At the beginning of November I fasted for 120 hours… You may ask: “Why would you do that?”, “Are you crazy?”, “Is this healthy?” Well, fasting is an ancient time-tested tradition and its health benefits are plentiful. Fasting has been shown to boost stem cell growth, detox, raise ketone bodies, boost one's immune system, reduce blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, lower inflammation levels, improve cognitive function, and, most importantly, cleanse the body through a process known as autophagy. What is autophagy? For starters, it’s pronounced, “aw-TOFF-ug-gee.” and it literally means “self-eating”. Yes, you read that right! Autophagy is auto-cannibalism, where cells remove their own toxic junk.
We all have a number of damaged cells in our body because of such factors as poor diet, physical inactivity, stress, pollution to name just a few. Although the process of autophagy can be activated in many different ways I chose to kickstart it by temporarily withholding nutrients, ie fasting. And no, I’m sorry to say our so-called ‘cleansing’ habit of drinking only juices for a day will not promote autophagy but will actually work against it. Before you attempt any kind of fasting do your research and read “The Complete Guide to Fasting” book by Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. Fasting, if done right, truly is a miracle drug, but it isn’t easy - especially extended fasting. I’m so glad I had the support of my awesome friend and a fellow Primal Health Coach - Natalia.
I opted to do the fasting from 6 pm on 4th Nov until 6 pm 9th Nov. Since I had to travel for work during that time I knew I wouldn’t have had access to the best quality food sources, so the timing was perfect. Truth be told, I’d rather fast than eat some random meal with no nutritional value.
So how did I survive the experience?
First, having a nutrient-dense diet helps. Most of my meals consist of tons of local fresh veggies, avocados, lots of free range eggs, wild sardines, grass-fed meats (liver at least once a week!), fermented foods, tones of high-quality fats, and other goodies. Why is my way of eating helpful when it comes to fasting?
Well, it’s because I don’t have a need to snack and can easily go without food for an extended period of time (12-24 hours). My body knows how to dip into my fat stores for energy instead of extra reliance on food.
If you’re eating the standard diet of takeouts that consist of refined carbs, preservatives and oxidised oils then you better make some tweaks before attempting any kind of fasting. If, when you skip your lunch, you’re thinking “I need to eat right now or else I’ll pass out” then perhaps starting with swapping your junk food for real food would be the first step. Nevertheless, if you’re wanting to experiment with fasting a bit then start with a 12 hours overnight fast and build up from there.
So, here is the breakdown of my 5 day fast:
Day 1 - my usual morning routine (bathroom, oil pulling, yoga, meditation), drank loads of water with sea salt to balance my electrolytes; Didn’t really experience much in the way of hunger sensations. I slept well that night.
Day 2 - felt slightly hungry in the morning. I did some light activities mainly walking and cycling but nothing else as my body felt exhausted. I drank 2 sips of black tea as I felt tired and experienced headache in the afternoon, took a 2-hour nap, and then got back to work. I fantasised about food a lot during that evening. Felt slightly hungry around dinner. I slept well that night, although I woke up a few times throughout the night.
Day 3 - the headache from the day before was gone. I felt good as my body was in deep ketosis, however, I felt very cold during the day, so an evening sauna helped a lot. Not only did the sauna help me to get warm but it also stimulated my lymph system, which promoted cellular purification even further… yay!
Day 4 - I got used to not eating so it was easier for me to focus on my work. However, I still had only limited physical energy. Also, I slept well throughout the night, perhaps the warm cup of chamomile tea helped.
Day 5 - probably the easiest day of all. Loads of energy! I broke my fast at 6 pm with homemade bone broth that had plenty of salt, essential fatty & amino acids, collagen, and glycine. I also added a bit of salmon, turmeric, cumin, and some organic greens. I took my supplements (krill oil, vitamin C, D3&K2, and probiotics) for the first time in 5 days.
For the next few days after the fast, apart from my usual nutrient-dense whole foods diet, I included tones of fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt and kombucha to replenish my gut bacteria.
The evident results immediately after the fast were:
reduced body fat especially belly fat - losing body fat wasn’t my motivation but it was definitely an added bonus. It has been 3 weeks now and the kgs have not come back ;-)
Now, here is an awesome recipe for Christmas-y fluffy carrot mini bites. An awesome addition to your Christmas meal.
Fluffy Carrot Mini Bites
3 eggs at room temperature
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1½ cups almond flour
2 tablespoons of coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 or 4 tablespoons raw honey
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter or ghee
3 drops Wild Orange EO (optional)
1 drop of Clove EO (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ginger, and sea salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, honey, and EOs well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined. Fold in the grated carrots.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin silicone tins, filling them about ¾ full.
Bake for about 20 minutes. The muffins/ mini bites are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the tops feel springy to the touch.
Take the muffins out of the oven. Cool the tray on a rack for about 5 minutes and then pop the muffins out and completely cool them directly on the rack.
If you like this recipe, check out my blog for more . If you decide to make any of my recipes don't forget to tag me on Instagram @ThriveInShanghai. I’d love to see it!
P.S. I have a quick announcement to make… ready?
For those ready to make a commitment, I have limited spaces available for one-on-one work. I find that free information is a great start, but it's personalised support and accountability that really make the difference. Find out more here. Time to ditch the dieting for good, make peace with food and love our healthy bodies.
Yours in health,