How is water fasting related to the keto diet?
The keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet that puts the body into ketosis forcing it to burn it's own fat. Water fasting does the same thing because it eliminates all calories including carbohydrates but adds two additional benefits that the keto diet does not, autophagy and increased human growth hormone levels in the body.
What is human growth hormone and why should I want more of that?
The body produces HGH naturally in the pituitary gland but around the mid-20s, the production is reduced. This results in aging and other health side effects. When the body fasts, HGH spikes upwards of 300% in 1 day to over 1250% in a week. This hormone counter acts the effects of aging and is often referred to as the fountain of youth hormone. Supplemental HGH is risky but fasting produces it naturally inside the body.
What is autophagy?
Autophagy is a process of "self-eating" that occurs in the body after the body abstains from any food for about 12 hours. Think of it as it's maintenance cycle. While much is still being discovered about this, current studies show that autophagy begins at 12 hours and peaks around 72 hours. During this time, the body works to rid itself of aged, diseased, and defective cells. It is interrupted by eating because that is a primary duty of the body to digest food and takes 50 to 60% of available resources to do.
What can I have on a water fast?
The short answer is just water. The idea is to rid the body entirely of other inputs so it focuses entirely on autophagy, weight loss and the production of human growht hormone. Studies have shown that 0 calorie inputs such as black coffee and black tea are acceptable and can aid in the autophagy process.
Explain intermittent vs extended fasting
Intermittent fasting is often associated with the keto diet and is a pattern of daily eating and a prolonged daily water fast. Typically this is 16 hour water fast with an 8 hour feeding window. The benefits of this type of eating of purely for weight loss. Extended fasting is any fast in excess of 24 hours and most effectively, 72 hours. This not only gives the body substantial weight loss, but also the healing powers of autophagy and the youthful improvements of increased human growth hormone production.
What are some side effects from water fasting?
A water fast is a detoxing period for the body; therefore if you have never done an extended water fast before and have a poor diet, you can expect a few days of noticeable discomfort. This is your body eliminating toxins. Think of an alcoholic or drug addict when they abstain from their vice, they go through misery. The same is true for many people's first fast but our vice is sugar. This typically lasts 3 days and if done regularly, you won't notice it as much on subsequent fasts. You should also expect cramping because of reduced salt (just take more in water) and sleeping is harder because your body is more alert in anticipation of finding food, an evolutionary effect.
Extended fasting seems scary, won't we die if we don't eat?
The body stores fat for a reason, to live on when food is scarce. The typical human body has enough fat reserves on it to live for 2 to 3 months given it receives adequate water and the necessary electrolytes which are sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium; therefore given you have fat reserves, get 2300 mg of sodium (salt) each day which is a couple of pinches of salt in water, take a multi-vitamin and add some lemon/lime juice or cream of tartar to water, you can go for long stretches without food. The world record is 392 days, my personal record is 26 days.
How much weight can I expect to lose on a water fast?
I am a middle aged male and have done many extended water fasts. In my personal experience, I lose weight equal to the number of days of the fast, so a 5 day water fast results in 5 pounds lost. It is important to understand that you lose lots of water weight during a fast but this returns when you eat again; therefore at the end of a 5 day water fast, I will likely be down 10 to 12 pounds but 5 of it is actual fat that won't immediately come back. In my experience working with women, the result is different and they benefit less from extended fasting if doing it for weight loss and should focus more on a 42X3 extended water fasting period meaning they fast for 42 continual hours then eat within a 16 hour window and repeat. This is 3 cycles per week.
If water fasting works so well, why don't I hear more about it?
Simply put, there is no money in water fasting. If our society adopted this way of living, food companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals would see substantial losses. It is interesting to note that the old Soviet Union, which ran a socialized system of healthcare, promoted annual fasts of 21 days to its residents and had fasting centers all over so people could fast in a controlled, peaceful environment. Much research on fasting was done in the old Soviet Union but was lost when the Soviet Union dissolved. Those fasting centers still exist today and many people travel oversees to fast in peace away from daily distractions.
I was water fasting and I just couldn't do it anymore so I gave up, what should I have done?
First you need to understand that water fasting is primarily a mental challenge. The first 24 to 48 hours of your first fasts will result in hunger that you will need to learn to deal with, but hunger is not a progressive instinct. This will go away around day 3 and you will feel the same each day. If you are fasting and do reach a brick wall, I would recommend drinking some bone broth or having some pickles (be sure they are 0 calorie and no additives). This is usually enough to get you over the hump and if you are fasting purely for weight loss, this will have 0 effect on the end result. You would only lose out on the autophagy cycle and HGH production and that too would be minimal.
How do I break a fast?
Most people agree that a cup of bone broth is a good way to break an extended water fast. Bone broth is rich in collagen and acts as a primer for the digestive system before you re-introduce food into it. Other water dense foods such as watermelon are also acceptable. The longer the fast, the longer the breaking in period and a general rule of thumb is the break back in period should be half the days fasted. You should also expect diarrhea if this is one of your first fasts but this goes away as your body adapts to regular fasting.
How often should I water fast and how often is it safe to water fast?
Generally speaking, you can fast as long or as often as you want. You are unlikely to fast so much that it becomes unhealthy. If you are at an adequate weight, a monthly 72 hour fast will keep your weight steady. If you need to lose weight, then combine weekly to bi-weekly 72 to 120 hour fasts with a keto diet and you will see substantial losses. The more often you fast, the more forgiving your body will be to the eating habits you have that are not healthy.
How is fasting not anorexia?
Anorexia is a medical issue whereby the mind tells the body that it is overweight when it is not. It is a mental health issue and causes people not to eat because of an error in judgement. Water fasting is done by people of sound mental health who understand the benefits of water fasting to include not only weight loss but also autophagy and increased human growth hormone production.
I would like to fast but I'm worried about blood sugar getting to low.
You can buy an at home blood glucose monitor and check each day for very cheap. You will find that your blood glucose will drop quickly on days 1 and 2 but begin to stabilize most likely in the 60s to 70s for healthy people. When I did 26 days in a row, I checked each day and it stayed in the upper 60s. The body knows how to make its own glucose for necessary functions.
Can I exercise when I'm fasting?
Yes. If this is your first fast, you will likely not want to though because of the expected detox symptoms you are likely to experience. Over time your body adapts and exercising is perfectly fine. You will see diminished performance though because your body is running off of its fat ( a slower burning more efficient energy source) and not its glucose (quicker burning and less efficient energy source). Over time this will improve too and today, many athletes train in the fasted state to give them a competitive advantage over their opponents who are always running in glucose.
What medical conditions respond best to fasting?
The primary benefit of fasting is that it eliminates added glucose from the body and also gives the body time to recover its sensitivity to insulin. Both excess glucose and insulin resistance are at the root of many diseases including diabetes, cancers, heart disease, stroke, alzheimer's disease and many more. It is important to understand that I am not a doctor so I cannot make any medical claims as to fasting's healing powers as it relates to these conditions but encourage you to do additional research on its effects.