Thursday, October 23, 2008

Does Fasting Work?

Many cultures through out time have placed fasting in high esteem. To many fasting is a spiritual thing. Some Buddhist monks basically fast their entire lives and even Moses did some fasting among others the Bible references. Today people do it for spirtual or medical reasons or simply to lose weight.

The question is, does fasting actually do anything? Supporters say it detoxifies the body while helping people build discipline and lose weight. Wikipedia cites a study by Berkely that suggests fasting can decrease the risk of cancer and extend one's lifespan. On the other hand, some mainstream sources say it does nothing and can actually be harmful (and messy too if you use laxtives in the process, although that's kinda expected).

Fasting undoubtedly puts the body into starvation mode, which basically means that once you start eating again your body will store everything as fat until your metabolism gets back up to speed. So ironically, fasting can actually cause you to gain weight.

So when I got the strange impulse to do this, I was nervous about a couple things (going into hypoglycemia not surprisingly was the highest on the list). However a friend of mine had just done it with positive results and the idea got stuck in my head to go for it. For me it was about discipline. If I can go with out food, I can do anything (or not do anything).

So I decided to do a five day water fast. However, I quickly started to doubt my wisdom in this chosen endeavor. After the end of the first day the hunger pain was awful. Day two was almost unbearable. The hunger pain was so bad that it was actually hard to go to sleep even though I was exhasusted. In addition to that, I couldn't focus very well and my tongue started to turn a gross white color. It was also a little awkward when my stomach started growling whenever I was around someone (I didn't tell many people I was doing it). I'd always say it must have been something I ate (or didn't eat, ha ha).

Luckily, the third day felt fine and so did the fourth. I guess my body got use to not having food. Like an annoying, little kid begging for attention who finally just gave up. The hunger pains did come back on the fifth day, but I got through it. To celebrate, I bought a pizza and wow, it was easily the best tasting thing I've ever eaten!

Overall it was something I'm very glad I did. I felt like I achieved something and have been much more disciplined ever since doing it; working out consistently, getting my work done, not smoking, eating healthy and all that. I also lost 13 pounds in five days which was nice. And oh yeah, I didn't die. Given all that, I'd have to recommend it.

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