Over the past 4-5 years, one of my constant experiments has been with my diet and eating habits. I’ve tried fasting, but never had done long fasts before.
Back in college, I was lifting 5+ times a week and doing other exercises to get in great shape. At the same time, I was trying to hit certain nutrient and calorie levels to sustain my growth, and started down the rabbit hole of “exercise science” (the same thing as bro-science?).
At some point along this path, I came across intermittant fasting and was intrigued. Not eating for more than 12 hours?? Would I die? I can’t skip breakfast! Who are these mad people who don’t eat!
Getting outside of my comfort zone has shown to bring growth, and I decided I would skip breakfast the next day. A few months later, I did a 24 hour fast and after a while, fell into a eating pattern where I don’t eat breakfast anymore.
Fast forward to last month, and I challenged myself with a 48 hour fast. I did it and in this post, I’ll be sharing with you my experience, as well as talk in general about intermittant fasting and my eating habits over the last few years.
What is Intermittant Fasting and Why is Fasting Good for you?
First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Everyone’s body responds to things differently and just because I’ve had a good experience doesn’t mean you will. Please consult a real doctor if you have concerns or interest about this subject.
Let’s start with what is intermittant fasting?
Intermittant fasting is all about restricting the amount of time you spend in an eating state, and increasing the amount of time you spend in a fasted state.
All of us fast while we sleep, but if we extend that fast out a few more hours, that’s where some magic starts to happen. As I mentioned in the introduction, I don’t eat breakfast anymore and now will have my first food around 11 AM.
“But I could never skip breakfast!!! I wake up sooo hungry!”
Intermittant fasting is actually not that hard to do. While it’s a challenge at the beginning due to the mental barrier of not eating, you get used to it and there are benefits to this as well.
One other thing is while fasting, you are allowed to drink water, tea and coffee – these are 0 calorie drinks which are very helpful in keeping you “full” and your mind off of food.
Why is fasting good for you?
Here’s a slightly snarky, but legit question for you to ponder: what kind of eating habits did our hunter-gather ancestors have? Were they able to go down to the local grocery store and pick up whatever they wanted?
Humans have been fasting for many years – for a variety of reasons – and don’t need 3 meals a day. I don’t know if it’s some marketing ploy or what, but our bodies naturally can handle large periods of non-eating without loss of strength or energy.
When our bodies go into a fasted state, a number of things happen. Our bodies are very good at cleaning themselves out, but when you keep putting crap in, then the there’s no time for our bodies to get the crap out!
By restricting the time we are eating, our bodies are able to focus in on cleaning out our cells which will lead to detoxification.
If you aren’t eating for 16 hours, then for that 16 hours, you body is going to work making sure you are cleansed. Ratchet that time up to 24, 48 or more, and you (theoretically) should be removed of many of the toxins you’ve accumulated.
A number of other great things happen as well though are outside the topic of this post (Read more about these health benefits here).
My Eating Habits over the years
As I mentioned in the introduction, I’ve been challenging my own eating habits the last few years.
In the spring of 2015, I started experimenting with intermittant fasting.
Growing up as a child, my parents always told me I needed to eat breakfast. I was influenced as well by the marketing of always having to eat cereal or other carb-loaded and sugary things in the morning, or else I would DIE of hunger and not grow up to a strong adult.
Throughout college, I had the full meal plan and continued to always eat breakfast until 2015. I challenged myself at some point that I would skip breakfast and not eat until lunch.
It was certainly tough that first morning. 9 AM rolled around and all I could think about was food. I was drinking green tea and a lot of water, but I was still “hungry”. Later in the morning, I had a meeting and focused in on some work. All of a sudden, it was noon and time for lunch. I made it! I was still alive!
I thought this was pretty cool and started to do it every morning.
After a short while, I wanted to keep testing. What about a 24 hour fast? Could I do it?
I ended up doing a few 20+ hour fasts and realized that hunger is largely psychological. It’s 11:32 AM as I write this now and I haven’t ate yet today. I’ve had 4 big glasses of water, but am not hungry.
I don’t eat breakfast anymore, but my health and diet habits have become a little bit less of a focus recently.
This brings us to August and my 48 hour fast. I needed a change and wanted to push myself to the next level.
The big challenge: a 48 hour fast
I was feeling a little bit chubby and tired in the middle of August. Even with my usual 14-16 hours of fasting, I wasn’t getting the exercise required to stay in shape.
To shock my system, so to say, I decided I would do a 48 hour fast.
“48 hours without eating, Erik?? What are you thinking?”
Part of life is about pushing your boundaries and getting outside your comfort zone.
At 5:22 PM on a Sunday night in August, I finished up my dinner and started my 48 hour fast.
After waking up the first day, I was fine and had my usual energy levels. Around 11 AM, I started getting hungry and this wasn’t helped by a few people around me at work heating up their lunches and eating at their desks.
I went on a walk around noon and that afternoon, and during this time, was drinking lots of water and had 2 cups of coffee. I was feeling good and not too hungry.
That night, while my girlfriend ate dinner, I avoided the kitchen and got down to work. Lots to do and no distractions for me!
Around 9:30, I decided it was time for bed. I hadn’t ate all day but was still feeling energized. When I laid down in bed, thoughts ran through my mind… “what would I feel like when I woke up? what if I woke up and was starving? should I be nervous here?”
I fell asleep and had a great night of sleep…
36 Hours in with a TON of energy
The next morning, I woke up at 5:05 AM. I sat up in a little bit of a stupor and thought to myself, “woah, I feel amazing.”
I had so much energy, I decided I would record that week’s podcast episode in the moment: Fasting, Side Hustles and a BIG Announcement – Episode 31. 5:30 AM, and I was talking about my fast during the fast. I talk about it the first 15 minutes of the podcast episode.
My energy levels were unbelieveable and I didn’t even need coffee. I was drinking water and a cup of coffee throughout recording the episode, and after finishing my recording, I got ready for work and headed off on the bus.
Things were looking good. 8 hours to go.
Hitting a Wall but Pushing Through
Again, around 11 AM, I started getting really hungry and I started suffering a little. Getting up at 5 the last two days wasn’t helping, nor was the stupid work I had to do.
That second afternoon, I was feeling down, a little weak and a little bit tired.
I finished my 48 hour fast with an apple, banana and some tacos at 5:30on Tuesday – 48 hours after I started.
Reflecting on the 2 day fast, I was worn down but hanging in there.
After eating at 5:30 PM, I felt a little better but was still feeling tired and a little down (probably since I woke up at 5 AM both Monday and Tuesday though let’s be honest).
Going to bed the first night with an empty stomach was interesting, but I’d been drinking a ton of water all day – so really, it wasn’t an empty stomach. I woke up the next morning with a TON of energy.
I was very hungry both days around 11 AM. This was 6 hours into my day on both days. In both cases, I drank more water and went on a walk through the skyways. By 12:30 PM, I was able to focus in again. With this combination of focus and energy, I was able to get a ton of work done and was loving it.
Overall, I’d say it was a good choice to do this 48 hour fast. It was an amazing experience and was very happy about this endeavor.
Takeaways from this 48 hour fast
I have a few takeaways for you about fasting in general and my experience of this 48 hour fast.
First, eating in general is largely psychological. When you wake up, you aren’t hungry – you are thirsty. Drink some water and see if you are still “hungry” and “can’t go without breakfast”. I used to not drink water or coffee in the morning until after my meal, and now I drink it when I wake up and feel great!
Second, again, think back to our ancestors (hunter gatherers). They didn’t have a grocery store and they certainly didn’t have the luxury of eating 3 meals a day. Why is this narrative pushed? Is it a marketing ploy to sell bacon and cereal (I do love breakfast foods though…)
Human biology is undeniable…
I’m definitely going to be doing another 48 hour fast in the near future, and plan on pushing the limits to a 3 or 5 day fast as well! The experience I had at the 36 hour mark was unbelievable, and literally felt like I had tapped and unlocked my full potential. It was sooo powerful.
I’m glad I’ve started fasting, and if it makes sense for you, I’d say give it a try! Even skipping breakfast once in a while could lead to some great health benefits.
Readers: have you ever tried fasting? What are your takeaways from reading about this? Do you think you’ll try something like this?