Self-experiments with fasting

This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  diverdog 3 months, 1 week ago.

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  • Hello everyone, I’ve been applying fasting principles to my diet for three years. Classic 5:2, 4:3, every other day, every other day water fasting and two day water fasting.
    I’m a 67 YO man, 5’9” and I weighed in at 165.2 lbs this morning. I’m very fit and healthy on zero meds but it wasn’t always so. From my early 30’s to 50 I was obese, weighing as much as 240 lbs. A heart attack scare at 50 made me determined to get my health under control and I did so by changing my diet and starting to exercise. I lost 60 lbs in nine months and kept most of it off for the next 17 years with a high point of ~200 6 years ago. My wife’s illness inspired me to get it great shape so I could care for her then and I did so in short order, a very fit and strong 175 lbs. It really helped me cope with the physical and mental challenges of caring for her at home until she passed away one year later.
    I called this post “Self-experiments with fasting” because as an engineer I was trained in the scientific method to prove out hypothesis (ideas) with experiments. I’ve been retired for 4 years and I’ve spent a ton of time reading and attending training on health and fitness. I take ideas that make sense to me and I experiment on myself. I gather data via blood tests (home and lab), DEXA and physical measurements. I have zero interest in scale weight but it’s a metric everyone relates to so I do track it.
    I started a five day water fast last night and I hope to complete it. If I can’t I will follow an FMD (Fasting Mimicking Diet) protocol for the balance of the 5 days. I’m going to share the progress, data and my experiences on nutrition, exercise and all of the different ways I’ve fasted here.

    Hi Diverdog. Good luck with your experiment. I’m curious – what is a Fasting Mimicking Diet? (Not sure how you can mimic a fast without actually fasting?)

    Penz, the FMD is based on the work of Dr. Valter Longo. Lot’s of information here https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/52-and-the-longevity-diet/

    Day 2 of my water fast with no issues. I’m not surprised as I done many 38 hour WF before. I do tend to wake earlier when I WF.

    My number one goal with fasting is optimizing health span. I do have specific goals and I’ll get into them later.

    Obviously genetics has a pretty large influence on our health. I have a real mixed bag in my family. My mother died from cancer at 60, my dad had his first heart attack at 61, a stroke at 68 and passed at 74 from another heart attack. Maternal grandmother at 60 cancer, uncle on each side colon cancer, and one uncle with Alzheimer’s, another leukemia. Bretty bleak, but I also have multiple aunts and uncles that lived into their 90’s relatively healthy and lucid. My father’s mother and sister made it to 100!

    I’m really concerned about the cancer risk and so I’m regularly screened for colon and prostate cancer. I’m not as concerned with my dads cardiovascular issues. He was an alcoholic, smoked and became obese in middle age. He was a very bitter, unhappy man and I’m sure his mental and emotional state contributed to his issues.

    I believe that diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and most cancers are triggered and enabled by metabolic issues. Diet, exercise and sleep can and do have a large effect on weather we get them. I’m looking for best practices to stay healthy as long as possible.

    In short I want to die young at a very old age!

    Thanks for the link. I’d read the other post a little while ago but hadn’t consciously linked it to the FMD. Makes sense, and your avocado/macadamia meals sound delish. Good luck with it. Dying young at a very old age is a great goal. Do you know whether your father’s mother an sister had very different diets to others in your family?

    Penz, thats a very good question. We spent quite a bit of time with extended family growing up so I had a pretty good idea on how the families that still lived around NE PA ate. I also heard a lot of stories about how life was in the great depression.

    ALthough my father’s family was middle class they were frugal and raised ducks and chickens and had a big garden in the backyard. The men hunted and fished and they ate, deer, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel and trout. Being Polish they ate plenty of dairy, sausage and pork too.

    They only ate fruit in season and rarely ate out. Sweets were a special treat for Sunday dinner and holidays. The men were all hard drinkers and smokers as was the norm for a coal mining town at that time.

    One of my fondest memories was of my grandmothers blueberry pie. She was an awesome baker but we only had them once or twice a year because my father would have to take me to the mountain to pick the wild blueberries or there would be no pie!

    My grandmother and aunt stuck to the old ways most of their lives. Fruit only in season, big gardens, plenty of eggs and fatty meats, zero processed foods, occasional sweets, alcohol in moderation. They did not smoke.

    I still have a few aunts and uncles alive on my moms side (she was the oldest of 8) and I’m going to see if I can get any more info from them.

    I’ve tried many ways of eating in the 17 years I’ve been maintaining my fat loss. The only one that didn’t work for me was high carb. In general if I didn’t eat way too many calories I lost and maintained weight.

    I was attracted to 5:2 about 3 years ago and initially followed that eating pattern with 600 calorie fast days. Usually with a pretty even balance of fat carbs and protein. I decided to give water fasting a go because I’m unconvinced that the “fasting” in 5:2 doesn’t have much beneficial health effects over and above those brought about by fat loss from calorie reduction. I do believe that water fasting can have profound health benefits.

    I’m doing this 5 day WF as a start to a new 12 week cycle. I am going to follow it with time restricted every other day “fasting” with FD’s around 700 calories. I’ll go into the reasons why in later posts.

    So I’m in uncharted waters as I head into my 3 WFD. The longest I’ve done before is two days. I had a slight headache last night and I got up earlier than usual but otherwise no physical issues. I’m not physically hungry today but I do want to eat!

    I had a huge test last night as my OH’s daughter & hubby are in town and they brought my favorite pizza to the house. Plus the OH baked my favorite Indonesian tapioca cake! I sat at the table and had a glass of seltzer water. But boy did it smell good!

    As I observed the last time I did the two day WF the second day made a huge difference in fat burning. My blood ketones went from 0.4 to 3.9 mmol

    My scale weight has dropped 6.4 lbs so far

    Days 4 and 5 of my water fast went well. No ill effects so far. I feel very good today, no hunger or headache and last night was my best sleep so far. I had a dance lesson and did 30 minutes on the bike last night and it was easy. Blood ketones & glucose are about the same as yesterday so no ill effects from my broccoli sprout “meal” ( about 65 calories) yesterday. I’ve had my anti-cancer sprouts again this morning so technically I’m not water fasting. I’ve lost 10 lbs so far and am at my lowest ever adult scale weight of 155 lbs at 5’9″

    I had to force down the small bowl of sprouts, so I think I’m not going to be able to eat much as I refeed.

    I’ll break my fast about 9:00 AM tomorrow

    So what comes next and why? Tomorrow will include carbs and protein to recharge some glycogen. Saturday will restart my every other day workout schedule. Workout days will be over TDEE and off days will be 700 calorie “fast days.

    Last year I did a very aggressive fat loss version of this with alternate water fast days. I lost 15 lbs but DEXA showed that 7 lbs of the 15 was muscle. That’s not good! There are several other factor that could be contributing. First I was not lifting weights, second I was not eating any red meat as my OH doesn’t like it and generally I wasn’t eating enough protein at each meal to trigger muscle maintenance and or growth. I also noticed that on Fasting nights I was not sleeping as soundly. I’m in the workout groove now and I’m going to up my protein intake on workout days. On FD’s I’ll be eating enough to insure continued growth and some carbs to help with sleep.

    Hello again diverdog, I’ve been reading your fasting exploits with interest. I’m wondering though, as you are currently only a youthful 67, are you committed to posting here for the next 3-4 decades and beyond so that any equally committed followers may learn the outcome of your efforts? If you suddenly stop posting, what are we to conclude? Just joshing but genuinely curious as I would love it to be right. 😆

    thinatlast, I was going to make “die young at a very old age” my 30 year mission statement but perhaps I should increase it to 40? Posting here helps me stay on track so I think I’ll be around for a while even though I don’t think many folks read my posts. They are worried about losing weight as painlessly as possible on 5:2 and struggle with that. Losing weight has not been important for me for quite a while but looking good is certainly a great side benefit!

    Diverdog – you may have more people reading your posts than you think – i’ve been lurking in the background following your 5 day waterfast with admiration. I hope to be following you someday but am focusing on 5:2 for weight loss first. So I’m interested to see how this works out for you – sounds like you will try and do the fast once a quarter?

    I too have found the 5:2 has disrupted my sleep, especially when I first started. But I also find that more carbs help me sleep better and my sleep is improving after 8 months of 5:2 so i think my body is adapting. Interesting your sleep was not totally messed up by prolonged fasting.

    Let us know how your re-feeding goes. And the effect on your muscle mass as Dr Longo thinks it should be minimal?

    Cornish-jane, I think that muscle loss from this fast will be minimal and will be rapidly regained. the next 12 weeks will be all about building muscle with minimum fat gain. My sleep was ok on the 5 day fast but I woke up about 1 hour earlier. I think during the every other day water fast the major issue is that the water loss on fast days made me get up to pee far more often. Could be some brain chemical issues too. I will be repeating the water fast in 12 weeks

    I broke my 5 day water fast at 8:00 AM with pannekoek (crepes, the OH is Indonesian and speaks Dutch) filled with avocado, bacon, goat cheese, sun dried tomato, arugula and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic. I ate them very slowly and savored the wonderful flavors and textures! Followed by a small slice of Bika Ambon, my favorite Indonesian tapioca cake!

    I want to thank simcoluv and penguin for their support and encouragement.

    For the scale watchers I lost 10.6 lbs, 1 1/4″ off my waist, 1/2′ off each thigh. 1/2″ off my butt.

    Was it a true water fast? No, I allowed myself several cups of black coffee daily and on day 4-5 I ate broccoli sprouts with a little olive oil ~65 calories.

    I also took a holiday for taking any vitamins or other supplements.

    How was the experience? Not very hard actually. I felt ok the entire time with a minor headache on day two. I slept well but got up earlier than usual. Tended to a bit of cramping but salt water helped with that. Energy and focus where good. I had no issues with normal activities like walking the dog, dancing and riding the bike for 30 minutes.

    Lessons learned? For me fasting is more of a mental than physical challenge. Desiring the taste and routine of eating food of is a powerful siren call but physically my body is fine. From a fat burning view (measured by blood ketones) days 1-2 are marginal day 3 is strong and 4-5 is smoking!

    Although the purpose of this fast was 99% health improvement the fat loss was great too. I will be repeating it in 12 weeks.

    I’ve been a little out of control since I finished my 5 day fast. Time to get back on track.

    As I explained earlier I’m quite satisfied with my weight and I’m all about staying healthy, lucid and mobile as long as I can. Based on my last 6 month blood tests and DEXA scan I want to address the following issues:
    1) I lost ~15 lbs in December / January by alternate day water fasting but 7 was muscle. This is not a good trend
    2) My HDL cholesterol went down ~33%
    3) LDL particle size shows more small less big
    4) C reactive protein and homocysteine went up
    5) PSA trended up slightly

    So what to do about this and why did it happen?

    The muscle loss is most likely due to much less weight lifting, protein intake and caloric restriction over the last six months.

    The cholesterol issues point to not enough saturated fat and lack of intense exercise. The OH doesn’t care for red meat and I was without a grill during my moves.

    Increased homocysteine point to lack of folate and other b vitamins

    C reactive protein indicates inflammation, I was on an ice cream and pizza jag for a while before my blood test. These are inflammatory foods for me.

    PSA, although it’s not very high an upward trend is not something I want to see.

    The actions to improve the above.

    Muscle loss- Hit the weights hard and heavy. Increase protein to 120 grams on NFD. Continue alternate day fasting and change the FD from a water fast to ~700 calories (50g protein).

    Blood lipids. My total cholesterol and triglycerides a fine. Adding more saturated fat should help increase HDL and shift LDL particle size toward the large fluffy type

    Homocysteine, add more leafy green veggies for folate and B vitamins

    C reactive protein minimise inflammatory foods cow dairy and grains

    PSA- increase intake of cruciferous veggies particularly broccoli sprouts for the sulforaphane

    Another thought on inflammation. Body fat stores toxins. Rapid weight loss releases lots of toxins. I’m going to do the following to help clear toxins. Eat more oily fish / supplement with fish oil. Eat broccoli sprouts (sulforaphane is a great detox agent) use the infrared sauna.

    My vitamin D is good but not optimal. Now that it’s getting warm enough I’m going to get more sun exposure to naturally bump up D and nitrous oxide production. (two 15 min sessions)

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