Coach Lawrence recently did a 72-hours fast which is, for the quick mathematicians amongst us, 3 days of not eating.
‘It started with this documentary Limitless with Chris Hemsworth. Episode 3 is about fasting. There were two outcomes presented when you’re fasting, especially for a longer period: either you become very tired and feel a bit foggy or you get super alert and focused. Basically, what happens then, is that your primal instincts are triggered which is a very natural response when you go back to the time when we needed to hunt to survive. This really activated me because I wanted to know how my body would response after not eating for so long and, especially the effects on my mind.’
Before we go into the effects: what is fasting? Basically, it means you stop eating for a certain amount of time. A fast is usually between 12 to 24 hours but it is even possible to stretch it even further to a couple of days. Intermitted fasting has gained a lot of popularity the last couple of years but in several religions, fasting is a huge tradition for decades already. When you’re in your ‘fasting window’, meaning when you’re not eating, it sometimes is allowed (depending on your fasting regime) to drink water, tea and coffee or even small amounts of food.
Fasting and the physical body
But why fast? Fasting can have numerous effects on your physical body, like weight loss but it has so much more health benefits like improved blood sugar control, decreased inflammation, boosting metabolism, a.o.
‘After 72 hours of fasting all my aches and pains were gone. It was like my body was cleaned up. You’re given yourself a break from needing to digest food several times a day which creates space for your body to attend other processes.’
Here are some scientific backed articles when you want to deeper into the benefits of fasting or check out the Dr. Ludidi Method of Intermitted Fasting. Another great tip is Dr. Peter Attia who helps Chris Hemsworth in his fasts and is a big inspiration to coach Lawrence.
Fasting as a way to practice mindfulness
Besides the physical effects, fasting also challenges your mental being. You might even want to compare it with mindfulness because your mind will probably interfere at some point telling you, you ‘need’ to eat.
‘At that point it comes to willpower to keep up. It really helps to inform and share with your environment that you’re fasting. Eating is such a normal habit for us that when it falls away, it creates space for the mind to interfere. The people around you can help you focus on something else and of course support you.’
On the other hand, it could be a real good opportunity to observe your thoughts:
‘The longer I went into my fast, I experienced my mind became so much clearer. It was really destressing, and I could more easily reach my feelings and express my emotions. It really raised my awareness. And the moment I started eating again was amazing. The experience of flavors was really magnified!’
How to start
‘Before I went into a 72-hours fast I already did a 24-hours and 48-hours fast and intermitted fasting. I wouldn’t recommend going into a 72-hours fast right away but build up slowly. Intermitted fasting is a good way to start because you increase your fasting window slowly over the days.
For example: start with a 12-hours fasting window. When you usually have breakfast at 7.30 hrs., start an hour later and stop eating after 19.30 hrs. When that feels comfortable, move it up an hour and break your fast at 8.30 hrs. and still don’t eat after 19.30 hrs. It’s the small steps that make it durable and sustainable.’
The most common misunderstanding about intermitted fasting is that you don’t skip a meal. You still eat the same number of calories but within a shorter time frame.
Can you train on an empty stomach?
‘Of course, you can train on an empty stomach because your body holds so many reserves. But I wouldn’t go cold turkey but recommend building up slowly. Let your body first get familiar with fasting before you go training on an empty stomach.’
When you’re working out, your body starts burning glycogen. Then it starts to use up your water. So, make sure to drink enough. Preferably add some pure salt to it (like Himalaya salt) which helps to transport the water through the entire body.
Fasting can help you improve your health on many levels, but it might not be for everyone. When it creates aches, pains and failures then better not force it. A little resistance towards it or feeling challenged and uncomfortable is okay 😉 That’s all part of the process. Just give it a try!
Now, who’s in for a fasting challenge?