I’ve always been interested in fasting. I mean the concept of not eating food is kind of incredible. And when you consider the types of food humans typically eat, it’s a wonder any of us are still alive. Imagine what you would feel like if you could do a reset and not have any of those toxins from our shitty food supply swimming around in your body.
I’m writing about this because I launched into a 30-day fast today. That is my goal. I also recognize extended fasts can be pretty challenging and a lot can come up. So, if I don’t make 30 days, that is ok with me. I just like the idea of pushing my limits and seeing what I can do with this. I also like to experience these type of things before asking my client to do a fast.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is a practice that has been used for thousands of years for various religious and cultural reasons. However, in recent years, fasting has gained popularity for its potential health benefits. Fasting involves abstaining from food and drink for a certain period of time, ranging from a few hours to several days. Some people even attempt extended fasts of a week, two, three weeks, or even a month.
One of the key benefits of fasting is that it can promote autophagy, a cellular process that helps the body to break down damaged organelles, misfolded proteins, and other cellular components. Autophagy plays a crucial role in maintaining cellular homeostasis and preventing the accumulation of harmful substances in cells.
Autophagy and Fasting
During fasting, autophagy is upregulated, which means that the body produces more autophagic vesicles, which engulf and degrade cellular components, to provide energy. This process helps the body to break down stored fats and other cellular components to provide energy to the body. Autophagy can start within a few hours of fasting, but the intensity and duration of autophagy can depend on several factors, including the individual’s metabolic state and the length of the fast.
Studies have shown that autophagy can be detected within 6-24 hours of fasting. However, the process becomes more pronounced after 24-48 hours of fasting, as the body’s glycogen stores become depleted and the body starts to rely more on fat stores for energy. During prolonged fasting, such as multi-day fasts, autophagy continues to increase and can persist for several days. However, the degree of autophagy can vary depending on factors such as age, sex, and overall health status.
Other Metabolic Changes during Fasting
In addition to autophagy, fasting can promote other metabolic changes in the body, such as:
- Decreased insulin levels: Insulin levels drop when we stop eating, which causes the body to switch from glucose metabolism to fat metabolism. This allows the body to break down stored fat for energy.
- Increased glucagon levels: Glucagon is a hormone that stimulates the breakdown of stored glycogen in the liver, which is then converted to glucose to provide energy to the body.
- Ketone production: As the body breaks down fat for energy, it produces ketones, which can be used as an alternative source of fuel for the brain and other organs.
- Increased growth hormone: Growth hormone levels increase during fasting, which can help preserve muscle mass and promote fat burning.
- Reduced inflammation: Fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which may be beneficial for reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
What About an 30-Day Fast?
It’s important to note that a 30-day fast is a long and challenging undertaking, and it should not be attempted without proper planning. Additionally, individual experiences may vary depending on factors such as age, sex, and overall health status. With that said, here is a general breakdown of what a person might experience over a 30-day fast:
Day 1-2: During the first 24-48 hours of fasting, the body uses up its glycogen stores, which can cause fatigue, headaches, and hunger. However, as the body switches to fat metabolism, the symptoms of hunger and fatigue may diminish.
Day 3-5: By this point, the body is fully in ketosis, which means that it’s using stored fat for energy. Some people may experience a “keto flu,” which can cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. However, these symptoms should subside as the body adapts to ketosis.
Day 6-10: At this point, the body has fully adapted to fasting, and hunger may be significantly reduced. Some people may experience mental clarity and increased focus during this phase.
Day 11-20: During this phase, the body may continue to break down fat stores for energy. Some people may experience increased energy levels, while others may feel more fatigued.
Day 21-30: By this point, the body has been in a prolonged fasted state for several weeks. Some people may experience significant weight loss and improvements in certain health markers, such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, others may experience fatigue and weakness.
Throughout the 30-day fast, it’s important to stay hydrated and supplement with electrolytes as needed. It’s also important to monitor blood glucose and ketone levels, as well as other health markers, to ensure that the fast is safe and sustainable.
It’s worth noting that a 30-day fast is a challenging undertaking, and it’s not necessary to fast for this long to experience the potential health benefits of fasting. Shorter fasts, such as intermittent fasting or alternate-day fasting, may be more feasible and sustainable for most people.
What About Shorter Fasts?
Shorter fasting periods could include:
- Intermittent fasting: This involves alternating between periods of fasting and non-fasting, such as fasting for 16 hours each day and eating during an 8-hour window.
- Time-restricted eating: This involves limiting your eating to a specific window of time each day, such as only eating between 12 PM and 6 PM.
- Alternate day fasting: This involves fasting every other day and eating normally on non-fasting days.
- 24-hour fasts: This involves fasting for a full 24 hours, once or twice a week.
- Weekly fasts: This involves fasting for one full day each week, such as not eating from dinner one day until dinner the following day.
Fasting is a natural process that has been used for thousands of years for various reasons. In recent years, research has shown that fasting can have several potential health benefits, including the promotion of autophagy. Autophagy is a cellular process that helps the body to break down damaged organelles, misfolded proteins, and other cellular components, which is essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis and preventing the accumulation of harmful substances in cells.
However, it’s important to note that fasting may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Overall, fasting can be a useful tool for promoting health and wellness, and autophagy is just one of the many metabolic changes that occur during fasting.
I wrap this up with the usual medical precautions. Don’t take what I say above as any kind of medical or natural health practitioner guidance. Use common sense and get this guidance from professionals if you need. Learn about it more before you take one on.
I’ll let you know how things go. If I make it, great. I’ll have grand stories to tell. If I don’t make it, I’ll try to figure out why and learn from it.