Lent and Easter fasting recap

As we are at the end of the Easter Octive I realized that I have been remiss to give an update on how the intermittent fasting went for Lent. From Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday I only ate between the hours of 6pm and 10pm.

Overall I found that after a day or 2 your body adapts and you don’t really get hungry during the day. The exception to this was Saturdays. Since Catholic’s can’t eat meat on Friday’s during lent the food that I consumed did not keep me as full. Additionally I have more time on Saturdays and I think there is a natural habit to munch sometimes when bored or just hanging around the house.

While I found the practice not too difficult by Holy Week I was ready to go back to normal because 5 or 6 weeks of that was enough for me. One of the interesting things that I did discover is that I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted in that period, high carb, low carb, fat, protein, whatever and maintain my weight. The trend for my weight overall doing that was slightly down but at a much slower pace than when I was doing the slow carb diet.

So the question now is what to do going forward. I think now that my Easter Feast week is over I am going to go back to slow carb tomorrow. This week probably won’t be a great week for it given that it is barrel week at my favorite bar so there is going to be plenty of beer consumed which doesn’t fit the diet, but I will do the diet the rest of the time. Since January 9th when I began focusing on my diet I have lost 30 pounds so I have another 21 pounds to go to reach my goal weight that I am hoping to hit by my birthday in July.

As for this blog I have been severely neglecting it this spring due to just being busy in general with work and family life and then not feeling I have the energy to put in a decent post. I am starting to kick around a couple of ideas for more technical posts again. And hope to come up with at least one nice tech deep dive in the next month or 2.

Bring on the intermittent fasting

Lent

Lent is here and I decided to go with the intermittent fasting that I had been considering. First as previously mentioned, I was doing the slow carb diet. Between January 9th and March 1st I went from 251 pounds to 228.8 pounds. And that wasn’t adhering too closely to the diet. For example the diet has you eating smaller meals every three hours and that is something I struggle with. It doesn’t really work for me. So I was just eating 2-4 meals a day depending on the day. At the beginning close to 4 and by the end just 2. Also in that time frame, we celebrated my wife’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, and my daughter’s birthday all of which involved breaking the diet to some degree. I think if I had stuck close to the diet I could have lost that weight in 6 weeks based on the rate that I was losing early on before family obligations came into play. But at the end of the day if you can’t cheat here and there to celebrate the important things in life, that is no way to live. And Slow Carb is definitely a system that if you stick to it most of the time will work for you even with the built in cheats.

As I mentioned in the last post more and more we see studies coming out about the health benefits of fasting. I experimented with my 72 hour fast last year and documented the results. This year I have decided to go ahead with the intermittent fasting. There are tons of different fasting programs out there like the 5:2 diet. I have also seen an argument for every other day fasting. There is fasting built around your Circadian Rhythm. So just picking the right fasting program itself sounds crazy enough. At the end I also need to see what fits into my life. I decided to try to do limited fasting around 1 meal a day. My plan is to only consume calories between 6pm and 10pm at night. So I can have supper with my family every day. While the Circadian fasting might be more effective this should be good enough to test it out and see how I feel. I am still drinking black coffee in the morning since this doesn’t seem to break the fast and in the first two days that has kept me satisfied until supper time. I will report back with an update after Easter on any weight loss and how I felt throughout the fast.

More fasting benefits

I came across another article on hackernews about the benefits of fasting. It seems that as more and more time goes by the evidence grows that intermittent fasting has enormous health benefits. This story is even more amazing from the diabetic standpoint and the regenerating your pancreas.

Then my coworker sent me this video which I also think is good food for thought:

This got me thinking that maybe I should try the one meal a day thing throughout lent this year and see how that goes. I was already considering closing it out with another 72 hour fast. Though this year I am not going to fast from coffee I found that I was too mentally foggy in the afternoons without it. So given that I like to experiment anyway spending a bit over a month just having maybe supper every day and coffee (black) in the morning I think will be a good test to see how this actually would work lifestyle wise. I haven’t decided for sure whether I will go with that or not (I don’t have to decide until Wednesday morning), but that is the direction that I am leaning right now.

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.