I fasted for 40 hours and this is what happened
Intermittent fasting (including religious fasting) has been known to humans (and animals) since the beginning of time.
What is intermittent fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that cycles periods of eating with periods of fasting. It doesn't specify foods to eat or not eat, rather, it focuses on when to eat them.
Nowadays, IF has been gaining popularity in the health and wellness circles. Multiple studies have shown benefits that extend far beyond weight loss, such as improvement in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lipid levels, cellular regeneration and overall longevity.
My first exposure to IF was in Poland during Christmas time. We were supposed to fast from dusk on 12/23 to dusk on 12/24 making it a 24 hour fast. I was a teenager and back then the thought of not eating for so long was making me panic. I tried to do it a few times but always failed. I would get dizzy or so hungry I couldn't last till dinner time.
Thinking back, my blood sugar levels had to be all over the place which made sense since my diet was super high in sugar, fat, salt and processed foods.
Since then I haven't tried IF until this year which seems to be the year of intermittent fasting. The amount of books, articles and research coming out on it has been overwhelming and I had to try it for myself.
Few notes before I get into the details:
1) This article is not intended to encourage you to try fasting.
My goal is to simply share my personal experience and observations.
2) When I refer to a period of fasting I mean the time during which nothing other than water, black coffee and tea is consumed. Some IF protocols allow broths and fats such as coconut oil mixed into the liquids but I personally haven't done that.
3) Do not try fasting if you are on any kind of prescription medications, especially medications for blood pressure, diabetes and/or thyroid.
4) Do not try fasting if you are pregnant, undernourished, breast feeding or if you have any kind of food disorder.
5) Always consult your physician before trying any kind of fasting protocols or else you may be putting yourself at risk.
6) Before I decided to do a 40 hour fast I tried multiple 16 hour fasts and one 22 hour.
Here's the overview of my experience:
16 hours fast
I've been incorporating 16 hour fasts mostly when I travel. I've found that fasting makes my journeys much more comfortable by significantly reducing GI discomfort (bloating, constipation, etc.) that I would sometimes experience. I also never have to worry what to eat on a plane or at the airport.
16 hour fasts are very simple.
As an example, you would have your last meal & anything calorie rich on Friday at 8 pm and then wouldn't eat until 12 noon on Saturday. The only meal you skip would be breakfast and any snacks you would normally have between that and lunch.
Another example of a 16 hour fast would be to have an early dinner on Friday at 4 pm and then late breakfast on Saturday at 8am.
Variations of 16 hour fasts are extensive and there is no right or wrong way of doing. Also 16 is not a magic number by any means, some days I did 14 hour fasts, others it was closer to 16 or 17.
22 hour fast
I tried 22 hour fast a few months ago. Beforehand I did a lot of research on IF and wanted to try to see how my body reacts to a slightly longer fast.
I had my last meal at 7pm on Monday, and didn't eat or drink anything with calories till 5pm on Tuesday.
I have to admit I was very anxious because unlike 16 hr fasts I needed to skip breakfast and lunch, while I was going on about my day. Mental decline while working was my biggest concern.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Firstly, I was shocked how long I could go without food and how great I felt. I had a busy day which definitely helped keep my mind occupied but I didn't suffer any cognitive decline or brain fog that I was expecting.
Secondly, I was surprised how much energy I had. I actually think I could have had a light workout that day.
Thirdly, I felt gentle hunger pangs and mild headaches about 3 times total, the worst one with a lot of rumbling in my stomach at lunch time. They all went away in less than 10 minutes.
Overall, I felt less hungry than during some of my normal eating days.
I wanted to complete full 24 hours however when 4 pm arrived I was getting very cold and decided to have dinner at 5pm.
40 hour fast
I am just completing my first 40 hr fast as I'm writing this.
The experience so far has been very similar to that of 22 hours however I feel like even though this was a longer fast, it was easier than the 22 hours.
It may be because I've played around with fasting before so I knew what to expect or may be because I didn't feel as cold as last time.
40 hour fast includes skipping all meals for a full day, going to sleep then waking up and waiting till lunch to eat.
I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep if I was hungry but I wasn't hungry so I fell asleep just fine.
When I woke up (at which point I fasted for 34 hours) I wasn't hungry either which surprised me the most.
I have found this experience very positive, and so did my husband who actually fasted longer than I did as he broke the fast with dinner, not with lunch like I did.
It definitely helps to do it together. I can only imagine how hard it would to watch somebody eat dinner while you're sipping your tea.
Other fasting observations:
it's incredible how much time we spend each day on eating and cooking food - my day was so much more productive when I fasted;
most of our hunger/appetite is in our head;
hunger pangs only last 10-15 minutes;
it's a great spiritual exercise;
hunger is not an emergency;
we can survive and thrive without food a lot longer than we think;
Overall I had a great experience and I'm planning to do it about 1x a month for general health benefits. If you are interested in intermittent fasting or have any questions, shoot my an email.
If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, check out this great resource HERE .