Well, guess what? I did it! Actually went without food and coffee for seven whole days. That’s 168 hours. Even though this isn’t my first prolonged fast for autophagy, I feel proud of myself for having the mental and physical strength to do it. Last year, in January 2019, I did a 7 day fast and wrote all about it in a blog draft, but didn’t have the courage to post it. (I may still post it a year later just for the hell of it. I mean, why not?) This year is different. I’m practicing showing up more for myself, my writing practice, and hopefully, in the process, help anyone who reads this and finds some of what I write, which I’m always still learning with each day, to be useful.
With that in mind, here are my stats below, along with some takeaways from my third (or is it fourth?) prolonged fast, which is the first time I’m starting a fast like this with a nose-to-tail carnivore way of eating (20 days before Day 1 of 7-day water only fast).
Day 6 Water Only Fast Stats:
Fasting Glucose: 71 mg/dL
Ketones (BHB): 5.3 mmol/L
Glucose:Ketones Index (GKI): 0.7
Weight: 123.2 lbs
Mood/Energy/Notes: Energy lower today. Not as productive. Sour taste in mouth, went away with a minty mouth wash. Drank mint tea. Felt like watching YouTube videos all day. Binge-watched Keto-Connect’s Matt and Megha while trying to decide if I should buy an air fryer or not. Was it worth it? Even though Maria Emmerich’s new Carnivore cookbook used it in almost every other recipe? (She does always have an oven option too, which I’ve been using.) Anyhow, I loved watching Matt and Megha’s new adorable baby, Theo, knock over coffee and flop around while they filmed videos about keto; it reminded me of my days as a new mom, with my own floppy baby who is now 15 years old (where did the time go??). Made me miss breast feeding. I’m so glad I breast-fed for 18 months. That is until I got so sick with asthma that I had to get on mass doses of Prednisone. These were the days when I was eating a very high carb/low fat diet, and even went vegetarian for a year, mostly eating pasta, sandwiches, and lots of dessert. I think back then I weighed around 165. My max weight was 170 when I married in 2011, when my mom said I looked like a pork bun. What a long way I’ve come! Anyhow, I digress. So back to binging videos. I also watched Chihyu’s strangely addictive cooking videos on how to cook Asian food that is also low-carb, Paleo/Whole30 and keto. For Asian cooking, Chihyu, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo, and my favorite of all: Kelly Tan Peterson (who happened to be one of my clients I do some freelance writing for from time to time; I met her at Low Carb USA in San Francisco one year while there with my friend Emmie). Kelly, who has been eating keto for 9+ years, is throwing Singapore’s first Low Carb Singapore conference in May 2020 to help people learn how to prevent diabesity with real food. She’s got some fantastic low-carb speakers like Ivor Cummings, Dr. Eric Westman, and more. Plus it’s sponsored by the Tim Noakes Foundation, and more. She also has a huge presence on Facebook with her many groups designed to help people learn about keto and get healthier. For a 52+ year old woman, she looks like she could be my younger sister. When my husband and I were in Baja Sur living in our RV full-time with our kid, we had the opportunity to meet Kelly and her husband in person at a Cabo restaurant. Her husband, a doctor, also looks like a young healthy man. They actually look like they’re glowing from the inside, aging backwards. Totally inspiring what ketosis can do for you!
Day 7 Water Only Fast Stats:
Fasting Glucose: 61 mg/dL
Ketones (BHB): 5.9 mmol/L
Glucose:Ketones Index (GKI): 0.5
Weight: 123.2 lbs
Mood/Energy/Notes: Calm, happy. Totally not hungry. Did a lot. Cooked and prepped up a storm in our kitchen today for dinner and the next few days without actually wanting to eat. Strange! My husband, Darrell, was on Day 3 of his fast, ending his the same time as my brother 7-day fast. He was a grouch on his Day 2 (notoriously the worst day of an extended fast, yet once you get past it, gets easier!). We ordered meat from White Oak Pasture. Lots of organ meat, grass-fed suet, and even duck feet for our bone broth. Darrell is loving nose-to-tail carnivore, having no big plans to stop. My friend and I have extended our 30-day carnivore challenge to 60 days now. After that, we’ll re-evaluate to see if we should go longer or not, or return to a more regular keto approach, cycling in carnivore in between. Anyhow, didn’t feel like exercising at all today.
Felt surprisingly less anxious and more calm, especially when my GKI neared 1 and below. I mean, serious zero social anxiety. For much of the fast past Day 2, I woke up not feeling that familiar anxiety/angst gnawing at me in the pit of my stomach, thinking of all that I needed and wanted to do. I could tell myself: Yes, you have all that to do. But you can do it, one pomodoro at a time. Whether it’s a novel or work task, everything just felt manageable. I could rely on self-compassion and trust.
Not eating for 7 days left me with more time, more focus, and surprisingly more productivity. I wrote a lot. Words tumbled out.
I felt like a monk. More grateful and appreciative of the little things. Like meditating every day, many times twice, being mindful and noticing all of my senses as I sipped hot mint tea, drank my many glasses of water sprinkled in with salt, moved my body and enjoyed the sensations of yoga stretches and pushups. I felt like a badass every time I did some chin-ups (my favorite so far) or pull-ups at the gym. I love feeling strong, in both body and mind!
I realized just how strong I am in my mind. If I can get through 7 days without any food, just water and hot non-caffeinated tea–not to mention, not a drop of coffee!–I can do anything!
It was hard to believe how past Day 2, I rarely felt hungry or tempted, never wanting to eat. Even on Day 7 when it was time to break the fast. I knew I could’ve kept going!
Everything seemed more beautiful, colors more vivid, music more poignant. My senses were heightened. I felt more in tune with nature. Definite full-blown euphoria on Day 3. (The last few years when I did my annual 7-day fasts, euphoria usually hit around Days 5 or 6.)
Surprisingly, not hungry even though I enjoyed cooking and searching for recipes from Maria Emmerich’s carnivore cookbook. What was different about this fast versus past ones, was that I began the fast with 20 days of carnivore, adding lots of fat like duck fat. Which was probably why Day 1 of my fast, I woke up with a GKI of 2-something.
My plan for future fasts: 3-day fasts per month similar to what Dr Peter Attia is doing; my husband will be doing it too. We’ve already marked our calendars for Feb 27 when we’ll begin our 3-day water only fast after our last meal before bed, ending it on March 1 around the same time. My husband will be in 5 years of remission from his cancer this October, so with a PET scan coming up soon, he’s working on adding in monthly fasts, along with intermittent fasts, cleaning up his diet even more (staying nose-to-tail carnivore mostly throughout the year and laying off wine). Over the past year or so, we’ve become more and more lax with our keto-eating, letting carb creep set in especially while traveling and eating out a lot, plus we had started drinking more. This year we’re starting the year with a reset that we hope will set the tone for our combined health the rest of the year.
Featured Photo: This is the Analyzer feature in the Heads Up web app I use to correlate whatever the heck I want; in this case, my 7-day fast to note health metrics I care about, such as GKI, fasting glucose, ketones, and weight. Notice how with each day fasted, my GKI, weight, and fasting glucose decreases. Ketones shot up surprisingly higher than any of the prolonged fasts I’ve done before in previous years. Wonder if it has something to do with starting the fast off after being on a strict carnivore diet for 20 days straight? (Note: Weight is something I usually only measure once a month, not daily. Only in an extended fast because I’m curious how much I’m losing, knowing it will go back up.)
Music while putting together this blog post: “Bitter Heart” by Zee Avi (I love this woman’s music!)