Sunday afternoon after dinner at 4.30 pm I started a four day fast but failed, when I had porridge Thursday morning at 8.00, from Kafeo it was savoured and enjoyed more than any meal I can remember.
That said I am pleased with the fast and dropped my weight by just over 8kg, although the weight loss is possibly the of the least interest to me in the effects of the fast.
Starting the fast I was very nervous about how hard it would be. Amazingly overall, I found it reasonably easy. Monday night I woke early, feeling a bit headachy and took a couple of Ibuprofen to Tuesday morning going to work; That was the only time I really struggled until Thursday morning.
My week was slightly different, I worked all day Monday and did a two hour swim session that evening; staying active is helpful, so Monday evening as my wife had dinner I went for a walk.
I worked Tuesday morning, then had a dental course Tuesday afternoon/evening. It was surprisingly easy to avoid the biscuits and very nice evening buffet at the venue. I took some time to congratulate myself on the small victories.
Wednesday was another all day course. At this stage, I was surprised at how good I felt and no desperate hunger pangs. Again, at the course, I avoided the coffee breaks with biscuits/pastries. At lunchtime, the weather was good, so I went for a walk along the Lagan and returned feeling much more refreshed. This day started and ended with a 40 min walk as I dropped off and picked up my car for a service, this along with the lunchtime walk got me over 18000 steps for the day.
Again, I celebrated and chalked up the small victories, I had a cappuccino at Agnews, which was absolutely delicious, as I booked my car in, but left the biscuit, and refused a second when I returned to pick the car up.
The Science Behind The Fast
During this fast several important things will have happened to my body. Early on Monday, I would have depleted my bodies reserves of sugar and glycogen stored in the muscles and this would have pushed my body into burning fat.
The brain uses either glucose or ketones as an energy source. As part of the fat burning process, ketones are produced. We know that the brain when running on ketones will start neurogenesis, creating new neurones and increasing the synapses/connections across the brain.
The body enters a condition known as autophagy; cells that are older, diseased, or less effective are broken down for energy and to improve the efficiency of the body. There are evolutionary reasons why this happens, and I will go into these in later articles.
As I fasted and took in no sugar or refined carbohydrates my insulin levels and sensitivity will have started to recalibrate and reset. My stomach has been empty, and this allows the bugs in my gut to rebalance. The gut microbiome when healthy is instrumental in maintaining our immune system and is also associated with good mental health.
This was a very important exercise for me as I exerted control over my eating habits, re-established discipline that would have been a factor in my sporting life.
I want to keep my body in fat burning mode and so moving on I will reduce my intake of refined carbs and try to avoid as much as possible sugars in all forms. This will be replaced by complex starchy carbs and protein. I will try to greatly increase my consumption of fibrous veg, some fruit, and the protein will be less meat based.
I will continue to fast two days a week Monday and Thursday when I will have a period of 24+ hours without food followed by a 600-800 calorie meal. Mid-week I will be very strict, and over the weekend I will be slightly more relaxed. Alcohol, if any will be at the weekend and kept well below the 4 units limit.
As I move forward, I will also start to increase my exercise to at least 45 min per day at a moderate to high level.
There will be days when I fail to meet these aspirations, but the one I will put the most energy into will be in avoiding sugar. The next time I weigh myself will be Easter Sunday (obviously no Easter Eggs) but I’m less concerned with my weight as my target of getting to a waist size of 34 inches.
Over that time, I will look at the best current research into the effects of modern processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, as well as the effects of exercise, and I will personally be trying out new healthy recipes and meals.