I Tried It: 24 Hour Fast
Yup, you read that right- fasting for 24 hours.
Why would someone choose to do that? It actually has a ton of benefits!
As we’ve all surely noticed, our bodies have this amazing survival mechanism of storing fat. A mechanism that most of us loathe. However, it actually had a really important role to play in our past development and evolution.
The history of fasting
Before we had the availability of food that we have now, we naturally went through times of fasting. During summer and fall, when food was abundant, we feasted. We ate as much as we could so that we could store fat because we knew what was around the corner. Winter.
Winter was met with frozen land, few animals, and minimal food. It was our fat stores that kept us going.
Fast forward to 2019 and we are now living in a way where we are constantly feeding, yet never fast. Nutritional advice tells us to eat every 2-3 hours. Yet our bodies are still naturally wired for feast and famine.
A 24-hour fast is considered Intermittent Fasting (IF).
On a daily basis, I’ll fast usually 14-18 hours. I finish eating by 630pm and will start eating the next day anytime from 10-1230. Once a week or so, I’ll aim for 24 hours and that’s what we’re talking about today!
The Benefits of Fasting
One of the benefits of fasting is autophagy. Autophagy is a process where your body breaks down old cells and builds new cells – how cool is that? The word autophagy literally means ‘self eating’. This process is happening at a very low level all the time and ramps up during fasting. Autophagy is at its peak from 18-24 hours.
A 24-hour fast is also turning on lipolysis, aka fat burning mode. Once your body burns through stored glycogen, in about 12 hours time, you’ll be burning your own fat. That’s 12 hours of fat burning! This is why fasting is the most powerful tool for fat burning.
How do you survive a 24 hour fast?
So how do you do it? Simple. Don’t eat. Stop eating at dinner and don’t eat again until dinner the next night.
It can be challenging. The hunger pangs can feel intense.
After almost two years of doing IF daily, a 24-hour fast is a breeze.
Hydration and electrolytes
Hydration and electrolytes are so important and need to be taken seriously while fasting. We normally get sodium through our food. Sodium is essential to life and can make or break a fast. Adding himalayan salt to your water is a great way to ensure you’re getting electrolytes (much better than regular salt because they have other minerals in them).
What I’ve found works for me is adding enough himalayan salt to my water just until I can taste it, then I add some lemon juice.
Signs of needing salt is a headache, feeling light headed or brain foggy.
Heavy cream or bone broth
There are two other ways to help get you through a fast – heavy cream and bone broth.
Any time you consume calories you are theoretically breaking that fast, BUT it really depends on your goals. Many suggest that anything under 50 calories will not break “fast”. If you’re looking for weight loss, adding some cream to your tea or coffee is a great way to add a little bit of fat that can make the fast much easier. Cream is almost entirely fat so it doesn’t get an insulin response meaning it doesn’t turn off lipolysis (fat burning mode!); it’s very important to make sure you’re using a full fat cream and not milk – you want the fat and not the protein/carb that is in milk.
The same goes for broth. A nice mug of bone broth with lots of salt added can do wonders for how you feel.
These two things can drastically reduce autophagy though. If that isn’t your focus in the fast then I wouldn’t worry about it.
But seriously… 24 hours?
You may be the kind of person who can dive right into 24 hours. That was not me. I started fasting by skipping breakfast and slowly extended the time I broke a fast.
During the 24 hours I usually feel full of energy – I’m almost reluctant to end it! My gut always feels like I’ve hit the reset button and any bloating or other complaints are gone.
I’ve found it to be really important to break a fast in a small way. After not eating for 24 hours you don’t want a huge meal (I mean, your brain may want it but I promise you that your stomach does not).
I like to break a fast with an egg and veggies. Maybe put them in a cup of broth. Give yourself an hour for that food to settle and then go for a full meal!
Where do you stand on fasting? Willing to give it a try or think it’s nuts?! I’d love your feedback!