Last week I finally did the impossible, and I fasted for a full 24 hours.
A year ago, this felt nearly impossible to me. I had dabbled in intermittent fasting a few times and did well with 14-16 hour fasting most of the time (you can read about my past attempts and what I learned here).
Even as I got deeper into the ketogenic way of eating (read more about why I chose keto here), I was still feeling hesitant about pushing the fast past 16 hours. I still felt like if I went past the 16 hour point, I would get that hangry feeling and then have to eat everything in sight because of it. Let’s just say, my fears were getting in my way and I couldn’t see past them.
So why did I even want to push my fast past the 16 hour point? Why was 24 hours so important to me? See, I think a lot of people who are anti fasting see it as a way to just not consume food but really there are so many other benefits, including:
-lowering the markers of inflammation
-increasing cellular turnover and repair (this is also called autophagy)
-and improved blood sugar control (through increasing insulin sensitivity)
There are many more benefits but I wanted to make this blog post more than just a laundry list of benefits, so I’m stopping with three. These three, though, are HUGE for over all health and go so far beyond just weight loss.
There is a bit of a catch though, some of these benefits (including those listed above) only begin to show up AFTER a certain number of hours of fasting, this range is usually 20-24 hours for most people. So, while I was hitting 16 hours of fasting, I was never actually getting the benefits that I was looking for.
Gulp. It was time to take the plunge into my first 24 hour fast.
I started my fast at 5:15 PM right after an early dinner. The next 17 hours were, quite honestly, uneventful.
It was not until after 10 AM that I started to feel a little hunger. I went with some herbal tea and tried to just stay distracted with chores and playing with my 3 year old.
The hunger went away after plenty of tea and lemon water until about hour 20. At this point the “I’m hungry/I’m not hungry” battle started playing in my head and they pretty much switched off every half an hour. I was hungry and then 30 minutes later, I wasn’t. It was so weird, but I knew it was totally a mental game at this point.
I sipped a bunch of water and remained busy, I was at the park with the kids so that definitely helped.
When we got home, I was at hour 22. And my energy was coming back. It was strange because I was mentally prepared to be tired, cranky, and just worn down at this point. I even told my husband to “beware” of me when he came home from work because it would be hour 22 of my 24 hour fast. Instead I was jumping around, dancing, and laughing.
The last hour went by slowly but I wasn’t hungry, I was just looking at my watch every minute to see if I could eat.
When I broke my fast, I made a meal that was a little above average in size and enjoyed it but I did not devour it like I had never eaten before. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could have gone further than the 24 hours.
I realized that so much of the reason that I didn’t do the 24 hour fast to begin with was due to fear that I couldn’t do it. I think my main fear was not knowing how I would feel in those last few hours of the fast but now that I think about it, if it was really horrible, I could have just eaten something and ended the fast. I now realize that it really wasn’t as hard as I thought and now the unknown is known and this will make it easier to start the 24 hour fast next time around.
Is there something you are scared to do because you don’t know what the outcome will be? I challenge you to give it a try, the worst that could happen is that it won’t work out for you but even if this is the case, you will learn more about yourself and your limits.