I’ve learned a lot from my month of fasting, mostly that this entire year of challenges is crazy.
Me and my good friend Matias clearly have this in common.
Crazy in a good way, I would argue but that is defintely debatable. January was easy as I am used to doing a month of no-drinking every year.
This month was dedicated to something different and harder , Fasting.
The basic idea was that we would practice “intermittent Fasting” or “IF” for the full month and as a bonus, do a 24-hour fast once and a 48-hour fast once.
Simply put, that means the following:
IF: Fast for 16 hours of the day, eat for 8
Example: I would start eating at 1pm and finish at 9pm, technically just skipping breakfast
24 hour fast: no solid foods for 24 hours, only water/coffee/tea (coffee/ broth is acceptable depedending who you ask but I chose not to)
48 hour fast: same as the 24 hour, just double as long.
I decided to bundle the questions of what I learned and got out of it in the 5 most important ones right here.
- Does fasting “work”?
First, you’ll have to define what you mean by “work” but I’m going to assume here that we are talking about weight loss since most of my clients are interested in that. The simple answer is yes, it works great for weight loss. For myself, I lost 1.4% of SC fat (the visible fat under the skin) and 1% of VC fat (the fat hidden inside the body). My visceral fat has been steady around 9.5 for a long time now and quality of diet did not seem to have major effects on it. This approach immedeately started to break that plateau.
I’ve seen much more impressive numbers with clients though.
One person stands out with a loss of 20kg while retaining most of his muscle mass (this is very rare when losing lots of weight) and an 8 point reduction of his VC (also very difficult to obtain) he will be answering 5 questions of his journey soon, by the way.
Aside from his results, there have been some other great results where fasting has been the only variable we changed and there have been serious changes in weight.
Personally, I’m more interested in insulin resistance, autophagy and mitigating inflammatory factors but we will get into that fun stuff another time.
- How hard is it?
To put this in perspective, let me tell you this: I used to be an absolute MONSTER when I wasn’t “fed” on time. So much actually, that my behaviour caused friction between me and my long-term girlfriend at the time (no that is not the reason we broke up, but close!)
I was “team breakfast” all the way, and could not imagine why anyone would voluntarily stay away from food for extended periods of time. I had so many questions and beliefs that were simply contradictory to doing this.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”
“we need to eat frequently to keep the metabolism going”
“not eating limits brainfunction”
“I will lose all my muscle if I do this”
Truth is, during my actual experience this didn’t seem to be the case at all. What I noticed, was very comparable to the feedback I was getting from clients.
– It is not neccesarily easy but it is very simple. no need to count calories, weigh carbs, track intake, nothing of that. during a certain time frame you just do not eat. It takes a lot of planning, organising, shopping and decision making energy out of your day. Most high performers/ CEO’s I work with especially love this aspect.
– Doing this has changed my relationship to food and hunger. Whereas before hunger would compeltely affect my mood and behaviour, now I see it for what it really is, a feeling that will pass. Usually very quickly, in about 10-15 minutes. It is not so much that our body needs food, it’s more that our biological clock tells us it must be time since we always eat at this time. Breaking the fast also makes the first meal a bit “extra” special. I valued my food a lot more compared to other days where I allowed myself to eat whenever.
– IF is budget friendly. In my case, I would often sit down and grab a bite to eat between clients just because I wanted to. I did some calculations and that small change easily saved me 150$ in the month if not more.
- Did it affect my sports performance / recovery / sleep?
Workouts not affected, I can do conditioning workouts , BJJ, weights without any noticable difference in performance.
Sleep: not affected
Recovery: possibly slightly better (could be linked to the increase in human growth hormone HGH linked to fasting)
During 24 hour fast:
Workouts slightly affected, during BJJ quite sharp and energetic, weights & cardio slightly tired and sluggish during.
Sleep: Not affected (note, broke fast in evening)
Recovery: no noticable effects
During 48 hour fast:
Did not workout (felt super sluggish)
Sleep: did not notice any effects
Recovery : nothing notible but autophagy would be taking serious effect during this fast.
Conclusion: no noticable effects
- Would you do this again or long-term? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide
For IF (intermittent fasting) , the answer is YES. The main reasons are the convenience and the mental sharpness I get out of it.
It seems to have beneficial effects on my body composition as well, since I have not been very strict with my eating and still been able to drop fat and keep my muscle mass steady.
For 24, the answer is yes, probably. I have done a couple before and it has been WAY more easy than I expected. I get hungry maybe once or not at all, and I feel very clean and centered during this fasted state. There seem to be serious regenerative benefits from autophagy so it’s something I will look into a bit more.
48 though, is a different case because it’s a different animal. Compared to the 24 hours, I was feeling off, sluggish, slow. My last part of the fast was like moving through water, is the best way to say it. I realise there is serious health benefits in terms of stem cell activation but I’m simply not sure I can do it and still fuction during a working day.
- Would you reccommend this to others?
Yes. I think it’s clear that it’s an effective strategy to lose weight, help reverse chronic disease like diabetes type 2, optimize hormone levels (like HGH and regulate ghrelin) and change your relationship to food and eating in a positive way.
Starting Guide to fasting
What happens which hours of fasting?
Explainer video about fasting