Getting Stronger: Discussion Forum

Discussion Topics => Challenges => Topic started by: Jbird on August 12, 2010, 07:00:39 PM

Title: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 12, 2010, 07:00:39 PM
I've been shying away from fasting, even the intermittent sort, but it would be a genuine challenge to just have water and herbal tea for a minimum of 24 hours. I'm starting now and will post on my experience. I welcome others to post on your own experiences with any type of fasting.

I'll just update the original post: It's now been 14 hrs. and I definitely feel hungry but also light and energetic. I'm not thinking about food or eating. It's easy to get distracted by work and now I'm about to take my dog out for a walk. Then I plan to head down to the pool for about an hour of leisurely swimming. I have reactive hypoglycemia and am monitoring my blood sugar. I checked it two hours ago and it was 88, so my fear of fasting making my blood sugar go too low is unfounded so far. This is interesting to me because that concern has been a deterrent to trying intermittent fasting. The standard "prescription" for hypoglycemia is to eat small, protein-based meals 5-6 times a day, but I know that's been called into question. I'll check in later...

Ended fasting at 18 hours. After swimming an hour, I checked my blood glucose and it was only 58. That scared me, so I decided to end the experiment. If I find out what happened is considered normal, I'll try again and stay with it longer. Does anyone know?
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: jared33 on August 14, 2010, 07:00:18 PM
Hi Jbird,

Below 70 is considered low. So 58 is low, but not dangerously low. The danger zone would be below 35:

It might be a good idea to measure it twice if you get a low reading, because glucose meters can make mistakes.

I've done some fasting of up to 3 days before, and my blood sugar remained stable.  I did it with two friends (taking tea and some dilute vegetable juices).  One friend had steady glucose, but the other one did have some fluctuations the first day, then her blood sugar steadied out.  I do not remember the exact blood glucose measurements, but I think they were close to 60 for a few hours.  Then they came back up.

There is evidence that you shift over partially from glucose to ketone bodies as a fuel during fasting, but you always still have a fair bit of glucose.  The transition to ketones can take a few days if you are not used to fasting.  What I would suggest is building up more slowly. Try a few 12 hour fasts separated by a few days. Then try your 18 hour fast again and see if your blood glucose is more stable.  If that works, then try 24 hours.  

Here is a good website I found on blood sugar stability.  It points out how adaptable we are to fasting:

You've got me interested in trying this again.  So I think I will try a fast.  I will try to go 24 hours, but I'll measure my blood glucose just to be sure.  If it drops too low, then I'll stop it like you did and try again later.  I will probably try this on Monday, because I don't want to miss a good dinner tomorrow!

Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Todd Becker on August 15, 2010, 04:25:17 PM
This great to see a challenge that I think is significant, beneficial and can be tried out whenever you want. I'm interested to see how both of you do. I've done 24 hour fasts quite often, and once or twice did a 48 hour fast. I agree with Jared33 that it is best to start out with less than 24 hours and build up, and to track your blood glucose as Jbird recommends. I realize that seeing a low blood sugar reading like 58 might freak you out, but when I starting fasting I got some of those low readings.  I found that I could readily get the glucose back up by (a) going for a short, brisk walk (which frees up glucose from your liver by gluconeogensis) and (b) taking a little coconut oil in tea.  The coconut oil seems to balance your blood sugar - lowers it if high, raises it if low -- while giving you a quick energy boost. And a very small amount seems a good way to "re-start" a fast without really "cheating".  Eventually, you no longer need the CO.

Also, I was inspired by the post of a fellow, Lee Shurie, who normalized his blood sugar and "cured" his diabetes by the use of fasting.  It's an amazing story:

Warning: a successful fast could become habit-forming!  Intermittent fasting is a way of life for many (including myself), but you don't have to make a commitment to get the "challenge" benefit, so I really like this idea of a one-time challenge -- just for the experience.
However, if interested in intermittent fasting, there are a number of good links back in the "Diet Links" on the right-hand panel of the Getting Stronger blog, especially "fast-5" and "Eat-Stop-Eat" -- both of them give good information on the biochemical changes and benefits. There is also a very interesting thread on Jimmy Moore's site, where a number of "first time" and "old timer" fasters chime in. It's quite long, but entertaining:

Good luck with the challenge!
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 15, 2010, 08:44:34 PM
Jared and Todd, thanks so much for your feedback and links to more information. I hate feeling like a quitter, and I'm going to give this another go tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder about coconut oil, Todd. I would like to do something like Fast-5. The idea of being free of food thoughts and meal prep and cleanup throughout the day is very appealing. I set this up as a challenge but was hoping it would be a warm-up to a lifestyle change. I feel a resurgence of hope. Thanks, guys!
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 16, 2010, 06:46:41 PM
Today I feel I was successful with my attempt at fasting for 24 hrs., though it's technically not fasting, since I had ketogenic snacks averaging 100 cals and 2 gms of carbs each at 3-hr. intervals. I've been working my way through the information Todd and Jared provided and find the low carb, intermittent fasting approach of particular interest. I feel that what I did today should allow me to ease into that without the problem of my glucose level dropping so low, as it did when I attempted the more stringent, calorie-free fast a few days ago. I'm surprised by how easy this was. It's about a third of the calories I aim for each day and I find THAT hard! I also was able to exercise without a problem, though I didn't do anything strenuous. I walked 3 miles and swam for half an hour, plus the walking I do with my dog. I'm going to continue to experiment and will post my results.
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: jared33 on August 16, 2010, 08:31:56 PM
Well, I finished my 24 hour fast tonight. It was actually a fairly pleasant experience. Our planned dinner Sunday did not happen, so I started yesterday afternoon after a midafternoon snack.  My glucose was 106 after the snack. I skipped dinner, no problems. Woke up today early, around 6:30 a.m. I actually had more energy than usual - I wonder if skipping dinner had anything to do with that.  My glucose on waking was 92.

I had no problem skipping breakfast, but was a little bit hungry around 10 am.  I just had some black coffee and 10 minutes later I had forgotten any hunger.  At lunch, it was nice outside, so I walked to the corner store and bought a magazine, which I read during the time I would normally be eating.  For some reason, I did not want to go near the cafeteria or food, so the short walk was good enough. I measured my glucose again and it was 95.  I thought it would be lower, but so be it.

What is really interesting is that I had loads of energy all afternoon.  Normally in meetings around 1 or 2 p.m., I sometimes get sleepy and find my eyelids closing.  But not today, I was clear headed all afternoon.

I did start to get hungry around 4:15 or so. Probably because I knew I'd soon be home for dinner.  At 5:30, when I got home, my glucose was a bit lower, 83.  Dinner tonight was absolutely delicious. Started with some cheese snacks and wine.  My wife knew my plan, so she made some delicious crabcakes, with a relish on the side and a tasty salad.   It really filled me up, and I didn't even want dessert, which is not like me. 

Actually, I'm a bit tired after eating.  My glucose went up to 122, then has now come down to 101.   But I feel a little bit stuffed and not as clear headed as when I was "on empty" this afternoon.

All in all an interesting experiment.  Not sure what's next.


P.S.  Jbird, sounds like you had a good try at it too.  I don't think of what you did as "cheating" -- you still cut back a lot and it was pretty close to a fast in spirit.  After all, people still have coffee or dilute juices and call it a fast.  I think the main thing is to experience what it is like to have the lightness from cutting way back on the load that food puts on you.
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 17, 2010, 05:15:17 AM
Jared, I'm glad you had such a positive experience! I woke up earlier than usual today and feeling energetic. I do find that I have more energy and focus when I cut back on eating. For some reason, I feel like cleaning more...always a good thing! I well remember feeling so drowsy in work meetings after lunch that I'd be digging my fingernails into my wrists to try and keep my eyes open. It just occurred to me that there are those who advocate the benefits of afternoon naps and creating nap rooms for employees, but maybe the real issue is eating patterns/amounts/meal composition. Today's plan is to have fewer ketogenic snacks so I'm going longer without eating. I'll just monitor my blood sugar and judge accordingly. My fasting number was 102 and it was 98 after my small breakfast of half a cup of cottage cheese, 3 T of chia gel (this is something I've been experimenting with to reduce hunger, plus there are many other health benefits), and a handful of grape tomatoes all mixed together. I'm planning to work for the next several hours and then go for a swim during what would otherwise be lunch time. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 20, 2010, 06:34:17 AM
After repeated attempts to get to 24 hours without any calories, I kept hitting a wall around the 18 hour mark, so I decided
to just go to the Fast-5 approach, which I had decided I'd like to try. I used to eat this way but when my hypoglycemia was diagnosed,
I was told I should be eating every few hours. Yesterday was my first day of formally embarking on Fast-5, and I'm really
happy with the results. I noticed in my fasting attempts how much I enjoyed the light, focused, energetic
feeling I had during the day, and I like eating at night, so this really seems perfect for me and is adaptable if I need to have a business
lunch. I can just change my eating window for that day.  I'm several pounds lighter than when I started my fasting experiment last week and somehow feel more comfortable in my skin. I find my mood is the opposite of what I would have expected. I'm less irritable and reactive to situations that would normally set me off. I feel more laid back. Some of this, I'm sure, is due to giving up caffeine, but when I first gave up caffeine, I still wanted it. Now I don't even think about it, just as I don't think about food during the day. It's already not a mental option, which is amazing. Yesterday I did some cooking during the day and wasn't even tempted to taste what I was making, just packaged it up for evening meals over the next several days. It's really changed the rhythm of my day, and I actually feel like cleaning and doing other chores that I would procrastinate about to fill the extra time. Now the only thing I'm procrastinating about is eating! Definitely eager to continue with this and will check in with my experiences. I know some of the people on the Shangri-la blog had done this but were using oil or other flavorless calories during the day. I'm attempting to be calorie-free during the fasting period.
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 21, 2010, 04:01:42 AM
Day 3: I think this new way of (not) eating is readjusting my sleep cycle. I had a kind of delayed sleep phase problem and would sleep best from 1 a.m. till 9, even though I would prefer to go to bed and wake up much earlier. The only way this ever happened was on the West coast (I'm on the East coast). I've noticed the past couple of nights I feel tired at 10 and am actually in bed by about 10:30. The past two mornings I've been waking up really early, full of energy and eager to start the day. I also don't need as much sleep. I was up around 5, went over to feed some dogs I'm taking care of and am going on a long bike ride soon with a neighbor. I really think Fast-5 is the answer for me. I guess my hormones needed readjusting. I actually don't know the science behind this and need to read up on it to understand what's happening, but I know intuitively that this is right for me. I sensed all kinds of bothersome things regarding mood, food, sleep, focus, etc. were related, but I never discovered the underlying mechanism that would help everything fall into place. This seems to be it!
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 22, 2010, 01:53:46 PM
Day 4: Yesterday I ended my eating window after 4.5 hrs instead of 5. The Fast-5 approach encourages shrinking the eating window/expanding the fasting period from time to time, so I will continue to play around with the 5-hr. eating window. Tomorrow is challenging because I have a business lunch so will make my 5-hr. window from around noon till 5. That means a longer fasting time till I get to the regular eating window the next day. I feel so motivated that I think I'll be able to manage these occasional shifts in my schedule. I'd been avoiding checking my blood glucose levels because I didn't want to feel alarmed by low numbers, but I took a reading at 20 hrs. of fasting with nothing but herbal tea and water and it was 91 (and this was after an hour of swimming and another hour of brisk walking), so I'm really convinced this is the right approach for me.
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 23, 2010, 12:20:12 PM
Day 5: Yesterday and today did 4-hour windows. I had to start the window much earlier today because of a business lunch, so the challenge will be to see how long I can go tomorrow before starting the eating window. I expect it will be somewhere between 3 and 5.
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: jared33 on August 24, 2010, 06:33:53 PM
Hi Jbird,

Looks like you are doing great with Fast-5.  It's interesting that you say it helps balance your mood and your hormones. I never thought about diet affect "mood hormones" - how do you think that works?  

I do enjoy the occassional fasting day, but never considered Fast-5 as a daily or almost daily routine. Do you think it is something you can stick with?  I'm not sure I could do it every day, but I'm interested in what you find.

Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 27, 2010, 04:54:18 PM
Jared, for the answer to your question about how it's affecting mood and hormone levels, I think this is how I am best able to control insulin, and that's the prime mover of mood, hunger, sleep, energy, focus, etc. I know that's an oversimplification and maybe not quite accurate but it's how I perceive it. I'm not a scientist and leave it to others to explain how intermittent fasting works in more detail. The first link on Links to Make You Think on this blog describes how someone got his diabetes under control by eating once a day; for me, it regulates my reactive hypoglycemia. Another factor is I had given up caffeine. And I also started using chia seeds every day. All of the above help keep my blood sugar even. This is day 9 on Fast-5 and I never even question whether I want to continue with this as a way of life. I feel I've discovered what works for me, and the results are so positive that I don't see why I would ever want to do things differently. I'm going to be visiting my family over Labor Day weekend so there will be three days when I won't be able to eat the way I do when I'm on my own, but my plan is to eat low carb during that time, which also keeps my blood sugar on an even keel.
Title: Re: Fasting
Post by: Jbird on August 28, 2010, 05:37:16 AM
Since I now regard intermittent fasting as a way of life, rather than a one-time challenge, I'm going to continue
posting about my experiences in the intermittent fasting section of the Diet area of the forum. If anyone's interested,
you can see further postings there. I look forward to hearing about others' experiences.