My First Experience
with a 24 Hour Fast
When I first heard about Eat Stop Eat, the idea of going without eating for prolonged periods of time sounded a little extreme. all the more so because it flies in the face of the current conventional recommendation (who knows what it will be tomorrow?) of eating frequent small meals.
However, when I looked into the scientific background presented in Eat Stop Eat it seems more reasonable.
At least it seemed more reasonable in theory. What would it be like to go without eating for a day? How hard is it? What does it feel?
The only way to find out was to try it. I did, and below is my blog of my first experience with a 24 hour fast.
8:30pm – cottage cheese with chia seeds. I figured the slow digesting protein and fiber from the seeds would be satisfying longer. The fast begins.
10pm – not hungry, went to bed
5:45am – woke up. Not hungry. Drank 2 cups of water. Showered, shaved and dressed. Drank 2 cups of green tea and more water. Packed a lunch of chicken breast and coleslaw in case this fast doesn’t work out. If I bail, I don’t want to find myself scarfing down junk.
7am – traveling to work. Still not hungry
7:30am – at work. I’m hungry now. A quite noticeable gnawing sensation. Drank 1/2 cup of black coffee, which turned out to be a mistake. It made my stomach feel worse. Threw out the rest of the coffee and drank more water
9am – low grade hungry, but not bad. Drinking lots of water. So far staying away from the bagels.
9:36am – walked in the break room to make some tea. Moderate hunger persists. The bagels and cream cheese sure looked good and now there’s some sort of cinnamon cake. Did I mention that I love cinnamon?.
10am – sipping tea. Only slightly hungry. Hunger isn’t severe enough to be distracting and is much less than earlier.
11am – going fine. Minimal hunger. So far 7:30 was the worst.
12am – still minimal hunger. Not easy watching people eat lunch in the break room. Back at my desk with a big glass of water.
1pm – feel more “hollow” than hungry. I think how good eating something would taste, but I can’t really say I’m all that hungry. Interesting to observe these sensations closely.
2pm – still not hungry. Plus I have a sense that I’m “over the hump” – not than many hours ‘till dinner. Energy levels are good.
3pm – energy levels are still good. Somewhat surprising since this is often a sluggish time of day for me.
4pm – mild hunger only, good energy
5pm – day winding down, looking forward to dinner, but not famished
5:45pm – finishing up and getting ready to head home
6:45pm – arrive home. My wife has a plate of sushi ready for me. “Thought you might need a snack”. It’s not quite 24 hours yet, but close enough. The sushi tastes really good.
Summary and Conclusions
For me, and the main take-home point is that the 24-hour fast was easier to do than I thought it would be. I expected to be battling with increasing hunger all day long, have low energy, and be distracted from work.
None of that happened.
On the contrary, I felt energized and alert all day.
And rather than getting harder as time went on, continuing the fast actually became easier. In part, this may have been because my hunger was worst in the early morning. I also think that it was because by afternoon “the end was in sight”, making it relatively easy to convince myself to delay eating for another couple of hours.
I think the biggest surprise for me was my energy level. Very typically I’ll have an afternoon slump somewhere between 2:30 and 4. When it hits me I feel like I’m really dragging and can barely stay awake. Typically, I respond by getting some coffee and a snack.
I was expecting it to be even worse during the fast, with perhaps some lightheadedness tossed in. It didn’t work out like that at all.
Instead, I had even energy all day and was easily able to concentrate.
One thing that made the fast easy to do was knowing that it was only for one day. It’s not like it was the first of many days of denying myself.
This is in contrast to many other diet and nutrition programs I’ve tried. Most programs limit what and how much you can eat for prolonged periods of time. It becomes a daily battle that’s harder to stay with the longer you do it.
With a 24 hour fast, you have some discomfort, but you know it’s time-limited. By dinnertime you can have what you want to eat.
Another surprise was how limited my hunger was at dinnertime. I expected to be extremely hungry and most likely scarf down large portions of food, partly on doing the benefits of the fast. That didn’t happen.
Instead, I greatly enjoy dinner – it was great to break the fast – but I didn’t overdo it. I actually ate less than I do most nights.
All in all, I consider this experiment a success. It was only one day so there weren’t any dramatic changes in my appearance or weight. However, it certainly was an excellent proof of concept.
Having done it once, I’m most interested in continuing one or two days a week and seeing what type of results I get.