Food is one of life’s great pleasures. Suz and I often plan or next meal while we are eating our current meal. we seek out new cuisines and restaurants and we are constantly experimenting in our kitchen. So why would I stop eating anything at all for five days at a time?
I have completed two, five-day water fasts this year and I plan on doing more because they have huge benefits. Here they are:
In five days I lose 12 pounds and when I resume eating I only put on 4. Nothing else I have tried is more effective in carving off body fat. When you stop eating, your body turns to stored energy. Most of us McDs have plenty of that. In the first 48 hours of a fast, your body becomes a “butter burner”. The ketones generated by fat metabolism kill your appetite and boost your energy level. I do hard physical labor when fasting and I have more energy than I do when eating. Ketones are brain-friendly. The mind becomes clear and the act of fasting may even counteract some of the effects of age on the brain.
When you fast your body does housecleaning. There are cells called senescent cells that are like zombie cells. They reached the end of their life and should die to allow new cells to proliferate but instead they just hang around. When fasting your body rounds these cells up and gets rid of them. Cancer cells thrive in a high glucose environment but they die or struggle in a low glucose environment. Dr. Valter Longo head of a research project on fasting at USC San Diego believes that three rounds of five-day fasts might be a strategy for cancer prevention. Fasting in conjunction with conventional cancer treatment is proving to be much more effective than conventional treatment alone.
Fasting also resets your glucose metabolism and improves insulin sensitivity. If this were all it did it would be worth it.
But wait! Don’t start fasting yet. There is a bonus. When you start eating again your growth hormone production goes through the roof so you can build muscle like a teenager.
I also like the feeling of control it gives me. I ate nothing for five days and was not even hungry. Wow!
By way of fairness and full disclosure, I must admit that I have cream in my morning coffee and I use exogenous ketones in the form of Betahydroxybuterate that I drink twice a day to kick me into high ketosis without having to go through the normal adaptation process. I also replace electrolytes to prevent lightheadedness. I am told that nobody should do a fast without consulting their doctor. I did my first one without consultation and I did my second one after I told him the first one went well. You should consult a good doc before doing one yourself.
Dr. Longo has also developed a “Fast Mimicking Diet” (FMD) that consists of 600 calories a day for those unwilling to go with water alone. His research suggests that you can get all of the benefits from the FMD that I get from the water diet. I plan to try it and report back.
Other forms of fasting that are gaining traction for health and fat loss are “Time Restricted Eating” which involves confining all calorie consumption to an eight-hour window or shorter fasts like the 5/2 diet that involves a fast two days every week.
One additional plus for fasting is that it does not drop your metabolic rate the way dieting does. For five days your metabolism is ripping right along and when you start eating again it stays robust. Long term calorie restricted diets by contrast cause a drop in metabolic rate.