Chapter 18: Extended fasting

To someone who’s used to following a normal eating pattern (i.e., breakfast ⇒ lunch ⇒ afternoon ⇒ dinner), fasting for 60 hours probably sounds like torture.

If you can barely make it between lunch and dinner without eating anything, how would you be able to fast for two and a half days?

And I get it; it does sound like something crazy at first glance. But, not only is it beneficial for your health, you also learn some very important things about hunger. Plus, once you get going, it’s not that difficult to complete it, either.

What’s The Idea Behind Such a Long Fast?

Self-cannibalism.

Oh, you probably want me to elaborate a bit. Okay.

You see, the modern world we live in today provides us with an abundance of food whenever we want or crave it. Wake up in the morning and there a fridge full of food to pick from. Come lunchtime, and the fast-food joint is just around the corner. And dinner is never more than a tap away on a food app.

The problem is, unlike our ancestors who spend considerable amounts of time fasted, we are always in a fed state.

Back to self-cannibalism:

Though it might sound a bit scary, it’s a very beneficial process called autophagy that can be brought up through fasting for an extended period.
This natural process allows the body to clean itself up. Various components of the cells in your body become unnecessary or dysfunctional at some point, and the process of autophagy breaks them down and recycles them for energy in the body.

A lot of research out there has found that the occasional fast delivers a lot of health benefits such as decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. These could be attributed to autophagy to some degree.
Some research also suggests that fasting for extended periods of time can improve cognitive function and neuroplasticity and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. 
This could likely be explained by the process of self-devouring and recycling of useless and dysfunctional cells in the brain.

How to Do It
At its core, a long fast is stressful for the body in the short term but delivers numerous benefits to our bottom line.

To gain the benefits of an extended fast, you should do it once every month to month and a half. This will both provide you with the benefits while also giving your body enough time to get back to normal once you resume eating again.

During the fast, you should avoid strenuous physical activity and heavy strength training. It’s also a good idea to start off with shorter fast periods until before attempting 60 hours. Start with a few weekly fasts of 24-30 hours and see how your body responds.

Then, build up to two or three 48 hour fasts before doing the full 60 hours.
Drink plenty of water, enjoy coffee and tea to blunt appetite and feel energized throughout the day. Remember that some hunger is inevitable, but you should recognize it for what it is: your body’s routine and the hormonal response to get you to eat.