One week, no food

Intrigued by the buzz around medical fasting, I tried it. A rollercoaster of boredom and energy ensued

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Is less more? Photo by Thom Atkinson/Gallery Stock

Is less more? Photo by Thom Atkinson/Gallery Stock

S Abbas Raza was born in Pakistan, educated at Johns Hopkins and Columbia, and now lives in Italy. He is the founding editor of 3QuarksDaily.com.

It all began in March last year when I read an article by Steve Hendricks in Harper’s magazine titled ‘Starving Your Way to Vigour’. Hendricks examined the health benefits of fasting, including long-term reduced seizure activity in epileptics, lowered blood pressure in hypertensives, better toleration of chemotherapy in cancer patients, and, of course, weight loss. He also mentioned significantly increased longevity in rats that are made to fast. Most interesting was his tale of undertaking a 20-day fast himself, during which he shed more than 20 pounds and kept it off for the two years since. I was fascinated, and I started reading more about fasting afterwards, although at the time I had no intention of doing it myself.

The benefits of fasting have been much in the news again lately, in part due to a best-selling book from the UK that is also making waves in the US: The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer (2013) by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer. Mosley is a BBC health and science journalist who extols the benefits of ‘intermittent fasting’. There are many versions of this type of fasting that are currently the subject of various research programmes, but Mosley settled on the 5:2 ratio — in every week, two days of fasting, and five days of normal eating. Even on the fasting days, one may eat small amounts: 600 calories maximum for men, 500 for women, so about a quarter of a normal day’s intake. Mosley’s claim is that such a ‘feast or famine’ regime closely matches the food consumption patterns of pre-modern societies, and our bodies are designed to optimise such eating. Drawing on various research projects studying intermittent fasting and weight loss, cholesterol levels and so on, he argues that even after quite short periods of fasting, our bodies turn off fat-storing mechanisms and switch to a fat-burning ‘repair-and-recover’ mode. Mosley says that he himself lost 20lbs in nine weeks on the diet, bringing his percentage of body fat from 28 to 20 per cent. He says his blood glucose went from ‘diabetic to normal’, and that his cholesterol levels also declined from levels that needed medication to normal. He also says that he feels much more energetic since.

Inspired by Mosley and Hendricks, I delved into research on fasting online, but much of what I found was pseudoscientific drivel about getting rid of mysterious and unnamed toxins in the body. Recommendations for fasting were often coupled with such staples of alternative-medicine junk-science as colonic irrigation and worse. But I happen to be a mild hypertensive myself and for various reasons have been off my blood pressure medication for a couple of months. I thought I might try fasting as an experiment, to see if it made any difference to my blood pressure, but also out of sheer curiosity about what the experience would be like. My wife, who had also read Hendricks’s article in Harper’s, said she would try it, too

We decided on a seven-day fast — somewhere between Hendrick’s experience and Mosley’s recommendation. The plan was to go a full week without eating or drinking anything except water. Lest our bodies react to this insult by trying to slow down our metabolisms, and we end up just lying around and not getting anything useful done all week, we also planned to stay energetic by engaging in vigorous physical exercise for at least a couple of hours daily during the fast. Neither one of us had ever done anything of the sort before.

Since my wife had a week’s break in February from her work as a schoolteacher, we decided to try our fast then. Our preparation was pretty minimal. I would keep a journal in which I would record my weight, blood pressure, activities and, several times a day, just note how I was feeling. We bought some emergency supplies in case one or both of us ended up feeling ill or fainting: some energy drinks, a couple of bars of Swiss milk chocolate, some fruit, and some bread and cheese, and put them in the refrigerator. My wife also told me to stop locking the bathroom door from the inside, just in case she needed to rescue me.

If my wife asked me a question, it took about five seconds for it to register and another five before I could formulate and deliver a reply

On our final day before beginning, we measured our weight, blood pressure, pulse rate, and waist size. My wife and I don’t normally eat breakfast (she has a cup of coffee and I drink a Coke Zero — yes, yes, I know it’s bad) but that day we had a light lunch and in the evening we had an early dinner of chicken, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and brown rice. And some chocolate pudding. And then we stopped eating.

The scientific data on the benefits of fasting are still thin and far from conclusive: you can find a useful summary in a recent article on intermittent fasting by David Stipp in Scientific American (11 January 2013). Mark Mattson, head of the National Institute on Aging's neuroscience laboratory, thinks it is possible that fasting is a mild form of stress that stimulates the body’s cellular defences against molecular damage. And even intermittent fasting can increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, thereby decreasing the risks of diabetes and heart disease. A study conducted at the Salk Institute on mice has shown that, even when allowed to gorge on fatty foods for eight hours a day, those mice maintained a normal weight and insulin levels so long as they were fasting the rest of the time. Another study led by Mark Mattson in 2007 showed significant reduction in both asthma symptoms and indications of inflammation in humans through long-term alternate-day fasting. Some nutritionists are sceptical, and especially worry about the dangers of compensatory overeating in the times one is not fasting. In a 2010 study, also at the National Institute for Aging, fasting rats mysteriously developed stiff heart tissue, reducing their hearts’ ability to pump blood. Though, in general, caloric restriction by 30 to 40 per cent has repeatedly been shown to extend lifespan significantly in various animals including fruit flies and rodents, it is not yet clear what long-term effects such dietary regimes have in primates. Even if we don’t yet have enough data for clear conclusions, there was enough material from my research to intrigue me to try it for myself.

Our weeklong fast was a little unusual as we also engaged in strenuous exercise every day. Sometimes a little too strenuous: one day we did a 14km (8.6 mile) trek through Alpine snow at a place called the Rodenecker Alm near Italy’s border with Austria. This was almost four hours of climbing and descending after three days of total fasting, and it left us quite exhausted and sore. But the odd thing was that to both of us it actually felt easier in this fasting state than it would have under normal conditions. So one does indeed seem to have a lot of physical energy while fasting, as Mosley has argued.

Things were not perfect, however. My wife had to break the fast at the end of day six (at my strong urging) because she neither felt nor looked well. I did make it through the whole seven days without any physical problems but I was psychologically exhausted by the end of it and euphoric that it was over. In everything that I had read about fasting, days two to four were supposed to be the most difficult. I had also worried about getting headaches or other physical discomfort (stomach cramps, dizziness, etc), and especially about being unable to get restful sleep: I thought I might be awakened by hunger pangs. As it happens, none of those troubled me. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t an odd experience.

First of all, every single one of the seven days felt exactly the same: mornings were completely fine and I felt pretty much as I normally do until about lunchtime. I tried to pack in any work, especially work that required mental concentration, into this period of each day. After midday, I became a little fidgety and found it hard to concentrate on anything. I had much more than usual amounts of physical energy and did all kinds of household chores happily, such as defrosting and cleaning the refrigerator one afternoon (anyone who knows me will testify that this is highly unusual behaviour). But my mind flitted from one thing to the next, and my reactions were slowed down very noticeably by evening. If my wife asked me a question, it took about five seconds for it to register and another five before I could formulate and deliver a reply. In fact, I became decidedly cognitively impaired: one day after taking a shower and shaving, I applied aftershave lotion to my face and noticed that it didn’t have the mild sting it usually does. That is when I realised I had not actually shaved. I just thought I had.

So the days were hazy at times, but very bearable. Not so the evenings. By far the worse time was between 6pm and 10pm in the evenings. It was in this window every day that my wife and I both felt a physical and mental unease resulting in great difficulty in just passing the time. We tried to watch TV or movies but it was hard, and the evening seemed strangely empty.

If you are trying to solve problems in the theory of quantum gravity, it’s probably best to get some food down

In fact, the biggest surprise was just how much more time we had on our hands. I was struck by how much of the day I normally spend attending to my digestive needs: thinking about what I would have for lunch or dinner; shopping for groceries (which we do almost daily); cooking — in my case, elaborate Pakistani meals most evenings; then actually eating, washing dishes, cleaning up, even moving one’s bowels. Eliminating the simple act of eating frees up much more time than you’d think. In addition to the couple of hours of daily exercise we kept up throughout, we took long walks in the mountains (we live in the Alps), did crosswords (rather slowly), surfed the net and fooled around on Facebook, and we still always had more time to fill. I realised that meals provide needed punctuation to the day, and without them our days seemed strangely lacking in structure.

So what about the medical benefits? In the end, both throughout and after the fast, my blood pressure remained at exactly the same, slightly elevated level it had been before I started. So much for controlling it by fasting, at least for me. I lost 11lbs (5kg) over the week and gained 7lbs (3kg) back within three days. The other significant thing I noticed, as many others have too, was the reduction of libido to absolutely nothing. I had no sexual thoughts all week, which was not an entirely unwelcome (though thankfully temporary) break from the usual. I experienced a phenomenal increase in physical energy but at the expense of a lack of mental concentration. So if you need to lose some weight and also need to dig some ditches this week, fasting might be just the thing. On the other hand, if you are trying to solve problems in the theory of quantum gravity, it’s probably best to get some food down. These effects lasted only while I was actually fasting: one day after breaking the fast, I felt completely normal, with the same appetite and level of physical energy as usual. At this point, I should remind my gentle reader that my weeklong experiment had the grand sample size of one (two, if you count my wife) and so should be taken for what it is: just my personal experience of fasting, not a scientific study.

Did I feel any different from normal in the days immediately after the end of the fast or since? No, not really. Would I do it again? I doubt it. Though it was fun in its own peculiar way. Well ... maybe. But I think I’ll at least wait for more controlled clinical evidence to come in.

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Comments

  • Wayfarers All

    I'm not sure if a single week long fast combined with 'strenuous exercise' is proof of anything at all really..

    • Jenna

      As the author stated, this was mean to be a personal reflection and not a study.

  • rameshraghuvanshi

    Every man is unique so it depend on your overall nature fast is useful to you or not.Statistical survy is not useful to draw a conclusion of fast useful or not

  • Melody McFarland

    You must have Herculean willpower! Congratulations for gutting it out.

  • Kerri

    Why would the author choose a fast so different from the ones he wanted to evaluate, combine it with strenuous hiking(???), and assume he has any data worth reporting? He could have done a much better job of simulating "controlled clinical evidence" with a bit more effort.

    • http://www.facebook.com/themotely.bloak TheMotely Bloak

      Great article, but Kerri has somewhat of a point with her first statement. It seemed too different and extreme to do the 7 day fast.

  • http://thusbloggedanderson.wordpress.com/ ThusBloggedAnderson

    I'm reminded of the story (possibly true) of Newton working at his calculations, feeling his mind unaccountably dull, and pondering what could be the cause. He finally realized he hadn't eaten in two or three days, and took some food for medicinal purposes, as it were.

  • tarry2020

    I am not sure if this should be accepted as an accurate account of how you were feeling as the reduced sugar getting to your brain will tend to interpret your perceptions differently. Good literary piece...but very, very unscientific.

    • tvgraves

      Only about 20% of the neurons in the brain require glucose. The rest can run just fine on ketones, which are what the body uses for energy when burning body fat. The 20% that need glucose can be fueled through gloconeogenesis. The brain will function just fine on fast, to a point. And that point occurs WAY after 7 days.

      • tarry2020

        I take your point, but what do you mean by the "brain will function fine on fast". Is it just the ability to be aware of ones environment or undertaking activities that require observation and reflection as in this case? By the way - is it possible that the 20% of the neurons in the brain that require glucose could be responsible for 80% of the brain's cognitive functions?

      • CrankyFranky

        sounds impressive - if true - my 'experiment' years ago was about 4 days eating nothing but green apples - I felt perfectly fine the first 3 days - on day 4 I suddenly felt weird and my teeth felt fuzzy - so I stopped

        actually today I haven't eaten anything since last night - I looked at food but just didn't feel like - when I lived alone I naturally tended to eat nothing one day a week - usually Sundays - and enjoy a slap up roast dinner or such that night which always seemed extra delicious !

  • charlie

    I've been only eating an evening meal for the past year and feel awesome all the time. I was always pretty fit and not fat, but I've certainly carved up. I do eat quite a lot in the evening, a big meal, dessert then grazing until bed. Im never hungry in the morning or lunch time, only about 4pm, but then I do exercise anyway. So, I don't get tired anymore, didn't get sick at all in the past year - not even a sniffle, and save money on lunch and breakfast. Feel awesome and will keep doing it. Also, I do eat breakfast/lunch if I'm catching up with people so I don't have to be completely strict about it. Another thing, you have to keep busy during the day. If you sit around, you'll probably end up eating.

    • Riz Din

      snap. at the start of the year, my workplace didn't have any bread in the canteen so I went without breakfast and lunch, and soon thereafter I realised I had lots more time and more energy with no afternoon "dip". I'm back on a couple of toast for breakfast and a couple for lunch, but will probably end up reverting to eating nothing until much later in the day. As with a lot of these things, it's hard to find supporting evidence for the idea of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper...from what I've seen, the studies are mixed in both directions. The hard part is getting people to adapt to the idea (i.e. convincing them to stop thinking you are some kind of weirdo!).

    • ana

      i totally agree with u, charlie. i do the same.but i am underweight(i am about 40 kilos).although i eat a lot in the evening as my meal of the day, i don't gain weight!! i must admit that i am a raw vegetarian and i only eat natural food,no meat,no eggs,no dairy(i occasionally eat yoghurt),no sugar,no cereals,nothing that comes from a package,can etc etc.i drink a lot of water,teas, i only eat fruit,vegetables(raw and sometimes boiled),sometimes nuts and seeds,all the leafy green stuff,legumes(potatoes,lentils,chickpeas,beans etc), basically EVERYTHING THAT'S NATURAL and as less as processed as it can get. and i have a lot of energy, i am an economist, i am 31 years old and i have a child's body(i am very very skinny,no curves...and i not very pleased with it).i am also not hungry in the morning or at lunch.i noticed that my digestion is better in the evening when i eat as i not stressed,i do not have my mind on other stuff than food.if i eat a normal meal during the day, i have a lack of energy.if my bloodsugar drops during the day, i eat a few fruits and i feel good afterwards.but i have always noticed that i work better and i can have a better physical activity on my empty stomach, or i only eat less(a smoothie,some fruits etc). so, the point is that every body is different and what works for me it might not work for someone else.

      • Riz Din

        hi ana, when I was eating like this, I took to eating a lot of peanut butter in the evening, and pouring good quality olive oil over everything (not literally). Cheese is also good, but less healthy.

      • Dr. Nudelman

        Ana, it sounds like you may be suffering from an eating disorder. Many women participate in "health" fasts or other radical diets so they can indulge their disorders in a socially accepted fashion. Please consider it and I wish you the best. I have worked with women and men with eating disorders for many years and have come to recognize the warning signs.

  • mark

    By not eating breakfast, you were in fact already utilising a form of intermittent fasting that's been promoted by people such as LeanGains blogger Martin Berkhan and Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha authors John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein. Research is cited in both cases. These fellows have advocated a reduced eating window of 8 hours, any time of the day, every day. For them, and myself, that means skipping breakfast and eating lunch, dinner and a meal in between. Mind you, there's more to it than just time, as the proportion of protein, fat and carbs is also an important element to that eating protocol. Exercise is also a key component, particularly weight bearing exercise and some of it in a fasted state.

    It's an interesting area of debate, and while I'm not sure I could follow the 5:2 day fasting regiment advocated in the Fast Diet book, the 8:16 hour has really worked for me.

  • asdfjkl

    I wonder if it took less food to feel satiated.

  • wonshikee

    How could your blood pressure not drop if you haven't eaten? You do realize blood pressure isn't a constant? It goes up and down throughout the day as you eat and other factors.

    Also I find it hard to believe you actually exercised for several hours a day. After a single day of fasting, there is just no carbs to sustain yourself in a long exercise as your body must break down fat, which it cannot do as quickly on demand.

    Your whole experiment sounds like BS to me.

    • http://ericharrison.info Eric Ryan Harrison

      Carbohydrates are not necessary for the function of the human body. We are a wonderfully complex species that has several excellent adaptations that allow us to thrive in many climates. In the absence of dietary carbohydrates, our bodies enter a state of ketosis in which fat cells are converted into a usable form of energy.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketosis

    • Bill Gryan

      I'm no scientist, but I'll bet in earlier times the hungriest hunters were some of the most energetic.

      • CptNerd

        Most likely that is a built-in reaction, when the body is well-fed, there's no need to get up and go looking for food, but when the reserves get low, the body kicks into "hunter-gatherer" mode and you feel like bringing down that mastodon...

        • Bill Gryan

          Exactly. Which I why I disagree with wonshikee's theory about needing carbs for a long exercise session.

      • WithheldName

        bingo

  • Arjun

    Quick question, How much weight did you lose in the seven days? and did you put on weight very fast after you broke the fast i.e. did you feel your metabolic rate completely slowed down?

    • Andrew

      Five people (the poster and up-voters) have no reading comprehension, or are just lazy.

  • Nadeem

    As a Pakistani, you should have some passing familiarity with Ramadan. I'm frankly shocked that you didn't mention it. Although the fast is only through the daylight hours (before sunrise to sunset), it includes water. I find that I usually end up losing about 1lb a day over the course of the month without changing my activity level.

    The effect of the fast is to quite significantly reduce the amount you can consume in a sitting before feeling full, so even though you eat an evening meal and something before sunrise, it is impossible to replace the calories you give up during the day. Often I am more concerned with getting enough sleep than I am with eating something in the morning.

    As for benefits, I think you hit the nail on the head with how much time you get back in your day from not having to think about, plan, or actually eat food. Each year I am amazed at how much time I spend thinking about food. I also feel that I develop a much greater appreciation for food during that month. This is in addition to any other medical benefits. My blood pressure and sugar levels are good even though I have a family history of issues with both. I do struggle with my weight (5' 10" & 230lbs)

    I think the problem with your "study" is the duration is too short and the fast too extreme. A more balanced approach would allow you to pursue it for a longer duration and have a greater understanding. I've been toying with the idea of doing a Ramadan-style fast 1 week a month in addition to Ramadan to try to carry the benefit further.

    • shahbaz

      >I find that I usually end up losing about 1lb a day over the course of the month without changing my activity level.
      That's surprising. I, myself, have noticed that I actually gain a pound or two.

  • KJ

    Here's what a I recommend: 7 days of fasting, but instead of just water, you should also add the Master Cleanse drink, which is made up of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper (which I take in the form of a pill, because it's TERRIBLE in the drink), and organic maple syrup. This provides exactly the brain food your fast lacked and makes a HUGE difference over a water only fast while still delivering all of the benefits of a fast. Your mind is sharp, your body is full of energy, and you'll have a peaceful and spiritual calm throughout (well, after you get over the first 48 hour hump).

    Try it, you'll like it. You can drink this 6-10 times a day during the fast, but I find 4/day works good for me:

    2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

    2 tablespoons grade-B organic maple syrup

    1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    10 ounces filtered water

    • tvgraves

      Good Lord. Sugar, citric acid, and capsaicin. Brain food? Give me a break. Evidence please?

    • Guest

      Well the sugar in the maple syrup is certainly helping your brain function but I have serious doubts that lemon juice and pepper help at all...

  • farnsworth_pro

    Incredibly weak experiment. Barely worth anecdotal consideration, honestly. Why not try one of the fasting diets actually recommended? Were you afraid of the result you might see after a month or two of intermittent fasting?

  • devboy00

    I'm not sure that this was SUPPOSED to be a rigorous experiment. Sounds more like testing the waters and seeing what happens. I did a week long water fast a year ago and found that it reduced my appetite for several months afterwards. I too, was not rigorous, but then again, I wasn't trying to gather data.

  • Also Fasted Once Before

    A number of years ago (1997), I fasted for 14 days on just distilled water. The most surprising aspect was that I expected there to be some sort of unusual feeling at the onset - extreme hunger, discomfort, something - but: nothing. I just stopped eating and really didn't notice a difference. After several days, one's body starts using ketones instead of glucose. I thought that was neat: I was on an alternate fuel! The next surprising thing was the energy. I expected to be lethargic but, actually, the opposite happened. I had to control myself and not run all over the place. Conserving energy on a longer fast is important. During the fast, I did dream a lot about food. However, I didn't crave anything. In fact, I would stand in the kitchen with a meal cooking around me and not feel hungry or desirous. There are a number of interesting things I noticed: I lost inches of fat in the first few days; my teeth turned bright white; what sounded tasty to me changed (during my fast, I thought black beans on dry, rye toast would be the best thing ever). I broke my fast on a fist-sized piece of watermelon. Breaking the fast is the hard part. My subconscious wanted me to gorge. Food, again! I tried to take it slowly according to a "re-entry plan," but suddenly I found a desire to eat to be overwhelming. Next time, I will be prepared. My taste buds reset, I recall. I remember eating a small serving of plain oatmeal and thinking it taste better than ice cream a couple days after the fast. After a life of eating something everyday and thinking that skipping a meal or two is a hardship, suddenly eating nothing at all for days and days is a very interesting experience, well worth having.

    • http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/ Earrach of Pittsburgh

      OMG ! This comment was exactly my experience as well. I was extremely disappointed that the author of the article did not mention any of your ("our") points. Over the last 30 years I have done extended half a dozen water-only fasts (IMO, a fast is not a "Fast" unless it lasts 3 days or more). My long ones ran from 5 days to a couple of hours short of seven days. As is the case of new experiences, the available "discoveries" were numerous and dramatic the first time around but subsequent fasts revealed fewer lessons, mainly due to familiarity bred by now knowing what to expect. To me the non health related "lessons" themselves were by far the most important reasons, the very ones motivating me to encourage others to try fasting. Of course, many folks should not fast, even some who may want to try it but for physical issues should not do because its effects can only be safely tolerated by folks with robust constitutions. Latent heart problems like arrhythmias, blood pressure, blood sugar or immune system problems issues should rethink their plans (although for some these issues are sometimes reported as being helped - yet it's no reason to risk it regardless,) and it's a basic assumption that you would always have a friend monitoring your condition throughout. Only an idiot would decide to go on a long fast during a solo "vision-quest" hike into the wilderness! / One of the most sober warnings I can make to the curious, other than the aforesaid safety issues, is of the dire sociological dangers you may expose yourself to. Honestly, you may discover a couple fundamental yet very uncomfortable truths about American attitudes toward food and eating, and in particular the great lie of "hunger" as it was taught and ingrained into us by every single last one of our mothers, grim truths only available to those who've made it out there 3 to 7 days into into a self directed water-only fast.

  • http://www.tempeteaparty.org Lee Reynolds

    I'm not surprised that your libido dropped to nothing. Attempting to procreate under conditions of famine would produce sickly and inferior children.

  • Stinky

    Food Good - this is just stupid

  • http://dogsdespair.blogspot.com/ Anton Gully

    Interesting experiment. I've been following a 5/2 fasting diet since the start of the year but I would baulk at going 7 days without food. As a personal challenge, why not? But I wouldn't expect much in the way of health benefits. The point behind intermittent fasting is to get the benefits of fasting without triggering the negative responses from your body.

    FWIW I've lost an average of a pound and quarter per week, while eating and drinking like a pagan despot at the weekend. The actual not eating bit becomes trivial very quickly. I restrict myself to just a small evening meal, around 400 calories, on Mondays and Wednesdays but otherwise haven't changed my eating habits on the other 5 days. I probably should.

    I exercise on one of my fast days and it's probably my best session of the week.

    Haven't had any blood work done but dropping 20 pounds can't have hurt. People say, but won't you just put the weight back on when you stop? To which I reply, why would I stop? It's the least stressful diet I've ever been on. I'm never more than a day away from a "normal" meal.

  • Ash

    You are not supposed to engage in strenuous exercise during a fast. Enough said.

    • Andrew

      Is that a law that you came up with by yourself, or did someone help you?

  • Anarcissie

    Back in the Sixties, some friends of mine tried fasting -- it was a sort of fad that went around. One of them later told me her digestive system and processes were seriously impaired for a long while afterward. Some of the others had negative but less severe after-affects, and some had only good experiences. They all lost some weight, of course, which was one of the desired effects. None of them seemed noticeably more (or less) energetic or enlightened after than before, but some claimed mental improvement. Of course these were hardly controlled experiments. My conclusion was that fasting should be approached cautiously, maybe by starting with short fasts of a day or two and observing the results, since people's mileage seems to vary considerably.

  • Randall

    I went two times 10 days with only water but it is different than those that don't know where their next meal is coming from...

  • Daviedoesdallas

    I'm glad fashion has caught up with me at last. Occasionally, in between periods of employment, i am forced to fast (especially as the government have now stopped crisis loans - a fairly cash neutral service).

    So, i find the thought of middle-class Jones-keeper-uppers, with a fridge full of food, fasting, to be utterly abhorrent.

    Maybe that's just me though.

    I've heard boot polish has regenerative properties when rubbed onto the face but only if you do it whilst also wearing an afro wig, purple suit & a bow-tie. Perhaps our journalist friend could try this 'social experiment' next. Better ask his 'Mammy' first though.

    • slm

      You can afford an internet connection but not food? That's weird.

  • LeVoleur

    Stop eating for a period has nothing to do with fasting therapy. It seems that the author just did whatever he had in mind fasting therapy might be combined with a bit of hiking :))

    There are several stages in fasting therapy
    1. Moderate meals.
    2. Abstaining from food and water.
    3. Abstaining from food but drinking water and juice in limited quantities.
    4. Small meals with limited water drinking.
    5. Average meals with limited water drinking.
    6. Alternation of normal eating and abstaining from food and water every other day.
    7. Normal eating and abstaining from food and water once per week.

    There is a combination of steps in order to treat a disease condition and there is always an attending physician.

  • James Ashley Shea

    Half a century ago and more, Adelle Davis explained that when you go without eating for a day or more, your body begins to break down fat to provide energy -- but the process involves large fat cells floating around in your bloodstream. If one of those large fat cells blocks an artery, that can result in a stroke.

    • Guest

      What?! "fat cells floating around in your bloodstream" this is nonsense.

  • http://weightloss5ws.com/ Anne Pennington

    Fasting is no doubt good for weight loss,but it can make you weak instead of slim and healthy.There are so many and Weight loss help articles and magazines that can not only benefit in losing weight but help you being healthy

  • Lamya

    Hi, I'm a Muslim 21 years old Lady, and we have in our religion a month we call it "Ramadhan" this month we fast in it for 30-29 days the moon shows how many days, Even in our normal Days we Fast 2 days Monday+Thursday Like our Prophet Mohammed PBUH did ,But we don't fast all day!

    Basically, we have 5 Prayer times a day before sunrise we call it ( AlFajr Prayer) which before the prayer starts we eat a meal we call it in Islam ( Sahour ) then after we hear the prayer time we stop eating and drinking even water till 6-7PM we call it ( Almaghreb Prayer) then we eat when we hear the prayers
    the other prayers times are ( 12PM then 3:45PM then 6:45PM or 7 then the Last prayer 8-9 PM) it changes as your country timing

    after that you can eat and drink water, juices what ever till ALFajr prayer time and so on..

    but we also have forbidden foods and drinks such as ( Pork meats + all kind of wines and whiskies )

    you can read about "Ramadhan month" Search Google
    and you can also read About islam :D

    not all muslims terrorist by the way

    and I really enjoyed your Article ! Good luck :) <3

    AlSalamu Alaikom, ,means: Peace to you in islam <3

    if you want to search about islam read about "islam Sunnah" + Search about Prophet Mohammed about his behave and what he said even what he was eating it will help you a lot. :)

    thanks I hope that will help you <3

    Regards,

    from Saudi Arabia.

  • RadiantFlux

    I've been have been doing a 36-hour water/coffee fast twice a week for the last four months. Like the author I have found it relatively easy. Like the author I do get tired in the evening, but I have found a black coffee completes wakes me up. I have also had no trouble exercising while fasting. I was distracted and hungry the first few fasts, but my body has adjusted and now I hardly notice that I am not eating. Over the last four months I have lost 10 Kg, most of it in the first six weeks, where after my body weight stabilised (it fluctuates 1-2 Kg between fasts). During the rest of the week I eat normally. I am mostly doing this because by blood sugar was a bit high (pre-diabetic) and hope that lowering my insulin twice weekly will have a positive effect.

    I was a little surprised by the dismissive tone by the author to fasting research. A quick search of PubMed or Google Scholar will bring up dozens of studies on fasting (admittedly mostly in animals) that show a string of positive benefits.