5 Days Fast

Day 0

I’m writing this at about 20 to midnight. I ate my last meal just under 5 hours ago and if all goes to plan I won’t eat another meal for about 5 days. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried a fast but it will be the longest so far. Usually I’d be feeling fairly confident at the moment but unfortunately I made the mistake of telling people I was planning on doing it and so now I’ve locked myself in. The next 8 hours should be easy, after that things get more interesting.

Day 1

This morning I had a multivitamin for breakfast, water for lunch and it’ll be sleep for dinner. So far I’ve been fairly consistently hungry with the occasional pang that anyone who’s ever skipped a meal will be familiar with. But whilst they always seems persistent at first the pangs go away after about an hour or so and it’s tolerable after that. Really the worse thing is the persistent nagging desire to eat and when that’s not satisfied to move or work or do something - anything. It’s a quiet voice at the moment but insistent.

There are some beneficial points that I had forgotten about. Usually after a days work I’d be pretty tired, at least mentally and my body would usually follow suit. After not eating anything for over 24 hours I’ve got a lot more energy available all round. The extra energy is making it easier to plow on with other tasks I’ve been putting off. Admittedly I am getting distracted fairly easily but it is hard to say if it is any worse than usual.

I should probably address why I’m doing this. In my last year of my bachelors I realised that I’d probably never gone more than 24 hours without a meal. Considering people have survived upwards of 50 days on hunger strikes this seemed pretty odd to me. The first time I tried it I lasted about 2 days before balking when I woke up with a headache and feeling all round shaky. Ever since then I’ve pushed it further and further to see how far I can go and also to see what happens. So far the end results, if not the process, have been net positive.

Day 2

Things are overall a little better today. Other than a little queasiness/dizzyness in the morning. The hungry itch has died down a bit also. I was perhaps thinking about food every minute or so yesterday and that’s improved to about 5-10 minutes on average. Although my focus has improved on yesterday I find I have very limited working memory. It is easy to become distracted and context switching is difficult. So long as I only try and work on one thing at a time this works fine. I maybe have a slight bit less energy than day 1 but still more than average. Whilst my body is still capable my willpower is shot. I’ve not been able to get much work done this evening so I’ve opted to vegetate in front of the TV and whittle the hours down till Friday.

Day 3

Woke up to the sound of my heartbeat going fast and hard in my chest. Took about 15 minutes to return to normal. Was a bit disconcerting at first but it’s not the first time this has happened to me during a fast. Experience says day 3 is about the time my body runs out of easily accessible energy and goes into ketosis properly and odd things start to occur. After the slightly disconcerting wake up call I made a baking powder, water and salt cocktail to at least give my body some salts to work with. You know you’re hungry when even that tastes pretty good.

I did some quick half-assed exercises before leaving for work and even the 5 minutes I did seemed to be enough to give me a kind of runners high. The same thing occured on the walk back from work - as soon as I sat down to type this I started to feel pretty good. The walk into work was even more strange. I still had that warm and pleasent feeling as I set off towards the university but as I walked things looked and sounded different. Despite having seen the same bit’s of the university most every day for almost 2 years now, I saw things I never noticed before. Noises were much louder, smells much stronger. Even colours seemed brighter. I wonder if it’s like a forced mindfulness. The pressure to eat has forced me out of my head. Weirdly though I don’t feel hungry at all. The ‘itch’ I was worried about at the start of this seems to have gone away entirely and I feel pretty normal if occasionally a bit hungry. My focus seems to be back on track too. The only downside at this point seems to be waking up with slightly less energy than I usually would. At the moment at least, I feel fine.

Day 4

Over the hill now and feeling pretty good. Maybe a bit tired and sluggish but honestly that’s not unusual for me first thing in the morning. Had another salt cocktail and shortly afterwards got that strange pleasant feeling again. Can’t tell for sure whether the two or conected or not but either way I’m not complaining.

Other than that, the day was fairly normal. No real hunger, the ‘itch’ I worried about at the start of this week hasn’t been a problem at all. With the finish line in sight I’ve been thinking a bit about what I want my first meal to be. The sensible option would be something pro-biotic. It would also be a good idea to have something healthy like a pile of vegetables and some fish. This whole process feels like something of a clean slate - no doubt whatever I eat will taste good after this long. BUT I’m almost certainly going to get a burger and a pint from the pub down the road.

Day 5

Took a little longer to get going this morning. There’s still energy available but unless I ask for it and start moving about my body seems to prefer to conserve what it has. This is also the point where my body is running out of easily available fats. If I had to guess there’s probably another 3 days before it would have to start processing other stores of energy such as muscle and marrow but I don’t plan on taking it that far. Outside of weight loss there have been some other benefits. My skin is softer and my posture seems to have improved - possibly just because there is less weight to carry - and as a consequence my muscles don’t feel as tight after spending a day in front of a computer. It’s worth mentioning that I still got a bit of the mini-euphoria this morning even without the salts cocktail so it may not be directly connected.

There are a lot of confounding factors here though. My typical diet is more meat and beer than fruit and vegetables so just abstaining from things that are bad for me might be making as much an impact as the actual fasting process. The weight loss is pretty undeniably connected though I’ll probably slowly put it back on if I return to my typical diet. If nothing else though it’s another thing I know I can do. It’s a step further than I’ve been before and now there is that temptation to take it a step further again. It’ll definitely be a while before that though.

Oh and I got that burger. And it was glorious.