Some people are very fervent about regular fasting to improve their physical and mental health (Gandhi was one of those people). While it seems easy to ridicule on a logical level (your body needs food to survive, duh!), I have fasted in the past for personal reasons, and have found that after a few days, it imparted a level of clarity to my thought that took me a bit by surprise (I was also pretty darn hungry afterwards!). Mental aspects aside, there are some people who suggest that there are immense health benefits to it. One fasting website I read a while back had a list of all the supposed health benefits. One of the things it said was that when you go on an extended fast, your body starts scavenging your body for any bit of nourishment it can get, eventually purging the arteries of clogged fat and cholesterol, and using it as food. On a gut level, it makes sense to me that the body would do this, as no other food is available. But is it true? And are have studies been conducted to evaluate the health aspects of fasting?
Unless you are very unusual, you body has a source of food for use during short fasting periods–fat.
Right, I meant after all the other obvious sources of nutrition are gone.
I fast for 24 hours every month. I started doing it over twenty years ago, after reading the bodybuilding training books of the late Vince Gironda (“The Iron Guru”). Vince contended that giving the digestive system a rest was good for it (he also advocated laying off all weight exercise for one week every month).
I found I felt better from fasting, but I’ve never heard any reason to believe it cleared your arteries.
And although I realize he had no medical credentials, Vince claimed that you shouldn’t expect to lose fat from fasting – the body supposedly stores fat and burns muscle when no food is available – he advocated taking in on fruit and vegetable juice when fasting to prevent this.
I find that I burn fat by slightly reducing caloric intake, and adding aerobic exercise.
Physiologically, I think there’s probably a big difference between an extended fast (10-14 days or longer) and doing it for 1 or 2 days. You might not lose fat in 24 hours, but there’s no question that doing a longer fast will eventually cause you to lose fat. Your body will burn it for energy at some point; That much is undeniable. But this discussion is unrelated to my question; I’m wondering about after all that fat is gone. Then where does the body go for sustenance? Arteries seem like a logical enough place. Any sources to support this idea?
I’m not sure how the body would scavange arterial deposits. AFAIK there is no substance naturally produced that would kick in to scour your arteries of usable stuff.
Actually, my understanding is that the common, stereotypical picture people have of “fat-clogged arteries” (i.e., you eat a cheeseburger, and then that fat winds up in aglob in your bloodstream) is incorrect. I thought arterial narrowing/blockages were more caused by inflammation–i.e., the cells lining the arterial walls bulge in, build up, etc.–than actual accretion of fat particles, like some clogged sink drain, and that this inflammation was exacerbated by things like a high presence of LDLs (i.e., high cholesterol) and C-reactive proteins.
Anyway, if you can get yourself down to zero percent body fat (which is what your situation proposes), then I can’t imagine you would possibly be at great risk of having high cholesterol.
I imagine that, after body fat and skeletal muscle mass is devoured, then your body would go after your smooth muscles (heart, etc.).
It would be fascninating to know what the results of a blood cholesterol screening would be for those who had the test before fasting, and then again after at least five nights of fasting (no food/juice intake, and only drinking water). I’ve searched but can’t find one study on this. My father has often fasted 3 to 5 days in a row, and he’s gone as long as 40 days. He went in to the doctor one time for something, they took his blood and performed a cholesterol test. They came back saying the test must have been wrong because it was around 800. He was around 55 years old, so the doctor felt his neck for the tell tale signs of hardening arteries, but after nearly choking him, the doctor could find no signs of arterial hardening. My father told the doctor he was on his day 4 of fasting, but his doctor vehemently dismissed his theory that fasting can reduce bad cholesterol from the body, even the arteries. My father said the cholesterol test speaks for itself.
I’m 43, and I’ve only fasted once for 3 days about 4 years ago, but I’m currently on my 3rd day and intending to do 4 days, 5 nights consuming only water. The reason is because I’ve been tingly on the entire left side of my body for the past 29 days. My doctor has no answer. They took my blood, but had no conclusive results. I had a cat scan of my head a few days later, again, the results were inconclusive. The only unusual cat scan result was that it showed a modest elevation in the amount of arterial calcification for my age.
I am tempted to have another cholesterol test on the 5th day before I end my fast, just to see if my results are similar to my father’s.
Thank you Surreal for your links. I found them interesting. All the links are are regarding a study of fasting during the daylight hours only, and eating as much food as you want once the sun sets. I’m looking more specifically for studies of before and after cholesterol levels on patients who fast (no food or juice, and only intake is water) for at least 3 days.
FWIW, Dean Ornishdeveloped a regimen (diet, exercise, lifestyle) that appears to help.
Your brain needs glucose. All the time, every day, over 125 grams of it a day.
Your body cannot make glucose from fat like it can from carbohydrates or protein. In the abscence of dietary protein and carbohydrates your body will perform gluconeogenesis on your muscle tissue to get the glucose you need to survive. The body isn’t particular about what muscle it uses, and your cardiac muscle is just as bioavailable as skeletal muscle, so long term fasting is not a good idea.
I have read over 20 books on fasting. I have personally fasted with only water for 21, 30x2 and 45 days. Hunger pangs subside after about 5 days. Only fruit should be ingested until a fruit only bowel movement is accomplished prior to the fast. This is because fruit ferments as opposed to rotting in your bowels during he fast. Undigested food along the intestinal tract and fat is digested first. All types of fat are consumed at a rate of 85 % fat to 15% protein for the duration. What is fat? Stored food energy (glucose) which is what you live on and what fuels your brain while fasting. The slow metabolism of fat into glucose is what results the feelings of physical and mental fatigue. The intesinal tract is being scoured during the entire fast with accumilated toxins that are be
I have read over 20 books on fasting. I have personally fasted with only water for 21, 30x2 and 45 days. Hunger pangs subside after about 5 days. Only fruit should be ingested until a fruit only bowel movement is accomplished prior to the fast. This is because fruit ferments as opposed to rotting in your bowels during he fast. Undigested food along the intestinal tract and fat is digested first. All types of fat are consumed at a rate of 85 % fat to 15% protein for the duration. What is fat? Stored food energy (glucose) which is what you live on and what fuels your brain while fasting. The slow metabolism of fat into glucose is what results the feelings of physical and mental fatigue. The intestinal tract is being scoured during the entire fast with accumilated toxins that are being “burned” increase in concentration and toxitity as the process proceeds to the colan. The colan is the hotbed of toxins stored
More “rotting in your bowels”.
Zombies do need brains.
Can you name at least three of those toxins?
And could you please tell use where the colan is?
I’m more interested in hearing about the difference between fermenting and rotting. And if I starve for 5 days can I chow down on a bunch of peaches and get smashed?
And (more seriously) is there a low calorie fast that can keep my brain alert? Because I need my brain for my job–the rest of me can starve for all I care. If I sip some glucose will the rest of my body hog it before it gets to my brains?
The OP (eight years ago) was wondering about the effects of a fast that lasted after the body had burned most, if not all, of its stored fat. This would take longer than a day or two for most of us, I would wager.
I have read over 20 books on fasting. I have personally fasted with only water for 21, 30x2 and 45 days. Hunger pangs subside after about 5 days. Only fruit should be ingested until a fruit only bowel movement is accomplished prior to the fast. This is because fruit ferments as opposed to rotting in your bowels during the fast. Undigested food along the intestinal tract and fat is digested first. All types of fat are consumed at a rate of 85 % fat to 15% protein for the duration. What is fat? Stored food energy (glucose) which is what you live on and what fuels your brain while fasting. The slow metabolism of fat into glucose is what results the feelings of physical and mental fatigue. The intestinal tract is being scoured during the entire fast with accumulated toxins that are being “burned” increasing in concentration and toxicity as the process proceeds to the colin. The colin is the hotbed of toxins stored in the body and when you get there the hallucinations begin, the fear and feeling of being near dead. No worries though, it’s part of the human bodies’ miraculous rejuvenation process. Yes , there will be muscle loss during this process as the body does not have protein reserves. Here’s a hitch, if you are obese and don’t have substantial muscle mass you will run out of flesh before the fast is complete. Your body will signal you no matter what when it’s time to eat by the return of ACTUAL hunger. Break it gently with mashed boiled skinned potato with water and no dairy or spice. Just plain. Just a bit then give it a day. Then some plain barley and raw vegetables. I suggest a rapid weight loss diet to avoid an incomplete fast due to a too high of fat to muscle mass ration. A high protein, slow carb diet like the Four Hour Body will drop fat rapidly AND also gain muscle mass, even without exercise. Once undigested food and all fat (including plaque) are eliminated it’s detox time. Every nasty thing you smoked, breathed, ate or got on your skin is now fair game for the blood that is now so thin that it can even reach nerve fibre ends, eliminating disease as well as toxins. Expect total insomnia as well as having no energy, nightmares, hallucinations, fear, yellow liver bile stains on the backside of your underwear. Body odour, bad breath and foggy/fuzzy vision. Now the good part that reverses aging, turning grey hair back to it’s original colour and putting the zip back in you step and if you are a man feeling like you are 18 again. The body now goes after aging/dying and damaged cells. Our cells are constantly being replaced constantly. The problem is that they are being made up out of what we are eating and what is stored in our bodies including toxins, thus leading to the RNA being damaged and cancerous cells being formed and becoming tumours. Once these are all gone actual starvation begins as the body has no choice but to go after healthy tissue. Yes, this includes the heart and other organs. Here’s the thing, your body signals you it’s time to eat. The fast is now complete and you have the health of a new born baby. Don’t laugh, my girl friend said my poo smelled like baby poo. The proof is in the poo-ding. Alright, let’s cure and prevent most forms of cancer. We have a clean slate but we are not out of the woods. We need to look at the next 6 months of cell replacement to have any lasting effects. All new cells are going to be formed out of what we put into our bodies. Therefore I suggest building new cells out of organic living whole foods. Such as the Hallelujah Diet (hacres.com) with supplements. One month of eating followed by a shorter water fast. The first fast could be 60 days or longer depending on the amount of excess weight. The second fast likely will be 21 days or less because there will not be the fat or toxins just the dying or damages (pre-cancerous) cells. Again, actual hunger will return signalling time to eat again. Same diet for two months followed by a third and final short fast. Maybe only 10 days as now there is really nothing but a few sick cells to burns up. How does the body burn up these cells and waste? The same way it burns food. It uses the little motor in every cell called the mitochondria. Yes the body gets the sick cells to turns on themselves and burn them for fuel, in a sence. From the point of breaking the first fast count 6 months on the whole, raw organic diet including the fasting time of coarse. The total time will the length of the first fast plus 6 months that will include the two follow up shorter fasts. Now go have a cheese burger you’ve earned it. Be warned it will likely make you feel sick as your healthy body will reject the so called food.
To the person that stated that there was no substance to burn up the plaque, there certainly is. You can argue it with all the reasoning, knowledge and intelect that you can muster but experience prevails every time. In other words you CAN’T knock it til you’ve tried it. Happy fasting your way to health everyone. If this seems extreme you can always roll the dice with Chemo.