My 5 day fast:
I put together all of my posts during the fast so that you can read them all at once.
First a few of the benefits of fasting.
If you were to search for benefits to fasting you would find some of the following:
Autophagy/Mitophagy: This is the body’s natural destruction of sub optimum cells and mitochondria. It is something that happens naturally, but it is magnified during fasting because of the lower energy availability because of the fast.
Stem Cell stimulation: As people age the ability to regenerate stem cells diminishes. Studies in mice have shown increases in stem cell production as a result of the fasting. It is believed that a metabolic switch is trigger from the fast which aids in this increase.
Fat burning/Insulin Sensitivity/Ghrelin reset: Your body in a long fast will deplete glycogen and glucose in the body and then utilize fat to satisfy the needs for glucose. This is called ketosis. This also improves the use of insulin and the sensitivity to insulin. Ghrelin is a hormone that will stimulate hunger. This hormone is often dysfunctional because of poor eating choices. Fasting has shown to reset this hormone.
Gut repair and reset: By giving the digestive system a break it allows it to reset and repair.
HGH/Testosterone: Increases in hormonal production of HGH and Testosterone.
Food Reset: It resets our relationship to food. You can break old habits and start with a clean slate post fast.
There are a lot of other benefits that are identified, however these are some of the primary ones.
First day of a 5 day fast. I think you can look at fasting as the mirror image of training. The stress is not by energy output, but by lack of energy input. In addition I think the mental side of it is similar to time trialing on a bicycle. The thing that makes this event so difficult is that the faster you go the more pain you dish up to yourself. Fasting has some of the same characteristics. We are surrounded by food and you can stop the fast at any point in time. So if you want to up your mental game you need to try a fast. With that said below are my thoughts and some journaling on what the first day looks like. I can say that this is my second 5 day fast and just like a big physical challenge there is some apprehension as I get into the fast.
Sleep: I went to bed last night around 9 pm and got up at 4:15. I got about 6.5 hours of sleep. My sleep score on a scale of 1 to 100 was a 68. I average about 82, so I did not sleep as well as I would have liked.
Food: Last night I had an organic chicken breast, plus some full fat yogurt and a lot of organic blueberries. I couple of squares of dark chocolate. I did not have time to go to the market so I did not have my normal salad. So I was full, but without the normal greens I like to have.
Yesterday I rode my bicycle for about 1 hour and 15 mins and also was in the gym for a lift. The weekends are when I try to get 2 days of over one hour. I probably average 1.5 days of longer aerobic exercise per week. So in this fast I will stick with my typical week of training.
I did a body fat analysis to see where I am starting. I am at 8.8% body fat. I want to see where I am at the end of the fast and determine if I lose much muscle.
The last time I did 5 days I had a coffee on the first day. I just had it later in the morning than usual. I will have another coffee on the 3rd day and 5th day. Otherwise I am just drinking water. I fast 24 hours once per week so the first day will be normal for me.
Activity today: Usually Mondays are lighter. I will probably micro-dose in a few sets of upper body today, and probably some glute ham work. Nothing big. Probably a total exercise time of 15 mins.
I feel good, I am writing this at around 3 pm.
I will keep journaling in the next 4 days. If you are fasting let me know how you are doing.
Day 2 of the 5 day fast.
Yesterday I was very productive as you begin to realize how much time eating can take in your day. I did not have to go out and grab lunch so I got a lot done in the office.
Sleep: My sleep was better last night and my sleep score was 81. Much better than the night before. I had about 1:20 min of REM sleep and about the same in deep sleep. REM sleep is the restorative for you mind and your thinking and creativity. It also drives more dreaming.
Deep sleep restores the body more and allows muscle growth and repair of the body from exercise and stress. It is really important to get this type of sleep.
I typically get about this much REM and Deep and the rest of it light sleep. Paying attention to your sleep is of great importance for health and performance.
When I fast I always feel a little weird first thing in the morning. I think my body is trying to see if food is going to come into the equation and then starts to make adaptations to accommodate the lack of energy input.
I was up at 4:30 am and will work all day probably leaving here about 5 pm.
As the fast progresses, and especially with me training, my glucose levels will diminish and my body will start to go into ketosis. This is where the liver takes fat and also protein and converts into ketones as a fuel. When carbs are this low your brain and central nervous system needs fuel and these systems run on glucose. So in the absence of food the body will make this adaptation. If you have heard about the keto diet this is an extreme version.
Day 3 of 5 day fast. Yesterday was more difficult than today. I feel my energy rising today. I had a good night’s sleep with a score of 88. I had my second cup of coffee today since I started the fast. I had one on the Monday. So today was an early morning 4:15 am. I had a packed morning and then did some shorter intervals with my 11 am client on the VersaClimber. 20 second sprint x 10 second rest for 4 efforts and then we repeated this after a rest. So this was 8 x 20 second efforts. I put up over 400 feet on both efforts even in a fasted state. I will do some power efforts on the versa pulley later today. This is what I call micro dosing fitness. Small doses of fitness when I can squeeze in 10 to 20 min. I also did 45 pushups on my way out the door this morning.
I have lost 4 lbs. so far. I am not trying to lose weight, but this will happen as my body utilizes fat to fuel my body. I am hoping that most of the weight loss will be body fat and not muscle. I will conduct another body fat analysis on Friday.
Day 4 of 5 day fast. I think the morning is always the most difficult. However, on most days I always have to get a good shower in before I start to wake up. I had good sleep. My sleep score was an 87 so I had some good sleep. My body temperature was average. My resting heart rate was as low as 38. This is close to my normal resting at night. My respiratory rate has been lower throughout the fast. This measures how many breaths per minute. It was 12.4 last night. During the fast it has been a little lower. My heart rate variability, which is a good measure of recovery has been good. This is the time between the beats. Hovering between 85 and 90 milliseconds. I have had as high as 110.
I jumped into our 30 minute VersaClimber class today and did two of the 6 intervals. The interval was 30 seconds of tempo pace x 30 seconds of sprint. We did this 3 times for a total time of 3 min. You are partially recovered in the 30 secs tempo. The second effort was a total of 700 feet. That is a pretty good pace, considering I am 4 days fasted. A 233 ft. average pace. Try it as it is a good interval on any equipment and is an excellent microdose of fitness. I stopped after 2, but that is 6 minutes of total time in a fasted state with some really good intensity.
I have lost about 5.5 lbs. and I will measure my body fat tomorrow. Overall, I am holding up well although I am excited about the Friday night meal.
Day 5: Today is the last day of my fast. It is officially over. 5 days of water and 3 coffees. I trained and worked through the fast. At times it was difficult. My body fat dropped by 9 percent from 8.8 to 8. Body weight dropped almost 6 percent. I lost about 9 lbs. I lost more fat than muscle. I feel good today and the 2nd day was the most difficult. I am looking forward to my first meal. I will share with you later what I eat and how I recover. There is a mental aspect to this that is compelling. Our lives are pretty wonderful. We typically have no want for food. I know there are some in our western world that still do, however the majority do not. The idea of sacrifice and suffering is a distant memory of people that came before us and is not experienced as much in our world. I think you are more empathetic if you have a taste of sacrifice. Fasting helps you to better understand how fortunate we are. So be grateful for what you have and remember this was 5 days and now I get to eat a wonderful meal. Some are not as fortunate. Challenging your body in fitness is an amazing teacher if you allow yourself to be challenged.
Post fast meal: I had bone broth and some organic soup mixed into a big bowl. I really big salad with all kinds of great color. I had some dark chocolate and Marcona Almonds. I filled up pretty quickly and felt stuffed. The following days the meals became closer to normal. Organic protein, lots of color, and some fruits.
The following day I lifted but did not ride my bike. I took it easy for the most part and then on Sunday rode about 1.25 hours and lifted in the morning for about 40 mins. I felt great on the bike and had a lot of energy in the gym.
Until next fast.
Truth in fitness,