The 72 Hour Fast

Recently I read this article about health benefits of doing a 72 hour fast. I thought the idea sounded very interesting. A few years back I tried the Primal Diet (a less restrictive paleo diet) and had great results with it. I think I did that for an entire lent, and continued it past there. I ended up losing 40 pounds and it was the easiest weight loss I have ever done. At some point though I sort of moved away from primal as my favorite food in the world is Mexican Cuisine and after that Italian, so it is hard to enjoy my favorite foods with that as a lifestyle. That being said I do eat many fewer carbs now than I did previous to that. I have also experimented with Bullet Proof Coffee, but the version with coconut oil and butter, not the medium chain triglycerides. When I tried that out I didn’t notice as much of a benefit like I did with Primal. Though I could see the Bullet Proof think combining with Primal very well.

As a Catholic I fast during lent, and I was a few weeks out from Good Friday when I would be fasting. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine a spiritual practice with some bio-hacking so I decided instead of just fasting that one day why not try to fast for 72 hours. This post is just me recording my results and how I felt throughout the fast.

Normally when I fast I still drink my coffee, I just abstain from food, however in the interest of science and penance I decided I would only have water for 72 hours. My last meal was Tuesday 22nd and I finished eating at 9:10pm so thus began my fast. Wednesday normal was a typical morning as I don’t normally eat breakfast during the week. Though I did notice some extra fatigue from not having my morning coffee. (On a normal work day I brew 9 cups of coffee in my coffee pot and drink that from 8:30 in the morning until it runs out (usually around 2-3pm). Around noon the first wave of hunger hit. This is pretty normal for fasting for me and pretty easy to get through. I drank some more water and did some more work. By the time supper time rolled around I wasn’t really feeling hungry, but that evening I had a headache which is unusual for me. I theorized that it was the combination of lack of caffeine plus hunger.

Thursday morning started out normal and I wasn’t feeling any effects from the lack of caffeine on Thursday. I didn’t really feel a lot of hunger on Thursday my body decided to just roll with it. By Thursday afternoon I noticed a change though. I could tell that I wasn’t performing mentally at the same level I am accustomed to. I could feel that my mind was definitely running slower. In theory your body when undergoing ketosis should be to run itself off of fat, and I have plenty, but maybe you still need to be taking in plenty to run at peak levels like in a Zero Carb Diet. In any event I noticed a negative performance impact at this point. I found myself pretty low in energy in general on Thursday night. Not sure if my body was trying to conserve at this point but I ended up going to sleep 1.5 hours earlier than usual and sleeping all the way to the normal time when I wake up.

On Friday morning I felt good, I think the extra sleep had paid off. Friday morning work went well, and I didn’t feel much for hunger. By Friday afternoon though I noticed the same thing a mental slowdown and then I am not sure if it was because I knew I was nearing the end of the fast or a side effect of the fast, but I started to have a hard time not thinking about food. I headed home afterwork and fed the kids and got them to bed. Then around 8:15pm I started cooking and at 9:15pm I broke my fast with a nice meal of cheese ravoli.

After I started eating again, I felt normal and everything went back to normal. During the fast I lost 6.5 pounds which isn’t bad. As to whether or not my immune system is regenerated or stronger that remains to be seen, but really in general I don’t get sick much anyway so I am not certain I could even tell if it is. Part of the reason I did this challenge was just to see if I could do it, I have never pushed myself that hard on a fast and I sort of wanted to see what would happen. I was prepared to abandon the plan if I felt like I needed to, and actually considered breaking it a few hours early on Friday. In the ended I decided I was already that close so I might as well ride it out. Would I do it again? Not sure ask me next Lent. In the meantime from a spiritual standpoint I was really happy with the results and from a physical standpoint not unhappy. I wonder if I could mitigate the mental lag if I kept coffee in the diet and didn’t just run on only water. Perhaps if I try it next year I will keep drinking coffee, but just drop all the other calories (and since coffee is only about 5 calories a cup I am still just looking at 45 – 50 calories a day if I do that.

Update for the last month

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I was on the end of project march and then off on paternity leave. I am hoping to resume regular posting soon. The project was very successful, we had a big push and brought another 120 tables online in our new Cassandra Cluster and migrated that data from SQL Server. Along the way it has given us a few fun design challenges.

Initially we were working around some limitations in keys in Cassandra. In SQL server often you will query on a column that may be null. In Cassandra none of the columns in your primary key can be null, which means you can’t query on that column since Cassandra doesn’t allow you to do adhoc queries. One work around we started with the obvious solution is to use a secondary index. However Datastax will tell you in general not to use them. We found in playing around with them in production we have just had issues with them. They seem to either get corrupted or be out of sync in some way with the tables very often so end up having to run a repair on that index to get the correct data. As a result of this we are completely moving away from secondary indexes. In the end it gave us some interesting data design problems, but I think we will end up with a much more resilient system in the end.

Up next I will be changing how we package our application. Currently it is a Spring / Hibernate App that is deployed on JBoss as an ear file. I plan on converting the project to a war file and moving us away from JBoss dependencies so that we could deploy on any web container. The goal will be to switch to Tomcat 8 at the end.