7

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Longer fasts - experiences

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 27, 2010 at 6:47 AM

Has anyone experimented with slightly longer fasts? I've been doing the normal Eat-Stop-Eat style fasts for a while, and liking them. I keep meaning to do a two day fast or longer, just to see the effect. I'm not talking about fasting for the sake of fasting or really long fasts, but somewhere in the order of 2 or 3 days maximum. I would appreciate any interesting experiences people have had, or links to any studies.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on May 06, 2011
at 07:06 PM

It is a great point that many people don't realize that fasting for 2-3 days is not really a big deal. Virtually anyone can do it (unless you have some specific health issue), your body is built for it and almost everyone has sufficient energy stores. I think it would be a good exercise for people to fast periodically, as it will give you perspective on what you eat. It will make skipping a meal seem like a non-event in comparison, which it should be.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on February 10, 2011
at 04:52 PM

try starting with shorter periods of fasting and working your way up. Coffee also helps me.

462a1b3d2bf9c8ad7340058eaf9ee881

(80)

on October 15, 2010
at 02:42 PM

I totally agree with Earl Cannonbear...the biggest advantage of doing this is the LIBERATION from having to think about preparing or buying breakfast or lunch everyday! I eat a wonderful paleo dinner every night and it does make me feel like I've been hunting all day (i.e., working) and I've now got time to relax and feast on my bounty! :)

D15d6820ef1545edac65e975cc2d8949

on April 28, 2010
at 12:36 PM

CT: Correct. I also drink 1-2 dl milk during the "fast".

1c4ada15ca0635582c77dbd9b1317dbf

(2614)

on April 28, 2010
at 11:47 AM

Sounds a bit like the Warrior Diet approach in terms of timing, if not necessarily in terms of diet content?

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on April 27, 2010
at 03:31 PM

I do the exact same thing, everyday except on weekends when not working. It's liberating not having to worry about preparing or buying a stupid lunch everyday. Saves money, time, keeps me focused throughout the day and I'm always guaranteed to have a nutritionally dense paleo meal with lots of good fat and protein when I get home. It's a God send and I highly recommend it.

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on April 27, 2010
at 03:28 PM

I do the exact same thing, everyday except on weekends when not working. It's liberating not having to worry about preparing or buying a stupid lunch everyday. Saves money, time, keeps me focused throughout the day and I'm always guaranteed to have a nutritionally dense paleo meal when with lots of good fat and protein when I get home. It's a God send and I highly recommend it.

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on April 27, 2010
at 01:29 PM

@James how did the dinner party go after a 3 day fast? I find I can only eat a little at a time and not very quickly.

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13 Answers

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3
D15d6820ef1545edac65e975cc2d8949

on April 27, 2010
at 12:00 PM

I fast between ~8-9pm to ~6-7pm the next day, every day, since a few months back. Nice not to have to think about lunch boxes, snacks, breakfast and whatnot, and it saves time.

D15d6820ef1545edac65e975cc2d8949

on April 28, 2010
at 12:36 PM

CT: Correct. I also drink 1-2 dl milk during the "fast".

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on April 27, 2010
at 03:28 PM

I do the exact same thing, everyday except on weekends when not working. It's liberating not having to worry about preparing or buying a stupid lunch everyday. Saves money, time, keeps me focused throughout the day and I'm always guaranteed to have a nutritionally dense paleo meal when with lots of good fat and protein when I get home. It's a God send and I highly recommend it.

1c4ada15ca0635582c77dbd9b1317dbf

(2614)

on April 28, 2010
at 11:47 AM

Sounds a bit like the Warrior Diet approach in terms of timing, if not necessarily in terms of diet content?

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on April 27, 2010
at 03:31 PM

I do the exact same thing, everyday except on weekends when not working. It's liberating not having to worry about preparing or buying a stupid lunch everyday. Saves money, time, keeps me focused throughout the day and I'm always guaranteed to have a nutritionally dense paleo meal with lots of good fat and protein when I get home. It's a God send and I highly recommend it.

462a1b3d2bf9c8ad7340058eaf9ee881

(80)

on October 15, 2010
at 02:42 PM

I totally agree with Earl Cannonbear...the biggest advantage of doing this is the LIBERATION from having to think about preparing or buying breakfast or lunch everyday! I eat a wonderful paleo dinner every night and it does make me feel like I've been hunting all day (i.e., working) and I've now got time to relax and feast on my bounty! :)

13
82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 10, 2011
at 03:36 AM

I've fasted for up to 30 days. The problem with a three-day fast is that for most people, the first three days are likely to be unpleasant. (It depends on how keto-adapted they are beforehand.) If they continued past three days, the fast would get easier.

My experience on a longer fast was that from day four to the end of the second week, I felt normal. I wasn't hungry. Most of the time I couldn't even tell I was fasting. The body is adapted to long (several week) fasts. It's part of our evolutionary experience.

The first few days may feel bad and (depending on the person's glycogen stores) induce a lot of water loss. This frightens people. They think a longer fast would be the same, but it wouldn't.

It takes longer for the body to switch over to "fasting mode" than most people realize. The brain takes two weeks to fully switch over to using ketones. It's the brain's demands for glucose -- which gradually diminish as the brain switches over to ketones -- that make people feel bad when they begin fasting. People think they are "in ketosis" within a day. Actually ketosis is a matter of degree, and it takes about four weeks of continuous, complete fasting for the body to maximize its use of ketones.

I don't want to discourage you, but I have to say, based on my experiences, there is nothing particularly interesting about fasting for three days. I'm skeptical that it has much of a benefit. I know it seems like a long fast to people, but really, it's a short fast. The body hardly begins to switch over to "fasting mode" in that length of time.

Probably everybody here has fasted for three days at some point in their lives when they got sick. When people get the flu, they often fast for about five days. It's really not a big deal.

Thomas Seyfried, a biochemist who studies fasting as a treatment for cancer, thinks that a fast of seven to ten days is useful for preventing cancer. He bases this on experiments with rodents and levels of induced ketosis. If somebody is considering a fast for therapeutic reasons, Seyfried's seven-to-ten days might be a good minimum.

You asked for links to studies. There are hundreds of studies about fasting. I'll give you three to get you started.

Here's a good overall review article about fasting:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1274154/

Here's an article about the longest fast in the medical literature. This guy fasted for 382 days. I cite this article to establish some perspective about "long" and "short" fasts:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf

Here's a review article by George Cahill who was one of the scientists who discovered the purpose of ketosis in the 1960s.

http://physioweb.med.uvm.edu/Endocrine/2005Endocrine/CahillStarvationInMan.pdf

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on May 06, 2011
at 07:06 PM

It is a great point that many people don't realize that fasting for 2-3 days is not really a big deal. Virtually anyone can do it (unless you have some specific health issue), your body is built for it and almost everyone has sufficient energy stores. I think it would be a good exercise for people to fast periodically, as it will give you perspective on what you eat. It will make skipping a meal seem like a non-event in comparison, which it should be.

4
9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on April 27, 2010
at 11:17 AM

It's been several years, but I've fasted up to 6 days for religious reasons. I was tired the first few days, but after that I felt great. This was when I was still eating the standard Amerian diet, and even then, hunger went away after a few days. You may notice a smaller appetite after a longer fast. Eat small, easily digestible meals at first.

3
Acfd35c9e350bb4c0c17810af4decd95

on April 27, 2010
at 12:55 PM

Longest for me is a three-day fast. First day was annoying due to hunger pangs; I kept walking towards the refrigerator. On the second day the hunger was absent but I got kind of twitchy; couldn't settle down. Third day was cool. I was going to do another couple of days but I had a dinner party to attend that night.

It is amazing the amount of time one gains by not having to prepare a meal or do the clean-up afterwards.

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on April 27, 2010
at 01:29 PM

@James how did the dinner party go after a 3 day fast? I find I can only eat a little at a time and not very quickly.

2
E91fd339d760ed76cc72570a679ebf5a

(2369)

on April 27, 2010
at 01:27 PM

Be careful. I've fasted for a week or more at a time several times. It feels great at the time but the stress can have a significant, negative and long-term impact on your adrenals, thyroid, etc. Personally I wouldn't want to go more than 24-36 hours now.

2
A437b1e8729e06c27c655e3aa6a5261c

(85)

on April 27, 2010
at 12:09 PM

Longest fast I've done is about 3 days. After the first day I didn't feel hungry at all, only ate because convention dictated I should. Hunger pangs on first day, but then if you're used to fasting you'll be used to these, then didn't really notice except for the fact that my day was longer due to not having to stop to eat. Don't recall any real effects though - positive or negative.

2
058205290bee7dda415923b11182b4fb

(100)

on April 27, 2010
at 10:39 AM

My Best experience to date is with smaller Fast of 12 to 16 hours. With a Paleo nutrition plan properly dial in and blood sugar stable, fasting is easy and liberating. More then that, from what I heard from Mat Lalonde and Robb Wolf, the stress created on your body counter balance the beneficial aspect of the fast.

My 2 rocks

Mathieu D

1
5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on February 10, 2011
at 02:51 AM

Not really the same, but I got food poisoning once and couldn't eat for about a week afterwards. Just some pedialite/gatorade type stuff after a couple days. I lost like 8 pounds and was super weak when I went back to the gym. Took about a month to get back up to my old strength.

Knowing this experience I wouldn't give up protein for more than a few days.

0
Cbcb4cbf874e08dc0797ffce5e8f9a93

(200)

on April 18, 2012
at 11:47 AM

I regularly go 18-20 hours (about 5 days/week) & have done 4 days on three separate occasions. By the 4th day I lose much of my ability to concentrate, which effectively prevents me from working, so I think that's my limit.

0
86566d1bf2f9ce07646df0f97b523d55

on April 17, 2012
at 09:29 PM

Going on 11 day juice fast next week and I can hardly wait. Its great, and I have done it many times before. To me there is nothing scary or dangerous about it.The only thing Iam sure to do is to clean out my stomach first, and I use a herbal tea or Glauber Saltfor that purpose.It stops the hunger pangs as soon as thereis no more to digest. If I feel allrightat day 11 (as I normally do) then I will consider continuing for another week or two.I drink 1 cl of beetroot juice with live probiotics a day during fast.It keeps the good intestinal flora on top!Then I drink 1 liter of fresh veggie and fruit juice, herbal teaand liters of water.I get vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and speed up the anticancerous effect compared toa waterfast.This is the besttime of my life, my mind is clearer and my heart is light..... normally Idont even want to break the fast but I do so with Fermented Cabbage, carrots and beets to give a boost to the immunesystem before I start eating cured meat....good luck guys!

0
58987593d41d8a148c86690fd6a4ee67

on February 10, 2011
at 02:06 AM

I don't know how you guys do it.... I tried the 16/8 fast (relatively short fast) from leangains and right now I feel like utter shit. I can't concentrate, I feel naseas, very anxious and mildly hypoglycemic. This is the worst I've felt in a long time. I definitely will not continue this until I read his book about it or something.

I just really hope that I feel "normal" after switching back to "eat whenever youre hungry and eat till youre stuffed."

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on February 10, 2011
at 04:52 PM

try starting with shorter periods of fasting and working your way up. Coffee also helps me.

0
8ea784171b2d15cffb537349b341b806

(260)

on April 28, 2010
at 03:08 PM

The longest fast I have done was two days. This was unintentional, as I ate a huge meal for dinner one night and just was not hungry until two days later. I don't recommend fasting for more than a day if you are trying to maintain or gain weight. I killed my metabolism and lost a fair amount of weight (when I had none to lose) trying to fast during last summer because I couldn't make up the caloric difference in the one big meal; been correcting it ever since.

0
Bfe76eee280eb2fedc36f15238bf7db3

on April 27, 2010
at 07:36 PM

I tried 3 days and was fine. I was trying to fix candida overgrowth problems. When I started eating again, I was feeling better, but it was just temporary and the candida problems came back very fast.

I think that when you don't go to the real source of a problem, other treatments just patch the real problem.

I find it really surprising some people fast for like 2 weeks. I personally think this is dangerous, but people following those approaches are so sure of themselves, it's like a religion. They are often the same who eat only raw fruits and vegetables and who do constant colon cleanses. Way to go the unnatural way! I have difficulty imagining caveman doing colon cleanses.

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