All right, you might think that I’m sick, have some sort of eating disorder, or desperate to lose weight. Well, sorry to disappoint you but none of that is true. I didn’t eat for five days because I found out about the benefits of fasting: preventing cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, repression of metabolic diseases, and neurological disorders.
Wait a minute. Cure for cancer? Alzheimer’s? Parkinson’s? How can all that be possible? Why is this not in all the headlines on the news? Who said that, anyway?
I heard about the benefits of fasting from Tim Ferriss’ podcast episode with Dominic D’Agostino. “Dom” is an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, and a senior research scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). He has also dead-lifted 500 pounds for 10 reps after a 7-day fast, as you can read in Tools of Titans, the new Tim Ferriss’ book.
D’Agostino explained on Tim’s show the benefits of the ketogenic diet, a high-fat diet that use ketones to produce energy instead of glucose. When on this diet you get your source of energy by consuming fat elements, such as coconut oil (XCT oil), MCT oil, olive oil, and butter.
“Dom” defends that the keto-diet can potentially kill cancer cells, eliminate seizures, treat metabolic diseases (type 2 diabetes), effectively combat other neurological disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s; Parkinson’s).
As Dom D’Agostino explains, our brain is a hybrid engine. The primary source of energy is glucose, which we get from ingesting carbohydrates and sugar. BUT in periods of limited glucose, the brain has the ability to generate fuel using ketones. Think of an emergency fuel tank, in case your body runs out of glucose, we have some ketones in storage. Our body naturally produces them, but, we rarely use them , because most of us have a glucose based diet.
So, why should we use them though? First of all, it’s always good to be flexible, have a hybrid brain working. Second, Dom D’Agostino’s and Thomas Seyfried’s research suggested that most of health cells in our body can use ketones as an alternative source of energy.
Surprisingly, cancer cells lack the ability to transition from glucose to ketones. Imagine your body killing cancer cells by starvation. That’s what happens when we achieve ketosis through fasting, a high-fat diet, exogenous ketones, or a combination.
Now that you know the benefits of fasting, I invite you to dive into my experimental, 122 hour-fast.
Background: the slow-carb diet
First, let me clarify something that might have had an impact on the way my body performed throughout the fast. For two and a half years, I’ve been on a slow carb-diet. Meaning, I only eat greens ( vegetables, tons of salad), beans (legumes) and protein. I tried being vegetarian for a period of time and sort of lost interest in meat, eating it only once in a while. Tofu, eggs, edamame and nuts have been my main source of protein recently. Once a week, I have a cheat day, when I can eat whatever I want, including sugar and carbohydrates.
First attempt fasting
So, before diving into the 5-day-fast, I did a trial run, going 54 hours without eating, two days before Christmas. I was inspired by my boyfriend who, a few months before, went for a 5 day-fast only consuming water. During my fast, I was energetic and almost on a high. I did have some trouble sleeping (which is normal), but other than that I was pretty happy.
The big challenge: 122 hours fasting
After my fast, my boyfriend proposed a challenge for the both of us: to begin the new year on a 5-day fast. We were free to consume coffee, especially Bulletproof Coffee, tea and water. I accepted the challenge! It felt like going on a trip, I was excited and curious to see where this adventure would take both of us!
Just a quick note here: on New Year’s Eve I got a cold, lost my voice and felt sick. At that point I realized that fasting wouldn’t only contribute to my health in the long-term, but also with my healing. Ketones have an anti-inflammatory effect (you really should read Tools of Titans!)
That being said, on January 1st at 9:07pm after eating a full-rack of BBQ-Baby Back Ribs with fries we started fasting. Here is how it went for me:
Day 1 (24 hours)
I woke up hoarse and with a cough (damn, flu!). I drank my Bulletproof coffee (coffee, coconut oil and butter blended) and meditated. If I had to work I had no condition to do so, because of my lack of voice. I was feeling weak which I blame on the cold. I used my time to finish “The Architecture Of Happiness”, by Alain de Botton. I started reading this book a while ago and was eager to finish it. Throughout the day I drank a lot of water and Pu-erh tea, originally from China, brought especially for me as a gift by a dear friend.
Day 2 (48 hours)
Considering the lack of voice, I decided to spice-up the fasting-challenge by taking a day of silence. This way I could save my voice, preserve energy, and use this time to reflect. But I did have to deal with some duties. For example, I had to walk to the bank and pay rent, so I prepared a note to the cashier explaining my situation.
Happy New Year! I’m currently hoarse and on a speaking fast(Crazy-People-And-Their-New-Years-Resolutions, right?). I swear this is not a joke, but you can laugh. At least, that way our mute interaction will be enlightened by a smile. I would like to make a deposit to X. Thank you! Have a great day!
Duties completed. Time to go to CVS to measure my blood-pressure. I was fine: 120/65 mm Hg. Anything below 120 over 80 is normal. My pulse rate was 67, which is also pretty good. I walked back home, completing a mile walk. I meditated, journaled, watched some series on Netflix, and read a little of Scott Addam’s book . I drank a lot of water, bulletproof tea, and coffee throughout the day.
Day 3 (72 hours)
I woke up determined to have a good day. Being hoarse and coughing without eating is a bit depressing! So, I prepared myself some Mushroom Coffee, by Four Sigmatic. It’s just the most delicious coffee I have ever tried in my life! My boyfriend got me a box for Christmas and now I’m sort of addicted to it! It’s marvelous! They do recommend mixing it with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and butter, but it’s just too good to take the risk of mixing with anything. I had little bites of butter in the morning and in the evening. I also mixed coconut oil on my tea to keep the ketones flowing.
I went for a run, but I felt too weak to work out, so I took a long slow walk listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast episode. Curiously, the guest of the week was A.J Jacobs, a New York Times best-selling author who has done tons of experiments, one of them was to become the healthiest person alive. I walked for 2 miles and did my stretching routine. My body was feeling tired. I guess I had what is called the “keto-flu”, a process when your body is adapting to the transition of glucose to ketones . Besides that, I was okay. My voice was a little better. I finished Scott Adams’s book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”, and took some notes.
Day 4 (96 hours)
I woke up feeling radiant! My hair was shining and my skin was soft. I was very impressed with my reflection in the mirror. After meditating and drinking coffee, I went for a 2-mile walk. When I got back home I took a long, relaxing bath. Another cup of coffee with coconut oil and I was ready to meet my friends! They noticed the change in my body, skin, hair, and complimented me about it. It felt good to receive their support. I felt particularly thirsty, so I had some extra doses of water throughout the day. I started reading a new book “The Only Grammar Book You Will Ever Need”, by Susan Thurman.
Day 5 (+120 hours)
Last day of fasting. I stayed longer in bed to avoid the desire for food. Once awake, I had some Bulletproof coffee and tea. I meditated and made some time to draft this blogpost. I decided to pause for some workout. So, I did some long stretching and used a foam roller to spread out my muscles. My body felt very sore, I felt tired and anxious for the end of the experiment. I walked to the CVS to measure my blood pressure. Once again, everything was normal: 117/70 mm Hg and 64 pulse rate. I read for a while, wrote, journaled and planned my first meal after 122 hours fasting.
My boyfriend decided to continue with his fast until Sunday, but I had made plans with friends for Saturday lunch, so I would keep the end date of the experiment for Friday at 9:07 pm. Unfortunately, I would not be home at that time, so the earliest I’d be able to eat was around 11pm. It was totally worth it though!
Against most people’s expectations, I broke my fast with a very healthy and light meal. I prepared beans, edamame, baked zucchini with cheese, and a salad of mixed greens with slices of bacon! It was divine! I took my time eating and truly appreciated the flavor of every ingredient.
The long deprivation of food definitely made me contemplate the value of it much more than before. Fasting took me on a path of discovery of my own body’s limits, desires, and possibilities.
I always tell my little sister that our body is our temple.
We are responsible for what happens to it, whether online or offline whether it comes to relationships, pleasure, food, or exercise. We are in control of our lives and we have to take responsibilities for our decisions on a daily basis. The life I pursue is full of joy, movement, and freedom. I want to be able to run, play, and travel with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. So, I realize, I better start doing something now.
Fasting is definitely something that I’m incorporating into my life. If you are interested, please, read about, talk to your doctor and be prepared. Knowledge is fundamental and remember: your body is your temple!
“If you don’t have cancer and you do a therapeutic fast 1 to a 3 times per year, you could purge any precancerous cells that may be living in your body”
D’Agostino, Dominic cited by Tim Ferris, Tool of Titans. Page 24.