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Emotional effects of fasting

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 25, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Morning everyone!

I've lately been having appetite issues (lack of it, more like) and some fellow cavepeople on here suggested I try a full fast to 'reawaken' my appetite. I've fasted before, and I like the idea; besides, I kind of do it on a daily basis since I have breakfast early and then don't get hungry till dinner very late (so, basically, an 10 hour fast every day or so). So I decided to do a full dinner-to-dinner, 24 hour fast yesterday.

Unfortunately, yesterday happened to be Tuesday. At my university, the second day of the week is as close to hell as you can get. Endless classes, and I also have rehearsals for work on top of it.

I didn't feel particularly hungry or ravenous. But as the day went along, I was getting moodier, more irritable, and stressed. And oh, the little things. Those seemingly insignificant problems you run in to that turn into full blown catastrophes when you're particularly knackered. I lost my favourite scarf; was called to a rehearsal which didn't involve me; got behind on work as a result of that; ok, I'll stop boring you with my life details here, but this sort of things wouldn't normally make me lose it. Yesterday, however, I came home and had the weirdest emotional breakdown, floods of tears, the works. I felt better after I had dinner, though I must stress again, that I wasn't feeling insanely hungry - or 'hangry'.

This made me think of something Martin from Leangains said, about how women should fast less than men because of potential emotional/hormonal effects.

Any thoughts?

D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on February 02, 2012
at 10:36 AM

8 is not a disaster - in this case, however, I suggest you limit proteins and make them easy to digest - eg some fish with some steamed veggies and butter

D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on February 02, 2012
at 10:29 AM

Well well - I feel this is totally counter intuitive. Reflect for a moment - what do our cells have to eat when we're into a fast? Fats and proteins... To prepare the body for fasting in harmonious way, it makes sense to cut carbs, stabilise, then start your fast. Incidentally, taking SOME carbs at the first meal produces the most amazing heat rush!

B9637ddb9a9a5c6a7306e3c804fcd21d

(3217)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:29 PM

I get EXTREMELY mad if eggs come out overcooked! Or if something turns out improperly heated. Ugh...

B9637ddb9a9a5c6a7306e3c804fcd21d

(3217)

on January 25, 2012
at 03:14 PM

Thanks Danny! I actually just read an article of Mark's, where he said that since IF is a stressor (albeit a good/hormetic one) it's a good idea to not fast if you're stressed because in that case it can do more harm than good. I doubt that what I eat is a problem, though, since I eat very nutrient dense stuff. Organs, bone broth, colourful veg...

B9637ddb9a9a5c6a7306e3c804fcd21d

(3217)

on January 25, 2012
at 03:11 PM

Thank you for your answer. I haven't exactly just done this on a whim; I have fasted before, and actually the fasts have become easier as far as hunger is concerned (as I said, I only got hungry near the end). Unfortunately, also, dinner at 6 pm is not convenient for me. I only eat dinner at home unless I'm travelling, and I only get home around 8. So the only fast I do is 8 - to -8, though I've done the simply skipping breakfast thing too if I want to specifically do some midday fasted training (its very convenient on a friday). But this is a good note for the future. Thanks again!

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5 Answers

best answer

2
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on January 25, 2012
at 12:53 PM

Sounds more like some more sleep is in order! But man or woman, you don't want to be worrying about what you eat if you're not feeling on top of things. On the other hand, it clearly hasn't killed you so take it as a learning experience and see if it happens again or if changing what you eat before the fast or do during it affects things.

B9637ddb9a9a5c6a7306e3c804fcd21d

(3217)

on January 25, 2012
at 03:14 PM

Thanks Danny! I actually just read an article of Mark's, where he said that since IF is a stressor (albeit a good/hormetic one) it's a good idea to not fast if you're stressed because in that case it can do more harm than good. I doubt that what I eat is a problem, though, since I eat very nutrient dense stuff. Organs, bone broth, colourful veg...

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 25, 2012
at 11:28 AM

Here's some of my thoughts and what I apply to myself. I don't tell my body when it has to go without food. My body tells me when it does and doesn't want food. We have a much better relationship that way. Eat when hungry. Don't eat when not hungry.

1
7c8e227dd8d5bdd77febfdebaa78dc13

on January 25, 2012
at 07:39 PM

I've been doing a daily 20 hour fasts for 3 weeks now, except normal eating over the weekends. I have noticed, if I get particularly hungry at the end of a fast, if anything happens that affects my food (aka: I spill a bit of soup) I get so furious! This happened to me just a few nights ago, I spilled some of my bone-broth soup and I got so mad! Then after I ate I wondered why I was so upset.

B9637ddb9a9a5c6a7306e3c804fcd21d

(3217)

on January 26, 2012
at 12:29 PM

I get EXTREMELY mad if eggs come out overcooked! Or if something turns out improperly heated. Ugh...

1
324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1

on January 25, 2012
at 03:28 PM

While I'm not a woman, I fast regularly for weight loss (48 hours with only water), and have looked at a lot of research about fasting, and I don't know of any negative effects. You may be sluggish if you're used to eating frequently, just like if you're used to drinking multiple cups of coffee in the morning and then suddenly stop, but after your body learns to not be dependent on multiple meals you'll be fine.

Around the 60-80 hour mark is when muscle starts to be catabolized, but not much, and only because your brain can't run on fats so protein has to be used to create keytones. Just make sure you eat lots of carbs before fasting so you can refill liver and muscle glycogen, that will delay the need for your body to catabolize muscle until the 60-80 hour mark. I eat half a dozen baked potatoes and a couple glasses of milk after working out and before my next 48 hour fasting period.

D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on February 02, 2012
at 10:29 AM

Well well - I feel this is totally counter intuitive. Reflect for a moment - what do our cells have to eat when we're into a fast? Fats and proteins... To prepare the body for fasting in harmonious way, it makes sense to cut carbs, stabilise, then start your fast. Incidentally, taking SOME carbs at the first meal produces the most amazing heat rush!

1
D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on January 25, 2012
at 02:56 PM

Intermittent fasting is better not dived into.

I've posted elsewhere, but aside from VLC/ZC as preparation if you're going 24 hrs+, I strongly suggest you start out differently - going breakfast to dinner and skipping lunch is not an indication you're ready for fasting, in fact it's almost to the contrary.

Here's my suggested 101 (just for you)

Have an early dinner (6pm) with a good fat loading, and relatively low carb (< 20gm) - no alcohol. Drink water, or herb teas as desired til bedtime. Ideally, you should feel a little hungry as you retire, but if not, no worries.

On rising, have a mug of hot water. Eat nothing til midday, by which time you should be feeling pretty hungry. Lunch emphasis - proteins, fats, moderate carbs ( < 50gm)

Try to follow this cycle a few days before trying out skipping lunch too.

In short - skip breakfast and eat only within a 6 hr window (18 hrs fast). Then skip lunch also (full 24 hrs fast)

Much has been posted on the wonders of coconut oil as a standby if you're fasting and suffer hunger pangs and/or low energy (maybe applies to feeling emotional too)

B9637ddb9a9a5c6a7306e3c804fcd21d

(3217)

on January 25, 2012
at 03:11 PM

Thank you for your answer. I haven't exactly just done this on a whim; I have fasted before, and actually the fasts have become easier as far as hunger is concerned (as I said, I only got hungry near the end). Unfortunately, also, dinner at 6 pm is not convenient for me. I only eat dinner at home unless I'm travelling, and I only get home around 8. So the only fast I do is 8 - to -8, though I've done the simply skipping breakfast thing too if I want to specifically do some midday fasted training (its very convenient on a friday). But this is a good note for the future. Thanks again!

D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on February 02, 2012
at 10:36 AM

8 is not a disaster - in this case, however, I suggest you limit proteins and make them easy to digest - eg some fish with some steamed veggies and butter

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