What I Have Learned About Fasting

 

#1 Rule about Fasting:

Never tell anyone you are fasting.

It seems that most people are scared of anything new and even though they have never done one minute of research about fasting they will go on and on about how stupid you are and how you should just eat something already.

Bless their hearts.

I have a friend that is never one pound overweight. He weighs himself every day and if he has gained a pound he doesn’t eat again until he has lost it. He also just doesn’t eat very often in general and will usually eat only one meal a day. He’s weird.

Or so I thought until five years ago when I got interested in fasting for its health benefits. I did a lot of reading about it but I was nursing at the time and fasting always made me really sick so I never tried it.

Tim Ferriss often talks about fasting on his podcast so I have been inspired to finally start experimenting with it. Because I have been on such a healthy diet the last couple of years, and my body has done so much detoxing already, it’s been pretty easy. If I had tried it five years ago it would have been a different story.

Low-Calorie Fasting

The first fast I did was a three-day low calorie fast (less than 500 calories).  I knew I would be hungry and sick but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I could get up and go about my day but my energy was really low and I didn’t feel great.

The next week I did a five-day low calorie fast and felt even better than I did with my three-day fast. I was making progress.

This is probably where I should explain that if you feel like you have the flu or worse when you don’t eat for a few hours or a few days then you really should start fasting because that achy, sick feeling is your body detoxing. The worse you feel when you don’t eat, the sicker you are and the more you need to detox.

Water-fasting

If you really want the health benefits of fasting you actually have to fast. Imagine that. Low-calorie fasting, juice fasting, and whatever fasting, don’t cut it. I read that a five-day water fast has amazing health benefits so the next week I decided to start with a three-day water fast. I felt just as hungry and low energy as I had on the low calories fast so it made no difference, eating a little or eating nothing.

After my three-day water fast, I started sleeping like a rock for the first time since my first pregnancy twenty years ago. Little noises don’t wake me up anymore, I can finally sleep in when I want to and I can pass out for an hour or more in the afternoon, waking up with that groggy feeling like I have been sleeping for days. I love that feeling. If fasting did that who knows what other wonderful things it has done for my health that I will never know about.

A couple weeks later I started a five-day water fast. The first two days were super easy. The third day I worked and cleaned the house, walked a couple miles and went to a music festival but I had to stop and sit down frequently.

By the end of the third day I really wanted to eat. I wasn’t bothered at the festival with all the food truck smells and everyone eating around me but later that night when I was alone I wanted to do nothing but eat. I decided I would eat a spoonful of coconut butter to make myself happy and then I would keep fasting. There was no reason to do something drastic like quitting. Since I had already fasted for three days, two more shouldn’t be a big deal. As soon as I decided to eat a little something I got distracted practicing my violin and went to bed, forgetting all about food.

The fourth day was hard. I woke up with a painfully sore throat. Not just sore but painfully sore. There is a difference. A sore throat hurts but this felt like the roof of my mouth was hit by a hammer. You know… if it was actually possible to hit someone in the roof of the mouth with a hammer. I got up and did my usual stuff but I did it very slowly. I was extremely lethargic and later in the afternoon I really wanted to eat. I started begging people to let me smell their food. For a few minutes, I was so depressed that all I could think about was all the food eating pleasure I was missing out on in life because of my health problems. But it was all the food eating pleasure that got me into this mess so I stopped thinking about that and took a nap instead.

The fifth day I did my chores very slowly and I stayed in bed the rest of the day. I didn’t feel sick at all, I just couldn’t move. I really, really wanted to eat that night but there was no way I was going to quit twelve hours before the finish line so I toughed it out. That night I spent hours lying awake and at 5:00 am my stomach hurt so much that I got up and drank a cup of yogurt and was able to fall back asleep for few more hours.

The absolute worst day of the fast was the day after the fast. I was ill and my stomach was cramping but it was nothing magnesium couldn’t fix and I did it!!! Unbelievable. Now that I have done it once I want to do a five day fast several times a year.

Losing Weight

I lost weight with all my fasts and gained it all back again within a couple days of eating. If you want to fast for weight loss I would recommend changing your diet first and then fasting. Fasting can be a miracle cure for health problems but it’s not a miracle cure for losing weight unless you change your bad eating habits.

Breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day.

Since my five-day fast I have done intermittent fasting which is simply fasting every day. We all fast every night while we’re sleeping but the longer you make that fast, the more time you give your body to detox and heal. I have read that your fasting time should be around 16 hours but I have heard of people fasting 20 hours a day or even eating every other day. I usually skip breakfast and/or lunch and eat dinner around 5:00 but you can eat from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm as well. Whatever works for your schedule. The important thing is to eat nothing while you are fasting, not even supplements or lemon in your water, or you will trigger your body to go out of fasting mode.

What I have learned about fasting so far…

  • Don’t tell anyone you are fasting.
  • If fasting makes you ill then you really need to fast or change your diet or head in that direction.
  • People live longer, healthier lives if they eat less and less often.
  • Intermittent fasting is good for you but it also saves so much money, effort and time!
  • If you want to lose weight start changing your diet before your fast or you will quickly gain back anything you lose.
  • You will feel hunger pains in your stomach the first day but that goes away quickly.
  • Start with short fasts and work your way up to longer fasts so you don’t detox too quickly.
  • Don’t ingest anything but water while you are fasting.
  • Don’t lay in bed all day. Try to get up and go about your regular life, even exercising if you can.
  • Take it easy if you need to.
  • If you are feeling really hungry or discouraged distract yourself or take a nap.
  • Take a lot of magnesium baths to aid detoxing and healing. Several every day if you need it.
  • Don’t give up if you break down and eat something. Keep going.
  • The worst day of your fast may be the day after your fast.
  • Begin slowly when you start eating again, especially if you have done a longer fast.

The coolest thing about fasting is that you learn that skipping a meal isn’t going to kill you. Skipping 15 meals won’t even kill you so you can relax about food and not let it have so much control over your life. It’s been amazing for me to go from a lifetime of being sickly and not being able to go more than 5 hours without eating, to being able to get up and walk five miles a day, in 100 degree weather, without a bite to eat until dinner.

I have recently started reading about dry fasting and 21 day fasts. They sound a little scary so of course I’m going to do them.

As always, DON’T LISTEN TO ME. Do your own research and experimenting and then come back here and tell me what you have learned.

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