20 December 2016
I have been preparing for this fast for a while. Mentally, I have been preparing for it for quite a while. My plan is to do a prolonged fast every quarter, just before, during, or shortly after the season changes. Today is December 20th, one day before winter officially starts. I told my wife, Jacie, who lives in China at the moment, a week ago about my desire to do this 3-day prolonged fast. We have been preparing mentally together for it for that long. We both do intermittent fasting. Three days a week we fast on alternate days and four days a week we eat in an 8-hour window of time. If you have heard of the 5:2 intermittent fasting (IF) regimen, you could call this the 4:3 IF regimen. It is difficult at first, but gets much more easy after about one month. More on that later.
We continued our regular 4:3 IF regimen right up until Saturday, December 17th. On Sunday, December 18th, a day that we normally would have only consumed coffee, tea, or water, we allowed ourselves fruit and veggies, water and tea (no coffee for a week, bummer) to clean our system out. Bananas, apples, grapefruit, oranges, cucumber, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots are all I ate that day, along with tea and water. I lightly cooked the cucumber, tomato, cauliflower, and carrot in white wine. With no spices for the veggies, they tasted bland but still good and rather filling. I drank the soup: a very light tomato flavor, yummy. The goal was to cleanse the system, so a little bit of crunch in the veggies was satisfying because it helped toward that goal.
By Monday, December 19th, it felt as if I were already on the fast. We allowed ourselves only fruit on this day, the day before the official fast begins. Bananas, oranges, grapefruit, apples, kiwi, and pomegranate are all I ate all day. Watermelon, melon, and pineapple looked great but a bit on the expensive side for my tastes, seeing as how it is so far out of their season. My “meals” consisted of just enough fruit to satisfy my desire to eat. (Note: my desire to eat is much different than the person who eats three meals a day everyday. More on that later.) I stopped eating at about 7:00 pm and unofficially started the fast. I went to sleep at about 11:30 pm, exhausted, which is weird because I didn’t do much during the day.
Wow, I woke up at about 11: 00am, very refreshed and ready for my 3-day fast. My wife, who is seven hours ahead of me, mentioned that it just feels like another day of IF. I agree, sans coffee, which does not seem to bother me much. I think I feel more empty because I am sure that at least all of the veggies from Sunday are through my system. They exited last night. I’m still waiting on the fruit from Monday to make their exit. So I feel a little bit emptier than on a regular IF day, but as usual, I am NOT hungry. I do not desire nor crave food. As I said, my desire for food is different than people who eat everyday, three times a day. The first month of full day fasts is very difficult. No matter how one implements IF, the first month is difficult. Back in April, when I started IF, I was addicted to sugar. I had been eating much more than three meals a day. Sugary snacks, meals until I was stuffed, like most people in a society of abundance, I ate whenever and wherever I felt like it. Hunger and cravings controlled my life. I was no different than any other sugar burner. After about a month of IF, my body acclimated itself to burning fat (my brain can utilize ketones whenever needed with no complaints), and that is when the hunger and cravings went away, almost as if by magic. I never feel hungry; I feel empty. Now, when I can eat, I do, but if I cannot eat, hunger does not get the best of me. I’ve been doing this for eight months, intermittent fasting in various forms, and it has been a long journey. My relationship to food has changed drastically, as has my body. I went from 95kg. to 65kg over the course of this eight months.
So back to how I feel today, Tuesday, December 20, 2016. I feel great! A little cold, but I’m drinking hot tea. Upon waking, I drank 0.33 liters of Donat mineral water, a few swigs of San Pellegrino mineral water, and I made plenty of good Chinese green tea. Whenever my hands get cold due to the cold Kosovo winter, I pick up my mug of warm tea and take a sip and all is good with the world. It warms me up so that I can type a few more lines. Fasting, in and of itself, makes the body temperature go down a little. This is normal and has been linked to longevity. (Another note: my wife and I are not doing this to lose weight; we are doing this for the health benefits. I want to spend more time with my cute little wife, so I have to take care of myself…fasting is the key.) So as we fast, we know that it is even more imperative to keep warm.
My tummy is gurgling a little bit, due to the tea and hopefully processing the fruit that I ate yesterday. As of yet, it does not feel like the fruit is ready to leave my body. Bummer! Health is the key, here, and I have had trouble with my bowels due to fluoride and Prozac (never take Prozac or any other anti-depressant unless your life or someone else’s depends on it…certainly not because you are a little sad). Several years ago I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. For the last eight months, I have been banking on IF to help this condition. I would need a colonoscopy to see any results. At my age they recommend at least one colonoscopy per year. I do not do anything that “they” recommend, and I don’t relish the thought of someone, whom I do not know, sticking a camera up my bum. So for now, lets just say that I’m in pretty good health.
Burning Fat vs. Burning Sugar
Some people say that you start burning fat after eight hours, some say after 12 hours, some say after 48 hours. At any rate, it is after your body consumes all the glucose (sugar) in your muscles and liver. Some even say that it is not until after 72 hours. I do not automatically know when my body is burning fat versus sugar, but I suspect that those who claim the longer timeframe are basing it on people who are sugar burners, people who eat three meals a day everyday. I would suggest that sugar burners take longer to give up on the sugar stores and sugar deprivation (and whose bodies go through Hell to get there due to sugar addiction) than those of us whom have acclimated our bodies to fat burning. I think the brain and body fights hard for that sugar fix. Once we are no longer sugar junkies, our bodies effortlessly switch from carb (sugar) burning to fat burning effortlessly. My point is…I don’t know if I’m burning fat, right now, on my first day of the fast, but I’m pretty sure that I am. I believe that our bodies go into the fasting state, a fat burning state, after 12 hours of not eating, if we are used to burning fat. With that said, I have not eaten anything since 7:00pm, last night. It is 13:00. That would put me at 18 hours without food, and I should be in the fasting state, or fat burning state. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Cold also tends to burn fat. I believe it was Swedish researchers who found that we burn brown fat in very cold climes. So I am burning brown fat, now, for sure. It is cold. I prefer my apartment to be on the cold side. I have been experimenting with keeping it very cold in my apartment. I heat one room, only when I need it. Bundling up in warm clothes or that and staying under the covers in bed have worked for me. Maybe it is the asceticist in me. A hoodie keeps my head warm. My fingers can get a bit numb from the cold. A quick dip in a pocket or under the covers and my digits are toasty warm once again.
Activities and Hunger
I had thought to take a walk to pay my electricity bill, but the timing and the pollution (up to 430) kept me home safe in bed. I had the energy to do it. I just wanted to chat with my wife until her sleep time, and I didn’t want to breathe in all the noxious fumes from the coal-fired power plant in Pristina, Kosovo.
I spent the rest of the night, after my wife went to sleep, snuggled up in bed watching Christmas movies and shows. All night found me getting up, taking a few mouthfuls of San Pellegrino mineral water, and boiling water for my Chinese green tea. I felt empty but no hunger. Thank God for having prepared for this with IF and the prep for this fast. I did watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the 1960’s version with Gene Wilder, not a Christmas flick. That was tough seeing all of that yummy chocolate and candy, but again, my desire and temptation are different. The movie caused no craving. I found myself remembering the organic raw cacao powder that I make flaxseed porridge with, and looking forward to the next time I will be able to enjoy it. But it caused no discomfort like normal hunger pangs, which I believe are due to sugar addiction and sugar burning and eating three plus meals a day everyday. I do not feel hungry.
Hunger is one of the main concerns of people who hear about fasting. I will say it again and again, after one month of IF, one does not feel hunger due to the change in relationship to fuels burned by the body. Eating constantly without any significant break causes the body to become dependent on consuming and burning vast amounts of sugar and carbs, which end up being stored as fat. Sugar is a fast-burning dirty fuel. Between one month and eight months of IF, our body slowly changes to fat burning, or at least the fat burning capacities of our bodies increase and the percentage of sugar burning decreases. As a consequence, after about one month, there is no hunger. We become better attuned to the real desires of our bodies. Our taste buds become more sensitive. A banana tastes like a snicker’s candy bar, and a snicker’s bar tastes too sweet and undesirable.
Until next time, stay fast and fit!