How to Survive Your First 24-Hour Fast
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If I asked you … could go without eating any food for 24 hours straight? … could you do it? No food or drink … just black coffee, water, and tea.
A year ago if someone would have asked me that question … I would have immediately said NO. The thought of not eating any food during a complete day would have seemed impossible. And not really very much fun.
But people do it all the time … and in my opinion … not eating (i.e. fasting) is actually a very healthy thing for you.
Personally … I have been working up to doing a 24 hour fast myself. I’m not quite there yet, but for the past several months I have been following a 16 hour intermittent fasting protocol 3 to 4 days per week.
I have already seen a lot of healthy changes to my body … including a reduction in my autoimmune related symptoms.
It is almost like intermittent fasting is the ultimate detox of the body?
While I have seen a lot of positive results from following the 16/8 fasting protocol … lately I have been experimenting with taking it even further … by not eating for a complete 24 hours.
In the article below, I will explain the steps I am taking to work up to a 24 hour fast. What works for me and what doesn’t. I will also cover the benefits of fasting and how it relates to my psoriasis (that autoimmune condition I mentioned earlier).
Before we get started … I wanted to cover one last item about fasting –
Please consult with your physician before you you start an intermittent fasting program. I am by no means a doctor or have any background in medical training. The information contained in this article are my views only and are not a recommendation for going on a fast.
The first step I have taken towards a full day fast is not eating for 21 hours.
My 21-Hour Fast
The longest amount of time that I have gone without eating any food (“fasting”) was 21 straight hours. The only thing that I ate or drank was water and black coffee.
When I do a fast, I don’t consume anything with calories, nor do I drink anything that has been processed. So diet soda is off limits but black coffee and tea are acceptable.
I started this intermittent fast like any other one I have completed. After dinner one evening … I stopped eating anything after 8:00 PM.
The next morning after waking up, I stayed busy for most of the hours up until noon.
During a normal 16/8 intermittent fast I would then be able to start eating again at noon. That would make for 16 straight hours of fasting … half of which were spent sleeping.
This time however, I decided to up the game and go for 5 more hours. Of course … in order to get to 21 hours I needed to keep myself busy.
Fasting Tip – The best way to get through your fasting hours (other than being asleep) is to keep yourself busy. This helps your mind avoid thinking about food.
I was able to make it the entire 21 hours without eating and broke my fast at 5:00 PM.
To be honest, I would have been able to make it to 8:00 PM that evening … but my family ate dinner at 5:00 PM and I felt like I needed to participate.
Next time I will plan better and go for 24 straight hours.
Next Up – A 24 Hour Fast
Now that I have completed a 21-hour fast … I am ready to do a 24-hour fast.
I feel that I am prepared both mentally and physically to get by without eating anything for an entire day. Of course, I plan to use my intermittent fasting guidelines that I have laid out for the 16/8 fast.
The only difference is this will be a 24 hour fast … but the steps will be similar.
One slight modification I plan to make is to begin my full day fast around 6:00 PM, instead of 8:00 PM. This will help to break my fasting hours up a bit more between two different days.
Starting at 6:00 PM will also let me eat my first meal the following day at the same time. This let’s me enjoy having dinner with my family the next day to break my fast.
Just like with a 16/8 fast … I plan to stay very hydrated by drinking lots of water. This will help me feel full and keep me from wanting to eat. I also will drink black coffee during my fasting window … which is a “treat” to myself.
I plan to keep busy during my 24-hour fast. In order to make it, I feel that I should start my fast either on a Friday or Saturday evening. Which would mean most of the hours I fast while awake would be either on a Saturday or Sunday.
For my lifestyle, this is the best possible scenario. I find that I stay much busier on the weekends … at least as far as fasting goes.
During the week is much harder for me … as I am at work and stuck behind a computer the whole day. There are a lot more temptations to eat while at work.
So there is my loose plan for going on a 24-hour fast. Next, let’s recap some of the major benefits I have seen from my own fasting experience.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
As I have mentioned before, I have seen many positive results from intermittent fasting … mostly related to my psoriasis.
I have battled psoriasis for the past 5 or 6 years. Most of my scaly patches of skin are hidden by my clothes, so it hasn’t been as severe as some people who have it.
However, just because you can’t see it in plain sight … doesn’t mean everything is okay.
Over the past couple of years, I have experimented with several different things to try and alleviate some of my symptoms. From diet and exercise to trying to control my stress levels … not much seems to work.
However, the one bright spot is intermittent fasting. When I am in a fasted state, my psoriasis symptoms seem to be minimized … probably because I suspect I have a leaky gut. And by not eating anything for many hours … my body is trying to heal itself.
Reducing my psoriasis symptoms is one benefit of intermittent fasting. But are there any other benefits?
Here are a few other benefits I have experienced from intermittent fasting.
1. I’ve Been Able to Manage My Weight
Even during times when my family and I are not eating the healthiest (like around the holidays) … I still try and fast 3 or 4 times per week.
These are times when I can really see the positive impacts of intermittent fasting when it comes to weight loss. Or in this case, maintaining my weight.
I have found that intermittent fasting does a wonderful job of keeping the pounds off … especially during the holidays or times when we are not on a Whole30 or following the paleo diet.
This makes sense when you think about it. I just don’t consume as many calories on fasting days compared to a normal day.
2. I Have More Energy
Without a doubt … I have more energy when I am fasting. I don’t feel bloated or weighted down at all and just have a little more in my tank.
A couple years ago I would have laughed if someone told me I would have more energy while fasting. I mean … wouldn’t it seem logical to have a lot less energy since I wouldn’t be eating any calories?
Intermittent fasting has given me much more energy compared to times when I am eating normally.
In fact, I really enjoy working out in a fasted state. I have a lot more to “give” during a fasting workout compared to normal days.
3. My Skin Doesn’t Hurt as Much
As I have mentioned many times here already, I have psoriasis. The scaly patches of skin that I get from this condition are located mostly on the lower back, groin, and belly button.
The worst area is my lower back. Fortunately, most of this area can be covered with clothing. The bad news is that it can be very painful and get irritated easily. Some days I would rather wear no pants or underwear to avoid the irritation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t go over too well in my house (LOL!).
I’ve notice however that while fasting, this area does not get irritated as much. It certainly doesn’t disappear but it seems like my body is trying to heal itself when I am fasting.
This is one of the biggest reasons why I am exploring doing longer fasting periods. To let my body heal even more.
Intermittent fasting has really helped me deal with my psoriasis symptoms.
4. I Drink More Water
Most of the time, I don’t have any hunger pains when I am fasting. That wasn’t always the case the first couple of times I did intermittent fasting. But now I rarely get hunger pains.
Despite not feeling hungry, I am more conscious about drinking enough water while fasting. I make sure to stay hydrated, especially since I am not taking in any calories.
Intermittent fasting has been a great help for me to drink more water throughout the day.
On a side note, I recently started adding some daily healthy habits to my routine. For example, my first activity after waking up every morning is to drink 12 oz. of water. This helps me get my day started off right.
And that small habit leads to a larger one where I aim to drink half my body weight of water in ounces every day. So by drinking more water during my fast helps me to get 90 oz. or more per day.
5. I Just Feel Better
The best I ever feel now (physically) is when I am fasting. Not when I’m starting out … but towards the end of my fast.
I have more energy (#2) and just seem to feel the best. I think it is my body’s way of thanking me for giving it a break with having to digest food.
Intermittent Fasting helps me feel my best … sort of like a runners high.
And believe it or not (as I mentioned before), I tend to get a much better workout in while in a fasted state.
One other thing I have noticed when I am fasting … I sleep a lot better. When I eat a lot before bedtime, I tend to toss and turn and have broken sleep. When I’m fasting I usually fall right asleep and only wake to use the restroom.
Does Fasting Give You Super Powers?
I am not here to say that intermittent fasting is the cure-all for every disease out there. Or that it gives you some sort of super power.
But I am a huge fan of how it makes me feel. I get better sleep and have more energy when I am fasting. No prescription or food that I know of can make me feel that way.
I don’t feel bloated or groggy. The extra energy helps me keep up with my 3 kids … unlike when I’m not fasting.
Personally, I use intermittent fasting as part of my health story. However, it isn’t the only tool that I use to stay healthy.
There are many health benefits of intermittent fasting. But there are also plenty of awesome health benefits of eating organic vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.
Exercise can provide you with a ton of benefits. Managing stress and getting enough quality sleep also play a big roll in your overall health.
So while I’m here to say that intermittent fasting can be a great tool to improve your health … you also need to focus on other areas to get maximum benefit.
Have You Tried Intermittent Fasting?
As I mentioned at the start, I am no health expert. I’m not recommending you start fasting, especially without speaking to your physician.
Fasting isn’t for everyone (especially children). I can only talk about why it works for me and the benefits I have seen from it.
It is an awesome tool that has improved my health. I’ve seen a ton of benefits from following a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol several times per week.
Now that I have a good fasting habit as part of my weekly routine, I am stepping things up to try a 24-hour fast. I’ve completed a 21-hour fast, so the next logical step is going without food for an entire day.
Have you ever completed a 24-Hour fast? How did it compare to a shorter fast? Did you feel any different?