Fasting has been a popular spiritual and health intervention for thousands of years. From supporting physical illness, to accompanying spiritual experience, such as religious holidays (e.g. Ramadan or Easter). By distancing ourselves from food, we mobilize energetic and time resources for a higher purpose.
Modern fasting is often used for other reasons. It is a possible strategy to save calories and thus change the physical composition. Losing weight is, as so often, the goal and many people are successful here with fasting protocols such as 16:8, in which 16 hours are fasted and 8 hours are available as a time window for food intake. Countless models are now known, including day fasting has become unspeakably popular. Alternating between fasting one day and eating one day is especially popular in America.
But the greatest benefit and scientifically proven sense behind fasting lies in a completely different area. In the cell cleansing and rejuvenation of our body. The absence of food gives our metabolism a break in processing and storing nutrients. Meanwhile, it can take care of other processes that are often neglected. For example, tracking down and disposing of defective cells. Cellular waste, in short, blocks our system and can contribute to aging and disease. Autophagy, as this process is called in science, is not only cleansing, but can protect us from disease and prolong our lives.
There was also a Nobel Prize for this a few years ago. So we can be happy that fasting and its effect has found confirmation at the highest level.
My entry into the world of fasting
20:4 - the "Warrior Diet
My first exposure to modern fasting methods was in 2008, when I became involved with Ori Hofmekler's "Warrior Diet." Hofmekler, a Dutchman, was promoting a fasting variant at the time, with a 20-hour window of food abstinence followed by 4 hours of food intake. Without caloric restriction.
Not to be confused with the currently popular OMAD (one meal a day) fasting form, where there is only one meal per day. With the Warrior Diet, you could also eat two meals.
However, I was quickly able to gain a lot of positive things from this relatively extreme form of fasting. At that time, still in the management of a large trading company, time efficiency and the ability to concentrate were of great importance to me. Without lunch, you have more time for work and without food in your stomach, you have more energy for thought processes.
16:8 - the classic in "interval fasting
Then, in July 2013, another type of fasting that is immensely popular today came into my focus. The 16:8 interval fasting. At that time, the cell recycling process "autophagy" and the associated health benefits were not really of interest to me.
The promises around increased focus and optimization in metabolism, in this case fat metabolism, made me curious.
In fact, I was doing incredibly well mentally with this form, I was very focused, for example, on my training and could feel a high level of motivation.
Furthermore, I easily lost 5kg of body weight in 4 weeks and that mainly in the form of fat. But it must also be said that at that time I was very athletic and muscular. I had a very high training workload and before that I had not paid much attention to my calorie intake. So it was easy for me to be successful in terms of weight loss.
3 days without food - "Next Level Fasting
Christmas 2022 I have dealt intensively with the different variants of cookies on many occasions. I therefore wanted to accompany the turn of the year 2023 with a physical reboot.
Just in time for midnight and the change to the year 2023, I started a fasting cure of three full days as planned. The idea was to go 72 hours without food in any form. Only water, salt and coffee were available to me.
I always started the morning with a 500ml glass of warm water and a pinch of salt. After about an hour, there was then a black coffee. Of course, without sugar or sugar substitutes. My goal was not only to complete the time calorie-free, I also wanted to wean a little natural and especially artificial tastes.
Which is why sugar-free candy or drinks, while not breaking the fast biologically, would take me away mentally from the main benefit I wanted. I wanted to mentally reset and become more aware of influences like taste and hunger.
Of course, you can't expect to be a new person in three days, but a fasting cure does change some things about us.
The first day I had to fight a little with withdrawal symptoms, because the days before I was quite overcaloric. The last two weeks of December, I hardly cared about my usual meal frequency. From my normally daily two meals, suddenly became a "eat according to desire and availability principle". The holiday season just delivers too many options here. And as we all know, it is not primarily the Christmas season that makes us fat and round, but the remaining days of the year.
My withdrawal symptoms subsided by evening, as if my body sensed that I was serious and there would be no dinner either.
At night I woke up only once at 4h and was soon able to fall asleep again. That night I dreamed a lot compared to usual.
On the second day, I generally had a very good feeling. I felt motivated and was also able to go about my normal work. Only in the afternoon did I have to struggle with slight concentration problems.
A light 45-minute weight training session was no problem, and I also did a quick 20-minute walk twice that day. In the evening, I was also allowed to shake a leg with my partner for 15 minutes. Charleston in the living room.
My head was clear in the evening, I felt good energy and was hardly hungry.
That night I actually slept eight hours and woke up very refreshed in the morning.
On the third day, I also hardly felt any hunger pangs and my general energy was good. I felt a little tense, but this could also be due to the final preparations for a lecture coming up for that evening.
Cognitively I was doing very well, no fatigue or anything like that. On the contrary, not only was I able to complete my workload without any problems, I felt so much energy that I had to vacuum the whole apartment. So I was warmed up for some light weight training right away.
An intensive breathing exercise put me in the right mode for my presentation in the evening. Although I had already arrived at the evening of my third day of fasting, I felt very well during the presentation. Neither concentration difficulties nor word-finding difficulties caused me any problems.
Only when I later came to rest, I felt intense hunger. This was probably more a mental feeling because I knew that I was near the end of my fasting attempt.
This mental feeling was probably also the reason why I woke up after a good night's sleep already at 4 am with a great feeling of hunger. After already being in fasting mode for 76 hours, I decided to have breakfast.
After that, I went back to sleep for another two hours.
My BreakFast - the fasting break
I also wanted to take the first meal in liquid form and decided on a power shake from the blender. I mixed an essential amino acid preparation (Mountain Lion) with a fiber mix of psyllium husks, tiger nut and linseed (Bioking). 150g raspberries and oat milk rounded it all out.
I wanted to prepare my digestive tract and my microbiome, my bacterial world in the gut, for solid foods with few carbs and fat, but lots of amino acids and fiber.
In particular, my body and every single cell were now craving amino acids, because without them many processes in the body are only possible to a limited extent. These include the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, functions such as healing and sleep, and much more.
Shortly thereafter followed an extensive and healthy breakfast. Eggs, buckwheat bread, cheese, salad and sprouts were not only the first task for my chewing apparatus, but also a real treat.
On this fourth day, although I felt a deep tiredness right after the first meal, the rest of the day I felt very well. As if nothing had happened.
Fasting is not only scientifically proven, but an important intervention to keep our bodies healthy and support daily maintenance. It's also a great way to learn to be more conscious of food and move toward a healthier, lower meal frequency.
I would like to provide you 2023 not only with scientific information about fasting. After the experiments of the last 15 years, I will certainly continue to experiment with various fasting protocols myself. Dinner Cancelling or "One Week Fast" are next on the list. Dinner Cancelling is not only the big darling of cardiologists, according to studies it should also lead to reduced calorie intake compared to the currently popular morning fast (16:8).
I send you energetic greetings and wish you much success in your first attempts at fasting!
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