So, I just finished a 90 hours fast.
To get a better picture: that´s close to 4 days without food — just water and tea.
I intended to do it no longer or shorter, because for me this length seems quite manageable and gives a great amount of benefits without „overdoing“ it.
Well…it´s been only nearly 4 days but the phases you go through while fasting are quite „interesting“.
Let me guide you through them..
Day 1: not that hungry til mid-day, a little moody, kind of impatient already, but overall ok.
Day 2: „Why the fuck am I doing this shit?! I´m gonna break it, I´m gonna quit, I just gonna do it another time when I´m more busy and more distracted! How can being pissed, restless and annoyed be healthier than fasting anyway? That´s it, tonight I´m gonna eat my scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms“ (that´s pretty much all I had in my fridge).
Don´t ask me how I made it through day 2, because I can´t even count how many times I battled with thoughts of quitting and how many excuses have circled my mind – buuut something in me somehow resisted to eat.
So I didn´t.
I decided to break the fast the next day instead..
Day 3: I woke up. and felt..kinda good.
I immediately decided, nope I´m not going to break my fast today. I gonna make it through those 90 hours! I went for a run and actually had great energy, but then again..I also felt exhausted after 15 minutes.
By now my body has adjusted getting its energy differently with the result of me feeling better in my head with more steady energy levels.
It´s pretty common that the first two days suck. They are definitely the hardest and worst.
If you can make it through the first 48 hours, you already made it half way through – even if you decide to fast for 10 days.
Day 4: „I actually could go on…“
I really thought this. My energy got even better, I was more sharp and more motivated (okay I was also looking forward to eat again that day).
But it really did feel like I could go on for another few days.
However, I´m not too much into longer fasts, even though challenging myself to do a 5 day one seems quite appealing (yea until day 2 starts..).
And maaan, does it feel good to eat again. You really do appreciate food much more, its taste, its smell, and just being able to chew again.
So and with what did I break it?
I didn´t go for the whole fruit or juice thing, nope. After 4 days it´s usually ok to go for smth more substantial, at least for me. Everyone is different.
So I made some eggs (there they are;) with some mushroom and spinach (of course), some cucumber aaand drum drum…beef liver.
Just because it´s delicious.
Fasting – especially during the first couple of days — feels like you´re waiting…
waiting until you can eat again.
waiting until your life becomes normal again.
and waiting until you can participate in normal things again, like going to a cafe without having to order tea…I mean who drinks tea in a cafe?
It´s. just. not. the. same.
So yea everyone goes through different stuff, and some fasts can be easier than the others.
After having done it a few times before, 2 of which happened last year. I can say that with this one I had to push through much harder.
I believe because I didn´t need to go to work. Being properly occupied takes a lot of thought battling away, and before you realize it, it´s bedtime and the next day is about to start. Some people prefer resting.
So yea, this was my first 90 hours fast experience this year.
Now I´m gonna show (or rather explain) you why I´m actually doing this to me. And I bet after reading this, you gonna think about doing it as well;)
Fasting is stress.
Do I have you on board already?
Well, yes fasting is stress for the body, no question. But so is exercising. The muscles while strength training are torn. They need to be under stress in order to rebuild themselves again. That´s how they get stronger.
Same goes with fasting.
Firstly, it makes your immune system stronger and more resilient.
While fasting your body goes into survival mode and tries to save energy. It does it, amongst other things, by getting energy from other sources than it normally would. One way is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed or even damaged. It´s like, only the strongest and fittest survive;)
Basically your cells are going to start regenerating, which leads to them replacing old cells with new and healthier ones.
Yes at first the number of white blood cells go down while fasting, but when you start to refeed again, stem cells are activated and start to pump out new ones.
Fasting is literally reseting your entire immune system, making you more resilient to toxins, bacterias, free radicals etc. than before.
Another great benefit of fasting is the increase of human growth hormones, which plays an important role in growth, metabolism and muscle strength. Some athletes out there take supplements to inhance their human growth hormones, because it speeds up recovery time, helps to build muscle faster and burns fat faster! So why not do it the healthier, more natural and also more challenging way! (you know.. strengthening your willpower is not a bad thing either..).
Furthermore the boost in human growth hormone enhances collagen production (for healthy nails, hair, skin and joints), and also improves bone densitiy. Oh and just so you know..it´s also called the anti-aging hormone.
So yea..we definitely want more of that.
My favourite benefit of fasting is actually its effect on autphagy.
As humans we need to eliminate waste from our body… well, so do our cells. They need to get rid of their waste and constantly restore themselves in order to perform optimaly. Autophagy is basically the cell recycling and refreshing itself and fasting turns on this process immensevely, because now, without any food, the body has time to do so.
When you are in a constant feed modus, the body is mainly occupied with all the food you consume, digesting it as fast as it can, before the next load comes in. (btw, that´s why we lose our appetite when we are sick, because our body needs the energy to fight off bacteria and get healthy again).
Autophagy is also a reason why proper sleep for example is so crucial. During that time our bodies actually do all the repairing and restoring, making us ready for the next day.
However..nowadays with the amount of stress we are confronted or put on ourselves, the food we eat (or not eat), the alcohol we consume, the constant snacking during the day and til late in the evening, as well as lack of sleep itself, makes this cleaning process of the cells harder and harder and this comes with a bunch of consequences.
From fatigue and digestive issues, to autoimmune diseases and other severe physical but also mental illnesses. It shows up differently for everyone.
And since we talk about stress… fasting does help here as well, because you will be improving your body´s general resistance to stress in the long-run.
Exposing your body to different kind of stressors such as excersicing, cold showers, sauna or fasting makes your body, as said, more resilient and therefore more capable in dealing with life´s ongoing stressors.
There are so many more great benefits to fasting and I´m not going to cover them all here (feel free to look them up) BUT, one last important one I want to mention is its effect on our brain.
While fasting the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is stimulated, which plays a critical role in memory, learning, and generates new nerve cells! Furthermore it makes neurons more resistent to stress.
The process of autophagy that I mentioned ealier, does not only apply to the cells in our blood or liver or skin…obviously the same goes for our brain with all its awesome regenerating benefits (ok I hope this was the last time I used the word benefit here……damned!).
To sum it up…with fasting we give the body the opportunity to literally heal itself by killing off aka starving all the old and unhealthy cells, including autoimmune cells and even cancer cells, making the immune system stronger than before.
Fasting is an experience that is mentally, emotionally and physically challenging.
But at the same time rewarding on so many levels.
The best part of all?
Your first meal after your fast.
because believe me…
…even mushrooms and spinach turn into a feast.