The plan is intermittent fasting once a week for one month. Week #1 is here.
What did you do to prepare?
I made two changes: a larger last meal and snack foods. Said snack foods were also readily available throughout my fast. (Technically, three changes.)
Why these changes?
In the course of my research I came across 24-hour fasts by fitness guys who had a full day’s calories in their last meals, and loaded up on sugar.*
While I didn’t attempt an entire day’s calories, I decided a larger last meal was a good idea. (It did seem to help, or at least not hurt.)
The snack foods rationale was so I wouldn’t feel deprived.
Did this rationale work?
No. The snacks weren’t terrible choices but resulted in more sugar than I’d usually have, and that spike probably didn’t help.
Also, having delicious snacks in the house makes me think of delicious snacks. (No, hiding them doesn’t work because I know they’re there!)
Aside from the sugar spike, I think there’s a pleasure-eating switch in the brain that I activated.
My plan to make the fast easier made it harder.
Yes, it was a tactical error. (Note to self: don’t listen to people on the internet.)
In future, more research and less inspiration will be required for any changes made shortly before a fast.
What happened during your fast?
- Stomach is grumbling but doesn’t feel like genuine hunger.**
- Made my favorite matcha tea but left it on the counter to do more research: is pure matcha powder allowed or will it break a fast? Research is mixed, but discovered it has approx. 50 calories, so I’m not going to have it.***
- If I’m going to defeat my purpose it won’t be for a cup of tea.
- Drinking water. (Why don’t I like drinking water more?)
- Adding Himalayan salt to hot water, to help retain electrolytes. (May also improve taste.)
- Making a point to drink water this time but probably still not enough.
- Will set a timer to prevent dehydration.
- The fast feels harder this time. Guessing it’s because I did more planning and thus am more focussed on food.
- Last time my focus was on the mental aspect. Time to shift my mindset.
- Feeling peaceful, relaxed and content.
- Stomach grumbling a bit here and there but doesn’t feel like genuine hunger.
- Had a cup of hot salted water.
- Feeling tired. I walked around outside more during my previous fast, and it must have had a positive effect.
- Would a coffee help? (Black, of course.) Well, yes it would help but should I have one? It doesn’t have any calories so wouldn’t break the fast, but would the caffeine defeat my purpose?
- No coffee.
Why not have just a little coffee?
My purpose for intermittent fasting is self-mastery and any health benefits would be a bonus. If my motivation were calorie restriction or religion^ and so forth, coffee would be fine.
Coffee would make me feel better, probably both physically and psychologically, and would therefore be a loophole in my self-mastery goal.
- Thinking and writing about the fast while I’m doing it seems to be making it harder. This likely means I have some progress left on my journey to self-mastery.
- Hands are a bit cold. Now I recognize this effect of fasting.^^
- Feeling great. Peaceful and quiet.
- Thinking and writing about the fast as I’m doing it isn’t difficult (anymore).
- Don’t feel hungry.
- Mind feels very clear.
- Eyesight seems sharper. Noticed this during my previous fast but didn’t mention it because I decided it must be an illusion.
- All my senses might be heightened, which would make my eyesight seem sharper.
- Feeling wonderful. A deep level of well-being.
- Body feels invigorated, like a gentle electrical charge. Maybe I’m more aware of electrical currents.
- Had salted water. Still want matcha tea but can easily abstain.
- Walking to grocery store for items to break my fast.^^^
- Will bring protein bar in case of emergency.
- Feeling that I’m inhabiting nature more fully. (Interesting. During my last fast I felt more removed from the physical world.)
- Grocery shopping mission complete.
- Prepared to end my fast as recommended by research: lean protein (as well as zinc, recommended for women).
- Emergency protein bars weren’t needed. (I brought two!)
- Walked for over an hour; wanted to walk longer.
- Had planned to fast for 24 hours but feeling great, so I’ll continue.
- Stomach grumbling a bit, not sure if it’s anticipation or genuine hunger.
- Will wait 30 minutes.
- Had salted water. Think I got a bit dehydrated.
- Getting my mind back to quiet. The grocery trek was calm as far as urban foraging goes, but there was a shift.
- Feeling a bit achy. I’ve been drinking water so not sure: is it dehydration or something else?
- Will end the fast soon since I’m feeling different (not in a good way) and not sure of the cause.
- Ended the fast.
- Had a small amount of lean protein and zinc.
- One hour later had more of the same.
- Not wanting much food. Maybe this will stop surprising me.
Will you do anything differently next time?
Yes. I’ll have more healthy fats beforehand, and not increase my sugar intake.
Stop around the 24- to 26-hour point and not keep going because I feel okay. Need to do more research before extending further.
Arrange more physical activity, such as a longer walk (nothing strenuous). This time it was difficult to add to schedule.
Arrange so that I don’t go to the grocery store. I think shopping (not groceries in particular) had an adverse effect, making the process more challenging. Or, maybe that’s reason to be sure I do it again next time!
*I’ve since learned this approach to 24-hour fasting is known as “Warrior Fast”.
**My first fast (week #1) taught me the difference between signals from habitual eating (when your body expects food) and real hunger (when your body is deprived and needs to search for nutrients and/or calories).
***While some say that a few or even several hundred calories are negligible and don’t break a fast, I’m more of a purist and disagree: having the matcha would have turned my fast into a cleanse or calorie-restricted regimen.
^Some religious or spiritual fasts, as well as some medical fasts, forbid coffee. Others forbid water as well.
^^My hands felt cold partway through my previous fast. At the time I thought it was because I was outside on an overcast and slightly chilly day.
^^^The foods and portions you use to break your fast are important, as I learned from research.