I recently completed a 5-day fast and attempted a 6-day fast making it only to day 4. During these fasts I consumed water, water with salt and No Salt added (sodium and potassium chloride), tea, and some bone broth. Immediately after the fasting was over I gained back the weight I had lost, abandoned my focus on all self-care pursuits, and began indulging in sweet and salty food cravings. In short, I accomplished nothing except proving to myself that I can go without food for five days. Here are some lessons learned:I should have started slowly.
I did a couple 24 hour fasts and a few 48 hour fasts, but I had not established a quantifiable routine of intermittent fasting that would help me safely enter into longer fasts. As such, when I broke my fasts, my energy, sleep cycles, appetites and cravings were largely out of control. Attempting these extended fasts when not prepared likely increased cortisol levels which then caused my body and mind to feel stressed and out of control.
- I should have been fat-adapted.
I entered each extended fast without being in ketosis, or at the very least even ending with a meal consisting of healthy fat, protein and vegetables. This made fasting a significant struggle. It also affected my cravings and lack of self-control once I broke my fast.
- I was unconsciously using a “deny and reward” system.
I still had something of a “binge” mind frame both going into the fast and when breaking them because I was viewing the fast as a denial of food, rather than an opportunity to heal and grow. I made poor food choices both before and after the fasts, which basically nixed my chance of breaking food addictions. I viewed unhealthy food both as a “last supper” and a reward afterward for having met my fasting goals.
- Sleep cycles went all to hell
Entering a fast in less than ideal conditions raised cortisol levels which made falling asleep and staying asleep very difficult. Lack of sleep then led to lethargy, moodiness, cravings and increased physical stress. It created an ongoing negative cycle. I was not very much fun to be around; just ask my 5-year old.
- I may have overdone the exercise
I continued my workouts in the 80-Day Obsession program through Beachbody. These are 40-60 minute weight and cardio workouts that can be quite intense, and I pushed myself hard. In retrospect, I should have lowered the weights I was lifting, modified more moves and perhaps even stuck to simple walking or gentler yoga.
- I should have meal-prepped for my family.
Cooking while fasting was torture. I should have used my weekends before the fasts to prep meals. I did tell my man to pick up some “fast food” for a couple nights and he came home with frozen pizzas which, cheap and terrible as they were, smelled so good to my empty stomach and deprived psyche that I had to leave the house while they cooked and ate them.
Surely, more “lessons learned” will come to me as time passes, but meanwhile, I’m planning and prepping to enter a fasting-focused lifestyle by starting with a loose ketogenic diet and weaving in intermittent fasting. I may also try shorter fasts, such as 24- or 48-hours, but I’m not going to attempt another long fast until 80-Day Obsession is over. I’m currently on Day 53 and the workouts are getting more intense. I enjoy them and watching my body grow stronger is very rewarding.
I don’t intend to turn this into any sort of health or keto blog, but writing about it has really helped keep me accountable, so I intend to keep that up as well. I hope it proves useful to someone.