Greetings Pilots and Passengers.
Quote of the day:
Currently I am close to finishing a 48 hour fast and thoroughly enjoying the benefits. At this stage, I am in heavy ketosis and my body has been in autophagy for a significant amount of time: A process where the cells in my body are recycling old components and breaking down misfolded proteins, which are linked to a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s (Alirezaei et al, Autophagy, 2010).
Usually, I do intermittent fasting whereby I fast for 16 hours and only eat meals within an 8 hour period. This means that I never eat breakfast and eat my first meal at 12 midday: A routine which has benefitted my life massively as I am no longer constantly thinking about food or “carb crashing” in the morning. Of course, fasting isn’t for everyone, but I wish people knew about the benefits of not eating for an extended amount of time, as we have been falsely led to believe that we constantly need to be fuelling our bodies – especially with snacks.
Surprise, surprise: That is not the case.
Just think: Our ancestors didn’t eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. Food was not mass produced hundreds of years ago, and often times was scarce, therefore our ancestors would hunt for food than feast, which would keep them satiated for days at a time. Their bodies were programmed to recognise the periods of “feast and famine” – naturally developing a routine of intermittent fasting. This way of eating completely contrasts nowadays where food is instant and people eat whenever they like, mostly for pleasure as the things we consume are made to taste nice; we no longer eat to fuel our bodies with vital nutrients.
When I was younger I was caught up in the cycle of constantly shoving my face full of food, usually tasty junk food that left me craving more moments later. Fluffy pancakes for breakfast, sausage rolls and tomato sauce for lunch, and fish, chips and peas for dinner: Just a sample menu of some of my favourite meals when I was a ginger-haired schoolgirl. I can’t complain, however, as I enjoyed my food and tried almost everything, but I’ve been there and done that. Now, I’m eating to heal my body, stay fuelled for longer and provide it with the nutrients it really needs.
Heading into extended fasts wasn’t easy: It’s like going to the gym and gradually increasing weights – we don’t start off strong, we have to build up to it. My fasting muscle was already reasonably strong after doing intermittent fasting for well over a year, so smashing a 24 hour fast was a piece of cake (meaty cake, of course). Contrastingly, it took some time to get used to fasting for more than 48 hours as my body was fairly confused as to what was going on, it still expected fuel when reaching my usual eating hours, and I suffered from lack of energy. I learned a lot from my first 48 hour fast: I needed to consume more electrolytes, stay hydrated, and keep busy. Once that was out of the way, I managed to achieve a 66 hour fast which felt almost euphoric – I could focus on my work and felt thankful that I actually had access to food; fasting helps you be grateful for what you have vs what you don’t.
There are many benefits to fasting, but I’ll list those that I have experienced personally:
- Improved focus and mental clarity
- Gives the digestive system a rest – something I am especially thankful for with my IBS and stomach issues
- Not constantly thinking about food
- Better mental health
- Burning fat instead of glucose – becoming fat adapted
These are just some of the benefits of fasting, if you’d like to find out more I highly recommend you watch this video that discusses the benefits in greater detail.
Writing this article I feel focused and at peace, I find that fasting clears my mind and I feel lighter – not just physically, but mentally too. I feel thankful for knowing that when I break my fast I will have access to a nutritious meal that will fuel my body and keep me happy and healthy. Unfortunately, with food being an instant and “fast” resource for many, I think that we don’t realise how lucky we are to be able to eat whatever we want: to go to the shops and buy ingredients to make our favourite meal, whilst there are some who don’t have the means to enjoy this luxury. To me, fasting is a reminder to stay humble and be thankful for what I have – that I have a healthy body that supports me and allows me to live a happy and healthy life.