My First 24-Hour Fasting Experience
It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
This is not the first time I have written about fasting. And so this past weekend, I decided to go all out and try the mythical 24 hour fast. It went fairly well only a few glitches.
My relationship with fasting has been through a lot of ups and downs. The first time I heard about it from a friend, he made it sound like a secret cult. I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. When I first talked about it with someone is when I realized why my friend had been so cryptic. It almost seemed like he didn’t want to talk about it for the fear of mockery. When I discussed it with someone, I was competing in a mini triathlon (running, biking and kayaking) and the said person was my partner. I told him how I had not eaten anything in the morning because I was practicing intermittent fasting. The response I got was something of the order of, “Man! That sounds dangerous. You’ll get an ulcer or something!” That was the end of the conversation.
Over time I have had opportunities of talking about fasting but I try and keep it low key because of such off the wall responses. So I don’t eat in the morning, big deal! I didn’t commit any crime! You say I don’t eat breakfast, I say you eat breakfast too early! How can you shovel food into your mouth when your eyes are barely open? Anyway, you get the point.
So I was reading an article by Paige Brown Jarreau which is here. I was amazed at what scientists have found in fasted mice. According to the study as the article discusses, mice had better intestinal stem cell function after a 24 hour fast. This is groundbreaking stuff! I was like, for science; I am going to fast for 24 hours.
So at 12 PM on July 23rd, I had my last meal (breakfast, lunch whatever you want to call it). Through the evening, I consumed a lot of water. I did notice that when I went to bed, it was harder than usual to fall asleep. This could be that my body is so used to going to bed with a full stomach that it probably didn’t release enough melatonin to put me to sleep. Anyway, I felt quite normal in the morning. And at 12 PM I was hogging on food again.
Here are some of my observations —
- I didn’t feel hungry/ravenous/famished/starving at any point of time: Well, when I say I didn’t feel all those things, I mean that even though my stomach was making noises every so often, I didn’t feel like I had to eat. I just drank water and the noises go away
- I couldn’t fall asleep easily: Like I said earlier, I think this is more about body adaptation. I think the next time I do a 24 hour fast, I’ll eat dinner and then fast till dinner the next day. This way I could go to bed after eating and avoid sleep deprivation.
- I didn’t get an ulcer: Yes folks, I am completely ulcer free. In fact I feel awesome.
I don’t know if I lost any fat or any weight. I didn’t track my weight or my body fat percent through the course of this (and maybe I will do it the next time I do this). Weight/Fat loss was not my goal. I had done a 20 hour fast before and wanted to see if I could go the full 24 hours without eating.
Now I know, I have the mental fortitude to go without food for longer periods of time. I feel most of the hunger is just your brain craving for some sugar (dopamine) action. Fasting has given me new perspective. As Shashank Mehta sums it up nicely in his post here, you are not starving, don’t worry about missing a meal here and there.