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Fasting

May 13, 2015

Here's a repost of a blog post I wrote for another site two years ago about my experience during a fast. 

 

Accompanying the increasing popularity of Paleo/Primal lifestyles is the concept of Intermittent Fasting (IF),  a feeding schedule which consists of extended periods of fasting followed by a feast which occupies a short time period. Don't eat for a long time, then refuel hard. The key is the pulsing cycle of feast and famine, flooding the body with nutrients then an abstinence from food, causing key hormones such as insulin to become more sensitive. This would have mimicked the natural feeding habits of our hunter-gatherer predecessors. The bodybuilding and powerlifting communities have started to buy into IF, departing from the original theme of eat 6-8 meals a day.

 

Recently, the idea of carb-backloading has become increasingly popular. Although still under the same principles of your typical primal intermittent fast, carb back-loading toys is counter-intuitive, in that carbs are ingested at night, when insulin resistivity is said to be higher. 

See DH Kiefer's site for more information. http://www.carbbackloading.com/

 

Interview with Rob Wolf regarding the carb backloading. Posted by Matt Wichlinski. 

 

 

 

Regardless, the point of this post is to address the current trends, which cater to the desire to overindulge in an uncontrollable binge, an indication of our always abundant food supply. This was necessary prior to our adoption of agricultural methods, where we had to stuff ourselves, as the next feast could be days. 

 

Therefore, when asked to partake in a traditional fast, I willing accepted, as the idea of abstaining from solid food for 48 hours was appealing. Now there are many reasons to fast, from the obvious weight loss and detox to increasing longevity and spiritual reasons. See Mark's Daily Apple for a more comprehensive read and read the other five parts in his fasting post: 

 

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-fast-part-six-choosing-a-method/#axzz29XGsvZF1 

 

Personally, I viewed it as a physical and mental challenge to endure and a much needed break from food. This was an opportunity for my body to clear out waste and run on my stored fuel (fat). The body expends much energy in digesting food and the energy freed up from these processes is said to be diverted to immune and excretory system function. 

 

48 hours is not a long fast, but increasingly hard for the general population, as many are accustomed to permanently high blood sugar levels, as carbohydrate levels stoke the metabolic fire every few hours. I've tried to control my insulin levels in past years, and thus did not suffer huge headaches and "bonks" due to low blood sugar. 

 

Nevertheless, the task was still difficult, as eating is an activity that we are habituated towards. Meals are attributed to times, and don't always eat because we are hungry, but simply because it is lunchtime or dinner. Thus the idea of hunger and appreciation for what we consume is elevated during fasts. When fasting, one should not broadcast to too many people. In biblical times, this was so as not to boast. In present times, it can offend those who are addicted to food. If it is a hunger strike however, and you have political purposes, by all means, do as the late Mahatma and let it be known. 

 

Carrying out a fast during a work week, while maintaining all extracurricular activities is something to be cautious about, but also encouraged, as you learn quickly that it is a mental game and that we don't need as much as we think to survive. I did however, have one small fresh carrot/apple juice and a cup of turkey broth during the 48 hours. The first 24 hours is hard, but once the body breaks through and switches to a more efficient, aerobic mode, the hunger subsides. You have to remember that if our ancestors couldn't go a few days without food, we wouldn't be here today. 

 

After breaking a fast, the key is to do a light brush out with greens, and go easy on the proteins and fats, which are difficult to digest. I threw some yogurt in as a probiotic source, to replenish the gut flora. 

 

Perhaps if everyone in developing countries were to fast periodically, the paradigm of overconsumption could be shifted and humanity's plight could be resolved. For now, I simply encourage short fasts for two basic reasons: 

 

1. Your gut needs it

2. To learn the lesson that human desires are temporary; you always have enough. Anything more is abundance. 

 

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