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How to break a fast.. Paleo style?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 15, 2011 at 10:11 PM

How do you break a 7 day water fast the paleo way?

5786a8dbc9f3c6e1b7ec5b46079562ae

(268)

on April 07, 2012
at 08:06 PM

How far apart were your meals, and at what pace did you add carbs? I just came off a five-day, and while I thought I'd researched and supplemented well (thiamine, potassium, magnesium), I'm having some gastrointestinal distress from the 50g of beef fat and, a few hours later, a whole deviled egg (paleo mayo) and some breakfast sausage, and a single slice of carrot. I thought I'd be fine if I made sure to supplement correctly and eat small, frequent, low-carb meals, but that has not been the case.

92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 16, 2011
at 06:17 PM

All true, I can agree that if I witnessed my cave man buddy eat a large meal after a long fast and die from it I would be less likely to eat that large meal. You are a smart man Rob Sacks, I enjoy your candor.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:53 PM

A second point. With regard to the idea that it's absurd to imagine our ancestors deliberately refeeding with small meals, humans are the only animals who experience deep ketosis. Therefore they may be the only animals who experience this type of refeeding syndrome. (I don't know if that's the case). If so, and if the problem did exist in the Paleolithic, I think it's quite possible that our ancestors handled the problem by eating small meals cautiously. They were human. They were smart. They had language and culture.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:53 PM

A second point. With the regard to the idea that it's absurd to imagine our ancestors deliberately refeeding with small meals, humans are the only animals who experience deep ketosis. Therefore they may be the only animals who experience this type of refeeding syndrome. (I don't know if that's the case). If so, and if the problem did exist in the Paleolithic, I think it's quite possible that our ancestors handled the problem by eating small meals cautiously. They were human. They were smart. They had language and culture.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:50 PM

A second point. Humans are the only animals who experience deep ketosis. Therefore they may be the only animals who experience this type of refeeding syndrome. (I don't know if that's the case). If so, and if the problem did exist in the Paleolithic, I think it's quite possible that our ancestors handled the problem by eating small meals cautiously. They were human. They were smart. They had language and culture.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:39 PM

Harley, I agree that this is an interesting question. I thought about it a lot during my 30 day fast. I think the explanation might be sugar. On real paleolithic diets, in most times and places, people ate very small amounts of sugar. Paleolithic fruit, on average, had the same amount of sugar as modern carrots. Nowadays people refeed with fruit juice (sugar water) and glucose from IVs. It's possible that refeeding syndrome is caused by those two things. However I don't know if this is the real explanation. The only thing I know for sure is that people die nowadays from refeeding syndrome.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:23 PM

A second point. You seem to assume that our ancestors wouldn't handle refeeding methodically. Why wouldn't they? Deep ketosis is unique to humans, therefore refeeding syndrome probably is too. Our paleolithic ancestors were smart. They were human. They had language and culture. They taught each other things. If refeeding syndrome existed in the Paleolithic (and it may not have, as I said in my previous comment), then I think it's very likely that our ancestors knew about it, talked to each other about it, and dealt with it intelligently just like we would have.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:18 PM

Harley, I agree that this is an interesting question. I thought about it a lot during my 30 day fast. I think the explanation might be sugar. On real paleolithic diets, in most times and places, people ate very small amounts of sugar. Paleolithic fruit, on average, had the same amount of sugar as modern carrots. Nowadays people refeed with fruit juice (sugar water) and glucose from IVs. It's possible that refeding syndrome is caused by those two things. However I don't know if this is the real explanation. The only thing I know for sure is that people die nowadays from refeeding syndrome.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:17 PM

Another thing to keep in mind is that humans are the only animals that go into deep ketosis. It's a unique adaptation because our brains are so big. I haven't checked the literature but I think this probably means that only humans can experience refeeding syndrome. If that's the case, then it's quite possible that our ancestors dealt with the problem the same way I'm recommending here. They had language, they had culture, they passed info down through the generations by talking. Yes, it's possible that they knew about refeeding syndrome and handled it intelligently.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:12 PM

Harley, I agree that this is an interesting question. I thought about it a lot during my 30 day fast. I think the explanation might be sugar. On real paleolithic diets, in most times and places, people ate very small amounts of sugar. Paleolithic fruit, on average, had the same amount of sugar as modern carrots. Nowadays people refeed with fruit juice (sugar water) and glucose from IVs. It's possible that RS is caused by those two things. However I don't know if this is the real explanation. The only thing I know for sure is that people die nowadays from refeeding syndrome.

92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 16, 2011
at 03:44 PM

Ok, how do you think our ancestors did it when they would go long bouts of not finding any food? Do you believe that after seven days of nothing to eat that he would worry about how quickly he consumed that first meal? Not stirring the pot here, but it does raise a good argument.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 12:46 PM

Refeeding syndrome is a serious risk. Nobody should break a long fast without understanding it. The first few meals should be small and they should minimize insulin release. Gradually, from one meal to the next, the amount of released insulin should be allowed to increase.

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2 Answers

7
82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 15, 2011
at 10:46 PM

When you break a long fast there is a risk of refeeding syndrome which can be fatal. There are guidelines on the Web that tell doctors how to deal with it.

Refeeding syndrome is a real danger and people should be aware of it.

Refeeding syndrome is caused by the release of insulin. The body is fantastically sensitive to insulin by the end of a long fast and a big surge of insulin can cause lethal electrolyte problems.

Given these facts, it seems to me that the logical way to avoid refeeding syndrome is to (1) begin refeeding with foods that minimize insulin release and (2) begin refeeding with small meals.

But doctors normally do the opposite of (1). They refeed with fruit, i.e., sugar, which seems absolutely insane to me.

Think of it this way. During your fast, your body was consuming a "diet" from internal sources that consisted of fat and protein. Most of the fat was palmitic acid.

Doesn't it make sense to begin refeeding on a similar diet, one that consists mainly of palmitic acid? That would mean eating animal fat.

That's how I handled refeeding after my recent 30-day fast.

My first meal was very small and consisted of 35 g of beef tallow and one egg.

For my second meal, I added 5 g of potato. I was careful to add carbs slowly to avoid refeeding syndrome.

In each meal that followed, I added some carbs and gradually made the meals bigger.

I ate liver and eggs several times over the first few days to replenish micronutrients as quickly as possible.

By the third day I felt normal. I was able to go outside and walk about a half mile. Symptoms of fasting were mostly gone. Bowel movements restarted.

This system worked very well. I had no problems except some bloating on the fourth day which I think was caused by eating a pound and a half of raw kumquats in one sitting, which I do not recommend. :)

5786a8dbc9f3c6e1b7ec5b46079562ae

(268)

on April 07, 2012
at 08:06 PM

How far apart were your meals, and at what pace did you add carbs? I just came off a five-day, and while I thought I'd researched and supplemented well (thiamine, potassium, magnesium), I'm having some gastrointestinal distress from the 50g of beef fat and, a few hours later, a whole deviled egg (paleo mayo) and some breakfast sausage, and a single slice of carrot. I thought I'd be fine if I made sure to supplement correctly and eat small, frequent, low-carb meals, but that has not been the case.

5
92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 15, 2011
at 10:43 PM

Eat a paleo choice meal? How else would you break it? You could go out and kill a deer with your bare hands, eat the heart, and parade around in it's pelt?

Just thoughts.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:18 PM

Harley, I agree that this is an interesting question. I thought about it a lot during my 30 day fast. I think the explanation might be sugar. On real paleolithic diets, in most times and places, people ate very small amounts of sugar. Paleolithic fruit, on average, had the same amount of sugar as modern carrots. Nowadays people refeed with fruit juice (sugar water) and glucose from IVs. It's possible that refeding syndrome is caused by those two things. However I don't know if this is the real explanation. The only thing I know for sure is that people die nowadays from refeeding syndrome.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:50 PM

A second point. Humans are the only animals who experience deep ketosis. Therefore they may be the only animals who experience this type of refeeding syndrome. (I don't know if that's the case). If so, and if the problem did exist in the Paleolithic, I think it's quite possible that our ancestors handled the problem by eating small meals cautiously. They were human. They were smart. They had language and culture.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:12 PM

Harley, I agree that this is an interesting question. I thought about it a lot during my 30 day fast. I think the explanation might be sugar. On real paleolithic diets, in most times and places, people ate very small amounts of sugar. Paleolithic fruit, on average, had the same amount of sugar as modern carrots. Nowadays people refeed with fruit juice (sugar water) and glucose from IVs. It's possible that RS is caused by those two things. However I don't know if this is the real explanation. The only thing I know for sure is that people die nowadays from refeeding syndrome.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 12:46 PM

Refeeding syndrome is a serious risk. Nobody should break a long fast without understanding it. The first few meals should be small and they should minimize insulin release. Gradually, from one meal to the next, the amount of released insulin should be allowed to increase.

92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 16, 2011
at 03:44 PM

Ok, how do you think our ancestors did it when they would go long bouts of not finding any food? Do you believe that after seven days of nothing to eat that he would worry about how quickly he consumed that first meal? Not stirring the pot here, but it does raise a good argument.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:39 PM

Harley, I agree that this is an interesting question. I thought about it a lot during my 30 day fast. I think the explanation might be sugar. On real paleolithic diets, in most times and places, people ate very small amounts of sugar. Paleolithic fruit, on average, had the same amount of sugar as modern carrots. Nowadays people refeed with fruit juice (sugar water) and glucose from IVs. It's possible that refeeding syndrome is caused by those two things. However I don't know if this is the real explanation. The only thing I know for sure is that people die nowadays from refeeding syndrome.

92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 16, 2011
at 06:17 PM

All true, I can agree that if I witnessed my cave man buddy eat a large meal after a long fast and die from it I would be less likely to eat that large meal. You are a smart man Rob Sacks, I enjoy your candor.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:53 PM

A second point. With regard to the idea that it's absurd to imagine our ancestors deliberately refeeding with small meals, humans are the only animals who experience deep ketosis. Therefore they may be the only animals who experience this type of refeeding syndrome. (I don't know if that's the case). If so, and if the problem did exist in the Paleolithic, I think it's quite possible that our ancestors handled the problem by eating small meals cautiously. They were human. They were smart. They had language and culture.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:23 PM

A second point. You seem to assume that our ancestors wouldn't handle refeeding methodically. Why wouldn't they? Deep ketosis is unique to humans, therefore refeeding syndrome probably is too. Our paleolithic ancestors were smart. They were human. They had language and culture. They taught each other things. If refeeding syndrome existed in the Paleolithic (and it may not have, as I said in my previous comment), then I think it's very likely that our ancestors knew about it, talked to each other about it, and dealt with it intelligently just like we would have.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:53 PM

A second point. With the regard to the idea that it's absurd to imagine our ancestors deliberately refeeding with small meals, humans are the only animals who experience deep ketosis. Therefore they may be the only animals who experience this type of refeeding syndrome. (I don't know if that's the case). If so, and if the problem did exist in the Paleolithic, I think it's quite possible that our ancestors handled the problem by eating small meals cautiously. They were human. They were smart. They had language and culture.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 16, 2011
at 05:17 PM

Another thing to keep in mind is that humans are the only animals that go into deep ketosis. It's a unique adaptation because our brains are so big. I haven't checked the literature but I think this probably means that only humans can experience refeeding syndrome. If that's the case, then it's quite possible that our ancestors dealt with the problem the same way I'm recommending here. They had language, they had culture, they passed info down through the generations by talking. Yes, it's possible that they knew about refeeding syndrome and handled it intelligently.

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