I Fasted for Three Days

Photo by Colin Maynard

Title says it, blog discusses it. I tried fasting for the first time this weekend. Before I go any further (this could be a long one), we should clarify some things. I am certainly not a scientist and even more certainly not a fitness guru. What I am is a big fan of Tim Ferriss. I highly recommend his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, as well as his books, the Four Hour series and most recently, Tools of Titans. My inspiration, research, and fasting routine came almost exclusively from the Dominic D’Agostino chapter in Tools of Titans. As such, this post will likely read as more of a journal entry than anything else.

So I pretty much fasted by accident. Roughly one month ago at work, a co-worker of mine told a group of us about his experiences fasting. I had read a little bit about fasting but didn’t have much interest in doing it myself. My roommate, Tyler, was the one who became most intrigued by the idea. He planned a fast for last weekend that I did not intend to participate in. After learning that most of our friends would be out of town this weekend, he decided to move it back a week. So now my main group of friends would be away, my girlfriend also happened to be away, and my roommate was going to be fasting (aka useless and not fun) all weekend. Seemed like I had no choice but to join in on the festivities.

This seemed like something you had to go all in on once you decide to do it. Per recommendation, the fast was scheduled for Thursday evening to Sunday evening. Only having to go in to work on one day during the fast was definitely the right move. So we stopped consuming refined sugar beginning on Tuesday, and cut out carbs beginning on Wednesday. I was pretty terrified all day Thursday. You could say I’m a bit on the thicker side, so not eating for three days was a less than welcomed thought. Regardless, I got home from work Thursday, grilled some chicken, steamed some veggies, and had my list bite of food at 6:15 pm on the dot. Go time.

To make a long story short, Tyler went on a last minute trip that he booked at roughly 6:23 pm Thursday. So now I’ve gone from not fasting at all, to fasting pretty much out of boredom, to doing this on my own.

The overarching goal was to give my body a little detox and to see if I could get my body into a state of ketosis. Dr. Dom’s (Dominic D’Agostino) lab is focused on “developing and testing metabolic therapies”, so the study of ketones is kind of his thing. On the first and (if needed) second mornings of the fast, within 30 minutes of waking up, it is recommended to drink some caffeine (ideally Bulletproof Coffee) and walk for 3–4(!!!) hours while POUNDING water. This is supposed to help quicken the time it takes to get your body into ketosis. Let’s just say I wasn’t crazy about the idea of walking around my neighborhood for 3–4 hours in the dark so I opted to go to the gym upon its opening at 5:30 am before work. I was able to get in a solid 90–105 minute walk on the treadmill at a pace of 3.2 miles per hour while drinking roughly 1800 mL of water.

I was feeling accomplished more than anything going into work on Friday morning for completing the prep work and waking up early to walk. Hunger didn’t really set in until late morning/early afternoon. I didn’t go full bulletproof with my morning coffee but was able to mix in a teaspoon of Coconut Oil. As far as my understanding goes, this is another crucial part of shortening the time it takes for your body to reach ketosis. The main part of ketogenic diets is that at least 70% of your daily caloric intake are supposed to come from fats. Coconut oil was meant to supply my body with some healthy fats 2–3 times a day as well as provide me with mental energy for the day. My brother consumes it daily and I’m thinking about hopping on the bandwagon after this weekend. If there’s one thing I’ve really enjoyed about the last three days, it’s the mental clarity I’ve felt each morning.

My lunch hour on Friday was spent walking, mostly around a nearby Target. I wasn’t able to eat but I did buy some underwear and a basketball so it definitely wasn’t the worst lunch hour I’ve ever had. I really learned Friday how much I eat out of boredom sometimes. Throughout the day at work, I wanted to hit up the snack trough on numerous occasions and similarly at home kept wanting to snack for seemingly no reason. Those urges faded throughout the weekend but it never got easy around typical meal times to tell myself I wasn’t hungry. And that’s the thing, I wasn’t hungry! yet And I kept telling myself “it’s time to eat”. It’s such a blurred line between mental habits and physical hunger. There were few times on Saturday and Sunday were I really felt like I was “starving”. Hopefully going forward I’ll start to think twice about what could just be mental hunger.

Once Friday was in the rearview, it was smooth-sailing. The beauty of the fast was my level of productivity throughout the weekend. I was able to read, write, catch up on a few shows, give entire house a deep clean, and best of all, start building a deck in the backyard. Oddly enough, working out is not recommended. Keeping a mostly low key lifestyle will keep your body consuming fat for energy instead of crucial muscle mass.

Working on the deck for me was mostly tagging along in an attempt to learn from my other roommate, Dan, who is quite handy. There wasn’t a ton of physical stress but putting in a few hours wiped me out Saturday night. I took an accidental nap from 5:30 to 9:30 which definitely would not have happened if I were eating.

I actually am writing this at hour 68 so I’m not in the clear yet. I haven’t decided yet what the first meal is going to be but it’s safe to say that I am beyond fired up*. I’ve learned to appreciate the process and hope to continue on a regular basis, most likely quarterly to start out. I feel tremendous physical and mental clarity, shed a few pounds, and won what turned out to be a mostly mental battle.

*Editor’s note: I ended up housing a brat, a burger, green beans, a salad, and a couple Budweisers for dinner on Sunday. Got right back after it.

It was important to me to follow some of the key steps that I mentioned above, all outlined in Tools of Titans. I have nothing to compare to, but would imagine the two days of eating prep, walking, and coconut oil were all major contributing factors in making this not miserable. I did a couple sets of pull ups and push ups each day to gage my physical strength and didn’t notice any feeling of weakness. I was actually able to do more pull ups on Sunday than I was on Friday (weird brag) which was unexpected and could have happened for a number of reasons.

If I were to do it differently, I would probably gather more metrics than just pull ups. Tools of Titans mentions a few that I won’t get into but will keep in mind for next time. What can I say, I’m a math nerd. I’m also curious how large of an effect an extra 1.5–2 hours of walking on Friday and Saturday morning would have had.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m happy with my decision to try fasting. It’s not something for everyone but if you’re interested, I’d say do your research and give it a shot. All you need is some coconut oil and a good book or TV show to get you through the weekend.

If you have questions about my experience hit me up on Twitter. If you have questions about fasting, ketosis, or anything else scientific, use the internet. Good luck!

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