Ever since I started learning about functional medicine, nutrition, and herbs, I have appreciated the value of first-hand experience. There’s so much about the human body that we don’t know yet; sometimes the only way you’re going to learn is through first-hand research. Additionally, I’ve always felt that if I’m going to coach another person through a journey, I need to have “gone there” myself first. You can’t become a tour guide of Peru if you’ve never been to Peru, right?
If I’m going to coach another person through a journey,
I feel like I need to have “gone there” myself first.
I think this is why came to be the gut guru I am today. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’ve experienced the digestive symptoms. I’ve tried all the supplements. I’ve felt those feelings of frustration, food fear, anxiety, and doubt. And I’ve come out the other side pooping like a champion. I get it. Having been on the journey before myself gives me invaluable insight and experience that you just can’t read in a book.
So, when I started learning more about the practices of caloric restriction and fasting, I knew I needed to “go there,” too. I needed to learn more about these practices that can decrease inflammation, “reboot” the brain and immune system, clear out old, damaged cells, and prolong your life. If not for myself, then certainly for my patients.
This is the third part of my ongoing fasting series:
Now, I’d like to document my 24 hour and 72 hour zero-calorie fasts.
24 Hours without food
For some reason, this felt really scary to me. I’ve eaten every day of my life. Why would I change that? I felt questions bubble up: “What if I feel like crap?” “What if I get a hunger (hypoglycemic) headache?” “What if I get brain-foggy?” “What if I can’t hack it and I need to eat before I was hoping? What if I wuss out?”
“What if I feel like crap?” “What if I get a hunger (hypoglycemic) headache?” “What if I get brain-foggy?” All of these go back to the same thing- “What if my blood sugar crashes and it makes me feel bad?” To tackle this, I told myself that I would have a plan B, plan C, and maybe even plan D.
Plan B: Glycerin. This was inspired by Prolon’s L-Drink, which is included to help curtail hypoglycemic issues without “ruining” the fast.
Plan C: Coconut or extra virgin olive oil. My thought here is that most of the benefits of fasting seem to be due to overall caloric restriction and/or carb and protein restriction, so a spoon or two of pure fat probably wouldn’t “ruin” the endeavor.
Plan D: Break the fast (more below).
“What if I can’t hack it and I need to eat before I was hoping? What if I wuss out?” This one really goes back to ego. So, I decided to give myself space (permission) to “fail.” It’s not worth feeling like dirt just to get to the other side with bragging rights.
I tried two separate rounds of 24-hour fasting. These both went incredibly well and were much, much easier than I anticipated! My head felt clear and any of my normal brain-fog was gone. I wasn’t terribly hungry, and I barely felt the dreaded hypoglycemia headache (which I used to be quite prone to).
The first time I did this I felt the need to pull out the “plan B” card, but otherwise it went very smoothly.
The second time I didn’t even need my plan B. I just felt great all day long. Hmm. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all…
72 Hours without food
After the second 24-hour’er went so well it gave me the courage to “go big.” I decided to try a longer fast. Similarly, though, I had to check in with my ego first. I decided that I would be happy with whatever I was able to do, and I wasn’t going to attach any sort of self-worth to the outcome of this experiment. I told myself and my husband that my goal was to get to 72 hours, but I would take it day by day.
And I’ll tell you what- I haven’t felt this good in years. For the entire 72 hours my head was crystal clear, I had energy, and I was more productive than ever. I woke up effortlessly one of the days, which I know doesn’t sound like much, but it’s profound for me and my body. I found that I wasn’t that hungry even 72 hours into the fast, hovering between a 0/10 and 4/10 hunger-wise. I was even able to sit at the table with my family while they ate their meals and I sipped tea- something I never thought I’d be able to do. And as an added bonus, my blood sugar was stable enough that I didn’t even need my plan B card until the third day.
Looking back, looking forward
So, dear readers, I’ve become a believer. I intend to make this a regular thing in my life; I’m going to do a 72 hour fast every 2-3 months for the rest of my life.
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season,