Fast – day#5 / Hmmmm ~

Weight: 79.6
Body fat: 25.8%
BMI: 25.4
RHR: 57bpm
Sleep: 7hrs 20min (4hrs31+2hrs49)
BP: 127/69 @64bpm

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Day#5 and I’ve put on some weight.
0.4kgs
How did that happen?

Well, last night I had some beef broth. According to Dr Fung, beef broth is permissible on an extended fast – not that 5 days is necessarily yet an extended fast. But I batched up some broth following the recipe in his book – The Complete Guide to Fasting.

About 1kg of beef bones – I used neck bones, without any real meat on them, mainly bones and marrow. Then some celery, some carrots, an onion, and some leeks. And Himalayan salt. I boiled it down and had two cups – about 250ml each. It was broth only, no solids at all.

I had the broth not because I felt hungry, but because I am writing an original screenplay at the moment and I need absolute acuity of thought, and I found yesterday I was a bit fuzzy-minded. I was hoping the nutrients in the broth might fix that. I wasn’t expecting to put on weight!

Anyway, what’s interesting is that whilst I put on 0.4kgs of weight (when really I should have lost about 1kg of weight,) my body fat percentage has come down quite a bit – from 27.7% when I started to 25.8% today.

No broth today – only tea.

Saturday here so I mowed the lawn, which constituted my exercise for the day. Took me 1hr20mins. Felt good and strong. Listening to Eric Clapton might have helped.

I’m no longer feeling any hunger at all – I miss food now for the ritual of meals, and the companionship that comes with it.

So here’s another myth that Dr Fung busts regarding fasting: fasting makes you burn protein…

One persistent myth of fasting is that it burns muscle, that our body, if we’re not eating, will immediately start using our muscles as an energy source. This does not actually happen. The human body evolved to survive periods of fasting. We store food energy as body fat and use this as fuel when food is not available. 

Muscle, on the other hand, is preserved until body fat becomes so low that the body has no choice but to turn to muscle. This will only happen when body fat is at less than 4 percent. (For comparison, elite male marathon runners carry approximately 8 percent body fat and female marathoners slightly more.) 

If we did not preserve muscle and burn fat instead when no food is available, we would not have survived very long as a species. Almost all mammals have this same ability. Real-world studies of fasting show that the concern over muscle loss is largely misplaced. Alternate-day fasting over seventy days decreased body weight by 6 percent, but fat mass decreased by 11.4 percent and lean mass (muscle and bone) did not change at all.  

During fasting, the body switches from burning sugar (carbohydrates) to fat for energy. Protein is spared. At baseline, eating normally, energy comes from a mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. As you start fasting, the body increases carbohydrate oxidation. This is just a fancy way of saying that it is burning sugar, in the form of glycogen, for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours after you stop eating, until it runs out of glycogen. 

With no more sugar to burn, the body switches to burning fat. Fat oxidation increases as carbohydrate oxidation decreases toward zero. At the same time, protein oxidation—that is, burning protein, such as muscle, for fuel—actually decreases. The normal protein breakdown of around seventy-five grams per day falls to fifteen to twenty grams per day during fasting. Rather than burning muscle during fasting, we start conserving muscle. Much of the amino acids that are broken down during regular turnover of cells are reabsorbed into new proteins. 

Fast – day#3

Weight: 80.2
Body fat: 26.6%
BMI: 25.6
RHR: 58bpm
Sleep: 7hrs 21min
BP: 124/76 @77bpm

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I’ve decided to only post once a day – at the end of my day. I figure you don’t need to get two of these posts a day. Given the quality of my writing and my deteriorating mind and manners, one post a day is more than sufficient.

I’ve now lost exactly 3kgs in two days. That’s about on par for me, based on previous fasts I’ve done. I usually drop off that much in the first couple of days. It’ll slow up soon.

More importantly my BMI (25.6 this morning) is edging closer from Overweight (BMI above 25) to Normal weight (below 25). The way I’m going I should be below 25 by the end of the week. Interestingly, my blood pressure has come down quite a bit. It was high yesterday – it’s normal today. As I say, I have a pre-disposition to high blood pressure.

Even though according to the sleep app I had more than 7hrs sleep last night, I felt tired this morning on waking. I know the sleep app registers you’re “sleeping” when you’re just lying still in bed. I did a lot of that in the middle of the night last night.

I’m writing a new screenplay at the moment, and night time is my most fertile time for creative thinking. I stayed awake for several hours last night figuring out the next section of my story. I probably had about 4½ – 5hrs sleep.

But now I’ve had my two double espressos so I’m okay!

3PM – Now towards the afternoon of day#3, the hunger is starting to diminish. I’m feeling a bit light-headed but that could be because of the disrupted sleep. A few hours ago I had to go food shopping for Jennifer. I boldly and gallantly walked passed all those yummy foodstuffs that ordinarily I would have grabbed for a big nosh-up later.

Here is the next section of Dr Fung’s book – The Complete Guide to Fasting – that I want to share with you: The five stages of fasting…

The transition from the fed state to the fasted state occurs in several stages, as classically described by George Cahill, one of the leading experts in fasting physiology:

1. Feeding: Blood sugar levels rise as we absorb the incoming food, and insulin levels rise in response to move glucose into cells, which use it for energy. Excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver or converted to fat.

2. The postabsorptive phase (six to twenty-four hours after beginning fasting): At this point, blood sugar and insulin levels begin to fall. To supply energy, the liver starts to break down glycogen, releasing glucose. Glycogen stores last for approximately twenty-four to thirty-six hours.

3. Gluconeogenesis (twenty-four hours to two days after beginning fasting): At this point, glycogen stores have run out. The liver manufactures new glucose from amino acids in a process called gluconeogenesis (literally, “making new glucose”). In nondiabetic persons, glucose levels fall but stay within the normal range.

4. Ketosis (two to three days after beginning fasting): Low insulin levels stimulate lipolysis, the breakdown of fat for energy. Triglycerides, the form of fat used for storage, are broken into the glycerol backbone and three fatty acid chains. The glycerol is used for gluconeogenesis, so the amino acids formerly used can be reserved for protein synthesis. The fatty acids are used directly for energy by most tissues of the body, though not the brain.

The body uses fatty acids to produce ketone bodies, which are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and are used by the brain for energy. After four days of fasting, approximately 75 percent of the energy used by the brain is provided by ketones. The two major types of ketones produced are beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate, which can increase over seventyfold during fasting.

5. The protein conservation phase (five days after beginning fasting): High levels of growth hormone maintain muscle mass and lean tissues. The energy for basic metabolism is almost entirely supplied by fatty acids and ketones. Blood glucose is maintained by gluconeogenesis using glycerol. Increased norepinephrine (adrenaline) levels prevent any decrease in metabolic rate. There is a normal amount of protein turnover, but it is not being used for energy. In essence, what we are describing here is the process of switching from burning glucose to burning fat.

Fat is simply the body’s stored food energy. In times of low food availability, stored food is naturally released to fill the void. The body does not “burn muscle” in an effort to feed itself until all the fat stores are used up. One critical point to underscore is that these mechanisms are entirely natural and entirely normal. Periods of low food availability have always been a natural part of human history, and our body evolved mechanisms to adapt to this fact of Paleolithic life. Otherwise, we would not have survived as a species.

There are no adverse health consequences to activating these protocols, except in the case of malnourishment (you should not fast if you’re malnourished, of course, and extreme fasting can cause malnourishment, too). The body is not “shutting down”; it’s merely changing fuel sources, from food to our own fat. It does this with the help of several hormonal adaptations to fasting.

Fast – day#2 pt1 / a great start

Weight: 81.6
Body fat: 27.1%
BMI: 26.0
RHR: 57bpm
Sleep: 4hrs 57min
BP:

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(When possible, I will post twice a day – once in the morning and again later in the arvo. I’ll do my blood pressure in the arvo. I’ll also post info on fasting in the afternoon blog.)

I woke up early (4:30am) feeling refreshed and ready to start work for the day. Yes I felt a bit hungry, but nothing too bothersome.

On weighing myself I noticed that I’d dropped 1.6kg within a 24hr period. This didn’t surprise me – early in a fast the weight tends to drop off quickly.

What was interesting though is that my RHR – my Resting Heart Rate – dropped from 60bpm to 57bpm. It will be fascinating to see how that goes during the fast.

I have included a new marker in my stats – my duration of sleep. I have a FitBit Charge 3, and the sleep app associated with it is fairly accurate. So each day I’ll post how much sleep I’ve had. (I usually have a 20min kip in the afternoon as well.)

Late yesterday I took various vitamins. I will be taking these each day:

  • MultiVitamin (for males 50yrs+)
  • Mega B
  • Vit B12
  • Magnesium
  • Vit D
  • CoQ10
  • DHEA

So now it’s 5am and I’ve had my first (of two) double espressos and I’m ready to start work!

morning double espresso – that’s crema on top, not milk!