5

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What does a long fast feel like?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 24, 2011 at 11:40 AM

How do you feel physically and mentally? Specifically, are your intellectual abilities compromised in any way? I ask because I'm thinking of fasting for 3+ days but am a bit concerned it'll interfere with my studies (I've just signed up to an intensive subject at university). Also, how exactly do you fast - do you only drink water throughout or do you incorporate some limited forms of food...?

9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on February 13, 2013
at 07:03 PM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf Case of a man fasting for a little over a year

8e158f92335c3b3729a74226939ef7b7

on February 20, 2012
at 04:10 AM

There's an interesting article in the most recent (march 2012) issue of Harper's Magazine about fasting (history, use for disease treatment and the author's experience.) Sadly, it's not online yet. But I highly recommend it. The author's long fast is 20 days of water only.)

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on July 25, 2011
at 08:24 AM

Ben can say what he wants, but I've actually done it -- 40 day water only fast. Cranky for the first few days and after felt absolutely fantastic. Kept running and studying (I was in college at the time) adn was fine. However, I was overweight at time -- when I started I was 35-40lbs more than I weigh now and I lost 20 pounds, so if you are at your optimal weight, you definitely could lose a dangerous amount. But it all depends on your goals and why you would do such a thing. I won't kid you, you lose muscle.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:08 PM

Just a feeling? I suppose. A month without calories is ridiculous.

446d2dddaeeccb2cc31a09cf20e40d46

(676)

on July 22, 2011
at 06:32 PM

@ben: Is that just a feeling, or do you know what you're talking about? Why is it dangerous? And why would it be nonsense?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 22, 2011
at 05:37 PM

A month long fast is utter nonsense and noshit dangerous. Do not listen to this guy.

07154e6d8e42065f230d06249700fe5b

(2057)

on July 08, 2011
at 03:44 PM

Ramadan is only a fast from sunup to sundown, and at sundown there is a big feast... So it's more like a month of intermittent fasting :P

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on June 25, 2011
at 10:42 AM

Well, Ramadan is 28 days and there are millions who do that fast every year. 40 days is what Jesus fasted and many Christians through the years have followed this example. There was a guy -- was it Bragg? who used to promote month-long water-only fasts.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 24, 2011
at 05:06 PM

What!? "many folk fast for a month or more?" are you sure about this?

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13 Answers

2
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 19, 2012
at 10:05 PM

If you aren't sure about long water-fasts, you should research and consider ADF (alternate day fasting.)

I was losing the battle against stress and both my bg and bp had become elevated. I considered a long water-fast but decided against it.

What I chose is ADF. ADF comes in 3 basic variations, all of which involve normal eat-to-satiation intake every other day (feed days.) The variations involve what you do on the fasting days: calorie-free, 25% normal intake of food or a full meal 24 hours after the last meal on the previous day.

The last variation is what I call IF and I've done that for months. I decided to try the calorie-free fasting day approach. That means I go about 38 hours with no calories and 44-48 hours without solid food (I break my fast as I always did, sipping mugs of coffee with cream/honey.)

My results have been amazingly good. Due to stress, both my bp and bg were elevated when I started (waking bg 95-105 and bp readings at upper edge of normal.) After only 5 days, my waking bg is now 70 and my 2-hour post-prandial is 112. My diastolic bp is down where I want it (60s-70s) and the systolic has improved a lot but isn't quite all the way down yet. I'm down to fasting bg about 4 hrs after eating and stay there until I break my fast.

My energy and moods are great. I do my walking on fast days since I have extra time. The only real adjustment I had to make was drinking my coffee black on the fast days but I'm handling that better than I feared. I even did grocery shopping on a fast day and it didn't bother me at all.

2
Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

on July 22, 2011
at 05:25 PM

Start with shorter fasts and see how you feel. If you feel good with a 16-20 hour fast like most people do then you can push it longer but I wouldn't start with a 3 day fast if you haven't tried shorter amounts of time. I think I remember reading somewhere that the benefits of fasting tend to top off after 20 hours, I'll see if I can find any literature supporting that.

2
7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 22, 2011
at 03:29 PM

I fasted for three days once. I have to admit that for everything I read about how good fasting feels (and I find that fasts up to 36 hours do feel good), I was extremely cranky and tired during the last day, and didn't sleep well on the second night. I also distinctly remember trying to read something, and sitting there staring at the same page for about half an hour without actually taking in a word of it. Perhaps I'm an IF failure :P

2
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 08, 2011
at 02:32 PM

It depends.

It depends on your own body and what you normally eat. Your fast could feel vasty different based upon a number of different factors.

I did a three-day water-only fast after three weeks of low-carb, no coffee, no sugar and my three day fast was horrible. I felt like crap for the first 36 hours. I should mention that I'm not one to IF because I've been overweight and at the time was still dealing with crappy sleep; so I wasn't used to fasting. Although I had done the Master Cleanse twice before doing this water-only three-day fast.

That said, your body could react very differently than mine and be fine!

2
8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

on June 24, 2011
at 12:37 PM

3 days isn't really a "long" fast. Many folks do a week and some even do a month or more. But 3 days is a real fast (not just intermittent fasting).

So the biggest question you didn't answer for us is -- why are you doing this? That will determine how to guide you.

People define fasting as many different things -- eating nothing and drinking only water, eating nothing, but drinking enough calories to make up your whole caloric need, eating and drinking nothing during daylight hours, but doing whatever when it's dark. So, it depends on your motivation and intentions.

On a 3 day fast where you are greatly reducing or eliminating caloric intake, you will definitely feel "foggy" the 2nd or 3rd day (on a week-long fast, those are usually the worst days), but I'd think you could schedule it so those are the weekend or on days you can take it slow.

But tell us why you are thinking of doing this and we can give better advice!

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on June 25, 2011
at 10:42 AM

Well, Ramadan is 28 days and there are millions who do that fast every year. 40 days is what Jesus fasted and many Christians through the years have followed this example. There was a guy -- was it Bragg? who used to promote month-long water-only fasts.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 24, 2011
at 05:06 PM

What!? "many folk fast for a month or more?" are you sure about this?

07154e6d8e42065f230d06249700fe5b

(2057)

on July 08, 2011
at 03:44 PM

Ramadan is only a fast from sunup to sundown, and at sundown there is a big feast... So it's more like a month of intermittent fasting :P

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 22, 2011
at 05:37 PM

A month long fast is utter nonsense and noshit dangerous. Do not listen to this guy.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:08 PM

Just a feeling? I suppose. A month without calories is ridiculous.

446d2dddaeeccb2cc31a09cf20e40d46

(676)

on July 22, 2011
at 06:32 PM

@ben: Is that just a feeling, or do you know what you're talking about? Why is it dangerous? And why would it be nonsense?

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on July 25, 2011
at 08:24 AM

Ben can say what he wants, but I've actually done it -- 40 day water only fast. Cranky for the first few days and after felt absolutely fantastic. Kept running and studying (I was in college at the time) adn was fine. However, I was overweight at time -- when I started I was 35-40lbs more than I weigh now and I lost 20 pounds, so if you are at your optimal weight, you definitely could lose a dangerous amount. But it all depends on your goals and why you would do such a thing. I won't kid you, you lose muscle.

9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on February 13, 2013
at 07:03 PM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf Case of a man fasting for a little over a year

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 24, 2011
at 01:41 PM

Since you haven't stated in your question, I'm wonder if you've attempted IF? If not I'd suggest you try a 12 hour fast, then if all goes well, try 18, then 24 etc.

I try for at least a 18hr IF 5 days a week, I feel lighter, clearer, less distracted and my digestive system, which is an issue, is starting to improve...this is the biggest reason I do it.

I have had to fast for periods when traveling, I find once I get past the initial hurdle I cruse w/o issue. I'm not sure I'd even want to do it for more than 24-36 hours though.

what is your purpose? Any why would you want to take the chance of depriving your brain from fuel while doing something important like during your studies? Perhaps consider waiting until your studies are done and you don't have anything else pressing going on?

0
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on February 14, 2013
at 01:27 AM

i've done multiple fasts and they've all been different. i've done about five 3 day fasts, two 6 day fasts, and one 28 day fast. all of them but one contain some form of juice and/or broth. for one i was on total bowel rest in the hospital and wasn't allowed anything by mouth so just 6 days of iv fluids. that was very difficult and i was miserable. didn't sleep much and was very depressed.

mine have all been either for colonoscopies or general healing for my gut. none of them have worked for healing, but i don't regret doing them.

0
Ba0268a02c02863642b1394852566ab6

on February 13, 2013
at 09:53 PM

are you an idiot???????

0
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on February 13, 2013
at 05:37 PM

If you are not fat adapted yet the first day or so will probably be awful since your body will be pulling all the stops out to get you to give it glucose.
Eventually you get into ketosis on a fast. You may feel a little restless. Hunger usually subsides a little, but it is still there as a low key imperative. Basically, you are now in a hunter-gatherer mode, which means your body is putting out all the right chemicals to get you to wander around all day searching for food. I think this is the biological mode those who fast for spiritual reasons look for (a biological search mode works for more than food), but they usually get short circuited by bread and other foods commonly thought of as penitential which tend to spike blood sugar. The subsequent low blood sugar, after insulin has struck, tends to make people cranky and lost. There are two decent ways of dealing with serious ick on a fast. Get out and walk- low level exercise helps normalize things. Eat a little fat- this is for the extremely low energy feeling- a tbsp of MCT oil (or just coconut oil if you aren't allergic) can really bring you back up without interfering with the bio-chemical effects of the fast too much- especially compared to other macronutrients.

But, to your question, it feels like you are hungry, and it feels like work, except the work is not doing something instead of doing something.

0
363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on February 19, 2012
at 08:24 PM

I have done some water fasting and it helped me to lose a lot of weight, the first 3 days are rough as many have said, you shouldn't get up too quickly or you may feel faint, if you have to drive or have a strenuous job, I wouldn't recommend it. Lots of sleep is essential. The more weight you have to lose, in some ways, makes it easier because you have more fuel. Some muscle is burned up. I lost 60 lbs through fasting, and 15 of them were muscle (estimated by dietitian's scale and calipers). Breaking the fast should be done carefully so as not to lose the weight loss, if that is your reason for it. In the two months of refeeding after my long fast I lost another 8 lbs, but gained 8 lbs of muscle back, so if it is done right, you can have good results. Sometimes now I do a 3 day fast over a long weekend, or just fast for 24 hours here or there, kind of for maintenance and depending on whether or not I am hungry.

0
861a91d839996cfcb119fa40a74e38c2

on February 19, 2012
at 07:44 PM

I used to do proper 7x24h fasts - water only, felt wonderful after woods. First three days are the hardest especially if you can't manage the mind over matter issue, i.e. if you fast for the wrong reasons. Long time fasts are not recommended in perimenopause and menopause or andropause cos it messes up the metabolic rate.

0
319cdfcd8ec0467f34a3c5aeb2a5e045

on February 19, 2012
at 10:20 AM

I did a 4 day fast and it wasn't too bad. My body temperature dropped so I was always looking for a blanket. I drank a lot of Metromint water to keep my stomach from growling. (By the way - that stuff is great if your sick! It's just water with a little mint essence).And after day 2 I did get a little "high" from it. Weird feeling, didn't like that part at all. I'm planning do do a few 1 day fasts this summer if it gets really hot, since there's no AC in this cave.

-1
Ea65e9ab7e588aa296eafa70ec4d18a4

on February 13, 2013
at 04:11 PM

Im fasting morning till 3.,. no breakfast then eat wendys salad at 3 (try not to eat hamberger) ...any advice?? Ken

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