There’s a lot of conspiracy theories flying around at the moment.
Poor much maligned Bill Gates. Poor much maligned 5G Poor much maligned microchips.
Here’s one for you:
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are using nanotechnology and cryptocurrency to create a world-wide pedophile ring of nubile young aliens brought back to earth by Jeff Bezos on his last space flight. The VIP client list for this ring include Bill and Hilary Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein, who is not dead but has been hiding out on a luxury yacht in international waters working with Donald Trump on his new presidential bid. Donald Trump by the way died of COVID that time he went to hospital and the CIA along with George Lucas have secretly created a robotic clone of him that’s indistinguishable from his original self. George Lucas has locked in his personal vault the original footage that Stanely Kubrick shot for NASA of the moon landing which never happened but was faked by Kubrick after the great work he did on 2001 – A Space Odyssey. Oh and by the way, Mark Zuckerberg was seen in Wuhan in November 2019 carrying a locked metal briefcase, then a week later he bought a shitload of stock in Pfizer. I kid you not.
What, you don’t believe that? Well prove I’m wrong! Go on, prove it! You can’t, hey? See – I’m right!
I watch the news. I not only watch the news, I listen to the news. And I read news from a variety of sources.
I live in a small country town outside of Sydney yet each day I read the Washington Post, the New York Times, the BBC World service (off their app), the Sydney Morning Herald, and Wired magazine. I get emailed newsletters from them all too.
In the morning while I have my shower I listen to the breakfast show on Radio National on the ABC, or the ABC’s radio current affairs show AM. Of an evening I watch the first half of SBS news. It gives me a global perspective.
I don’t watch Fox news, commercial television news, I don’t read any Murdoch newspapers. And I don’t get my news from social media, or from Google.
Now, you might say that I live in a left wing echo chamber and you might be right. So what? I believe I’m capable of discerning between what’s news and what’s commentary.
I was trained as a journalist.
I studied journalism at university before getting a cadetship at the ABC. I completed my three year cadetship and then joined the ABC’s flagship current affairs show This Day Tonight. For a brief period I worked on Four Corners before moving from current affairs to documentaries. After twelve years working as a journalist and documentarian I moved into independent filmmaking.
Why am I telling you this?
Because the world is going through a time of unparalleled change, and I believe it’s critically important that I keep up with things, to know what’s going on and why, so that I can make informed decisions that affect not only me but my loved ones, my country and the world.
Also, how can I ever hope to contribute creatively if I don’t have any social or political context?
I don’t understand people who say they don’t watch the news.
There’s a lot of so-called new-age people who say that. They think this somehow protects them from all the negative energy that they perceive to be out there.
What a load of crap.
It’s like saying you’re going to cross the road with your eyes shut because you don’t want to get hit by a car.
Burying your head in the sand isn’t going to change things. What’s going to change things is action based on informed choice.
There’s many who say they don’t believe the mainstream media. They talk about fake news. I’ve worked as a journalist and what I know is this – good journalists are driven by a strong desire to expose contradiction and hypocrisy. That’s what gets them out of bed each day.
The media conglomerates might have their agendas, such as the Murdoch empire, but if you are selective in what news you ingest, you can remain factually informed.
History is happening around us every day, and it’s being chronicled by the news. I saw floods in subways in New York the other night. It looked straight out of a disaster movie. This is climate change in action.
Like all the bushfires. Like the destruction of the magnificent Barrier Reef.
I saw the storming of the Capital in Washington, live on TV as it was happening. Who would ever have thought that was possible?
America got out of the Vietnam war because of the TV coverage. The visual news reporting, and the reporting of the My Lai massacre were instrumental in creating a groundswell movement stateside that forced political change.
I read somewhere recently that democracy is under threat because it requires diligence and effort to maintain democratic ideals, and a lot of people aren’t prepared to put in the effort.
I had a birthday the other day, and as most of you know, I’m no spring chicken. But I started to wonder – has my life been a success?
Now, I must admit I don’t feel entirely comfortable using the past tense here because I’ve still got some gas left in the tank – I hope!
But it made me think – what constitutes success in a life?
If someone has an expensive car and a luxurious house by the harbour, would you say that person is a success?
You probably would, right?
What if they have a massive stock or property portfolio, or a beautiful holiday home by the sea, or a swanky mountain retreat – would you say that person is a success?
Again, you probably would.
Supposing that same person has several failed marriages. And a brood of children that hate his or her guts. And supposing that person got their wealth through greed and deceit. Would you still regard that person a success?
I wouldn’t. Material wealth and possessions aren’t, in my view, an indicator of success.
In the work I do, as a filmmaker and author, success can be marked by awards. But I know plenty of people who have done great work that’s had a major impact on culture and they’ve never won an award.
Good critical reviews for a creative work could be seen to be a marker of success – but again history shows us that what we regard as masterpieces now were often dismissed or even vilified at the time when these works were first released and critiqued.
In the creative industries, if you make a lot of money you’re regarded as being a success.
But what you make, or do, could be ugly and hurtful.
If someone for instance became wealthy by making pornography, would you regard that person a success? Or if they created works that were exploitative or incited hatred or violence – is that a successful life?
For me, morals and ethics hold way more sway than material displays of success.
Did Gandhi achieve success in life? You bet he did. Did Mother Teresa achieve success in life? Damn right she did. They both had bugger all in terms of possessions. But the impact they made on humanity was immeasurable.
We all can’t be Gandhis or Mother Teresas, but in some small way we can put a dent in the Universe, As Steve Jobs put it. We were born to create. That’s what our purpose is, I believe. And every day we create, all of us, in one way or another. What we create, and how we do it, is what defines us.
I was on a podcast recently hosted by an entrepreneur, and he asked me: What would you say has been your greatest success?
My family, I told this podcaster.
That flummoxed him. He didn’t expected me to say that. But I believe it absolutely. Everything else is secondary to that.
For me, success in life is waking up each morning, being able to do what I love doing.
First off in this newly energised blog – I’m stalling. It’s now 5:13am as I write this, and I got up before 4am to start writing – But I haven’t written anything yet other than this damn blog.
I’m meant to be writing a new book. A novel. It’s going to be short – about 50K words – and I’m now nearly at 40K words. Each day I hope to write between 1,200 -1,500 words. Takes me 5-6 hrs to write that much. Writing is an athletic endeavour.
The new book will be a real departure for me. I haven’t shown any of it to Jennifer. That’s unusual, because she usually reads everything I write as I go.
Not this one.
I’ll tell you the title and a little of what it’s about in later posts. I’ve stalled enough. I now have to get back to it. Sometime around 9am or 9:30am Jennifer will phone down asking for a coffee. This happens every day. I bring her coffee in bed. Normally she’s been up for a while doing her exercises, her yoga and her meditation. She’s very disciplined with all that. But she can’t put three words together with any level of comprehension until she’s had coffee.
I’m Bill the Barista.
I have to stop stalling. I have to start my writing for the day – I have a book to write.
Here’s a nice pic for you that I took in France during that time when one could travel.
Something woke me this morning at 3:13am. I couldn’t figure out what it was.
I checked my FitBit app – I’d had 3hrs 40 mins sleep. Not enough, even for me. So I checked my emails, of course, as if that was going to put me back to sleep. And I saw that there was an email from WordPress telling me that my stats for this website were booming.
That’s odd, I thought, because anyone reading this blog will know that I have been slack in posting regularly. Slack is too kind a word. I’ve been negligent.
So out of interest, I checked on what it was that was causing my stats to boom. I haven’t posted for quite a long time – since my 14day fast I think – so it wasn’t like I’d just put up a post recently and it had taken off.
I discovered that most of the activity was for the home page, and for my archives. And I discovered something else too – that in all the posts that I’ve published here since walking my first Camino in 2013, there are two posts in particular that keep getting viewed year after year. They are:
These are the two posts that, for some reason, people keep coming back to – and I mean like I’ll get multiple views of these daily, and I mean daily.
So anyway, I lay in bed thinking that I really should get back to writing blogs more regularly, so what I’ve decided to do is this: post twice a week from now on – mid week and weekends.
Some posts might be short, some longer. But what I’ll do is write about all sorts of stuff – stream of consciousness stuff, riffs on what I’m working on, what I’m doing in my home and personal life (to a point!), what I’m reading, what I’m watching, what’s important to me.
I’ll try and avoid any reference to saints setting dwarfs on fire. (private joke for those who have followed me from way back!)
Anyway, it sounds pretty boring, right? But I’ll try and make it interesting through my writing. And by nature of my, at times, off-kilter view of the world. Oh, and I’ll post an interesting photo with each blog too.
So, dear followers, I’m back, baby!! Yeah!! Hang on tight ‘cos it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
It’s been two and a half weeks since I finished my fast – and I feel so much better for having done it. Fourteen days now, in retrospect, doesn’t seem that hard.
So what’s changed? Have I pigged out and put back on all the weight I lost? Well, I haven’t weighed myself since completing the fast – so I don’t know how much weight I’ve put on – I suspect a couple of kilos, but that’s all.
What about all the vows I made? Have I kept to them? Here below is what I said I’d do, and here’s what I’ve actually done!
I’m cutting sugar from my diet, entirely. Yep, done this – but Easter’s coming up and there’s no way I’m not going to have some choccy Easter eggs!
I’m cutting dairy from my diet, entirely. Done this too – except for some organic yoghurt occasionally.
I’m cutting fruit from my diet, entirely. Done this too – except for some grapes occasionally.
I’ll reduce my carbohydrates to a minimum. Done this – shifted pretty much to a Keto diet.
I’ll reduce alcohol to a bare minimum, if not entirely. What was I thinking?? I love wine too much to ever give it up!
I’ll eat more fish. I’ve done this.
I’ll eat more salads, nuts and seeds, and fresh vegetables. I’ve done this.
I’ll restrict my red meat consumption to about 2-3 times a month. Let’s make it 3-4 times a month.
No more roast potatoes, no more chips, no more pasta or noodles. Yep, kept to this.
I’ll limit rice to brown rice only. Haven’t had any brown rice at all.
No more coffee for the foreseeable future. (I’ll see how long that lasts!) Strangely, I’ve had no desire to go back to coffee. I’m drinking my Darjeerling tea instead, and much prefer it.
I’ll do intermittent fasting in some form, not sure what yet. Yep – but after Easter!
From now on, I’ll eat mindfully, not randomly. This has happened. The discipline of doing the fourteen day fast has given me the discipline to eat more mindfully.
Overall since doing the fast I feel fitter, lighter, I have more energy, and I feel more confident. That’s odd, isn’t it. I’ve never really lacked confidence, but the fast has given me more oomph.
The fast did what I hoped it would do – it reset me physically and mentally. It cleared me out – it detoxed my body and detoxed my thoughts.
But now I’m back to regular eating – muesli for brekkie (home made, full of really healthy stuff) with almond milk. Salad for lunch or sometimes grilled chicken with cabbage, fish or chicken or lentils with kale and cabbage or cauliflower for dinner. No dessert. That’s how I’m eating now, and I love it.
Was it all worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes, but probably next time I’ll do a 21 day fast. I think that extra week could really turbo-charge things – or it could kill me!
It’s been two days now since I broke my fast, and I have to say I feel bloody great.
I broke the fast with an avocado, sprinkled with some apple cider vinegar and Himalayan salt. Later in the morning I had some celery and broccoli soup. Not much at first. I took it easy.
I then had to drive 4hrs to Sydney and I’m so pleased I’d broken the fast because the drive was no problem. Had I still been fasting it would have been way more difficult.
That night we stayed with our daughter and her fella, David. David is an exceptional cook, and I mean exceptional. He’d prepared kangaroo and cous cous, and it was delicious. I had no problem eating it at all!
The next morning I had my early meeting. It was in an outer Sydney suburb, and I wanted to eat before the meeting. The building where the meeting was to be held was next to a train station, and across the street was a Turkish bakery. I asked the baker to batch me up a nice breakfast, so he made me a spinach and cheese pide.
Now, I know – you’re going to say that already I’d broken many of the undertakings I’d set out earlier – no diary, no carbohydrates etc – but I am telling you that pide was amazing. Best breakfast I’ve had in years. It was exactly what I needed heading into that meeting.
Last night it was poached skinless chicken with steamed broccoli. Tonight it’s grilled salmon with cabbage. I’m determined not to yo-yo back to old ways of eating.
So a few things;
I feel wonderful. Full of energy. Sharp. I feel like my body has totally detoxed. Last night I slept all the way through without the aid of Melatonin, and I can’t remember when I last had a full night’s sleep. I feel light and nimble and young. And I feel full of optimism and joy.
If this is what a 14day fast does for you, then I’ll do it again – maybe two a year?
But I also need to now incorporate a daily routine into my schedule. So what I’m thinking is this: a largely keto / Mediterranean diet. And an 18/6 fasting routine. Eat at say 7pm, then not have my next meal till at least 1pm. I might see if I can extend that to 20/4.
I might also look at doing at least a one day fast a week – perhaps Sunday. Whatever I end up doing, I have to do it each day, every day, every week. There’s no point going back to old habits.
This whole exercise has been well worthwhile. Just think, you can change your life in two weeks.
I woke up this morning with no real desire to eat – to break my fast. Although I must, soon, because later I have to drive to Sydney – a 4hr drive – and I don’t want to do that drive whilst still fasting. I wouldn’t necessarily trust my judgement.
It’s been a fascinating experiment, and if you read on I detail what I’ve learned and how it will change the way I’ll approach food, and eating, from now on.
Throughout the fast I’ve dropped nearly 9kgs. That’s almost 20lbs in two weeks. I’m the lowest weight I’ve been in over ten years. And I feel great. I feel as though my body has done a major detox and reboot. I feel alert and strong and full of optimism.
I think the health benefits of this fast are, and will be, incalculable.
I have to admit there were times when I didn’t think I’d make it through. I wouldn’t say it’s been easy, but then again it wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. I could, if circumstances allowed, easily go for another 14 days.
Why wouldn’t I? Because the whole exercise has really disrupted the family routine. My wife Jennifer, and my eldest son Henry, are good cooks – more than that, they regard cooking as a creative endeavour, and they enjoy preparing meals, then sitting down and sharing those meals with me. (aren’t I a lucky fella?!)
That hasn’t happened these past 14 days. I miss that.
I miss the community of it – the talking, the laughing, the swapping of stories and things that we’ve picked up from podcasts or news sites or from the books we’re reading. None of that has happened this past fortnight.
Henry has cooked for himself and eaten alone. Jennifer has cooked for herself and eaten alone. There’s been none of the conviviality that goes hand-in-hand with the sharing of a good meal. That energy has been lost. I look forward to it returning now that this fast is finishing.
How to break the fast?
I have to be very careful. It would be inadvisable to have solids of any kind, so what Jennifer and I have decided is to break it with an avocado drizzled with apple cider vinegar, with Himalayan salt and some pepper – then later in the day vegetable soup – celery and broccoli. That should ease me into the digestive cycle again.
The one thing I’m determined to do is not to go back to my old habits. I’ve brought my weight down to where I believe it should be – 75kgs and under. That’s the weight I remember as a younger man being my ideal weight. I’d like actually to get it down to 73kgs and will work towards that.
Basically though, there’s no point going through this past 14days if, in a month’s time, I’m back to where I was when I started. I have to learn lessons from this. One of the reasons I undertook this fast was to regain control of my mind, my thoughts, and I’ve done that. I can’t from this point on be once again governed by the randomness of my actions.
Which means I have to give serious thought as to how I move forward from this point on. What changes I’m going to make in my diet. Here’s what I know so far –
I’m cutting sugar from my diet, entirely.
I’m cutting dairy from my diet, entirely.
I’m cutting fruit from my diet, entirely.
I’ll reduce my carbohydrates to a minimum.
I’ll reduce alcohol to a bare minimum, if not entirely.
I’ll eat more fish.
I’ll eat more salads, nuts and seeds, and fresh vegetables.
I’ll restrict my red meat consumption to about 2-3 times a month.
No more roast potatoes, no more chips, no more pasta or noodles.
I’ll limit rice to brown rice only.
No more coffee for the foreseeable future. (I’ll see how long that lasts!)
I’ll do intermittent fasting in some form, not sure what yet.
From now on, I’ll eat mindfully, not randomly.
So what have I learned from the last 14 days?
If you can get past day 3 of a fast, you feel no hunger. It’s still difficult from then on, but hunger ceases to be an issue.
After day 12 you seem to break through a barrier and you feel stronger and clearer in your thinking. After that, continuing the fast for however long is not a problem.
Using beef broth or chicken broth didn’t work for me. I did it for two days and I put on weight and felt nauseous.
Don’t do an extended fast if you’re operating heavy machinery.
After about a week I developed an aversion to coffee – and I love coffee.
Autophagy – the process of cell rejuvenation associated with fasting, is a game-changer for me. It’s the reason I would look at incorporating some kind of fasting routine into my life from now on. (see posts day#11 and day#12 for info on autophagy.)
The social ritual of sharing food with others is very important to me. I missed that.
I’ve proven to myself that if I set my mind to something, I can do it. I really had no problem with my son or Jennifer cooking or eating around me. I’d vowed not to eat for 14 days and it was as simple as that. I would have disappointed myself if I’d broken that vow. I probably would have disappointed others as well.
IF YOU WANT TO UNDERTAKE A FAST ~
If you now want to undertake a fast, here’s what I advise you to do:
Read up on all the legitimate medical literature on fasting, like Dr. Fung’s book and others, and really do your homework. Don’t rely on fringe or quack advice – be advised by the science. Get this wrong and it could have serious consequences for you.
If you’re on medication check in with your doctor first.
Take it slow. Start out with a 2 day fast – for instance, have Friday dinner be your last meal until breakfast Monday. See how that goes. I’ve done multiple fasts in the past, the longest prior to this being 6 days. That gave me some degree of foreknowledge as to what I’d be facing.
Plan your fast so that you’re not doing anything physically taxing or requiring you to be super-alert. You’ll probably feel listless and a bit foggy-headed. If you’re doing a long drive, or you’re having an important business meeting, it’s best you’re not fasting.
Expect to be hungry – very hungry. Remember, the hunger pangs don’t really leave you until day 3 or day 4 of a fast.
If you’re finding it really tough have some miso soup or broth. Be kind to yourself. This isn’t an exercise in self-mutilation.
Weigh yourself regularly. I’ve found that checking your weight is kind of like a validation of how you’re going. It gives you a sense of achievement. It’s like a pat on the back – an attaboy!
Break your fast carefully. I remember I once broke a 4 day fast with roast duck. I was sick for a week!
I’m posting before and after shots of myself below. I’ve tried to match angle and light, to give an accurate comparison. I don’t know about you but I think I look better in the before shot!
I also post a screen shot from my FitBit app that recorded the weight loss in graph form.
After all that I’ve been through, would I do it again? Yes I would, but I’d probably next look at doing a 28 day fast. I’m serious. But then again, I’m crazy…
When I look back, I was quite daunted by the prospect of not eating for fourteen days. I was genuinely not sure whether I could stick it out. That’s one of the reasons I decided to make my fast public – I figured it would be harder for me to bail if I had people watching me from afar.
The other reason I decided to go public is because I wanted to provide good solid medical information about fasting for those that might be interested. I’ve done that in the posting of excerpts from Dr Jason Fung’s book, The Complete Guide To Fasting.
And over these past 13 days I’ve had a wonderful response from people around the world, contacting me telling me that they’re going to undertake a fast, some telling me that what I’m doing has been inspirational. That’s enormously gratifying.
Bu I have to say, at the outset I was scared. And the last time I felt that kind of fear was before I walked my first Camino, in 2013. And now, looking back, I realise that the way I’ve gotten through this fast is the way I got through the Camino – by increments.
In my Camino memoir book, The Way, My Way, I talk about the power of increments. That you can achieve great things, seemingly impossible things, by approaching it incrementally. You look at a map of Spain and you think there’s no way I can walk across that country. No way.
Then you look at the map again and you look at the next town ahead of you – a day’s walk. I can do that, you say to yourself. And you do it, then that night you look at the map again and you see the next town on your route and you say I can do that. And after thirty days you’ve walked 800kms across Spain!
The power of increments. As I say in my book:
I could never get over it. I would stand on a hill and look into the distance and see a village. And then I’d set off, and within a few hours I was actually walking into that village. The power of the small step. A lot of small steps gets you extraordinary distances. If you keep taking those small steps. I began to think of what else I could achieve, through small steps, Through increments. If I ate a little less each day, I could lose weight. If I did a little more exercise each day I could get fitter. If I spent a little less each day I could save more. You don’t have to take big strides. Little steps are fine, but just keep taking them. And then you find you’ve walked across a country.
Same deal with this fast. The prospect of not eating for 2 weeks seemed impossible, but I discovered that if I just focused on not eating that day, and that day only, then not eating for one day was do-able. And then I’d wake up the next day I’d do the same. And now here I am, 13 days in, and I’m almost at the finish line. I’ve almost walked all the way across the country.
So here’s the last excerpt from Dr. Fung that I’m going to post. It’s a series of Q&A’s. If you’re interested in doing a fast, I highly recommend you read his book – here’s an Amazon link:
Interestingly, this has not been a problem in our Intensive Dietary Management Program, despite years of experience and hundreds of patients. Similarly, members of religions that embrace routine fasting are not known to be cranky. For example, nobody would stereotype a Buddhist monk, who engages in fasting almost daily, as a cranky guy.
I think that when people become irritable when they don’t eat, it’s because they expect to be cranky, so they act out their role in a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we normalize the idea of fasting in their minds, they forget to become cranky. Will fasting make me tired? No. In our experience at the Intensive Dietary Management Program, the opposite is true. Many people find that they have more energy during a fast—probably due to increased adrenaline.
You’ll find that you have plenty of energy for all the normal activities of daily living. Persistent fatigue is not a normal part of fasting. If you experience excessive fatigue, you should stop fasting immediately and see your doctor. Will fasting make me confused or forgetful? No. You should not experience any decrease in memory or concentration during your fast. On the contrary, fasting improves mental clarity and acuity. Over the long term, fasting may actually help improve memory. One theory is that fasting activates a form of cellular cleansing called autophagy that may help prevent age-associated memory loss.
Does fasting lead to overeating?
The simple answer is yes, you will eat more than usual immediately after fasting. However, the amount of food eaten above the baseline on nonfasting days is not enough to offset the preceding fast. A study of thirty-six-hour fasts shows that the meal taken after the fast is almost 20 percent larger than usual, but over the entire two-day period, there was still a net deficit of 1,958 calories. The amount “overeaten” did not nearly compensate for the fast. The study concludes, “A 36-hour fast … did not induce a powerful, unconditioned stimulus to compensate on the subsequent day.”
My stomach is always growling. What can I do? Try drinking some mineral water. The mechanism is unclear, but it is believed that some of the minerals help settle the stomach. I take medications with food. What can I do during fasting? Certain medications may cause side effects on an empty stomach: Aspirin can cause stomach upset or even ulcers. Iron supplements may cause nausea and vomiting. Metformin, often prescribed for diabetes, may cause nausea or diarrhea.
What if I have diabetes?
Special care must be taken if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes or are taking diabetic medications. (Certain diabetes medications, such as metformin, are used for other conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.) Monitor your blood sugar closely and adjust your medications accordingly. Close monitoring by your physician is mandatory.
If you cannot be followed closely, do not fast. Fasting reduces blood sugar. If you continue taking the same dose of diabetes medications, especially insulin, during your fast, your blood sugar may become extremely low, resulting in hypoglycemia. This can be a life-threatening situation. You must take some sugar or juice to raise your blood sugar back to normal, even if it means you must stop your fast for that day. You must closely monitor your blood sugar during your fast. If you repeatedly have low blood sugar, it means that you are overmedicated, not that the fasting process is not working.
Can I exercise while fasting?
Many people assume it will be difficult to exercise while fasting, and sometimes those with physically demanding jobs worry about fasting while working. Yes, exercise demands extra energy from the body. However, the process of using stored food energy during a fast remains the same.
The body starts by burning glycogen, the sugar stored in the liver. Since there is extra demand for energy during exercise, glycogen runs out sooner than otherwise. But your body generally carries enough glycogen for twenty-four hours, so it can sustain a fair amount of exercise before running out. However, endurance athletes, such as Ironman triathletes, marathoners, and ultra-marathoners, do occasionally “hit the wall.”
Glycogen stores run out, leaving their muscles essentially running on empty. Perhaps there is no more indelible image of hitting the wall than the 1982 Ironman Triathlon, when American competitor Julie Moss crawled to the finish line, unable to even stand. But even when our glycogen runs out, we’re still carrying vast amounts of energy in the form of fat, and during fasting, our body switches from burning sugar to burning fat.
Following a very low carbohydrate diet, or ketogenic diet, trains your body tissues to burn fat. Similarly, exercising in the fasted state trains your muscles to burn fat. Instead of relying on limited glycogen stores, you can use almost unlimited energy from your fat stores. Muscles adapt to use whatever energy source is available.
When we deplete our glycogen through fasting, our muscles learn to become much more efficient at burning fat. The number of specialized fat-burning proteins is increased, and the breakdown of fat for energy is enhanced. After training in the fasted state, muscle fibers show increased available fat. All these are signs that the muscles are training to burn fat, not sugar.
Does performance suffer? Not really. In one study, a three-and-a-half-day fast did not affect any measurements of athletic performance, including strength, anaerobic capacity, and aerobic endurance. However, during the period when you are adjusting to the change from burning sugar to burning fat, you may notice a decrease in your athletic performance. This lasts approximately two weeks.
As you deplete the body of sugar, your muscles need time to adapt to using fat. Your energy, muscle strength, and overall exercise capacity will go down, but they will recover. This process is sometimes called keto-adaptation. Very low carb diets, ketogenic diets, and training in the fasted state may all have benefits in training your muscles to burn fat, but your muscles do need time to adapt.
My friend Marie who lives in the Basque country contacted me a few days ago, and told me about an extended fast she did whilst in an elite German medical clinic. She said that on day 12 of her 17 day fast, her energy returned, as did her clarity of thought.
Well that’s what’s happened to me.
Yesterday I did the strongest bike ride I’ve done for ages – 40mins/15.5kms/485cals. The figures weren’t as good as I was doing two weeks ago, but they’re the strongest this week.
Overall I’m feeling good – very good. Clear-headed, solid. I feel like I could go another 14 days, easy. It seems like I’ve passed through some kind of barrier, and I’m now in open waters.
Stats: I dropped 0.6kg in the past 24hrs, my percentage body fat strangely is remaining stubbornly constant, my resting heart rate has gone up a bit, and my blood pressure remains low, which for me is an achievement because I have hypertension.
The feeling of hunger is still no longer an issue, however the idea of food taunts me. Jennifer made a beautiful fried rice with chicken and cabbage last night for dinner, then sat beside me and ate it. I would have loved to have had some, but of course that wasn’t possible. But the idea of tucking into a bowl of that beautiful fried rice was very tempting.
Yesterday I learned that an important meeting I had scheduled in Sydney on Thursday has been brought forward to Tuesday morning. Early. We live in Mudgee, four hours drive away, so that means we’ll have to drive to Sydney Monday afternoon.
Monday is day#14 of my fast, and I’m not going to do the tricky drive whilst fasting, so I’ve decided to break my fast on Monday at lunch time. This will cut short my 14 day fast by half a day. I don’t see it as a big deal – I’ve done what I set out to do. Sometimes life intercedes in the best laid plans.
Now for more from the esteemed Dr Jason Fung, from his book The Complete Guide to Fasting. It’s an excerpt that continues on about autophagy, which for me the most important aspect of fasting –
For people with chronic inflammatory and/or neurological conditions, fasting can help accelerate autophagy and the body’s clearing-out of old, damaged tissue. The body engages in “housecleaning” all the time, but when it gets a break from the constant digestion of large amounts of food, it may be able to focus more energy on repair and restoration.
This is why the strongest stimulus to autophagy currently known is fasting, and why fasting alone, unique among diets, stimulates autophagy—simple caloric restriction or dieting isn’t enough. By eating constantly, from the time we wake up to the time we sleep, we prevent the activation of autophagy’s cleansing pathways.
Simply put, fasting cleanses the body of unhealthy or unnecessary cellular debris. This is the reason longer fasts were often called cleanses or detoxifications. At the same time, fasting also stimulates growth hormone, which signals the production of some new snazzy cell parts, giving our bodies a complete renovation.
Since it triggers both the breakdown of old cellular parts and the creation of new ones, fasting may be considered one of the most potent anti-aging methods in existence. Autophagy also plays an important role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is characterized by the abnormal accumulation of amyloid beta (Aß) proteins in the brain, and it’s believed that these accumulations eventually destroy the synaptic connections in the memory and cognition areas.
Normally, clumps of Aß protein are removed by autophagy: the brain cell activates the autophagosome, the cell’s internal garbage truck, which engulfs the Aß protein targeted for removal and excretes it, so it can be removed by the blood and recycled into other protein or turned into glucose, depending upon the body’s needs. But in Alzheimer’s disease, autophagy is impaired and the Aß protein remains inside the brain cell, where eventual buildup will result in the clinical syndromes of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cancer is yet another disease that may be a result of disordered autophagy. We’re learning that mTOR plays a role in cancer biology, and mTOR inhibitors have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of various cancers. Fasting’s role in inhibiting mTOR, thereby stimulating autophagy, provides an interesting opportunity to prevent cancer’s development.
Indeed, some leading scientists, such as Dr. Thomas Seyfried, a professor of biology at Boston College, have proposed a yearly seven-day water-only fast for this very reason.