By Stef Michalak
I’ve decided that once a month I’m going to fast for 48 hours.
And no, it's not just for attention or something to talk about. It turns out, that there are a whole host of mental and physical health benefits to denying yourself one of the only shrinking perks of being alive we have left.
Let's look at the benefits:
Improved brain function
Reduced blood pressure and heart rate
Increased insulin sensitivity
Reduced glucose levels
Reduced markers of oxidation and stress.
But there's something else that makes being really bloody hungry so appealing and that's something called Autophagy. In the simplest terms, this is the process of the body removing parts of cells that are no longer functioning as they should.
By recycling or disposing of damaged cell material, autophagy allows the tissues to regenerate. The depletion of energy stores, which occurs during extended fasting, activates certain pathways that trigger autophagy.
A 2018 review states that fasting and calorie restriction are both ways to trigger autophagy in the cells of the body. Slowing down the digestive process allows the cells to focus on self-regeneration.
So yeah, there are loads of reasons why someone would choose to put themselves through this shit willingly.
The rules for a 48 hour fast
As much water and peppermint tea as you like, black coffee is also fine but I’d only stick to one or two a day.
I managed a couple of light workouts while I was fasting so I had some electrolytes post-workout.
Other than that you just buckle up and try to fight that inner voice begging you to end this madness.
A friend of mine, who once did a five-day water fast explained something that made it a lot easier. He told me you get to a point of hunger and you stay there, as in you don’t get more hungry. He’s right. You get to the point of ‘Right, fuck this, I'm going to die if I don’t eat soon’ and you just stay there.
I’d say to try and do it with someone as misery loves company.
If you like fizzy water then stock up on that as it's less boring than the flat version.
Try to time it when you’re not around too many people, I find it's easier to do if it's woven into your normal daily routine. If you had kids then try to do it when they are at school.
But aside from hunger, there are some negative side effects worth mentioning. These can come in the shape of headaches, stomach upset, dehydration, and bad breath. I didn’t have any of these other than the bad breath.
In summary, it’s not only proven to be good for you but it's also a great test of mental fortitude and self-control.
I'm a strong believer in doing things that our bodies have spent most of their evolutionary cycle doing, for thousands of years fasting wasn’t some bourgeois, middle-class health experiment, it was a fact of life that our bodies had to adapt to.
I chose to do this latest 48 fast on a whim but after a day in I really felt the benefits both mentally and physically so much so that I've commited to do it once a month from here on.
Anyway, I’d love to know if you’re into fasting or if you’ve ever considered doing a 48 hour one before? Or maybe you fancy joining me on my next one?