Two weeks into quarantine, I found myself drinking multiple glasses of wine, overeating at dinner, baking cookies, and lathering scoops of ice cream on top of the fresh baked cookies to cap most nights. I pretty had much let myself go.
Waking up Monday morning on April 6th, 2020 with little motivation, stomach pains, and a headache, I made the rash decision to complete the extended fast that had been on my to-do list in hopes of breaking the habits I had formed in quarantine over the last couple weeks. During “business as usual,” I could never find the time or motivation to complete an extended fast as I never wanted to jeopardize my productivity for a normal work week. But now that the world was operating on “The Great Pause,” I felt that I had little to lose.
I took note of the last time I consumed food -- 9:30 pm on Sunday, April 5th, 2020 -- and set a goal not to eat any food until Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 at 9:30 pm.If you haven’t already heard about the health benefits of fasting, you’re probably still wondering, “why in the world would you not eat for 3 days?”
I’ll explain where this idea came from.
I’m going to tell you a brief backstory about my diet history and food consumption as it will paint the picture for how I was introduced to the concept of fasting.
I was an athlete in college, which required me to eat A LOT of food. We were told by our strength and conditioning coach that we could burn up to 3500 calories in any given afternoon practice. That’s excluding our morning weight training sessions. The only diet recommendation we received from the coaching staff was, “eat as much food as can at every single meal.” So I did what I was told and ate as much food as I possibly could in any given sitting.
Fast forward to post graduation and my appetite was still the exact same as it was when I was playing football. By consuming as much food as I did during my college athletic days, I programmed my mind and body to simply devour food at any given time of the day. Knowing that I wasn’t burning as many calories as I used to, I had to figure out a new plan.
I started researching different diets and the first one that caught my eye was the Paleo diet due to the guidelines of eating meat, veggies, fruit, and nuts. At the time, I still consumed a LOT of food, so I convinced myself that if I only ate meat and vegetables, it would be alright for me to continue eating in large amounts. I was also guiding elk hunts in Colorado during this time period, so it was easy for me to fill my freezer with wild, organic, grass fed elk for the year. Side note: (I have a somewhat crazy theory that the testosterone in a mature bull elk gets passed on through the meat.) I can only speak from experience, but the years I’ve harvested herd bulls (the dominant male bull), I’ve had the most energy to apply towards my physical training routine.
As I transitioned from a very active lifestyle of guiding elk hunts and building fences for work to sitting behind a computer at Hewlett Packard, I became more interested in how food was affecting my productivity and brain power. Being a Tim Ferris & Dave Asprey podcast listener, the ketogenic diet kept surfacing for its brain boosting benefits. As I moved from my role at HP to being an entrepreneur after buying two local businesses, I became obsessed with how food was affecting my productivity. During this period of my life, I made a transition to following the Bulletproof Diet (Dave Asprey’s spin on keto) at the beginning of 2019.
One of the main adaptations I made to my diet plan during this transition was the addition of intermittent fasting. I chose to follow Dave’s “Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting” regimen and have been doing so for the last 16 months as of April 2020. I think it goes without being said that this diet plan has worked for me as I’m still following my own version of it to this day. Within a week of implementing Intermittent Fasting, I immediately began to experience the brain boosting benefits of not feeling sluggish.
Intermittent Fasting, or IF for short, is defined as eating during a specific time period and fasting during the remaining time. For example, my current routine is set up with the following time zones:
Eating Window: 2pm - 8 pm
Fasting Window: 8pm (after dinner) - 2pm (lunch the next day)
During my eating time zone, I’ve chosen to keep the foods that make me feel good from my experiments with paleo and keto. These foods consist primarily of vegetables, grass fed meats/wild caught fish, and healthy fats such as avocados and almonds. These foods vary for everyone but my approach has been to stick with the foods that give me energy rather than make me feel bogged down.
The only other piece I should mention -- the reason I chose to follow the “Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting” routine is because you’re allowed to have “Bulletproof Coffee.” This is Dave’s blend of high fat MCT oil, grass fed butter, and coffee. Given that I love coffee and also own a coffee shop, this was an easy sell.
Now, of course, I use our Perk Coffee beans to make my coffee because they’re the best tasting in my opinion, but I follow Dave’s recipe for blending this brain boosting morning drink. The only supplement I add to my mixture is a scoop of keto friendly collagen from a local Winter Park e-commerce startup. The high fat content of this blend helps curb the appetite until lunch and, according to Dave, allows your body to reap the health benefits of fasting without removing your body from a fasted state.
So what are some of the health benefits of fasting?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the “afternoon slump.” You know… that time period between 2-4pm when your lunch is digesting and you get absolutely nothing done because it takes every ounce of energy you have just to keep your eyelids open.
The main benefit I’ve experienced from fasting is that I no longer have the “afternoon slump.” My brain seems to be firing on all cylinders most days in any given week. In fact, I can’t remember that last time I wanted to fall asleep during the day. I have been on an energy spree for the last 16 months which has helped me buy two local businesses, build two new locations, start this blog,o mention, I feel great and have been able to maintain a healthy physique by sticking to regular resistance and cardio workout routines.
If it tells you anything, I’m writing this blog article on a Tuesday afternoon and it’s currently 4:04pm. I’ve already completed my daily operational duties for the Perk and Green Spaces, crushed an at-home workout, and consumed a healthy lunch consisting of Traeger smoked squash, zucchini, green onion, asparagus, and free range chicken. I’ll end the day with a cardio training session on my cross country skis after I publish this article.
No afternoon slump here is the point I’m trying to make.
I’ve been an exercise enthusiast since forming the regular habit as an athlete. Exercising gives me a sense of overall well being, and everything else in my life seems to prosper when I stick to a regular workout routine. Some of the most successful people I know have told me the most important routine they practice is a consistent exercise habit (even 60 and 70 year olds).
But there was a time in my life, post college athletics, where I had to come to the realization that long workouts consisting of lifting heavy weights were not the most beneficial to my body for overall health and well being. This came to my attention after experiencing joint pains in my right elbow and knee at the age of 27. These nagging pains were enough to inhibit my lifting and cardio routines, so I decided to give my body an extended rest to allow these injuries ample amount of time to recover. This rest period led me to rethinking my whole exercise routine to prioritize overall health rather than strictly building muscle mass like before.
I’ve since developed my version of a sustainabile workout consisting of 2x per week of resistance/ weight training paired with 2x per week of low impact outdoor cardio such as XC skiing, mountain biking, and some trail running depending on the season. I call this sustainable & achievable because I know that NO MATTER WHAT, I can achieve these goals at a minimum every week. Even during quarantine. This regimen gives my muscles and cardiovascular system consistent training along with a rush of feel good endorphins to provide a sense of well being, energy, and productivity boost.
Combining this toned down workout plan with my Intermittent Fasting routine has allowed me to maintain a healthy weight hovering around 200 pounds. To give you an idea, I’m 6’2” and played college football at 215 lbs (when I was eating too much and lifting heavy weights every day.) Sure, I was physically as strong as I’ve ever been during that time. But that was when my life depended on it (or at least, my starting position did.) Maintaining this physique required a lot of time and energy. Now, my time and energy is focused on powering my brain with as much energy as possible as I complete most of my work from sitting behind a computer.
By implementing a regular fasting routine, I have a lower caloric intake on a daily basis. The less amount of calories I consume equates to a smaller amount of time required to burn those calories by exercising. It’s a win / win for me. Not only do I not have to burn as many calories now to maintain a healthy weight, I’m able to spend more of my time doing productive things like writing this article rather than feeling the need to exercise for long hours.
Less calories consumed = less time exercising. It’s a rather simple concept.
This benefit is the ultimate holy grail of why people fast. Cellular regeneration has been shown to bring on a multitude of benefits including: anti-aging, disease prevention, detoxification, and brain cell growth. Sounds great and all, but it’s the most complicated of the 3 benefits to know whether or not the process is actually taking place inside your body.
The cellular regeneration process, defined as “autophagy,” happens naturally in our bodies. Autophagy is the method by which your body cleans out damaged cells and toxins, helping you regenerate newer, healthier cells.  This is an important process that is central to reducing inflammation, anti-aging, and disease prevention. The rate at which autophagy takes place is the factor that is hard to determine as you can’t physically see autophagy happening within the body in the short term.
Research suggests that fasting helps promote autophagy within the body. “Among several stress stimuli inducers of autophagy, fasting and CR (caloric restriction) are the most potent non-genetic autophagy stimulators, and lack the undesirable side effects associated with alternative interventions. 
So what’s the big push? Why should you care about promoting autophagy within your body? Autophagy has been shown in some cases to prevent most chronic degenerative and chronic inflammatory diseases and may also be useful as an accompanying treatment during chemotherapy of cancer.  Fasting to induce autophagy can also help produce new brain cells by slowing neurodegeneration, slow the aging process, and has even been shown to promote the development and retention of lean muscle mass.
Throughout practicing Intermittent Fasting, I’ve experienced the increased energy and weight management health benefits firsthand. But I was always curious if I was ever experiencing the third benefit of cellular regeneration.
Listening to Tim Ferris and Dave Asprey podcasts, I’d heard how a prolonged fast could help induce autophagy and increase the chances of the body switching into ketosis, which is supposedly when the benefits begin to happen.
Ketosis is defined as the state in which the body is burning ketones (fat) for fuel rather than glucose. Depending on the amount of glycogen stores present at the time of starting a fast will determine the amount of time needed for the body to make the switch from glucose to ketones for energy. In order for the body to make the transition to ketosis, ALL of the glycogen stores have to first be burned for energy.
Through my research, I decided that a 3 day fast consisting of no caloric intake would be the best and safest way of achieving ketosis. I considered doing a longer amount of time, but given the fact that this would be my first prolonged fast, I decided 4 or 5 days could potentially be unsafe without supervision. I also contemplated starting with a 1 or 2 day fast, but because my ultimate goal was to get into a state of ketosis, I wanted to ensure that I was allowing ample time for this process to take place in my body. This is how I landed on choosing a 3 day fast.
Fair warning! This is uncharted territory and I don’t claim to be a doctor or any kind of certified professional. I’m not anywhere remotely close to qualified for giving you medical advice. By reading this, you’re assuming responsibility for your own actions. PLEASE don’t do anything stupid to cause your body undue stress if you choose to fast for a prolonged amount of time. What I’m writing about is strictly an observation of my experience while doing a prolonged fast and is not intended to be prescribed as advice to anyone else. Take my experience for what it’s worth and assume your own responsibility and risks if you choose to do a prolonged fast.
Alright, now that we’re clear on that, let’s jump into it. A 3-day fast means strictly no food for 3 days (72 hrs). As far as drinking fluids, you’re allowed to drink water (and you should!) to stay hydrated throughout the process. One concern some people have when fasting is the loss of electrolytes, so I added a shot of liquid electrolytes to my water bottle every day.
Most say you shouldn’t drink coffee and/or tea, while others claim it’s fine. I agree that it would be best to only drink water, but don’t let drinking coffee or tea be the deciding factor as to whether you choose to fast or not. If you want to drink coffee or tea, drink coffee or tea. You’ll still get the digestive benefits from fasting, just know that your liver won’t be getting a break as it will still be at work releasing enzymes to break down the caffeine molecules. I’m a coffee enthusiast so I drank coffee during my fast. (Yes, I’m for the blasts from “fasting pros” to come at any moment.)
Begin by choosing your 72 hr fasting window. Decide what time your last bite of food will be and write this time down. Now add 72 hrs to that time and that’s when you can have your next bite of food. Should be the exact same time as your last bite, only 3 days later.
Hint: Start your fast by eating a late lunch or early dinner as your last meal between the hours of 2-6pm. I made the mistake of starting mine at 9:30 pm and this was a bad idea for several reasons. (Trust me, you won’t want to wait until 9:30 pm to have your first meal.)
If your whole goal of a prolonged fast is to achieve the state of ketosis then you should be mindful of what you’re consuming in your last meals leading up to the fast. Remember, your body only switches into ketosis upon burning all of the glycogen stores present in the body. As mentioned in the intro, the last food I put into my body before fasting was two chocolate chip cookies covered in two scoops of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Absolute terrible idea. (But at the same time, this was also the trigger point for me deciding to do the fast in the first place.)
Some will tell you to clear your schedule and “lay low” for the 72 hours during your fast. Screw that. I had tasks to get done for my businesses and you probably do too. I went about my normal work day and had some uber productive days. I also had some sluggish times, and they should be expected. But for the most part, I went about my work day as normal.
If you’d rather sit and stare at a wall while you fast, do that. But I can almost guarantee the only thing you’ll think about is how hungry you are. I chose to stay busy and keep my mind off the hunger and it worked out for me. Well... for the most part. Minus night 2.
You’re probably eager to know what it feels like to fast. Lucky for you, I took notes of my mood, feelings, cravings, and thoughts throughout different times each day. Here’s the day to day rundown of my 3 day fast.
6 am - Woke up
6:30 am - Journal (Digital journal entry below. This reflection time is what sparked the fast)
"- Last food I ate was at 9:30 pm Sunday night
- This was literally Ben & Jerry's ice cream + cookies
- Unacceptable to be eating on the regular.
- Every now and then it’s fine, but on a consistent basis no good.
- I'm sick and tired of eating junk food that I know is killing my productivity and internal organs.
- I also had 2.5 glasses of wine on Sunday night. Once again, ok every now and again but when it becomes a regular thing, I need to put it in check.
- I've been intermittent fasting for a couple years now and absolutely love the productivity boost that I get from it, but sometimes I find myself overeating in the evenings and convincing myself it’s alright because I’m intermittent fasting.
- I've noticed my food intake capabilities have gone way down compared to when I was playing football - which is good. Because I used to eat so.much.freaking.food.
- I love eating but hate the lethargy that comes along after eating.
- Yes, eating is joyful and can be a great experience. But just like anything else, I personally feel that I need to keep it in check.
- Baked goods are my vice. My mom used to bake when I was growing up and I miss her home baking. I used to crush some of her homemade brownies.
- Now that I don't have baked goods present in my life anymore, it's almost like they're a luxury. Anytime someone bakes something like cinnamon rolls, pumpkin or banana bread, brownies, or muffins, I'm all in. I just can't stop eating them.
- The way I convince myself that this is ok is because I workout consistently and fast during the day. I do 2 days of cardio minimum perk week and on a good week I'll do 4 days of outside cardio.
- On top of that, I lift a minimum of 2x per week. On a good week, I'll lift 3x per week.
- On top of lifting and cardio, I'll end up doing some sort of other outdoor activity such as XC skiing or hiking.
- All of these activities are burning calories.
- But, I can't help but get mad at myself when I let myself get too far off on one side.
-When stocking up at the grocery store pre-quarantine we gave in a bought ice cream and cookie dough. Terrible mistake in the first place. So much easier to refrain when the food isn’t sitting in the pantry.
- Anyways, I’m contemplating doing the 3 day fast I’ve been wanting to do.
- I feel like I've been going pretty steady on consistent ice cream, cookies, and alcohol and I need to give my body a break with ample time to recover to get back on the right track.
-Think it’s time for a reset. Yep, gonna do it.”
7 am: Begin Workday
7 am - 2 pm: Completed most important work tasks. No different than normal day
2 pm: Hunger shows up at normal eating time. Push through and begin another work project
6 pm: Finish normal workday. Contemplating what to do with my time since I “shouldn’t” work out. Hunger is present.
7 pm: Hunger is real. Decide to study some code and work on my software project to take mind off the hunger.
9 pm: Lay down in bed to watch a movie with my wife. Hunger is still real.
9:30 pm: Fall asleep
Recap: Overall, had a normal day. Hunger showed up but it was fairly easy to push through by keeping myself busy.
5:30 am: Woke up with no alarm
6 am: Stretching routine & meditation
6:30 am: Journaled (entry below)
"-Feeling somewhat lethargic this morning
-Felt minor grogginess when I woke up - somewhat hangoverish, but could be better described as the morning grogginess after a day of having caffeine too late in the day.
-Yesterday, I had a cup of Perk coffee in the morning and sipped another cup in the afternoon. I know not to do this. I shouldn't have any caffeine after 2pm if I want to get the most out of my sleep at night.
-Wow, I just totally zoned out when trying to write this.
-Feeling a weird mental block.
-I need to mentally get over this.”
7:30 am: began my most important to-do item for the new perkcoffeecompany.com site
10:30 am: finished most important Perk to-do & made some Green Tea
11 am - 2 pm: worked on secondary tasks but felt lethargic. Definitely needed another cup of coffee
2 pm - 4 pm: mild hunger. Made Shopify product updates for the Perk site to keep my mind off of the hunger
4 pm - 6:30 pm: HUNGER WAS BAD. Hard to focus on anything. I fumbled around my software project looking for a solution to setting up my IDE. Contemplated giving in and cooking dinner throughout this whole period.
6:30 pm - 8 pm: went on an outdoor walk with my wife. Hunger subsided while I was on the walk. During this walk I noticed two areas of my body felt abnormally outstanding. Normally, my hip flexors are always tight, but this evening they felt as good as ever. No tightness at all. (Noting that this could also be due to the fact I have eliminated any physical exercise during this fasting period other than stretching / yoga.) I also noticed that my respiratory system felt unbelievably clear. I’ve always had allergies and rarely do I ever go a day without a slight sniffle or stuffy nose. But this particular evening I was breathing as clearly as I’d ever been able to.
8 pm: Felt colder than normal inside my house. Decided to keep my goose down jacket on.
8:30 pm: watched my wife cook a grilled cheese for dinner and the smell was encapsulating. Thankfully, she ate in the bedroom so I didn’t have to watch. This was the point in time where I wanted to give in BAD.
9 pm: laid down in bed. My body was cold to the point of almost shivering. Felt almost as if I had a slight fever. Kept my down jacket and sweatpants on under the covers and still couldn’t get warm. Was more restless than normal when trying to fall asleep due to my body temperature.
6:30 am: Woke up without alarm. Immediately felt groggy again. Body temperature felt colder than normal. Kept my down jacket and sweatpants on.
7 am: Made my first cup of coffee at 7am in hopes of helping with grogginess.
7:30 am: Started journaling. (Entry below)
"-Feeling less energetic and motivated than normal. Don't have anywhere close to the drive I normally have each morning to get things done.
- There's a weird feeling present in my stomach - some sort of weird spin on a normal hunger feeling.
- Haven’t meditated yet. My thought process was that I would utilize my most productive hours for writing and knocking out my to-do list. But I feel like I need to address this feeling and come to terms with it.
-Sat outside on the front porch and contemplated what the feeling of hunger actually is.
-Felt that the feeling of hunger is just a response triggered from our brain.”
8:30 am: forced myself to begin working on a Perk blog article
9:45 am: Literally head bobbing to the "All-Nighter" playlist on Spotify right now. All of the sudden I just got a spark of energy and I want to work out. I'm going to finish up this portion of writing this article and then I'm going to do an at home workout!!!!
-(Unknowingly, my wife just took a video of me from the kitchen table because of all the commotion.)
1 pm: had to drive into town to fix the printer at the coworking space and got caught talking to the only member who is still using the space (he's an accountant and has no WFH ability, and it's tax season.) Don’t worry I was like 20 feet away from him. I noticed it was hard for me to pay attention to him or focus on anything he was saying.
2 pm - 4 pm: finished writing a blog article for The Perk and found it surprisingly easy to mentally focus.
4 pm: slight hunger showing up. Realized I haven't consumed any water in several hours of working so I'm doing that now. Hoping this will help get rid of the fog in my head that I’ve recently noticed.
6 pm: finished working for the day but had loads of energy. Decided to workout because I couldn't take it any longer. Did the Arnold "At home workout." My goal has been 2x perk week and I wanted to give myself enough rest in between doing my next workout on Friday or Saturday so I could achieve my weekly goal. (Workout notes below.)
-This was literally the BEST decision I made the whole fast. I felt amazing during my workout once I got going.
- Felt a little more light headed than normal but I made sure to rest for plenty of time between sets to catch my breath.
- When I completed the workout I felt 100% “normal” for the first time throughout the whole fast!”
7:30 pm: went on an outdoor walk with my wife and gave her an update. My hunger pains were completely gone after completing my workout
8 pm: feeling so great that I’m heavily contemplating doing another day of the fast
8:30 pm: decided that I don't always have to "overachieve” in everything. I decided I should be happy with completing the goal that I originally set of 3 days.
9 pm: cooked baked veggies and salmon
9:30 pm: broke the fast with a delicious meal of squash, onion, cabbage, bell pepper, zucchini, and salmon
And there you have it, the fast was finally over! But that’s not all...
What you’re probably expecting to read is something like this:
“Wow, I’m so glad I completed the 3 day fast. I have unending amounts of energy, lost 10lbs, and every single one of the cells in my body regenerated! I now look 10 years younger and have an immunity to the Coronavirus! You gotta try this!”
Wrong. The cold hard truth is that I felt like absolute crap in the days after the fast. I don’t get sick often (knock on wood) but Days 4, 5, 6, and 7 after completing the fast were very uncomfortable with Day 5 being the worst I’ve felt in a long, long time.
(1st day after breaking the fast)
Woke up at 3am with a terrible stomach ache and felt unbelievably bloated. This bloating was so bad that I couldn’t focus at all when I sat down for work. Rather than sit inside and hope the bloating would go away, I convinced myself to get outside and go fly fishing in hopes that some sunshine and standing would help the digestive system get back on track. Bloating subsided mid-day. Had some leftover vegetables for lunch and ate a small portion of salmon and some more vegetables for dinner. Bloating started to come back again after dinner, and showed up strong as I laid down to go to bed.
(2nd day after breaking the fast)
Woke up early again at 3:30 am with a terrible stomach ache and bloating. It was as if I had gas building up in my stomach with zero escape route. After tossing and turning, trying to go back to sleep for the next hour, I finally decided to get up and start the work day as I had one article to complete for the new Perk coffee website in order to achieve my weekly goal.
Every movement was painful and felt as if I had an aired up basketball in my stomach. I poured a cup of coffee in hopes of ramping up the digestive system (like it normally does). As I drank my cup of coffee, I started my normal morning routine. But all I could do was stare at my Notion template. As I sat there, I noticed I had the chills along with the stomach pain. The questions started flooding into my mind, “Did I royally mess up my immune system?, Did I get COVID?, If not COVID, is this some sort of stomach bug causing all of this? Did I get food poisoning?”
Feeling little motivation, I gave up on going through my routine and jumped straight into writing the article instead. My hope was that by getting into “work mode” I could forget about the stomach pain. I was wrong. 10 minutes into the article, I had to move to the couch to lay back down. At this point, I was running on much less sleep than I was used to due to being woken up in the middle of the past two nights from the stomach pains. The combination of little sleep, stomach pain, and chills had me beat. I laid on the couch for the next 30 minutes, but couldn’t fall asleep as my head was already buzzing from the recent caffeine intake. My body was telling me to rest, but my caffeinated brain was telling me to work.
I did what most entrepreneurs would do and listened to my brain. Back to my computer and begin writing again. I’d stay sitting upright for as long as I could, but the only way I could get minor relief from the bloating was to lay prone on the couch. I bounced back and forth between the couch and my computer for the next 4 hours trying to bang my head against the wall between me and completing the article.
No matter how many times I tried to focus, I just couldn’t stay in it. Finally at 8:30 am, after hours of playing this game with nothing to show for it, I started listening to my body and accepted that I needed to rest.
I spent the remainder of the day in bed resting. I had chills for most of the day and continued to feel bloated with sharp stomach pains. At one point, I convinced myself to get up and go on a run in hopes of ramping up the digestive system. I started in on a walk and transitioned to a run… nope, not happening. Once again, I literally felt like a basketball was bouncing inside my stomach every time I took a step.
After this, I went back to the computer and started researching what could be causing this stomach pain. I’ll share with you my findings in the paragraphs below. But first, I want to let you know how Day 6 and 7 ended up.
The bloating was so bad on Saturday night that I couldn’t eat much of anything. My wife cooked taco salad and I had a small portion around 7 pm but that was it. I went to bed at 9 pm with bloating still heavily present.
(3rd day after breaking the fast)
Woke up at 6 am with no alarm. Stomach pains were still there but were definitely not as bad as the previous two mornings. I decided to go fly fishing again to spend some time outdoors in hopes of keeping my mind off of it. Ate some almond butter around 11 am and didn’t eat the rest of the day until dinner time. My stomach was finally beginning to feel back to normal by the afternoon so I fired up the Traeger and smoked a chicken and some asparagus to eat for dinner. I consumed a smaller than normal portion of food that night and went to bed again around 9 pm.
(4th day after breaking the fast)
I was finally able to sleep in until 7:30 am and woke up with only minor bloating. As the day went on, the bloating and stomach pains almost completely subsided. By the evening, I was beginning to feel normal for the first time in a week. I felt good enough to consume a normal sized portion at dinner, which consisted of smoked chicken and veggies from the night before.
I can say in all honesty that I was 100% back to normal when I woke up the next morning. But in case you’ve been skimming this article and need a recap, the effects of a 3 day fast lasted from the time I started the fast until 1 week week later.
Turns out when you fast, your body stops producing normal digestive enzymes. Under normal eating circumstances your body is consistently at work producing enzymes to help break down the food you’re consuming. But when you stop eating, your body halts using energy storage to produce these enzymes and begins to direct that energy storage elsewhere so that you can still function properly. (This extra energy could be a reason as to why I started head bobbing on Day 2 in my fasting documentation above.) In my research, I found that the lack of digestive enzymes can lead to gas pains, bloating, nausea, and vomiting -- which confirms exactly how I was feeling post fast (minus the vomiting.) After learning this, I listed the food I’d consumed since breaking my fast.
All “healthy” vegetables, right? In my brief research leading up to breaking the fast, I came to the conclusion that I should break the fast with easy to digest vegetables and minimal amounts of protein. “Easy to digest” are the key words.
Through researching each of the vegetables I had consumed, I came up with the personal conclusion that my body lacked the enzyme needed to break down raffinose, the already hard to digest sugar present in cabbage. “Kale, broccoli, and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables, which contain raffinose — a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferment it, which produces gas and, in turn, makes you bloat.”
To play it safe safe, it would be a wise decision to stay away from the following foods when breaking a fast due to the lack of digestive enzymes in your stomach:
I can’t tell you exactly what you should eat because everyone’s digestive system is different. But I can tell you what foods I’m going to try next time I break a prolonged fast. When I complete my next prolonged fast of 36 hours or more I’m going to eat this exact salad:
The reason I’ll be eating this exact salad is because I’ve never had any issues digesting any of these foods in the past. I’d recommend compiling a salad similar to this consisting of foods that you know your body handles well.
I’m sure I’ll continue to experiment with the longer 3-5 day fasts on an annual or bi-annual basis. But, one question I asked myself during a walk while fasting was, “How do I implement a regular prolonged fast into my routine to allow the body ample time to reset?”
On the last day of my fast, I had a conversation with one of my friends, Jorden, who’s also another personal growth fanatic. Our conversation helped clarify some answers to the question I was asking above. Neither one of us knew that the other practiced fasting, so an hour long conversation naturally sparked when I told him I was on my final day of a 3 day fast. (We both geek out on Dave Asprey's work so it came as no surprise to both of us when we found this out about each other.)
On top of Intermittent Fasting, Jorden’s weekly regimen is to implement a 24-30 hour fast once per week to allow the body a regular reset. Here’s what he told me:
- He begins his fast on Sunday afternoon by eating his last meal around 2 pm.
- Doesn't eat any food the rest of Sunday.
- Skips breakfast on Monday morning.
- He trains hard on Monday morning with a resistance workout to quickly burn through glycogen stores.
- Eats his next meal at either 2pm lunch or a 6-8pm dinner depending on how he’s feeling.
I really like his regimen to implement a smaller prolonged fast once per week to allow the body recovery time on a regular basis. On top of that, it sounds like a rather easy way to get the benefits from a prolonged fast, especially if you’re already accustomed to Intermittent Fasting. According to Jorden, you only really have to fight mild hunger cravings once during dinner time on the first evening. The next morning is easy if you’re already used to IF.
His mindset is to get into ketosis as quickly as possible. He also believes the transition from burning glycogen to ketones is when the magic happens. After having this conversation, I’m planning to implement his weekly fasting practice to reap the benefits of ketosis and autophagy on a weekly basis.
This 3 day fasting experience definitely had its ups and downs. But overall, I’m happy I completed a 3 day fast. The process challenged me mentally, physically, and emotionally. My hope is that my body experienced cellular regeneration and the benefits will in the long run. I already feel much better 8-9 days after beginning the fast. My digestive system is 100% back to normal and I’ve been uber productive this week.
Like I said, I’ll continue to experiment with a prolonged 3-5 day fast once or twice a year, but I’ll for sure be implementing Jorden’s 24-30 hour weekly fasting routine starting this weekend.
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