The Fast and the Laborious

The Fast and the Laborious

Timeline of my second 70 hour fast attempt:

Wednesday 8/5/2020
8:30pm: Dinner ended around 6:30, but my last food occured at 8:30pm: One serving of almonds as dessert. Let’s get this party started.

Thursday 8/6/2020
7:00am: Breakfast? Nah. No need. Had some water. Feeling good.

11:21am: My first twang of hunger has come across not as a growling stomach or as an ache for food but instead as a quiet thought of “oooh, it’s almost lunch time.”

1:45pm: I smell some coffee. It smells delicious

2:41pm: My second twang of hunger. I’d enjoy a snack. This urge will pass.

4:30pm: I feel a little weak. Not, like, crazy weak just mildly fatigued. If you outta nowhere invited me to attend a Crossfit class I’d probably opt out.

6:30pm: My stomach growls for the first time but I’m still feeling pretty good.

9:00pm: bedtime.

Friday 8/7/2020
2:45am: I fell asleep without any issues, but here I am now awake. This poor quality sleep is very similar to last time and is expected. If I can make it through today I’m curious if tonight will be just as bad (or worse) or if I’ll get some quality back as a recovery night.

7:00am: I didn’t get back to sleep, but my morning is going better than last time. My meditation session was okay. I opted for some small body weight exercise instead of attempting weights. We’ll see how the morning goes.

8:27am: I did better at reducing caffeine before this fast. I started 3 days prior and reduced it as follows: Sunday: 2oz espresso (my normal dose), Monday: 1oz espresso, Tuesday: .5oz espresso, Wednesday .25oz espresso. The had an afternoon of irritation Monday but otherwise was okay. Next time I’ll add an extra day at 1.5oz. No caffeine headaches at all this time around.

10:00am: I’m feeling good! But I think mentally I might be operating a few sandwiches short of a picnic, if you know what I’m saying. I’m sure it’s not coincidence that the first analogy that popped to mind was a food one.

1:30pm: Feeling a little lightheaded when I stand up after sitting for awhile. Bizarrely, I’m not hungry. The idea of food appeals to me greatly, but I’m not hangry. This is surprising to me.

6:00pm: I just had a pang of hunger, but I wonder if it was habit driven again. It passed. Anytime I feel hungry I push some water. I’m drinking about 100oz of water a day. Occasionally I’ll add a pinch of salt to the water to help my electrolytes, though this is anecdotal and highly unscientific.

Saturday 8/8/20
6:45am: Another bad night of sleep. After a fitful night, I ended up waking up at 5, but I fell back asleep for a few minutes before waking up again at 6:15. I am extremely confident that I will make it through the day. Other than the tiredness, I feel totally fine.

10:45am: We completed a hike. Me carrying Ava in a backpack. Other than maybe a general slowness of operation, I feel completely normal. This is great.

12:30pm: After thinking this over a bit, I think I’m going to stop my fast at 68 hours. Coming back into a state of sustenance is suppose to be slow elongated process. I want to start back in with hourly eating. Waiting too late will limit the number of small eating events before bed.

1:45pm: I’m definitely irritable. My patience is limited and I’m finding myself mildly lashing out at minor infractions. Nothing crazy, but it’s noticeable. 4:30pm is right around the corner. I look at my watch every 15 minutes.

4:30pm: I did it! I did it! Woooooooo! Time to celebrate with some delicious bone broth and a serving of almonds! We’re also are making pizza tonight. I’ll have a tiny piece of pizza at 5:30. Then an egg. Then some blueberries.

5:45pm: Okay. The pizza was a terrible idea – kind of. It was the most delicious pizza I’ve ever made (and not just because of the fast! I’ve been experimenting with my grilled pizza technique and I think I’ve greatly improved the quality). The size slice I had was smaller than a deck of cards but DANG. It feels like a bowling ball in my stomach. As I looked into this more it seems complex carbs are a bad idea after an extended fast. Next time it’s not just going to be the size of meal that I control after a fast but the type of food. I’ll keep it to veggies, proteins, and simple grains.

10:30pm: I opted to stay up later tonight to try and increase my sleep pressure to get a better quality sleep.

Sunday 8/9/20
5:40am: Okay, that didn’t work. My sleep was horrendous. I was hot and uncomfortable. I wonder if this relates to the pizza.

General Sunday update: Felt good for most of the day. Had some stomach discomfort, but kept things simple and light for the most part. My dinner Sunday night was TOO big. I find it interesting that I had an easier time controlling the fast than I did controlling the reintroduction of food. I’m very confident that I could do this better.

Monday 8/10/20
General Monday update: Another HORRIFIC sleep. This time I woke up sweating with panic. I don’t know if it related to my overly large dinner last night (comparatively) or some other external factor. But… no bueno. Again, I must reiterate: I need a stronger discipline in my eating ramp next time around.

Curiously: I had a much more significant weight loss than I expected. I am already quite lean and I expected maybe a 2-3 pound dip. At the start I was 132.5lbs and at my conclusion I was 127. That’s 5.5 pounds: Geeeeeze. Also curiously, this low point was the day AFTER my fast conclusion. I can’t explain this. Perhaps it was because even with some food introduction I was still in a calorically reduced state.

Tuesday 8/11/20
FINALLY: a great night of sleep. As of Tuesday morning I came back up to 129.5lbs. Presumably some of my weight loss was nothing more than a lack of food going through the digestive system but it’s interesting nonetheless. I’m not trying to lose weight, in fact I’m trying to gain weight. I’m curious to see how quickly I can get back to my previous weight. In order to grow mass I need to push consumption.

So far, Tuesday has felt completely normal. That means I need to plan for two FULL days of recovery time for a three day fast. Interesting. Next month we try again!

2 thoughts on “The Fast and the Laborious

  • 8/18/2020 at 12:12 am

    What type of benefit does one hope to accomplish by doing one of these fasting events?

    • 8/18/2020 at 9:31 am

      The goal is to stimulate Autophagy. (Autophagy: Auto “self,” Phagy “eat.”) Autophagy is your body’s consumption of its own cells as a function of maintenance and, when necessary, energy generation for your body. Obviously, when you fast your body needs to perform more autophagy to keep you alive since it doesn’t have external nutrients. Science suggests that by increasing autophagy your body gets rid of more of the potentially problematic cells in your body resulting in increased health-span/lifespan.

      As far as I’m aware, there have not been any human trials in this work. Mouse trials show that increasing autophagy via caloric restriction reduces (or perhaps more precisely: delays) cancer and neuro-degenerative disease, helps stabilize insulin, boosts immune response, etc. If you’re curious check this out:

      I think the biggest problem, highlighted in the above podcast, is that no one knows exactly how much fasting is necessary to achieve this result. There’s a lot of conflicting advice. Some people say you can induce autophagy with a fast-mimicking diet (reduced caloric intake for 5 days for example). Others say a 24 hour fast (dinner to dinner) three times a month is sufficient. Others, Peter Attia included, hypothesize that it takes about 3 days of not eating to get some of the benefits (like the immune system stuff). Since it’s not really well defined, I figure if I can manage out a way to make a three day fast a non-risky part of my monthly routine it’s worth it.

      Other fun fact: some medications induce autophagy. Metformin in particular is interesting. I want to look more into this.


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