Fasting. The new remedy for soul and body
I was sitting in the restaurant with my lady, and a plate of delicious sushi was right in front of me. Salmon and shrimps, eggs and eel, deliciously smelling soup. I felt it. The temptation. Resisting it, acute discomfort, listening to the voice inside — all was a durability test for the willpower. It was hard, and that was the point.
It was the first time when I tried fasting. Why would I do something crazy like this?
I heard about the benefits of fasting many years ago when I just stepped on my path of dismantling the myths of what is considered to be healthy nutrition. It was the time when I was lifting heavy, gaining mass and bulking up.
Deliberately stopping feeding myself? No way!
That was pure madness at that time, but the idea of it precipitated somewhere in subconsciousness. This idea took time to grow to its implementation.
My interest resurfaced after couple of years after when I first read about
It caught my attention. I started to dig. Intermittent fasting is not a diet, you are not restricting yourself to the types of food that you can consume. It is simply a time restriction protocol, when you have only a certain window of time when you can eat. The most popular versions are soft 14/10, more popular 16/8, and an advanced version of 20/4, with the number after the slash being a number of hours when you allow yourself to eat. I encourage you to do your research and discover many benefits of intermittent fasting.
As for me, as usual, I thought “Why do intermittent fasting? Only hardcore!” I called my friend, he signed up without hesitation, and we set the timer for 60 hours water diet. We were not joking around.
Here is a brief list of reasons to start fasting:
This is the obvious one, and in fact, this reason alone can motivate many to try. Losing weight is not quantum physics, the math is simple — you need to burn more energy than you consume, and that’s it. Fasting might be considered a bit of a radical method, but it is also the most efficient one. When you have to move, work, exercise, be productive, and your brain has to eat, in the light of the absence of incoming resources your body doesn’t have any other choice but to use its own. That is as much of a ‘weight loser’ as you can get. Sorry, there is no fancy easy-way recipe how to get slim and sexy. Do you want to know how to lose 3 kg in 3 days? You just don’t eat.
Your body rests.
Digestion itself is a very energy-consuming process which keeps your body busy. When you fast, your digestive system shuts down, and your body gets its valuable time to rest. Like it says: “Good then, now I have more free time to take care of other needs. Maybe I should do some
With the massive and constant intake of the junk food, processed food, or most importantly, pills, your body just can’t remove all of the toxic substances right after. Instead, all of the toxins that can’t be removed immediately get conserved in the fat. When you fast your body starts to clean itself. It burns fat, releases toxins, and the toxins leave your body with urine. Make sure you drink a lot of water, this is important.
Another initiative of your body in fasting mode is
When your body is not busy with digesting, it starts to fix itself. Weak and damaged cells e.g. your immunity guardians — white cells die, and your body kickstarts the generation of new healthy cells from stem cells. You are literally anti-aging. Fasting boosts your immune system, and flips on the rejuvenation switch.
There are other positive switches in your body, like
Ketosis is a metabolic process of burning fat instead of carbohydrates. By fasting, you are teaching your body to do ketosis extremely well. In the absence of carbs, your liver starts to produce ketone bodies, which is, in fact, a much better fuel for your brain, and this is why on the second day something amazing happens with your
You may think that without incoming energy your brain will become slow and sleepy in order to conserve the energy. What happens is quite the opposite. Your brain becomes a power machine. Fueled by ketones, your thinking becomes extremely clear and your focus becomes laser-sharp. Your brain basically tells you: “Oh oh. What happened? I didn’t see food lately. That’s not good. Hunting mode on!”. And to your great benefit this energy and focus that are being released can be channeled towards your work, or study, or whatever the productivity task you choose. Pretty handy, right?
Other benefits of suddenly sharpened senses include
Mindfulness of your body.
A lot of your attention goes within. You become more sensitive to what is going on with your body, not to mention extremely high awareness caused by noises and sensations in your stomach. Ancients called digestive system “the second brain”, as the amount of nerves and the complexity of its regulatory nervous system is so extraordinary, it almost has its own intelligence. That is what people call “a gut feeling”. The awareness of your digestive system contributes to the total awareness. It teaches you to listen to your body.
Last reason, but the one that was the major driving force for me was the work on my willpower. I wanted to do it to become stronger. I was asking myself if I could do this. To be is to do. A person who claims to master himself gotta do what he is gotta do. There are no shortcuts to great discipline.
So we fasted.
I started on Friday 9 pm and broke the fast on Monday at 10 am.
The first day was easy. Even the workout. The second day was hard. Especially the workout. Pushing through the pain, without any glycogen left in the muscles was not an easy task, but very educating.
The evening of the second day is when the ketosis started to kick in. I experienced unprecedented clarity of thoughts and focus. I was listening to the music and felt how my perception has changed. I guess the hunter inside me was keeping his ears peeled for any potential careless prey accidentally walking by.
It was hard to fall asleep on the second day. The heart was pumping stronger than usual, or maybe it was just me observing my body more carefully.
On the third day I woke up feeling weak. A bit dizzy. Third day starts to exhaust you. You should break fast with a juice of lemon or lime squeezed to a glass of warm water. It helps your stomach to prepare for the actual food.
I had my lime juice at 9 am, mango juice at 10 am, and lunch at 12 pm — a mashed potato, avocado and quinoa salad.
Oh man! That was beyond delicious. Perfect breakfast. I was closing my eyes feeling every bit of taste. Unbelievable experience indeed. Highly recommend you to go through this at least once.
The weekend after I fasted for 48 hours. And the one after for 36. Every now and then I fast for 24 hours, and keep the intermittent fasting as well. Here is what I learned.
Fasting saves you time.
We spend a lot of time for feeding ourselves. Go to get grocery, bring food home, cook food, wash dishes, throw out the garbage, go to a cafe, stay in the line, go to a restaurant, wait for the waiter, wait for your order, finally eat, go to the toilet. Jeez…
When you fast, you are productive without distractions. You can sit for hours of deep work, without worrying what to have for lunch. Of course, it is not a long-term solution, but these long sessions of work can have a great impact on your life.
Eating 3 times a day is a cultural model, not a necessity.
Most of us are raised eating 3 meals a day, and we think of it as of natural way to eat. It is not. Breakfast appeared because kids had to focus in school without being distracted by uttering of an empty stomach, and factory workers needed to have a good start of the day. Same workers needed a long break in the middle of the day to stay efficient and work longer shifts stretching it down to the evening. Animals don’t have an eating schedule, they eat when they are hungry, and as animals that is what we have to do in order to stay healthy.
Fasting makes you rethink food.
You start to reevaluate your ideas about the food you eat. Fasting resets your tastes. You don’t want to eat junk food anymore, you start to feel a natural gravitation towards what’s healthy.
Fasting reminds you of the whole purpose of the food, is to sustain life, not to serve as a source of pleasure. People pay too much attention to it, they talk food even during the meals. Indulging in pleasure from food this is what led people to obesity. When I was little there were no fat kids. Everyone was skinny, lively and mobile. Looking around now makes me think a lot.
Fasting teaches you moderation.
This experience becomes a prism through which you start to look on your every meal. You stop when it is enough, not when you become lazy, sleepy and stupid from it.
“If you got up from the table with a feeling of hunger — you are full; if you got up with the feeling of being full — you overate; if you got up with the feeling that you overate — you have just poisoned yourself.”
Fasting teaches you gratitude.
After you took a short glimpse into what a starvation might feel like, you start to be more grateful for what’s on your plate. You start to remember that there are millions of people who went to sleep hungry today. You understand that having a fridge full of food is a privilege. You start to like simple food. Gratitude is life-changing, it teaches you to develop a focus on positive things in your life and makes you stress-resistant.
Fasting makes you stronger.
As I am immersing myself in the knowledge of stoicism more and more, the benefits of deliberate discomfort are apparent to me.
It takes discipline to stay without food for 3 days, which once acquired stays with you for a very long time, and it takes some balls to constantly challenge yourself, and step into discomfort not-knowing what is going to happen, but knowing that is will be an experience worth living through.
You learn what it takes to grind through your workout without any energy in your muscles driven by a sheer will. You feel weak, you want to stop, but you keep going because you know that at the end of the day it will be rewarding.
I fast as I write this essay. 38 hours this time, just enough to stay on track, a remedy from becoming mellow.
If you never tried fasting before, I dare you to try. Forget what people told you before, do not trust me as well. Explore it yourself. Stay foolish. Stay hungry. Literally.
❓ Do you have a question? Ask me! I answer daily on Quora.