Fast – day#4 / things are slowing ~

Weight: 79.2kgs
Body fat: 27.0%
BMI: 25.3
HRH: 57bpm
Sleep: 5hrs 44mins
BP: 124/74 @78bpm


So the weight loss is slowing, as expected. I lost only 1.0kg over the past 24hr period, and I put that down to: 1) most of the “easy” calories have now dropped off, and 2) I didn’t do my exercise yesterday. I have one, sometimes two days off a week. According to the monitor on the bike, I use around 550-650 cals per 40mins bike session – not sure how accurate that is.

That said, I’ve now dropped 4kgs in 3 days.

I woke up early – 5:30am, and started working by 6am. Had my two double espressos. I didn’t feel hungry, however if Jennifer had put some thick buttered toast with vegemite in front of me, I would have found it hard to resist!

Other than feeling a bit weary from not enough sleep (5hrs44mins), I’m actually doing ok. I wrote till about midday, then did my exercise – 40 mins on the bike, 17.4km, 584cals. I found the 2nd 20 mins really tough going. A week ago, before I began the fast, I did 40mins, 19.1kms, 673cals. Today I just didn’t have the energy to push myself.

Interestingly though, I did the whole session averaging a heart rate of 126bpm, which is 82% of my Maximum Heart Rate. I hit a high of 142bpm, which is 93% of my MHR. So I was well and truly into my aerobic zone.

It’s interesting how my fast is affecting the rest of the family, and the family’s routine. By rest of the family, I mean Jennifer and our eldest son Henry, who’s currently staying with us. Both Henry and Jennifer are good cooks – but more than that, they enjoy cooking. For them it’s a creative endeavour, but it’s also an expression of love.

I’m very fortunate!

Without me eating though, the routine of meals has been shattered. So too the routine of cooking. I never realised how important this was to the dynamic of family life. Of an evening we would all sit around the dinner table and talk – about all sorts of things. Politics. What’s happened in the news that day. Books we’re reading, or have read, or want to read. Shows we’ve seen. What we liked, what we didn’t. We’d discuss the mechanics of storytelling.

Henry would bring us up to date with the latest stuff on Reddit that’s caught his attention. Or detail story points from highly cerebral sci-fi or fantasy novels that he’s read. Our dinner conversations are invariably wide ranging and intense at times! An important part of the day, when we come together as a family unit.

That’s not happening while I fast. Nor is that time in the afternoon when Jennifer, and Henry, prepare the meals for dinner. That used to be a time of activity and creativity and fun. That’s dead time now. I never realised how important the socialisation of eating really is to me. Now Jennifer walks around the house with Autobiography of a Yogi or one of the I Am Presence books playing loudly on Audible on her iPad.

Here now is another extract from Dr Jason Fung’s book, The Complete Guide to Fasting. Here he busts a myth that fasting puts you into “starvation mode.”

“Starvation mode” is the mysterious bogeyman always raised to scare us away from missing even a single meal. Why is it so bad to skip a meal? Let’s get some perspective here. Assuming we eat three meals per day, over one year, that’s a little over a thousand meals. To think that fasting for one day, skipping three meals of the one thousand, will somehow cause irreparable harm is simply absurd. 

The idea of “starvation mode” refers to the notion that our metabolism decreases severely and our bodies “shut down” in response to fasting. We can test this notion by looking at the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which measures the amount of energy that our body burns in order to function normally—to keep the lungs breathing, brain functioning, heart pumping, kidneys, liver, and digestive system all working, and so on. Most of the calories we spend each day are not used for exercise but for these basic functions. 

The BMR is not a fixed number but actually increases or decreases up to 40 percent in response to many variables. For example, I never seemed to get cold as a teenager. Even skiing in -22°F weather, I stayed warm. My BMR was high—I was burning a lot of calories to keep my body temperature up. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I no longer endure the cold so well. I also eat far less than I did as a teenager. My BMR has gotten lower, so I no longer burn as many calories on basic body functions. 

This is what most people mean when they say that metabolism slows down with age, and it contributes to the well-known tendency of older “snowbirds” from the Northeast and Canada to retire in warm places like Florida and Arizona. Daily caloric reduction has been well documented to cause a dramatic reduction in BMR. 

In studies with a baseline daily calorie consumption of approximately 2500 calories per day, reducing calories consumed to approximately 1500 calories a day for a long stretch of time will result in a 25 to 30 percent reduction in BMR. On the other hand, overfeeding studies, where subjects are asked to deliberately eat more than they normally do, causes an increase in BMR. Reduced metabolism makes us generally cold, tired, hungry, and less energetic—our bodies are essentially conserving energy by not burning calories to keep us warm and moving. 

From a weight standpoint, reduced metabolism is a double curse. First, we feel lousy while dieting. Even worse, because we’re burning fewer calories per day, it’s both harder to lose weight and much easier to gain weight back after we’ve lost it. This is the main problem with most caloric-reduction diets. 

Suppose you normally eat 2000 calories a day and cut back to only 1500. Your body cannot run a deficit indefinitely—it will eventually run out of fat to burn—so it plans ahead and decreases your energy expenditure. The end result is a decreased BMR. This has been proven repeatedly by experiments over the last century. Because of this well-known “starvation mode” effect of daily caloric restriction, many people assume that fasting will result in a similar but more severe decrease in BMR. 

Luckily, this does not happen. If short-term fasting dropped our metabolism, humans as a species would not likely have survived. Consider the situation of repeated feast/famine cycles. During long winters back in the Paleolithic era, there were many days where no food was available. After the first episode, you would be severely weakened as your metabolism falls. After several repeated episodes, you would be so weak that you would be unable to hunt or gather food, making you even weaker. 

This is a vicious cycle that the human species would not have survived. Our bodies do not shut down in response to short-term fasting. In fact, metabolism revs up, not down, during fasting. This makes sense from a survival standpoint. If we do not eat, our bodies use our stored energy as fuel so that we can find more food. 

Humans have not evolved to require three meals a day, every day. When food intake goes to zero (fasting), our body obviously cannot take BMR down to zero—we have to burn some calories just to stay alive. Instead, hormones allow the body to switch energy sources from food to body fat. After all, that is precisely why we carry body fat—to be used for food when no food is available. It’s not there for looks. By “feeding” on our own fat, we significantly increase the availability of “food,” and this is matched by an increase in energy expenditure. 

Henry batched up this as a meal for himself last night. Chicken and rice and broccoli – it was hard to sit at the same table!
day 4 of fast. day 4 without shaving too!

11 thoughts on “Fast – day#4 / things are slowing ~

  1. So dinner time has changed, yes, but do you still sit at the table to at least keep up that normalcy with Jennifer and Henry? Chatting about anything other than food and what they’re eating? Or is that just too hard? Slobbering saliva all over the place whilst your eyes devour their meals?!! I certainly found the photo of Henry’s meal absolutely delish!!!


  2. Funny thing Bill….I’ve always thought how much easier life would be without having to eat….how much time we would have. We spend so much time considering diet and meals, shopping, cooking, eating, cleaning up afterwards. The thing I hate is loading a trolley in the supermarket, unloading it to have it scanned, loading it again, unloading it into the car, carrying it into the house and putting it away. But then there is the pleasure and utter bliss of the smell of food being cooked and delight in eating it.
    It sustains life and we are so lucky though to have the privilege. First world problems! 🤦🏻‍♀️


  3. The reduction in your blood pressure is remarkable. You mentioned at the beginning that you tend toward high blood pressure; however, it is now well the normal range. Perhaps your eating patterns contributed to the high blood pressure all along and not a genetic tendency. Certainly something to consider when you’ve completed the fast.


    • Yes indeed. I’ve noticed that I’m getting dizzy when I get up quickly, an indication of low BP. I’m on medication for hypertension an have been foe decades. I’ll need to monitor this as the fast progresses. Thanks for your post.


  4. If you do break the fast Bill, well just take it in stride and extend the fasting period for a few extra days. Just start fasting again the day after.

    Like the Camino it’s not a race — it’s a purpose towards your need, and however many days of consequent fasting are doubtfully more meaningful than your daily K number on the Way of Saint James — although one certainly remains pleased with one’s numbers !!

    Which of course means that your 14 day purpose is defined by your own sense of discipline, by nothing nor nobody else.

    (Thinking of April or May to restart my current Camino.)


      • It’s been Covid safe for a while — the question is if it’s administratively feasible, which I believe it will be.

        There’s an Easter lockdown demanded between March 20th or so and April 9th.

        But I think the general plan in the EU is to reopen things in about mid-April.


  5. Bill, I think your face looks thinner in this photo. Maybe it is just the angle, or possibly as it is with me, any weight loss shows up immediately on the face.
    Look at the numbers you are attaining – I am impressed! And I am enjoying following you on this journey. Please say hi to Jen for me.


    • Thanks Arlena – not sure, cld just be angles and lighting! My tummy’s certainly getting smaller, but I’m not photographing that! There has to be some boundaries of decency! Haha. (I’ll pass on your hello to Jennifer- she’ll be pleased to hear from you!)

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