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48 Hours Without Food

November 30, 2012

no food intermittent fastingI just finished my first ever 48 hour fast. I have been doing intermittent fasting to improve my health for a long time, but this is the first time I have attempted such a long fast. I do a short 15 to 16 hour fast 4 or 5 times a week and a longer 24 to 30 hour fast every week or two, but never longer than 30 hours.

My Experience

The first 15 hours were a breeze, I do a 15 hour fast almost every day so my body is very used to it. It wasn’t until around 3 pm on the first day that I started to feel kind of hungry. It wasn’t a big problem except that my stomach started growling while I was in meeting which is pretty embarrassing. When doing extended fasting I rarely actually get hungry, I get more of an empty feeling and a longing to eat. I don’t physically need to eat I just mentally want to eat.

By five o’clock I was really starting to have the empty feeling. Luckily I got out of work and headed to the gym. Nothing like working out to distract myself from not eating. After I finished my hunger and desire to eat had disappeared. Surprisingly the night was really easy. I didn’t think about food at all, instead I just did research, read websites and wrote articles. I had a little trouble falling asleep but it wasn’t that bad.

Day 2 was a little harder. I felt the empty feeling the whole day from like 10 am on. Around 2 pm on I started thinking about food A LOT. I was planning out all the food I wanted to eat when I broke my fast. I now feel much closer to Ghandi. A  48 hour fast was tough enough, I can’t imagine what it would be like to fast for 21 days like Ghandi did.

The Meal

Finally at 8 o’clock last night I had my first meal in 48 hours. I decided to eat ham, brussels sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, macadamia nuts, some healthy corn chips(no soy or vegetable oil), guacamole and a baked artichoke. I have never had artichoke before. I don’t know if I did a bad job of cooking it or if I just don’t like artichoke but I was not a fan.

While I was cooking dinner I still didn’t feel hungry, it wasn’t until I started to eat that I felt extremely hungry. I probably ate at least 1500 calories in my dinner, which I don’t think is a bad thing given I hadn’t eaten in 2 days. After dinner I gave myself a treat of some dark chocolate and a glass of wine. All in all it was not a bad experience. It gave me a bigger appreciation of food and the fact that I have regular access to healthy food whenever I want it.

Why Such a Long Fast?

One reason I decided to fast so long was to make up for all the cheating I did over Thanksgiving. I gained a few pounds and was unhappy with how I was feeling. The other main reason was because I wanted to see if I could do it. I love to push my limits to see what I am capable of. I enjoy experimenting with my body so I can improve my health. I also like the feeling of accomplishment when I complete a difficult challenge. I also wanted to get all of the awesome health benefits of fasting.

Here are some of the health benefits of intermittent fasting other than fat loss:

  1. Increased HGH
  2. Lower ghrelin and and triglycerides
  3. Getting into ketosis faster
  4. Reduced inflammation
  5. Lower insulin level and better insulin sensitivity
  6. Fasting makes you more resistant to cancer and chemotherapy and even allows your body to metabolize tumors

Have you ever tried fasting? What is the longest that you ever fasted for?

  1. 48 hours- wow!
    I fast for 15-18 hours almost every day (eat dinner at 5pm, then eat again the next day around 10am). I do find that I feel hungry when I wake up but water takes care of that feeling, so I am guessing that maybe I am just dehydrated. If I go about 20 hours, I get grumpy (!), so as long as this keeps working, I’ll stick to the shorter time.

  2. Way to go!

    It’s nice to read about someone else’s experience with a 48 hour fast. I’ve done several of them so let me offer a little insight. The first is the hardest. In fact, it’s the only one that is actually difficult. All the rest are a breeze. Once you’ve flipped that mental switch it’s just a matter of programming. It’s good to build up to longer and longer fasting periods, but by the time your knocking on the door of 48 hours it’s all a mind game. Make the decision then forget about it — you’ll get by on autopilot just fine. Next up . . . 72 hours.


    • Thanks for the advice. I know I could do a 72 hour fast but weight lifting is my highest priority right now so a 72 hour fast would interrupt that. Given I don’t have cancer I don’t see any benefit of a longer fast. I do plan on continuing to do 24 to 36 hour fasts every week or two. I will just be sure to do the fasts on my rest days.

  3. Lenny permalink

    I fast 48 hours twice a week well basically because of financial circumstance. For a week every month I live off an egg sandwich a large cookie and about four coffees. At first I could not adjust but after a while I saw the mental benefits of living such a frugal life as opposed to just acceptance of not being able to support myself financially. Fasting has large mental benefits and off course I do feel lighter. The mental benefits are increased control of emotions you learn to get on with your tasks even though your stomach is empty and it merely becomes a case of your stomach is empty- why does it have to be full.

  4. Sam permalink

    Hey, nice post!

    Just found this post, and albeit, a little late I just wanted to say really well done. I’ve just completed a 48 hour fast, however I did slip up a little after 24 hours whereby I had between 5-10 grams of coconut oil as I took a multivitamin to allow better absorption of vitamins A,D,E & K. Still, I’d like to point out that as long as one drinks around about 2-3 litres of salty water (I add a small amount of sugar free lemon to mask the salt taste) it tends to keep the headaches, dizzy spells and hunger at bay.

    I know I could go longer, but today is a heavy legs day in the gym, and it would be counter productive to starve myself through this day. During sessions of sprints and plyometric activities however I felt just fine, and doing an hour of the elliptical trainer never felt so easy.

    I follow LCHF quite strictly, I follow 75-80% fat (mostly saturated and monounsaturated), 15-20% protein, and the rest (below 5% of total calories) from carbs – usually equating to 10-20 grams total carbs per day.

    First 24 hours of the fast were a breeze. I’ll add at this point the only reason why I supplemented the coconut oil was because I thought it would be a better option for vitamin absorption. It wasn’t to fill the void of hunger or anything like that. The last 40 hours for me was where I was thinking psychologically about food. Not actually suffering cognitive function, more so just wanting something to taste.

    One thing I would like to ask if anyone knows the answer to is, while fasting feels great, how can I cover the ketone smell from my mouth? You see I used to chew gum, but I found out that when you chew – the stomach releases acid and on an empty stomach this can lead to ulcers. So I tend to chew it for a minute now and then stick it to the roof of my mouth and try to forget about it. Flossing throughout the day hardly seems relevant because there is nothing really in my mouth. I was thinking of mouth washes but I don’t think they’ll last that long, considering in my work I have to be very vocal and physical.

    So, for me next… Well…

    I’m a personal trainer, and I get asked by many clients and fellow trainers that starving for long periods of time I’ll lose muscle. I realise the importance of protein, and while I think 1g per kg of lean body weight is acceptable, on a fast for over 2 days there is literally no protein coming in. So I think I’ll try a “BodPod” to measure my body fat %, muscle mass and water as well as weight, and then I’ll fast (not sure how long but I have a magical 10 day in my head with 250kcals per day allowance) and then check my results after. It would also be a nice idea to check total cholesterol, blood triglycerides, HDL/LDL and see what happens with that too.

    Well done for everyone trying out there with NK and IF. Keep up the good work and hope you all get the results you desire.

    • I think that is great that you fast and that you take into account your vitamins and salt intake. I often fast anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. I typically don’t worry about salt intake because I eat plenty of salt before and after my fast but if I was going for more than 48 hours or doing a lot of intense cardio where I was sweating then I would worry more about salt levels.

      I also find that my biggest problem with fasting longer than 24 hours is not that I get weak or too hungry but just too bored. I want to taste something. I think I could do a 4 day fast but have never gone through with it.

      I would also like to point out that I have done a lot of 24 and 48 hour fasts over the past 5 months and I have managed to increase my chest by 3 inches. I know this because while applying to business school over the winter I barely worked out at all and dropped in size to a 40 chest. Then I bought a suit. Since finishing my applications I got back in the gym and just bought two new suits last weekend that were 43 chest. My 40 doesn’t fit at all. I almost never eat breakfast or lunch. I do a 24 hour fast (dinner to dinner) every day and try to do 2 or 3 48 hour fasts a month. Yet I was still able to pack on 10 pounds of muscle. Fasting does not prevent you from putting on muscle as long as you focus on protein when you do eat and work out hard. I try to eat 100 grams of protein for dinner after working out to ensure that I build muscle.

      I personally have never had a problem with ketone breath, if I did then I would try listerine.

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