A fast was something that I wanted to do but I just couldn’t get myself to do.. until it became a forced event. Preparing for a colonoscopy. It's about as fun as you can imagine, The plus side - I finally did a decent fast, and I get to write about it and share some insights with you!
Just a quick heads up - if you do need to do one of these procedures, which at some point you will thanks to Australia's screening programs, you'll have to fast for 24 hours with the added joy of the strongest laxatives imaginable. You can figure out the rest!
Starting the clock....
My fast was due to begin at 1PM on the Wednesday before the procedure.
I was quietly optimistic yet guarded as well - I’ve never done anything like this before, not even a proper time-restricted eating window outside of the norm (ie. fasting for longer than the regular time between dinner and breakfast - approx 12 hours).
If you're even slightly interested in health and fitness, you'd be hearing all about the proposed benefits of fasting from influencers, fasting addicts and health experts. You'll also hear a bunch of people trying to shut down any pro-fasting arguments, but that's human nature - anything that has a lot of support given to it, will have plenty of opposition. Such is the law of the universe!
If you're interested in fasting and you are feeling overwhelmed by it, take it from someone who loves to eat every couple of hours - it can be a lot easier than you think.
Mind you, I ended up fasting for longer due to the amount of time I was at the hospital. All this can info apply to shorter fasts as well - the most common being the 16 hour fast.
3:15pm - Note to self: Thinking about having a snack... oops, I can’t.
*gets back to work*
5:40pm - Not hungry... but I have had almost a litre of fluid including electrolytes.
I should also stop you here - before you begin a fast, you should do your reserach and consult with your medical practitioner. Fasting is not safe for anyone, even though many people do it. Safety first. This blog is about my personal experience.
I thought I would be starving by dinner, but somehow I'd accepted the fact I couldn't eat and that really helped with appetite control. Also, I'm usually extremely active but I had restricted movement due to a broken ankle (colonoscopy AND broken ankle? Yes, it's ok, you can be jealous).
7:00am - woke up, still not too hungry. Continued to have tons of fluids.
Worked up until 12.30pm - managing some hunger pangs but feeling great all-round! I wondered how long I could keep it up past 24 hours.
1:00pm - Hospital time!
6:00pm - Home.
6:30pm - Ready to eat!!! Not starving though. Dinner was great.
I felt great, and I realised I didn't need food as much as I thought. I was always one of those people afraid to not eat for long periods of time (mainly because I was scared I'd binge after - this didn't happen for me, but if you're prone to that I'd be careful). Prior to this experience, I struggled to sit with the sensation of hunger, often opting for a quick fix (snack!). Since then, I've been a lot more comfortable with being hungry and am keen to give fasting another try soon!
Benefits of a 24 hour fast:
It will make you stronger... stronger for what exactly? Whatever you want to put your mind to.
Autophagy? Not so much - the data is not conclusive and the animal studies usually focus on 48 hour + fasts. Read the last point!
Mentally, you can be a lot more focused
You may find your energy is higher
It can help with controlling calories if you're looking to lose weight - however, this can be done with any type of fast and depends on your personality - you may simply opt for a calorie deficit via smaller portions, using a calorie tracker or following a meal plan.
After 8 hours - your body has finished the last of its glucose reserves.. meaning it will start to burn fat.
Animal studies suggest that fasting can improve cardiovascular health, longevity and boost long term brain health. Want to know more? Rhonda Patrick has some interesting resources.
Tips for your 24 hour fast:
Keep busy. I have recently fractured my ankle so it was both a blessing and a curse - blessing in that I naturally couldn’t be as active as I usually am, so hunger wouldn’t strike as hard, however the curse is the inherent boredom that comes with a forced sedentary status.
Try not to think about the fact that you’re fasting too much - I had to stop researching fasting because it was making me focus on the fact I wasn't eating.
However - DO remind yourself of the benefits, so when the hunger pangs strike, you know you're doing it for the right reasons.
If it's your first one, try not to do your crazy cardio or intense weight workout that day - it will just make you hungrier.
Should be obvious, but DRINK WATER ! Not only will you stay hydrated, but it will help curb those cravings. Don't drink too close to bedtime though, of course. No one likes getting up to pee several times a night!
Black coffee can help with appetite suppression - bottoms up!
Ps - disclaimer - I didn't have these at the time (couldn't), but I would recommend them for various reasons. Coffee Switch is great beforehand - it contains MCTs so if you're being super strict, best to avoid during the actual fast. Jocko Cans are awesome for that bit of energy and mental focus and amino energy contains caffeine plus much needed electrolytes. If nothing else, solo electrolytes can be super helpful.