Longer is Better: Benefits of 3 Day FastingWhen it comes to fasting, longer is better... depending on your goals. It's not universally "better", but it can be a great tool.The immune health argument is one of the most well-studied by well respected USC researcher, Valter Longo. In a 2014 study published in the journal Cell, Longo and his colleagues described major metabolic changes after extended 3 day fasts. After 3 days, subjects were producing more white blood cells (a marker of immune health).According to Tim Ferriss, this is one of the reasons why he does 3-day fasts on a quarterly basis. Whereas daily calorie restriction can help to clear our cellular waste, going for 3 to 5 days will deplete the body's glycogen completely and require a far greater overhaul from the body.
2 Approaches to Extended FastsThere are an infinite number of ways to see benefits from fasting, but with extended fasts, we are going to focus on only a couple.
- Minimalist - this approach includes only water and salt for electrolytes
- Modern - this approach incorporates caffeine and a few handy supplements
The 3 Day Fasting TimelineFasting for 72 hours can seem more daunting than it is. The most challenging aspect of a 3 day fast is actually breaking the fast at the end (more on that later).Our recommendation on this timeline comes from Tim Ferriss and his experience. Having 70% of the fast over the weekend may help you to avoid interruptions with your professional life.
- Thursday, 8PM - Finish your last meal and begin fasting
- Friday, 8AM - Begin walking for 3-4 hours. This is to help deplete glycogen stores and make the process of converting from glucose fuel to fat fuel. If you'd like to drink some coffee beforehand, that could work too. Try to schedule some calls or listen to audiobooks while walking.
- Friday / Saturday - Whenever you can go for extended walks, do so. It usually takes 24 - 48 hours to fully deplete glycogen (depending on your experience and diet). The more you walk the quicker the process.
- 72 hours fasted - Turmeric tea. Simply steep some tea and add turmeric. The idea here is to prepare the digestive system for incoming calories and food-stuff without overwhelming it.
- 72 hours 30 minutes - Bone broth. There are a host of bone broth nutrition benefits, but the objective is to get some calories (in the form of fat) and prepare the digestive system further for food.
- 73 hours - Eat food (with fewer carbs). Now you can eat some solid foods. Nat ate almonds, I consumed some pickles and sauerkraut, but don't go full-blown pasta carbonara just yet.
- 73 hours 30 minutes - Eat with fewer restrictions. We suggest avoiding too many high-glycemic foods, but by this point your system should be adapting to the foodstuff. Just make sure you stay near a bathroom if you are unsure (yikes!)
Is Fasting Right for Everyone?While you now have a better understanding of why extended fasts are useful and tips on surviving, that doesn't mean the process is for everyone. Fasting deprives the body of all energy resources, which can be a health concern for many people. While it is true that humans can last months without food, it's useful to only do so with the care of a physician.Elderly and those struggling with chronic issues can find benefits through extended fasts, but it is better to speak to a medical professional before doing so. This way you not only have someone watching out for you, but also a guideline for your limitations given existing medical conditions.If you find that extended fasting is a practice you not only desire, but have the capability to do, then take advantage of all the luxuries afforded by removing something from your life. Happy fasting!