On Friday when I got to work I told my assistant, Kari, that I was going to start a fast that day. She asked how long I planned to fast this time, probably thinking back to when I fasted for 48 hours a few months ago in May. I said I planned to fast for 72 hours. Hopefully she didn’t really roll her eyes as she said something about how I would probably be grouchy all weekend. My answer included some reference to being alone over the weekend so that if it did actually happen it would only be the dogs that had to deal with my crankiness.
Now the reason Kari mentioned being grouchy, or as some people call it, being “hangry”—that combination of hunger and angry—is because people who are on a high carb diet, and many of us are, ride this roller coaster of blood sugar levels and sometimes there is a steep descent that leaves your brain foggy or irritable until you give it more sugars.
So Friday morning I ate my normal breakfast at 7:30 and then mentally prepared myself for not consuming any food for the next 72 hours. Having gone through the 48 hour fast previously I at least knew what to expect however I also remembered how ready I was to eat by the time I ended that fast so the additional 24 hours was not something I was especially looking forward to.
One thing I remember from the earlier fast though was that I had more time in my day to do things, since I wasn’t spending time cooking and eating. Normally I would say the extra time could have been spent exercising, but not eating anything doesn’t give you a ton of surplus energy, or at least it doesn’t to me. I was still able to go for a couple of short runs with the dogs, partially because I know how much they like their daily run and because I like one as well even if it’s not as long as usual.
Over the weekend I spent a lot of time painting and because of this I occupied my mind with some informative entertainment (called edutainment) such as a podcast my son Eric had shared with me. It dealt with a number of concepts I am familiar with but the short description of it would be how sad the state of health is in this country and that if people would eat “real” food that would be a good way to start reversing some of our ills. In addition to the podcast I streamed a couple of other shows I found; one was called the “Science of Fasting” and the other was “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead chronicled a man’s journey as he switched his regular diet to just drinking the juices of fruits and vegetables. His extended juice fast allowed him to lose a considerable amount of weight and he was getting the many micronutrients that are found in produce.
The Science of Fasting focused on a lot of research from places where fasting has been used as a form of medical care. The real benefit of extended fasts of 72 hours or more is that autophagy begins. This is process where the body basically “cleans house” and resets the immune system. In the documentary they visited places in Germany and Siberia where people go to do medically supervised fasts that can last multiple weeks. And I thought how awful to be hungry that long, but most of the people said after about 5 days the feelings of hunger went away.
In my own experience this weekend, I noticed that after 48 hours I was very hungry but as I approached 60 hours I felt like I had plenty of energy and my thinking was clearer. I was tempted to extend the fast but by Monday morning I was ready for a meal. Maybe next time I will go longer to see what that is like. Live Well Today. Everyday.