Thursday and/or Sundays work well because on those days I have scheduled no exercise, although at some point I intend to experiment with fasting on days that I do resistance training workouts.  I probably will not fast on days that I do long bike rides.  Although my experience is limited to three approximately 24 hour fasting days thus far, I have been pleased with the results.  I do not feel any pressure to fast on a particular schedule, and I can adjust my fasting days to my and my family's activities.  There is a certain liberation from not having to think about or prepare meals during the fasting days. Thus far, I find the 24 hour fast from after dinner starting around 7 pm until 7 pm the next day to be the most convenient time.  The only meal that our family shares is dinner.  I prepare my own breakfasts and lunches, so fasting on the 7 pm to 7 pm schedule does not interfere with my family's schedule and I do not miss meals with my wife and son.

People ask, "Aren't you uncomfortable during the fast?"  Thus far, the answer is mostly no.  I say 'mostly' because around 3-4 pm on the three fasting days I have done thus far, I do get hungry and have strong cravings to eat something.  Up until that time, my hunger sensations are much less intense, and I can deal with them easily.  It does take some 'will power' to go from about 4 pm to dinner time without snacking.  During those periods I try to distract myself with some interesting activity to take my mind off my growing hunger.  I have had no trouble completing the 24 hour fasts, and, for the most part, have enjoyed the experience.  During fast days I feel 'lighter' and have lots of energy.  I get a little energy dip towards the end of the 24 hour period.

I credit my good feelings during fasting in part to my whole foods plant-based diet, which has helped rid me of food cravings for junk food, refined sugar, dairy and meat.  I don't crave those foods anymore.  My diet is very high in fiber and rich in nutrients.  I believe that such a diet makes it easier to go longer periods between meals.  On normal days for the past couple of months I have not eaten from after dinner to about 10 am the next morning - a 14 hour fast.  So, the combination of my diet and daily 14 hour overnight fasts have provided a good foundation for my periodic 24 hour fasts.

Today went fairly well.  I started to get hungry around 2:30 pm.  My throat got dry and I was drinking lots of water.  Since I stayed busy this afternoon I could keep my mind off the slight physical discomfort, which got more intense as the afternoon wore on.  I was never terribly uncomfortable, but around 5:00 pm I was really looking forward to dinner.

After 23 hours of fasting, dinner does taste special.  One of the nice things about going longer than normal without food, is that the food tastes especially good when it finally arrives.  We had cheese-less risotto with kale for dinner. It was delicious.  I had some dates and nuts for dessert.

Overall, I like the fasting experience.  I suspect that after a period of fasting practice, it will be a "piece of cake," so to speak.


ab workout said...

Hmmm, I am not convince with this, because I am afrain if it can cause a negative reaction to my health. I don't like to skip meals.

Howard Veit said...


Thanks for the comment. I have felt no ill effects thus far. There has been lots of experimentation with fasting, and the results seem good. I would not recommend what I am doing for children, people with diabetes and others with serious chronic illness, without checking with a doctor. The books Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon, and Fasting for Health by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., provide some good information.