Extended Fasting – 4 Day Fast

(aka: I continue to experiment on me)

So this week I tried extended fasting. I did a 4 day fast. Here’s how it went weight-wise:

Day 1 weight: 228.5

Day 2 weight: 223.5

Day 3 weight: 220.5

Day 4 weight: 219.5

On day 4 I broke my fast and ate a very reasonable dinner of beef kabobs, asparagus, caprese salad, with some nuts and cheese as an early appetizer (to break my fast slowly) and a square of 85% chocolate for dessert. I expected to gain back some weight as I went off the fast and my liver re-started glycogenesis and began storing more water for it.

Day 5 weight: 219.5.

Didn’t regain. Yet.

It wasn’t impossible, I just didn’t eat after dinner Sunday until dinner on Thursday. I was promised all sorts of things about how the fasting experience would go and those were mostly lies.

  1. They say that after day 2 the hunger goes away. NO.
  2. They say that after day 2 as your brain transitions to running on ketones you get amazing mental clarity and focus. NO.
  3. They say you get tons of energy as your body starts pumping up adrenaline and growth hormone. NO.

Basically, I didn’t get any of the benefits that are promised from extended fasting, other than weight loss. And I still expect that I will gain back a bit of that.

I eagerly awaited the loss of hunger and increase in mental clarity I’ve been assured would kick in on day 3, however day 3 was the WORST hunger yet – late in the day I felt weak and shaky, and day 4 was also bad for hunger, to the point where what I’d intended to be a 5 day fast was cut short. This being my first attempt at extended fasting I didn’t really know how long I’d last, so aiming for a 5-day fast was pretty arbitrary. I will say I noticed a slight increase in mental focus – on food.

So, IDK if all those promises about hunger going away and mental clarity are just pretty lies ginned up to get people to give it a try, or if for people with normal metabolisms (mine is NOT) that actually happens, but it sure as hell didn’t happen for me.

During the fast I consumed water, coffee, tea, cider vinegar sodas (soda water plus cider vinegar and a pinch of salt), and bone broth (only on days 3 and 4 when I finally got it made…hmmm, wonder if that was actually contributing to my hunger instead of helping?)

I’m pleased with the loss, but I recognize it may have been largely water. I am not sure if I will try it again. If you are feeling the urge to come into the comments and freak out on me about fasting please go read about it first, because there is tons of literature about it and it’s not dangerous for otherwise healthy overweight people – quite the opposite. Further updates as events warrant.

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Fasting Observations

Week four has gone pretty well. I have definitely noticed a drop-off in hunger pangs now that my body is more accustomed to both the fasting days and the longer periods between meals (ie, no snacking). The first couple of weeks I will admit I was very hungry between meals and during fasting days, some days it was distracting how hungry I felt all the time.

Today is a fasting day for me (I’ll break my fast at dinner) and it’s the best one so far. I’ve felt very little hunger, and what I did feel was easily dealt with by drinking either tea, coffee, bone broth, or sparkling water. These are my go-to options, by the way, for when I feel hungry and it’s not a mealtime.

I’ll weigh in tomorrow and I’m going to try not to get my hopes up. I’ve lost 10.5 so far and that’s about the limit when I’m working on this on my own, so it would be completely expected for me to not have lost anything this week or even to have gained. I hope that’s not the case but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much because prior experience, and I have a lot of it, tells me not to. My plan, if the scale isn’t down, is to switch up my fasts and see if that helps.

Tomorrow I have an all-day meeting I need to attend for work at a Marriott (I’m also presenting). That means I’ll cross my fingers and hope there are some lunch options I can put together without refined carbs or sugar. I’ll do my best, but my understanding about this method of eating is that it’s somewhat forgiving.

This weekend we (we = my husband and I. He’s totally on the bandwagon too) did some creative problem solving. We thought* we were going to have evening plans both days, so instead of showing up famished to dinner by fasting all day one of the days, which isn’t fun, we decided to fast until lunchtime both days. Technically I guess that’s an 18-hour fast, but in the real world we just call that skipping breakfast. We skipped the same number of meals as if we’d done a 24-hour fast one of the days, but made it work with our schedule.

(*We ended up cancelling everything because my husband got bronchitis, but the intention was there!)

In other news, I took this course on FutureLearn: Body Weight: How Our Brain, Behavior and Genetics Influence Appetite and Food Choices. It’s a three-week course if you go at their pace but I completed the material in two days. Registration is, I believe, still open, btw. It was vaguely interesting but did not conclude with any recommendations or suggestions. I guess that might be implied from the title of the course, but I always hope courses will have advice on how to apply the things you learn and this one didn’t offer anything like that. The major takeaway is that it’s complicated and no one factor causes or reverses obesity. In case you didn’t know that already.