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August 07, 2017

Fasting Update: I Tapped Out After Hitting Around 120 Hours (Five Days)

In case you were worrying I might die over the weekend, know the feeling, I talked myself into having panic about that too.

I hadn't planned on doing a longer fast until I was a couple of days into it. Until the second day, I had really only planned on a two day fast.

So I hadn't actually gotten my act together for a longer fast -- I hadn't read in detail about how to do one, or gotten the stuff I'd need for supplements or to slowly break the fast if I needed to.

I did a ton of exercise on Saturday, the same day I got Potassium Chloride powder delivered from Amazon. Fasting can play havoc with your electrolytes, and if your electrolytes are way out of balance, you could have a heart attack. So I got some potassium chloride powder. (It's hard to get potassium -- when you buy pill supplements, each only has 3% of the US RDA.)

On Saturday I kept getting muscle cramps in my feet and legs. I took some potassium chloride -- maybe a bit too much, and not with food to slow down absorption (as I was fasting).

The cramps got worse, and then I started to worry -- fantasize, probably -- that I had taken too much potassium on an empty stomach and was probably now going to have a heart attack.

So, now having panicked myself, I began trying a refeeding protocol at about 10pm, at just about the five day/120 hour mark.

First just having an extra cup of bone broth, then having about 8 grams of cassein protein powder in water, then, after an hour or so, eating light food (low-carb chips, just about six of them).

This isn't a good refeeding protocol; it's just what I had available. I hadn't planned on breaking fast on Saturday so I didn't go out and get stuff like watery fruit (cantoloupe, for example) that I've heard people recommend for the first food eaten when breaking a fast.

Long story short: I really needed to read more about this and to figure out how much of potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc., i'd have to take everyday, and in what way, before the fast, rather than trying to figure it out on the fly during one.

Turns out, when you're panicking -- it's kind of hard to read books or websites about electrolytes. Your mind is kind of elsewhere. Like wondering, "Am I going to have to go to the hospital and have doctors pipe nutrients into me?"

What an asshole.

Anyway, after eating some chips, I waited an hour -- okay, fifty minutes -- to see if I was getting nauseous from them. I wasn't, so I ate more. I waited another hour (or another 50 minutes), then began eating a lot more chips.

The next day I had some chicken soup -- mostly broth -- and when that went okay I just started eating again.

So, here's the good and bad of the five day fast:

1. I seem to have lost weight but I'll have to see over the next few days how much of that was legit fat weight and how much was just shedding water. Maybe I lost five pounds-- maybe less. I think I lost close to a percent of bodyfat, but who knows with these very inaccurate scales.

2. Hunger did diminish on days 3 and 4, but never really went away. On day five, after some hard workouts, man, did hunger come back. I probably could have ridden it out if I didn't start panicking myself. Either way though, I did not get that "hunger goes away" thing.

3. But that just might be because I wasn't doing a full water fast-- I was having a cup of bone broth a day, and occasionally some cassein protein. Maybe hunger only "goes away" if you're doing a full absolutely-nothing-but-water fast. (Upton Sinclair said this in his book on fasting -- he could not have just a few berries a day, because if he did, it would be just enough to keep his appetite alive while not actually giving him the feeling of being sated.)

4. I had no feeling of particular mental clarity. Again, maybe this only happens in true water fasts.

5. On the other hand, I generally felt reasonably good. Energy was always pretty good, and my mood was usually either normal or positive/happy. I did a lot of housework type stuff I usually don't bother doing. I just always felt like doing something.

Except for day five and my These Foot Cramps Are Surely a Sign of Impending Heart Attack Panic, it was not a bad or difficult experience. At times, sure, you're hungry, but not so bad that I had to exercise any real willpower to avoid eating.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if a five day fast delivered any benefits that make it "worth it," compared to a more normal and easy-going week of intermittent fasting plus one or two days of full fasting. Certainly the latter seems a lot safer and less worrisome a proposition. (For people who are not undernourished, underweight, and who don't have some pre-existing kidney/heart problem or diabetes, etc.)

I'll probably do this again in a month -- going for seven days or more -- but only after I've really read up on electrolytes and have all the suggested foods ready for refeeding (which can take 3-4 days of eating more substantial foods, starting with watered-down juice and ending with adding in some small amounts of meat).

I just wasn't nearly read up enough or prepared enough for this. Later I found out that coconut water can help dispel cramps, and that cramps might just be a sign of dehydration and not electrolyte imbalance, and stuff like that. If I had that in the house, I might have continued fasting through the weekend. But I didn't.

Knowledge is armor, and I went into battle wearing a Wizard's Robes (AC 10).

Can't recommend fasts longer than four days until I know more about them. Seems to me that 1-2 or even 2-3 day fasts, done once a week or once a month, are a much safer bet, as at that short duration, you have relatively few concerns about your body running out of electrolytes or etc.

Anyone get more GAINZZZ this weekend?

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posted by Ace at 06:25 PM

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