As I write this, it’s coming up to lunchtime on the final day of my first ever 3-day fast.
That’s right, that means eating nothing for 72 hours.
I’ve tried to fast for 3 days once before, but I cheated with the odd snack on the 2nd day and I think I gave up altogether on the 3rd day, so it didn’t really count.
This time, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind… I’m going to make it.
What kind of idiot doesn’t eat for 3 days?!
It’s not some kind of crazy weight loss attempt (although I do expect I’ll have lost about 2lbs of fat in 3 days… and even more water).
I do want to lose weight, but that’s not the main reason I’m fasting…
Recently I’ve been hovering at just under 100kg (15.75 stone) and a little under 30% body fat. For a 6ft male in his 40s, this makes me borderline obese. That’s something I really want to avoid, it just feels like a line I never want to cross.
But the main reason for this fast is to improve my depression.
In the past I’ve found that a ketogenic diet is fantastic for my mental health. By fasting for 3 days, it’s a great way to kickstart my body into ketosis, in other words making my body burn its existing fat stores.
Health Benefits of Ketosis
There seems to be good scientific evidence that, for some people, chronic inflammation in the body can be a contributor to serious conditions such as depression.
Excess sugar consumption can cause inflammation, probably through prolonged periods of high amounts of insulin in the blood as the body attempts to deal with the sugar overload.
I track my moods daily – I’ve certainly found that the day after a heavy sugar binge (at least 2 tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream), my mood and energy levels really suffer. It’s almost like an alcohol hangover.
And by contrast, I’ve found that after several weeks on a low carb diet (such as Whole30), my depression, mood and energy levels are
much better the best they’ve been in years.
My thinking is sharper, I feel happier, and I have more energy.
In fact there are a whole raft of physical and mental health benefits from fasting and/or low carb diets.
And you don’t even have to do it for 3 whole days – intermittent fasting is a big thing now. It’s not just a fad, lots of people have even been able to permanently reverse diabetes by changing to a low-carb or ketogenic diet, and doing some kind of regular fasting.
A Low Carb Diet
After I’ve completed this fast tonight, I’m going low carb… not quite classified as a ketogenic diet, but not far off. I’ll be aiming for fewer than 10% of my total calories to come from carbs.
My diet will consist mostly of whole, minimally processed proteins and fats, with some fruits and vegetables. That means a lot of meat. Yummy!
Dealing with Hunger
Predictably, one the most difficult part of fasting for 3 days is hunger. But it’s really not that bad. Most people simply aren’t used to going several hours without food, so it feels uncomfortable.
Hunger comes and goes in waves and I’ve found it pretty easy to ignore. I remind myself that I’ve made a choice not to eat for 72 hours. And I have the mental strength and resilience not to give in.
Drinking black coffee helps to suppress hunger. Plus, I just try to keep myself busy and not think about food.
Keeping hydrated is obviously important, so I’ve been having lots of black coffee, water and herbal teas.
I’ve also been supplementing certain micro-nutrients. While fasting it’s really important to get enough of the following four in particular:
Without these supplements, people who are fasting can feel pretty awful, a set of symptoms known as “keto flu”.
I feel so proud of myself for achieving my first ever 3 day fast. I know I still have around 8 hours to go, but at this point I’m so close that there’s zero chance of me quitting now.
Also, tonight I’ll pick up my 12 Steps keyring for being clean from drugs for 90 days.
It’s shaping up to be a really good day!
At around 9pm tonight, I’ll be able to eat again. Whilst it’s tempting to celebrate with a massive takeaway… I really fancy a chicken parmo (fried chicken with tonnes of cheese melted on top). But it’s recommended to start with just a handful or two of almonds to ease any digestive discomfort.
I’ll probably compromise… some almonds on the way home from tonight’s 12 Steps meeting, then a homemade (i.e. low carb) parmo, with fresh chicken and salad.