Some basic tips I learned about long term fasting

Discussion in 'Dieting / Supplement Discussion' started by Nemesis48, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Nemesis48

    Nemesis48 Blue Belt

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    I have done long term (48+ hour) fasts in the past, but recently have become so comfortable with them after a lot of mistakes/experimentation that I thought I would share. Why? Long term fasting is an effective way to cut bloat after a refeed - I use them after cheat meals or holidays to get rid of water weight, then resume standard 18/6 IF (a la Lean Gains) for general maintenance.

    First off, most people can fast for at least 2 months straight without adverse effects - and obese people can fast for 6+ months. The limit of how long you can fast is your body fat reserves - your body will happily burn fat (not muscle/bones) for energy as long as it's there, then (and ONLY THEN) it starts to cannibalize itself. Here's one clinical case, of many, of a 382 day fast without adverse conditions: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/

    The point of these extreme examples is that fasting for a week, or even two, will have no negative effect IF you do it correctly.

    That being said: fasts longer than 24 hours require SERIOUS thought, supplementation and planning - fasting without these things is potentially dangerous.

    first of all, you need complete vitamin supplementation. A complete multi is essential, as well as calcium, magnesium and vitamin D supplementation. I also take, although they are probably not essential, B12 and fish oil.

    Can you lift while fasted? Yes. And for some people it's even more effective - as with me. Lifting is also important for maintaining lean muscle mass while fasted ('eat stop eat' has a large section on this). This is where BCAA (branched chain amino acids) come into play. BCAA are essential for recovery and building/sustaining lean muscle. That being said, BCAA are worthless for people who eat normally; large amounts of BCAA are contained in regular dietary protein sources such as meat. BCAA become important when training fasted, especially when it comes to weight training - otherwise you will only maintain, and not build, muscle, in a fasted state.

    One big mistake i made in the past was fasting without sodium or electrolyte supplementation. This resulted in me "conking" around the 48 hour mark and becoming dizzy/getting headaches. Why? Sodium levels in the blood become so low through urination that your blood pressure actually becomes problematically low. The easy solution to this is just consume a broth daily of at least 2g sodium. Bullion is an excellent source, and very easy to make. Those who aren't lazy can make broth from animal carcasses - google that. Broth also reduces soreness from lifting, so it's a win win.

    Lastly, fasts can become more bearable with sugar-free gums and coffee. Make the coffee black or use very small amounts of low calorie creamer with 1 g or less sugar. As you do fasting more often hunger will no longer even be noticeable.

    If you plan carefully you should feel perfectly fine and have no energy problems while fasted. I would argue that lack of broth supplementation is the most common mistake in this regard.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  2. Amerikuracana

    Amerikuracana Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    Thanks for sharing. Experience is the best way to learn, so I value your opinions. I also use to fast, never more than 24 hours though.. A few times a year I would just go a day without eating. I just did it to get my waist down an inch in a quick fashion.
     
  3. Goat Meal

    Goat Meal Shhh Belt

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    I've always heard it's a no-no to take vitamins on an empty stomach.
     
  4. Sarumyan

    Sarumyan Green Belt

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    Great post.
    The only thing I can add is if you are on a very long term fast, don't exercise, just be active.
    That was a mistake I made since I trained 4 hours a day and I felt the consequences for 1-2 months after I did that.
     
  5. Nemesis48

    Nemesis48 Blue Belt

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    Eh - I used to have problems with vitamin burps and what not, but now I just take my vitamins with coffee or broth and there's no issue. Regardless, if you don't supplement and do a long term fast (+7 days) prepare to have health problems.
     
  6. Seriously-Dead

    Seriously-Dead wubbalubbadubdub

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    Ugh. I hate to be a dick and shit on your parade but someone's gotta do it...

    This is not true. Your body does catabolize both muscle and bone tissue in long term fasting (and short term fasting, and even to a degree when being fed). In that case study you posted, that man's organs, muscle, and bones shrunk significantly, and in tandem with his fat loss, not after.

    Fact is, you will have adverse effects if you fast too often or too long, and the adverse effects will come on sooner the more metabolically healthy and lean you are. This negatively impacts leutinizing hormone, testosterone, aldosterone, thyroid, and parathyroid hormone, and I'm sure others too. If lean, healthy people fast for 24-72 hours, this will have negative effects on the all the aforementioned parameters, in such a way that the rebound you get will not fully compensate for the suppression of anti-stress hormones/increase in stress hormones. At the same time, a 20 hour fast is sufficient to almost double the serum concentration of adiponectin (a pro-metabolic, anti-inflammatory hormone that promotes insulin sensitivity) in healthy and obese people, so I fail to see the utility of a long fast for most people.

    I'm not going to go into this too much, but be aware that the research in favor of BCAA is sparse, questionable, and inconclusive - particularly in regards to its efficacy in fasting. Alan Aragon and NBSBB have gone over this in lots of detail if you scan their writings. They've spent a lot of time dispelling the myths around BCAAs. In my own experience, I've taken BCAAs and not taken them and I don't notice a lick of difference when training fasted in terms of recovery. Lots of the time I don't even eat for 3-5 hours after fasted training either and I recover just fine.

    Supplementing with sodium and eating bone broth is a good recommendation for people regardless if they're fasting or not. Athletes have a tendency to chronically under-consume sodium... mainly due to unfounded paranoia about heart disease. Supplemental glycine (which you get from bone broths) has been shown to increase glutathione production, improve sleep, and improve collagen synthesis - and it's not fasting specific research.

    It works for you - that's great. But again, you have to understand that lots of the people on this forum are not overweight/obese and will not tolerate the same diets or behavior the same as you. I have done +36 hour fasts before, and I can say with confidence that they make me feel like shit - likely because I am already lean and metabolically healthy.
     
  7. Nemesis48

    Nemesis48 Blue Belt

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    Show me the papers where people have health problems from properly monitored therapeutic fasts. That paper i Listed has a research review section, and lists a ton of studies where there were no adverse conditions.

    The paper itself concludes "Prolonged fasting in this patient had no ill-effects."

    As I said I do not recommend months on end of fasting ,I used those examples to demonstrate that with sufficient fat mass, prolonged fasting is possible. I do think the occasional long fast is a good way of cutting refeed related weight gain.
     
  8. Seriously-Dead

    Seriously-Dead wubbalubbadubdub

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    http://www.jci.org/articles/view/17490

    This paper shows the suppression of LH and TSH, and an increase in cortisol on the third day of a prolonged fast. The suppression of TSH and and increase in cortisol is indicative of an increase in PTH, while the suppression of LH and TSH is indicative of a drop in testosterone (which has actually been observed in Ramadan studies).

    One of the biggest takeaways from the first link is that you see people respond vastly different in terms of LH, cortisol, GH secretion - meaning that for some people it's worse/better than others. Inter-individual variability is huge. The only consistency is the drop in thyroid stimulating hormone.

    In terms of the study I just posted, you'll also see that protein utilization increased by 50% and urinary nitrogen was the highest in the completely fasted sample. This is indicative of total catabolism of muscle tissue (since they hadn't eaten for three days). You'll also see that RMR was increased in the fasting sample - and most people would think that's great, but it's really not. An increase in RMR observed with increased fat oxidation is due to increased inflammation (we've seen this in low carb studies where CRP shoots up after the intervention, in the same manner that we see chronic alcoholics and cigarette smokers who have increased RMRs).

    And that's correct. This man was morbidly obese, and part of returning to normal health is the need for the entire body to return to a correct size. Smaller organs, muscles, and bones were a positive outcome for this person. But if you're not morbidly obese, that's not really something you should aim for. In fact, since most people on this forum train (and therefore undergo forced catabolism), I wouldn't say long fasts are ideal or even good for leaner, healthy, people who train.
     
  9. Seriously-Dead

    Seriously-Dead wubbalubbadubdub

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    I just thought of something really interesting.

    In the study I posted about, supplemental leptin attenuated all the negative hormonal effects from prolonged fasting. Unsurprisingly, obese people have abnormally high amounts of circulating leptin, that is persistently present despite starvation or feeding. I think this lends to the idea that for the obese, fasting probably has very little negative outcomes - while for the people with normo-leptin behavior (healthy, normal weight/overweight) these prolonged fasts will come with more disadvantages.

    This would likely confirm your positive experiences with prolonged fasting, as well as the positive outcomes observed in the prolonged fasts of other obese subjects.
     
  10. tommy the kid

    tommy the kid Yellow Belt

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    damn do you guys just sit around and read various studies all day?
     
  11. ebe9

    ebe9 Brown Belt

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    Thanks for the advice TS.

    As for sodium supplementation, how bout instead of a broth I just throw in a couple pinches of table salt into some water and a bit if lemon juice, making essentially a home made "Gatorade?" It has helped me before I did some moderate cardio, until I attempted some hill sprints and still helped me a bunch trough the workout. Any thoughts on this?
     
  12. Seriously-Dead

    Seriously-Dead wubbalubbadubdub

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    ^^ that's all I ever do is just add salt to my water, juice, or milk. I used to take rehydration tablets but I found this to be much cheaper.

    Yup. That's my job. I probably spend about 3 hours a day reading studies. Professional pubmed warrior at your service.
     
  13. InZain

    InZain Orange Belt

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    I guess I'm not the only one researching things people find random in the late hours of the night.

    I have been fasting 22/2 Fast/Feed for a bit over a month. Have lowered the intensity of my workouts and training but slowly kicking it up to see how I can tolerate it.

    I can say that IF has seemed like a life saver of late. I am enjoying my results and will continue to implement fasts until I feel I am at a healthy and more natural body weight. 6'2 195lbs on the way to 180. Granted I take part in Ramadan yearly. I find this to be easier because you can drink water, coffee, tea, and other none caloric stuff.

    I find nutrition to be a really weird topic. I feel everyones success is different and will find different paths to healthiness.
     
  14. KILL KILL

    KILL KILL Gold Belt

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    I had a client whos son would routinely fast for long durations. His eyes turned yellow. He had jaundice. The jaundice itself was most likely from some other issue, but the fasting exasperated it exponentially.
     
  15. PUO3

    PUO3 You are a can. Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    i just cant wrap my mind around this fasting shit. ive read and read and read and read, it just doesnt make sense to me.

    the very first problem: "supplementing". if you need to supplement youre doing something wrong, imo.

    anyway, interesting reads though.
     
  16. Cayenne

    Cayenne Green Belt

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    This thread is a joke. 48 hours? Long term? You should check out serious fasting forums. People going 20-40 days water fasting like it's nothing. 48 hours isn't long, not even close.

    The point of a fast is to eat nothing. If you're taking supplements, coffee, gum, or what have you, you're not fasting, you're doing a crash diet.

    You should never do any kind of exercise while fasting. You're supposed to stay indoors and do absolutely nothing. You can't trust your body when you're fasting, you can pass out, your pulse rate can (and will, eventually) go crazy, we're talking 120+ resting pulse rate.

    Fasting does require some thought, but "SERIOUS thought"? Not that much. Breaking the fast is the most crucial step. Breaking a short fast the wrong way will give you serious stomach pain. Breaking a fast badly at say, 30 days, could kill you. But newbs aren't supposed to do 30-day fasts to begin with.
     
  17. TheLeftHandPath**

    TheLeftHandPath** Yellow Belt

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    ^^ lulz

    no workout while fasting..../facepalm
     

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