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. :)