PEOPLE will complain about anything, food and drink being a severe favourite. Not having food tends to be high up there.
Intermittent fasting has become a huge thing in the world of health and fitness. You maybe have breakfast then don’t eat again until dinner time. Or skip breakfast have a lunch and then have dinner. There’s many permutations. It’s proven to be good for the digestive system in that it receives a break from the endless cycle of consumption only broken up by sleep. Boosts to metabolism and regenerative effects of the body can be found on some level especially in prolonged fasts, with insulin sensitivity increasing and some evidence of hormone boosts. And although not my primary goal, weight loss too.
I’m not certain what inspired me to decide a two day fast (no food) was necessary. But I solidified the plan on October 6th, breaking the fast on October 8th, in effect actually 56 hours. So what happened?
The first day I woke up and had some coffee, a double espresso from my brilliant Bialetti double espresso coffee maker (I’m absolutely not getting paid for this mention). I knew drinking was key to maintaining my wellbeing as well as keeping my stomach occupied. I got a bit hungry around midday, but nothing overwhelming. Working away and spending time on projects whittled the hours away. Ironically, a long walk to do a weekly food shop took place with little salivation happening.
Combined with more caffeine (which would haunt me later on), water and tea, I was full of energy until the evening. By the time I went to bed I wasn’t tired – I was hyped. I read then tried to sleep. By early morning I’d woken repeatedly (also waking up my gf) but managing to do some important tasks on my phone; checking email, visiting social media, and finding out how many goals Jamie Vardy had scored in his career with Leicester Football Club.
On day two I awoke from my periodic sleep which involved a dream in which my brother and I escaped from a brown bear, and one about food. Getting out of bed you might think my immediate thought would be raiding the kitchen, but I didn’t feel hungry – I rarely do anyway at that time. More coffee, tea and water was made/poured. Coffee became like a meal, something to cherish throughout the day. I wanted to do my usual exercise routine but saved it for later, going for a sunny walk around Camo Woods instead, on the edge of Edinburgh.
Mood wise I was grumpy by the afternoon. My energy levels were down. After some pullups on a tree branch in Camo Woods I felt my blood pressure dip, a definite side effect. Physically I felt a touch weak, however my stomach not bloated as it sometimes is which was great in itself. The annoying thing is it was tough to seperate how much of the effects were from a poor nights sleep and which were from not eating.
Productivity wise I had a bad day. I wasn’t able to focus as much as usual. I wasn’t at the track, let alone the races. I did want to see how I would perform my usual upper body routine without any calories in my system. After three sets of dips I decided to continue the rest the next day. Lack of sleep AND calories is a terrible place to do a workout from so it seemed a good choice.
I went to bed tired. I still wasn’t hungry and even made some protein bars during the day without being that tempted exemplified by the fact that during the process I refrained from licking off some melted chocolate on my hand. I slept well this time and the following morning opened my eyes knowing that food was a possibility again. Stepping on the scales in the bathroom, I was 2.5kg/5.5lbs down.
Once in my kitchen I inspected the goods dazed at the opportunities. I ate some blueberries and raspberries with two oat cakes, something easy and nutritious to kick start my system followed by lunch in town some hours later after making a birthday cake which survived to its intended destination. Energy came back slowly and now I feel good one and a half days after ending the fast. Is it worth doing ? Yes.
WHAT I LEARNT/EXPERIENCED THROUGH FASTING:
- Hunger doesn’t work like I’d imagined it would, fasting was surprisingly easy to do
- Increased mental alertness on Day 1
- Day 1 is not too challenging and fasting became easier not tougher over time
- Stay hydrated: drink water and try coffee (ease off caffeine later in day), tea, lemon water
- Don’t binge when the fast is over
- You’ll get grumpy
- It’s great for self discipline
- Although not my primary goal, fasting is highly effective for weight loss
- Health benefits from reduced inflammation to increased insulin sensitivity
- It is a great way to learn discipline – impulsivity is linked to poor life outcomes
- You’ll learn some things about yourself, body and mind