I’ve Been Fasting For 3 Days. Here’s What I’ve Learned (and Why I Did It)
This week, we have a very special episode. Why is it special? Well, because as I write and record this, I am in hour 60 of a 72 hour fast.
You may remember that in the past, we've spoken with a number of experts who advocate various types of fasting. We've spoken with Brad Pilon, an advocate of intermittent fasting. We've spoken with Jimmy Moore, a proponent of ketogenetic diets and longer-term fasting. And, more recently, we've spoken with Elaina Love, who teaches people how to complete 3-7 day “cleanses” that are very closely aligned with fasting principles.
For years, I've wanted to try out a 3 to 7 day fast, but my schedule – and a good bit of fear – haven't permitted it. Recently, however, I was able to set aside the time (and have the proper supervision in the form of a live-in partner) to really try this out… and the results have been surprising, to say the least.
In this episode, I want to talk through some of the things I've been experiencing and thinking about, explain the reasoning behind this fast, and share with you what has been one of the more interesting and reaffirming biohacking experiences I've ever had.
Rather than script this entire episode out, I've outlined some bullet points, and want to speak directly and improvise. This is partly to save time, but also to demonstrate the kind of mental clarity that I've been able to maintain during this fast.
So, let's dive in?
In this episode, we discuss:
- Why am I fasting? What are the benefits I'm expecting to see?
- For the experience!
- Kill precancerous cells
- Re-set insulin sensitivity
- Improve immunity
- Increase muscle mass
- Improve will-power
- Develop the ability to fast if needed
- Reduce body fat?
- Ultimately, I was sold on it by all the findings in Tools of Titans
- What type of fast am I doing? How long? Am I really eating NOTHING?!
- No food at all
- Water with salt and green tea
- Took some of Elaina Love's Reconstructive Enzymes after day 1
- What's it like? Is it hard?
- Much easier than I thought
- People often say that it gets easier after day 3
- The nights are much harder than the days!
- Boredom is also a major factor
- The hardest part isn't actually hunger – it's “missing food” – I'll explain
- What happened to your body during all of this?
- After 13 hours, my blood sugar was still at 103 from a high carb meal!
- At 36 hours, things evened out nicely: 90 blood glucose, and an impressive 1.1mmol ketones
- By 60 hours, though, things started getting a bit more serious: 58 blood glucose and a shocking 3.5mmol ketones
- Through it all, I've had the energy to walk, work, and even be intimate – though admittedly, I wasn't as enthusiastic as usual
- What surprising realizations have you had? What have you learned?
- The biggest realization I've had has just been about my relationship with food
- The second realization I've had is that I truly am what Gretchen Rubin calls an “Obliger”
- Another interesting realization? My will power seems to be much higher while fasting
- I've also realized that it's a myth that food passes through your body in 8 hours… gross!
- Lastly, I've realized how much water comes from food
- So, how do you feel right now?
- To be honest, I feel awesome, considering my blood sugar level
- I'm incredibly focused and motivated, and have the willpower to push through tasks I've been putting off
- This is likely what Jimmy Moore was talking about!
- At this point, it's very clear to me that I could continue for another 3-5 days – but I really don't want to
- Will I do this again?
- At about 50 hours, I would've said “no way” – but looking at the benefits… it's highly likely
- Many experts recommend fasting 2-3 times a year – some do it once a month
- If I consider the benefits – namely the insulin sensitivity and anti-cancerous activity – it might be worth it
- Next time, however, I'll try to do it in situations where I'm busier – and there's less tasty food around me
- Should YOU do this?
- Of course, that's something you should discuss with your doctor
- However, if you are looking to gain some more control over your body, push your limits, etc – then probably
- So long as you are smart about it, and have some basic supervision, a moderate (3-7 day) fast is perfectly safe for most people
- I'd recommend starting with 12 hours, working up to 24, and once you've got that down, try 72
- One of the best resources I've found on this was in Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss – though I didn't consume like he did
So, those are my thoughts on my 3-day fast. I hope you guys have enjoyed this episode.
I'd love to hear in the comments… will you try this out? Why or why not?
Alright, I'm off to keep myself busy for a few more hours before devouring pretty much everything in the fridge. Bye!
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Our previous episode with Elaina Love (Round 2)
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
- Our previous episode with Jimmy Moore
- Our previous episode with Brad Pilon
- Our previous episode with Gretchen Rubin
- Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host Jonathan Levi.
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That's O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I dot com and use the coupon code SUPERHUMAN at checkout. Before we get started. I just want to let you guys know that this week's episode is brought to you by my new online course Become a SuperHuman and yes, it sounds exactly like the title of the podcast but this is actually an online course where we go into the various aspects of improving your health specifically your endocrine Health more specifically.
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Every possible literature and study we could find and we've condensed it into a simple three to four hour program that you can follow along and make simple safe and easy adjustments to your lifestyle to improve your endocrine Health now as listeners of this podcast, you can get a very special discount by visiting jle.vi/T. That's J-L-E dot V-I just like my name / T for testosterone. Putting Super Friends and welcome to a very very special episode. Why is it special you ask? Well because as I write and record this I am in our 60 of a 72-hour fast now, you may remember in the past that we have spoken with a number of experts who Advocate various types of fasting we spoken with.
Brad Pilon an advocate of intermittent fasting we've spoken with Jimmy Moore a proponent of ketogenic diets and longer-term fasting and more recently. We've spoken with Elena love who teaches people how to complete three to seven day cleanses that are very closely aligned with fasting principles now for years I have wanted to try out a three to seven day fast, but my schedule and a good bit of fear have permitted it.
Recently, however, I decided to set aside the time and really have the proper Supervision in the form of a live-in partner to really try this out and the results have been pretty surprising to say the least now in this episode. I want to talk through some of the things. I've been experiencing and thinking about and explain the reasoning behind this fast as well as share with you what has been one of the most interesting and reaffirming biohacking experiences I've ever had now rather than script this episode out.
I've outlined some bullet points and I want to kind of speak directly and improvise. This is partly, of course to save time. But it's also to demonstrate the kind of mental Clarity that I've actually been able to maintain during this fast. So without any further Ado, let's dive in to my experience fasting for three days.
So the first question you probably want to know is why the hell am I fasting what are the benefits that I'm expecting to see well to be honest throughout this experience. Certain points. I have asked myself the same question. But ultimately there is a long laundry list of reasons why I decided to take on this fast.
The first one is of course for the experience. It's something that we've talked about on the podcast so much and advocated for and yet I've never done anything longer than a 24-hour fast, so. I wanted to see what happens. I wanted to see what I was capable of and I wanted to see how it would change my perspective on my body and the things that I eat now what really pushed me over the edge I guess was two things one.
We talked with Elena love and she talked about. Killing off precancerous cells that the body is able to maintain its own cells, but precancerous cells die off in an extended fast like this. Now, I lost two grandparents out of four to cancer and cancer something that runs in my family and various different ways.
And so this was a major appeal for me. I really wanted a way to kind of prevent if there is anything. Digging around in my body that I don't want their I wanted a way to prevent that into developing into cancer. So in kind of the darkest moments of the fast that's really been something that is pushed me forward.
Now another important one was resetting insulin sensitivity, you know, I've talked on the show a little bit about how I kind of grew up eating. White foods and bread and pasta and so I'm really really sensitive to glucose. In fact, if I eat white rice my blood sugar skyrockets, and I've been testing for the last few weeks and noticing that really my blood sugar response has been.
A little bit alarming and for that reason I wanted to do this fast and see if I can reset that sensitivity and kind of improve my reaction to Foods or if I need to continue eating an extremely extremely low carb diet. Now on top of that I said that there were two real factors. Another one I would have to say is that I've been reading through Tim Ferriss has tools of Titans and he goes over in his discussion with.
Dominic D'Agostino a lot of very very impressive and alluring benefits of fasting ranging from improving immunity to actually increasing muscle mass to improving longevity and much much more now on top of that. I will say that there were a couple interesting factors that I wanted to develop. Not least of which was improving willpower.
I often find that during my hardest workouts. I tell myself that I can't do it and that's something that I want to get rid of. I want you develop the will power to say, you know, what I did that I can do this and then on top of that I would say, I think it's a useful skill to be able to fast. It's something we've talked about on the podcast something Tim Ferriss is talks about with regards to Hermann hesse's work.
And just this idea that if you can fast that gives you this ability in this patients to not find yourself in Desperate situations. Finally, I guess the last thing I would say is reducing body fat not that my body fat is above 11 or 12 percent, but I wanted to see if this is a tool that would actually allow me to reduce my body fat so.
Like I said a long laundry list of reasons why I would want a fast and a lot of those reasons. I would come back to you throughout the fast when things got difficult now that number two question that I got from people either on Facebook or friends was what kind of fast there are so many different kinds of fast what kind of my doing and.
Mi really eating nothing and how long am I going to keep this up for so to clarify I am doing a fast fast. I have eaten no food at all because the last two and a half days. The only thing I've consumed is either water with a pinch of salt just to keep electrolytes up. And I've had a little bit of green tea and herbal tea just to keep things interesting now, I will say I also took some of Elena loves reconstructive enzymes after day one because I wanted some of those benefits that she talked about about having the body break down scar tissue and fibrin.
So that's really really it for three days. That's pretty much all I've consumed. I've tried my best to consume absolutely zero calories. And so far it's going okay. So let's dive into the next question, which is what's it? Like is it hard? Is it challenging in my suffering? Well, I will say the first thing is it's much easier than I thought I expected to be suffering for 3 days and I have to say that for extended periods.
All day yesterday and even the first day it was much much easier than I anticipated it to be I would say I spend about 20 to 30 percent of the time actually hungry. And in fact, most people say friends that I've talked to who've done 30-day fast say that it gets significantly easier after 72 hours.
So one friend actually commented to me that I'm choosing to do only the most difficult part and not get into the kind of the part where you're just coasting along and. Don't really feel hungry at all. Now. We'll say what that the nights are significantly harder than the days and anytime that I'm kind of relaxed and sitting around at home either reading or watching TV is much much more difficult.
So one of the key recommendations that I would give to anyone who wants to try this out is keep busy keep your mind busy because if you're sitting around, I mean I never realized how much. TV and books and movies and even conversations with people on the phone reference food and so much of our life surrounds food that you're being reminded constantly.
If you're not keeping yourself busy with work or playing piano or doing something kind of off by yourself, you're constantly being reminded of food in that makes things incredibly incredibly challenging. Now on top of that I do want to say that boredom is the major factor. I'm finding myself with an additional four to six hours a day that normally go to food preparation and consumption and you need to kind of find a way to fill that time.
So like I said having a game plan of the things you want to get done either in work or books. You want to read that don't involve food or really really beneficial. Now I will say this on the question of is it hard the hardest part actually is not the hunger and this I'll touch on a little bit with the realization section.
But the hardest part is just missing food and I know that sounds like hunger but it's not the hardest part is. Just the pleasure and the joy that you get from eating and this kind of sensory experience that really makes your day so much better. I never realized how much of the joy that I go about the world with comes from the fact that I love.
Gastronomy and I love eating and I love cooking and it kind of feels like a huge part of the joy of my life was just sucked out and I'm not sure if I like that or don't like that on the one hand. I think it's great that you know, I like exercise and I love sunshine and I love spending time with family and I love food.
But I don't really love the fact that it's quite difficult for me to be happy and enthusiastic and engaged 24/7. Like I normally am without food so it may sound logical to you. But to me, it was a little bit interesting and surprising now before we get into the realization stuff and I'll come back to all that.
Let me answer the question what has been happening in my body. You guys know me, you know that I'm a biohacker and a measure and so I've been measuring not only my blood but also urine samples throughout this experience just at key points to kind of check that everything's been going. Okay, so at 13 hours, I was very very surprised to find that my blood sugar was still at a hundred and three.
From a very high carb meal now. I know I shouldn't have started a fast on a high carb meal but I found myself at a dinner party on the beginning of my fast and while I intended to eat just salad and beef I found that a lot of what was on the table was. Rice and sweet potatoes and a lot of really really high carb foods so that hundred and three reading is pretty high given a thirteen thirteen and a half hour fast and that really gave me the motivation to stick through this and say Hey, you know, I really need to reset the way that my body responds to insulin and to glucose now, I measured again at 36 hours and things had evened out.
Really really nicely. I found a 90 blood glucose and found myself the deepest in ketosis that I had ever been at one point one MMOs. So that was the point when really things started humming along. I started feeling great. My blood sugar was stable and I was operating fully in kind of ketosis not yet deep ketosis that operating fully in ketosis.
Now just before writing this post I did another test and by the way at the 36 hours, I also confirm those results with a urine test at 60 hours, which is about an hour ago. Things started getting a little bit more serious. I tested and found a 58 blood glucose, which is a little bit low, but not dangerously low and a pretty shocking three and a half M moles of ketones.
So I'm now in what we would call Deep ketosis territory where my body is pretty much only functioning on fat stores. And to be honest. I feel really great and really energized. Now through it all guys. I will say that I've had the energy to walk to work and do kind of intellectual work and even the intimate with my romantic partner though.
I will admit that. I wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as usual to get into that experience. So surprising realization is a lot of people wanted to understand what things had I learned. Well, I have to say coming back that the biggest realization that I've had has just been about my relationship with food again.
I never realized how much I mean. I know that I love food. I know that I'm ecstatically happy every time I eat but I never realized how much of my day and the joy of my days' surrounded looking forward to meals and enjoying meals. It's been a really interesting experience that more than the hunger the desire to eat and I never really separated out those two things before this experience that there's hunger which is you know comes and goes in waves and passes after a few hours and then there's the desire to eat which is.
Pretty much constant for me. So I'm not sure again what that means or if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I think it is really reflective of the fact that we all have access to food all the time. And so eating has become this kind of kind of like smoking a cigarette where even if you don't have a craving it's.
You're on a schedule and you're used to doing it and it gives you an endorphin boost when you do do it. And so you kind of just you know, how many of us eat lunch at noon because that's just what you do and we're not hungry. So that's been a huge realization for me. Another huge realization is that I have kind of discovered that I'm what Gretchen Rubin would call an obligor or someone who is most motivated.
By the expectations of other people and not letting other people down. I very publicly committed to friends family and followers that I was going to do this fast for 72 hours. And so at the hardest hardest points, you know, which I'll get to in a moment the hardest hardest points. When I was asking myself, does it really matter and do I really need to do this?
What I kept coming back to in addition to precancerous cells and health benefits was just I promised I would do this I said I would do this on the are thousands of people heard me commit to doing this and I need to accomplish it. So thank you guys indirectly for that and also for the learning that I'm much more motivated by other people's expectations than I had previously realized now onto the really really hard parts.
I also realized that my willpower seems to be much much much higher. I went through a couple experiences that were really really tough. For example, I needed to cook for my girlfriend and she wasn't around so I could have just snuck a bite, but I had to cook this beef that had been out in the refrigerator and it was time to cook it and so she would have dinner and let me tell you it smelled so good.
You guys just smelled amazing and I had to. Repackage the bacon to put it in the freezer and I'm just dealing with all this food and handling all this food and the entire time saying, you know, I could just eat a bite. It wouldn't hurt if I just ate a bite and I managed not to and I think typically I have much less willpower than I would like but in this experience, I was very impressed and the same carried into my work.
I found myself needing to do some writing needing to do some emails things that I didn't want to do it four or five o'clock yesterday. You know, I'm already well past 36 hours into the fast and I was able to tell myself, you know, I just sit down and do it. Whereas typically I'd say. How important is it.
I can get it done tomorrow. It's not a big deal. I didn't do any of that bargaining and I don't know if this is because I'm now operating on ketones and my brain is. Getting a different source of nutrition or because relative to not eating for three days. How hard is it really to sit down and turn out one blog post, but it has been really really interesting.
And I think this is a tool that I could use if I'm going to find myself in situations of Temptation, for example, you know going to a country where. There's a lot of pastries in the diet and I always kind of bargain and say well I'm traveling I should try new things. I think that fasting could be a way to kind of turn up my willpower and give myself the ability to say yes or no to things that I otherwise would not.
Two more quick realizations that I want to share. One of them is a little bit gross and that is I've realized that it is a complete myth when they say that food passes through your digestive system in eight hours. It definitely does not and one of my surprising factors was just that I'm still excreting and getting rid of waste even in the third day.
It's pretty incredible and definitely very gross to think about the fact that normally all that stuff kind of migrates around in your body for days on end. And I'm really glad that going through this fast has given me the opportunity to completely flush everything out and then on the term flush, I realized just how much water we all get from the foods we eat because I'm drinking maybe twice as much as I normally do part of that of course is because it feels nice to have something in my stomach.
But I'm drinking so much more liquids and I'm not as well hydrated is normally and I think that's because they usually eat so much fresh fruits and veg need a lot of cucumbers and stuff like that and there's a ton of water in all that stuff and we just don't realize how much water we are getting from our food.
And so if we are fasting is important to actually increase our liquids consumption, so, Next question. How do I feel right now was I said, I feel pretty awesome considering my blood sugar level. I am incredibly focused and motivated. I will say I took some neurotropic stimulants. So that's part of it.
But just in general overall, I feel great and I have the will power to push through tasks that have been putting off such as. Doing this post. I was going to write it and schedule it and everything in day one of the fast and as the fast has gone on I found that I had more willpower to just sit my butt down and get the work done.
This is probably what Jimmy Moore was talking about. When he said that if you could bottle the feeling of ketosis it would be the most. Powerful best selling smart drug out there. I definitely feel incredibly clear incredibly focused. I have a ton of energy. I don't think I could run, you know a 5k right now, but I have a ton of energy to talk and work and just a lot of motivation.
Now we'll say at this point. It's quite clear to me that I could pretty easily continue for another three to five days. But I really really really don't want to I'm looking forward so much just to the experience of eating and I've been fantasizing about all the kind of cooked food that I packaged up and put in the fridge all the stuff that's sitting there and I'm just.
So excited you guys to eat that in what's supposed to be 12 hours, but I'll be monitoring my blood sugar and see if 12 hours is really the right thing to do. I'm sure like I said I could go on but it's definitely not something that I want to do this time around. So will I do this again? Well at 50 hours, which was last night.
I would have said no way and I was asking myself and my girlfriend why the hell I agreed to do this, but that passed I just went to sleep and it passed quite easily and I woke up feeling fine and I wasn't hungry again until I just described to you guys all the amazing stuff that is sitting in my.
Refrigerator in tupperware boxes so looking at the benefits. I have to say it's highly likely that I will do this again, but I will do a couple things differently. For example, I will not have a high carb meal so that I can ease in slowly. I'll probably eat a really really high fat meal so that I can get directly into ketosis without the kind of really difficult point that I experienced at around well between 13 and 24 hours.
Now many experts do recommend fasting two to three times a year and some folks like Tim Ferriss do it once a month for three days. Now if I consider all the benefits that I mentioned before so the insulin sensitivity, you know, diabetes also goes in my family and cancer then it might well well be worth it.
I think probably going through God forbid chemotherapy or any kind of cancer treatment would be a lot worse than skipping. Food for three days a month or a quarter. And so yeah, I think I'll probably end up doing this again, but I'll definitely do it in situations where I'm busier working towards a deadline so that I have things to focus on and try to do it at a point where I don't need to cook for another person or go to the office where people are eating lunch.
So removing Temptation would definitely be one of the factors that I considered in scheduling this out and doing this, right. The final question should you do this now? Of course, I can't give you guys medical advice and it's something you should definitely discuss with your doctor before doing it.
But if you guys are looking to gain a little bit more control over your body push your limits and so on then yeah, probably there are a lot of health benefits and as long as you're smart about it, You have some basic supervision and you don't have a medical condition that would prevent you then.
Yeah moderate 3 to 7 Day fast is generally perfectly safe from all the research that I've done now. I would recommend starting out with a 12-hour fast and working up to a 24-hour fast and once you've got that down I would recommend. Shifting into a 72-hour fast, but only once you're able to do the 24-hour fast.
One of the best resources guys that I found on this was in the tools of Titans book by Tim Ferriss. I didn't consume the way he did or drink coconut oil or anything, but I found that his recommendations of going for a walk to kick into ketosis were spot on and just generally that it gave me a nice protocol for how to get through it.
So those are my thoughts on my three day fast. I really hope you guys have enjoyed this episode even though it was just me talking for I don't know 20 minutes half an hour. If you have enjoyed it. I would really love to hear in the comments and I'd love to know will you guys try this out? Why or why not and what did you think?
Is this something? That sounds absolutely crazy to you or is it something that you could see yourself doing? That's all for today guys. I am off to keep myself busy for a few more hours before I devour pretty much everything in the fridge. So thanks again for listening and take care. All right Super Friends.
That is all we have for you today. But I hope you guys really enjoyed the show and I hope you learned a ton of actionable information tips advice that will help you go out there and overcome the impossible if you've enjoyed the show, please take a moment. To leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or drop us a quick little note on the Twitter machine at go SuperHuman.
Also if you have any ideas for anyone out there who you would love to see on the show. We always love to hear your recommendations. You can submit on our website or you can just drop us an email and let us know. That's all for today guys. Thanks for tuning in. When I get to the becoming SuperHuman podcast for more great skills and strategies or four links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast will see you next time.