My Experience Doing A Prolonged Fast
Intermittent fasting is becoming extremely popular and for good reason. For most, fasting most consists of the abstinence from food for 16, 18 and sometimes 24 hours. There’s a new trend going around which tells people to fast for between 48-120 hours and so I put this fasting protocol to the rest.
• Increase neurogenesis (new brain cells)
• Immune system reset
• Reduced inflammation
• Increased autophagy (recycling or self-eating of the cells)
• Increased willpower, self-control and discipline
These are just some of the remarkable benefits you get out of prolonged fasting.
I’m not going over any of the science in this post and just my personal experience with prolonged fasting.
If you want to read more about the above and why people like me and many others are giving prolonged fasting a go in the name of health, then be sure to read about the benefits of prolonged fasting.
Prolonged Fast Protocol
In Tim Ferriss’ new book Tools of Titans, he puts forward a method to optimize the process of fasting, this method is made over a 3 day period in an effort to kick-start fat burning ketosis rather than waiting it out over the period of a week or two.
He recommends combining your fast with MCT oil in order to consume exogenous ketone bodies to allow the body to remain fuelled.
Technically this isn’t a proper fast and neither is even drinking plain coffee. But a small consumption of coconut oil, MCT oil or black coffee is hardly insulinogenic (increases insulin) and shouldn’t prevent many of the benefits (such as autophagy) from occurring, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent.
Coffee can also be greater to decrease your appetite due to the increase in the peptide hormone PYY (1).
However, a pure water fast is most likely going to be the best if you have no particular goal in mind such as getting into ketosis to continue a ketogenic diet as quickly as possible.
3 Day Prolonged Fasting Protocol:
There’s no right way to do these prolonged fasts, but there is a wrong way.
This is my personal variation of Tim Ferriss’ protocol, I found this worked best for me and it’s also simple to understand. You can find the breakdown of my hour to hour experience down below:
• Stop eating between 6-8 pm.
• Walk for an hour or two to shift your body into ketosis quicker.
• Be sure to hydrate.
• Exercise at the gym if you want (nothing too strenuous).
• Increase your water consumption and perhaps add some salt to water towards the end of the day.
• Consume some coffee and exogenous ketones and MCT oil (optional) in order to give you some energy while adopting
• Walk for an hour or so.
• Exercise is optional.
• No strenuous exercise
• Walking is fine if you’re still not completely in ketosis (you should be)
• Be sure to hydrate and keep your salt consumption high enough.
• Coffee and MCT oil as necessary (optional)
• Proceed to break the fast following the guidelines below.
My Experience Prolonged Fasting
For more information on this protocol of fasting check out this post on prolonged fasting, the benefits and whether it’s safe.
Before beginning the fast in the evening I had eaten a meal with sweet potato, chicken and vegetables.
If you’re trying to get into ketosis quicker it may be a good idea to eat a ketogenic based meal with minimum carbohydrates in order to kick-start ketosis. Regardless, you’ll end up in ketosis by day 3.
This isn’t necessary, but if you’re sensitive to cravings this will make the process of fasting for this length easier as you’ll become fat-adapted much more rapidly.
You may be able to spare more muscle by getting into ketosis quicker too due to ketone bodies helping with retaining muscle mass.
My Prolonged Fasting Experience
I’ve just had my last meal consisting of a little bit of sweet potato, chicken, vegetables. I’m drinking some tea and working on my blog and replying to some emails.
I’m excited because I’ve done this before for around 72 hours and it was awesome, but I’ve never gone over 100 hours so I do feel slightly nervous, but I’m keen to really test myself and see how far I can push my body.
I’m undecided whether I’m going to exercise or not throughout this fast, but I’ll definitely be going on walks within the first day or two.
So I’ve just woken up and I’ve meditated. What I’m going to be doing now is brewing a cup of coffee and making my way to the gym to walk on the treadmill for about 1 hour.
I’ll also listen to a podcast/audiobook so I’m not wasting time. The reason I’m doing this is to kickstart ketosis and get into ketosis to spare any potential muscle loss and get into the fat burning state quickly so I’m feeling great.
My last meal last night should have been high-fat and low-carb to kick-start this process, but I have a relatively active metabolism so this walk should do the trick. I’m feeling great, no hunger.
This is Philip’s editor. Unfortunately, Philip died at 24 hours.
Jokes aside, it’s 26 hours in how and the fast is going great so far. I got a bit hungry this evening but it quickly went away. Your ghrelin rises and falls in accordance to when you usually eat, so you just have to wait for the time you’d usually eat to pass and then your ghrelin falls and so does your hunger.
Right now I’m drinking some tea, unwinding and getting ready for bed. What I’ve noticed is that I’m sleeping much earlier and waking up earlier.
I noticed this in ketosis when I’m on a ketogenic diet, but it’s much more pronounced when fasting. My presumption is that it;s a survival mechanism – e.g, I would naturally wake up earlier to have more time during the day to hunt for food in order to survive.
I’m currently sitting down and working on some articles. I thought I would do an update as we’re at the 60-hour mark now. I’ll be honest, now I’m starting to get a bit hungry.
I can still focus on my work and I’m still being very productive, but hunger is beginning to creep up. This is unusual as when I’m in ketosis I tend to have absolutely no appetite.
72 Hours: Haha, okay it’s not that bad but I’m keen to get some food in me soon.
It was much easier than last time as I’ve gained some experience, but the hunger got to me within the last few hours. I was unsure about how long I was going too fast for when I began this time.
I was planning between 72-100 hours but it seemed that 72 hours was more than enough.
I presume I reached ketosis rather quickly as I exercised a lot within the first 48 hours and even as far as 60 hours.
I think that if I had just walked instead of lifted weights then it would have been much easier to extend past 72 hours. Next time I’ll be doing close to 100 and I might stick to less strenuous exercise. It all depends.
Overall it went as expected and I enjoyed it.
Prolonged fasting is actually quite a spiritual experience and it teaches you to find pleasure from within, rather than from the external world (food).
This sounds a bit out there, but there’s no other way to describe it. If you meditate then I’m sure this will resonate with you. Perhaps this is why meditation and fasting historically go hand in hand.
I didn’t lose as much weight as I thought I would (which is a good thing).