For many people January is the start of a health kick. I’m no different. Even with a constant focus to stick to the Primal lifestyle. Christmas time is a one of the most difficult periods to get through in terms of your diet. Whether it be out with friends at the Christmas Markets. Or seeing friends and family (“Oh, you don’t normally eat X do you? Well, we made it anyway”. WHY, If you know I actively avoid certains foods, why prepare them?). The party period is a tough month to get through and feel healthy once all the celebrations are over. So, was I able to do 3 days of fasting?
December 2016 was a particularly difficult month for me. In fact 2016 in general was an inconsistent year in terms of my health. Having to re-focus and constantly keep my diet in check. I injured my shoulder in June which still hadn’t fully healed by the start of December. Keeping in shape, therefore was very challenging. Limited to what I could do, I couldn’t push myself as I would have liked.
To counteract the Christmas and New Year overindulgence. Along with trying to get back into shape. I decided to do a fasting period over numerous days.
Once January rolled round. I analysed my current state of being, both physically and mentally. I had put on a lot more weight than I was happy with. My clothes had become very snug. First goal of the fast was to get my body using stored body fat as energy again. To start losing the extra weight I had gained.
The other thing I had noticed, which to me was more important to “reset” was my state of mind. By the 2nd January I had become very irritable, seemed to be in a constant bad mood (If you ask the Mrs, she would probably say you couldn’t tell). I also felt tired and seemed to need quite a lot of sleep each evening. More than my normal amount. My focus and concentration was also at a low level. By doing a fast I was hoping to “lift my mental fog”
I had read quite a bit regarding fasting for periods of time. Mainly 3 or 4 consecutive days. So I decided to give this a try. Having integrated Intermittent Fasting into my weekly routine for the past few years. Going from 24 hours fast period to a full 3 or 4 day fast, couldn’t be that hard, could it?
My first day back in work after Christmas was Tuesday 3rd January. I planned to use my evening meal on the 2nd January as my “last meal”. With the initial goal to get through to Friday’s evening meal which would be the next time I ate.
The 3rd of January was also my first day back in the gym. I was starting a workout plan that was two days of training with a rest day, which then repeated. Because of this I dropped the fast period down 3 days in case I needed the fuel for the Friday workout. This meant the next time I would eat would be the evening of Thursday 5th January. Completing a 72 hour period with no food.
Many people who fast for a number of days only drink filtered water. To try and completely cleanse their system. As part of my fast I would allow myself to still have hot drinks, planning on having decaffeinated tea or coffee only. Deciding it would be counteractive to fill my body with stimulants when trying to get my mind and body back onto an even keel.
Would the plan work? I was intrigued to see how I would fair. Also I was concerned how difficult it could be. That said I was determined to get through to the Thursday evening.
So, how did I find fasting for 3 days. Many blog posts and articles I had read online stated how difficult it was. I actually found it relatively easy. As mentioned, I do a 24 hour fast on a weekly basis. For me the first day was a “normal” fasting day with no issues regarding feeling hungry.
I worried that the second day and third would be worse. People find they get bad hunger pains and really struggle. I didn’t find this at all over the 3 days. May be because I was drinking decaf tea and coffee. As well as keeping a litre bottle of water with me. This could have taken the edge off. Completing 72 hours without eating was nowhere as difficult as I thought. My mental preparation could have been a factor in why I found it OK. I was expecting the worse, when in reality it wasn’t as hard mentally and physically as I had imagined.
Did fasting for 3 days work in terms of reaching my goals of starting to lose weight and improve my mental state?
My first goal was to kick start body to use stored body fat as my main energy source. Helping me lose weight and body fat. While still having steady energy levels for training. I did two workouts on the mornings of the 3rd and 4th January. My energy levels were good and I didn’t feel fatigued after the workouts. Or during any day of the fasting period. In fact I felt I had more energy and my tiredness had lifted. Could my body have started using body fat straight away? Having followed a primal way of eating for years. My body easily switched back into fat burning mode.
I didn’t weigh myself during the fast. When I did weigh myself on Friday 6th January I was pleasantly surprised. Expecting to lose a couple of pounds in the week. Having lost 8-10 lbs since weighing myself on the 1st January. Unbelievable. I had smashed my target for the week. In fact I was only 3 lbs off my target of weighing 12 stone by the end of January.
The main priority of the 3 days fast was to improve my mental mood. For the first few days of January, I felt I was in a bad mood all the time. With my mental clarity not as sharp as normal. 24 hours into the fast, I felt I was “back to normal”. My irritability was gone and felt happier. I have to say by the time I sat down for my “first meal” on the Thursday evening, I felt great. I was extremely happy. Had way more focus, with a clear head.
My overall mood was brighter than it had been for months. One thing that surprised me which I hadn’t noticed I was neglecting. I started being more affectionate, talkative and considerate towards the Mrs. I’m not saying I was a bad boyfriend. Being in a degraded state of mind actually impacted my ability to work on our relationship. BONUS FINDING. Something I wasn’t expecting, from all the benefits this is perhaps most important.
As an experiment could a 3 day fast improve my overall health and wellbeing? Most definitely. Without looking at the benefits that fasting brings to your immune system and healing process. By just focusing on weight loss and improving your mental state of mind. The results speak for themselves.
Losing close to a stone in weight in 7 days. The impact that a 3 days fast has on being able to achieve this in such a short space of time is fantastic. One thing I would say. Having done Intermittent Fasting for years. This had a positive impact on my weight loss results. If you haven’t done any form of fasting before I wouldn’t go “cold turkey” and try fasting over a number of days. I would start by trying an “eating window” (Only eat between say 1pm and 7pm each day). Or try going 24 hours without eating.
More importantly was my mental health. The improvement after 24 hours was incredible. By the end of the 72 hours my overall happiness had improved 10 fold. The best I had felt mentally for many months.
If you doing regular fasting periods. I would recommend trying fasting for a longer period. If you are new to IF. Give it a try the benefits outweigh the initial hunger 10 to 1.
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