I have officially concluded my period of fasting with an extension of “Fasting-Mimicking” to make up a 5-day total. So how did it go?
Surprisingly I had very little problem with hunger or even thinking much about food on day 4 and 5. I was even able to do a light workout of pull-ups, push-ups and yoga with some band work on day 5 with no particular problem of fatigue.
For my first “regular” meal I oddly just wanted a larger serving of what had become my favorite while on the plan – roasted veggies with tofu. This is essentially a pan of chopped red cabbage, carrots and vidalia (sweet) onion, seasoned with a mix of white and black pepper and roasted at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. When finished I topped them with black olives. One thing that I have always noticed and enjoyed when doing these kinds of resets and challenges – it really helps me appreciate the simple flavors of the food without really having to add much to them or alter them beyond some very basic prep. As a bonus a fairly small meal now feels quite satiating, my calorie log is only now approaching the 1200 mark which is quite low for me on a usual day. Not to fear, considering that it is 1200 calories of whole-food plants, all of my nutrient goals for the day were easily met. Tofu, spinach, kale and olives are the star players there, packing a huge nutritional punch with very little caloric burden.
I enjoyed my additional time each day when there was less need to be in the kitchen. I also did a better job actually practicing my breathing exercises and yoga, both of which I do fairly regularly but could still stand to get them into my schedule a bit more often. There is also a heightened sense of presence that always seems to take hold with me when I do any sort of fasting. It makes sense to me that so many spiritual traditions include them as a practice. I wouldn’t be able to explain the psychology of this at all, but I personally find it to be the case that I just feel a bit more awake and aware. It also never fails to impress me at just how adaptable we are.
An additional note, anyone wishing to pursue fasting in any form should get advice from an expert – which I certainly am not! Please check into some of the resources and do a little research. If in doubt, let your primary physician or chiropractor know what you are up to in case they can offer guidance or suggestions. I mention chiropractic doctors because the two best we have ever worked with were quite knowledgeable in regards to diet and nutrition, but I suspect like physicians this is a case-by-case basis. Also, while fasting and fasting-mimicking show promise for being healthy in limited, controlled ways, it certainly would not be advisable to use them for long-term or as a primary method of weight loss. Dr. Longo’s fasting-mimicking diet is only recommended for at most 5 days at a time and under rather controlled nutritional guidelines and he even cautions the reader in regards to the potential dangers of lengthy water-only fasts. Please do your due diligence before setting out on any new path and research a bit!
Just to add a few additional resources, please see Dr. Andrew Weil’s web page and his book, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health. These were the starting point for me as I tried to find my way to a healthier and happier state of being. His advice was the first to point me in the direction of occasional, seasonal fasting and even partial/limited fasting. Again I have to recommend Dr. Valter Longo’s book as well, The Longevity Diet. It is a treasure trove of information and also contains some examples of what diet was like in rural Italy for him as a child which I found interesting and delightful. Simple recipe ideas? You bet!
I love a good challenge and the results looked promising, so after reading the book and listening to a few talks he has made (Here you can find his TedX Talk) I was ready to give it a try. I have managed short fasts a few times in the past, usually using them as a sort of “reset” when I realized my diet wasn’t properly lining up with my values and plans. I am also prone to limited fasts, juice or fruit and juice only fasts during times of sickness which are thankfully quite rare. They seem to speed recovery but with an n=1 study of just myself I am giving that as my personal opinion only. There is certainly something to be said for placebo effect there and I cannot discount it. In any case it was his rather convincing evidence of the acceleration of autophagy, which is our body’s way of dealing with old, worn out or disfunctional cells. This helps both in general rejuvenation as well as cancer destruction; now really, who isn’t interested upon reading that? With a load of different inflammatory disorders in my family history, my interest was also piqued at the idea of additional decrease in inflammation (which is part of the reason us Plantpowered Gamers follow a rather strict whole-foods plant-based Vegan diet).
So how have I faired so far?
Well, I am writing this on day 3 of the fast. I actually managed two full days of water only (as well as herbal teas and a bit of lemon juice). On day 3 I brought back in a very restricted “Fasting Mimicking” dietary plan which so far has included Tofu, lots of leafy greens, olives, peanuts, tahini and a bit of broccoli. I will note that I was starting to get pretty fatigued near the end of day 2 which is largely why I shifted a day earlier than planned to the “FMD” plan. I originally wanted to do 3 full days of water only fasting followed by two fasting-mimicking days, mostly just to see how I handled it. It seems from the research he presents that 5 days of FMD gives essentially the same benefits of a full fast, so next time around I will probably just do 5 days of FMD instead and save myself the discomfort. I will note, however, that day one of the fast didn’t bother me at all so I may well stick with one day of water only. It is actually kind of cool to see how the body can react and adjust so readily to such a drastic change. I do wonder if my previous experience at fasting helped in this though, and I really have no way of knowing. It seems that one gets “better” or at least more capable of dealing with most things diet and exercise related, so I do wonder if fasting is something that one gets “better” at with practice. It will be interesting to see. In any case, I will probably make another update on day 5, so wish me luck!
Loaded with interesting information and research. Check it out!
When I find something that seems effective or interesting I am generally pretty happy to share with others. We do live in a world of potential abundance if we can temper that tendency to view things as scarce.
I’ve been sick over the last week which slowed up my time to write.. well my time to do everything.. as my amazing wife helped pick up the slack and help me get everything done even while recovering. She and I are both pretty strong advocates of this amazing little drink packet, Emergen-C. I was surprised when I was talking to my parents about it and they had never heard of it, but these little guys pack some punch. Any time Suzy or I am feeling a little under the weather and feel there may be something creeping up on us, perhaps a cold, perhaps a scratchy throat, we usually down one of these. They pack 1000mg of vitamin C in a dose and have a few other vitamins and minerals that have some pretty strong evidence suggesting that us humans recover quicker when they are in large supply.
Is it a placebo effect? I cannot comment concretely on a study with an n=2, especially when we have each other’s feedback to feed off of! In any case, I certainly feel like I shake things quicker and get back into my usual pace when I use them. Additionally, considering that they kind of taste like a slightly tart fruit drink mix and cost only marginally more than typical drink mixes I feel like it is a worthy splurge. Give them a try and if you do let me know in the comments what you think of them. I’d love to increase the n-count on my “research”.
“Eat your Veggies!” That is probably one of the few bits of dietary advice that any of us likely hear that isn’t immediately conflicted or confusing. It can be really tricky to sort out all of the information that is thrown at us daily and nutrition information is certainly no exception. It is exceedingly important to pay some mind to our diet as poor choices can have dire consequences. In the study,The State of US Health, 1990-2010: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors, we find that diet is actually the leading cause of early death and disability in the United States! If you have a moment to look over some of the research with me I think we can come to the same conclusion on at least one simple rule that could be quite beneficial: processed foods are dangerous and they desperately need to be replaced with whole plant foods.
In the paper,Plant-based nutrition for healthcare professionals: implementing diet as a primary modality in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease, we can find a wealth of information. Hever and Cronise have done an amazing amount of research gathering for us and if you want to see some of the most convincing research done to date that backs up this point just check their resources section at the bottom of the paper. In any case, one may gleam from these studies that processed foods, that is, “commercially produced products made with adulterants such as sugars, salts, oils and other food additives” (Hever, Cronise) contribute to inflammation and oxidation which increase risks of disease and injury to the body. They also set the stage for cancer growth and can actually be carcinogenic themselves (which is to say that they can actually cause new cancers to form). Call me an alarmist if you will, but feel free to peruse the article 17 Carcinogenic Foods You Probably Eat Every Day if you like. Need more? World Health Organization Says Processed Meat Causes Cancer is also a fine read. These are not articles from random bloggers or conspiracy theorists, it is actual news from the likes of the World Health Organization and the Huffington Post.
Now some of the recommendations for replacing this are quite gentle. The United States Department of Agriculture, American Heart Association, and American Institute for Cancer Research suggest in their review of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that at least half of the plate should consist of fruits and vegetables. The “whole-plant food” recommendation is referring to plants that are minimally processed or are as close as one can get them to the way they left their source (ground, tree, bush, etc). The preparation argument is beyond the focus of my writing today but that is another case of there being loads of conflict. What we can focus on is eliminating the carcinogenic meats and sugar/salt laden boxes and bags of chips, cookies and crackers. If one gets into the habit of checking labels it is startling to find just how many of the “so-called” healthy entrees in the freezer section contain all manner of things that are unidentifiable as food ingredients. Let us just take a few extra minutes to steam a pot of broccoli to go with dinner, that in itself would be a huge first step.
There is so much detail here that I simply do not feel like I have enough knowledge of in order to speak on the subject beyond pointing my readers in the direction of those that I feel are much better suited to inform us on these issues. Feel free to comment back and let me know what you think on the subject. If you would like more resources and prefer video to articles, please check out Dr. Michael Gregor at Nutrition Facts .Org.
I hope my little write up does not come across as overly opinionated. My only intention is to spread information that I have personally found interesting and helpful. I hope you find it to be as well!