Fitness: Fasting vs. Starvation

In follow-up to my post last night on intermittent fasting, I’ve decided to share some medical findings on research related to something call a 30 day water diet.

I thought by now I had heard all kinds of crazy things. In the fitness group I moderate, I’ve come across snake oil salesmen. Literally. Those guys who get all pumped up because they lost a few pounds while starving themselves for days on end. I think during the process though, snakeman, as we called him, lost more brain cells than he did pounds. I’m having flash backs from even dealing with that nut. It got to the point that I had to put him on a restraining order on the website. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

There are tons of fad diets and expensive supplements out on the market. I even came across one guy on youtube who was a “Q” promoter who also said he found the “cure to cancer” through coffee enemas. The sad thing about that, is people were actually following his advice and thinking they were cured miraculously. Sad to say, he was nothing but a snakeoil salesman.

Last week, someone joined the group and commented that he wanted to transition to IF after he was done his “30 day water fast”. I put on my mod mat, and said, “Excuse me? Please tell me you are eating. Is this really a thing?”

Apparently, it is.


How the 30 day water diet works

You starve yourself. Period. People claim they can go thirty days without eating a single ounce of food. They only drink water to fill themselves up. Some people claimed to have fasted for 100 days. And to this I say, no way.

If you haven’t eaten food in over three days, your body may go into starvation mode. This has been medically proven time and time again. If you go long enough without food, you may wind up being hospitalized and have to go through what the pros call “re-feeding.”


The survey – responses quoted verbatim – names withheld

I surveyed a group of medical professionals and received quite a few good responses. Of course, as with any group on the internet, it stirred up some controversy and there were some disagreements. Here is what they had to. I’ve typed the responses verbatim. However, I skipped over some comments that were just going back and forth over who was right. You know how that goes.


Fasting for one day isn’t a big day – ML

Your body doesn’t quiet get to the point where it is into “starvation” mode. Your metabolism stays about the same as it is now. But you don’t give it any new calories so it has to use what you’ve already got. That works for weight loss if you don’t eat the rest of the time to make up for your day of fasting. When you go for a longer time, your body switches over to starvation mode and your metabolism slows down.

This poster referenced M. Ghandi who used fasting to protest something.

The threat of starvation has been used in activism many times. Yes, these people lost weight. But it was dangerous to do so.

This comment already sparked a disagreement between two medical professionals on how long it takes the body to go into starvation mode. They agreed it is not recommended to go more than 72 hours without food.

The obesity code – Dr. Jason Fung – WS

I do regular fasts 60 hours fasts. I find, after 12 hours, I have more energy and can focus better. Hydration is key. The obesity code has several citations regarding the effects of extended fasting. He cites a study done at the Uni of Minnesota where a man fasted from 60 days without significant ill effects. The man was obese when he started.

This poster also notes that The Fast 800 by Dr. Michael Moseley, also has several citations about extended fasting and research and the concept of starvation mode.

Prison Strikes – BBJ

In 2013, I cared for my prisons 50 day hunger strike. I can tell you few actually struck for 50 days. But once the stashed food ran out, folks started losing weight quick. And many of the hard core strikers needed medical re-feeding programs. Some were hospitalized.

Going 30 days without food is dangerous. Muscles can be permanently damaged and the fat just refills.

David Sinclair PhD – cited as a resource – JS

Calorie restriction has known benefits, stimulating Sirt 1 gene. 30 day fast – no way. Many do intermittent fasting (16:8 schedule). And for most of that, it’s your sleeping time. David Sinclair has a lot of info on this.

Skipping past a few long-winded comments that seemed to be disagreeing with disagreeing in the medical community. I just shook my head and laughed when I saw this. I worked in the field for six years. I know what it can be like.

If you want to lose weight, challenge yourself to a clear liquid diet. No proteins, just water and sugars to operate. Muscles will fade and muscles weigh more than fast (this is debatable) Losing weight in itself makes your fat cells shrink. But they don’t disappear. They’re still there. And when you gain weight in an arae, or at all, fat cells easily multiply and grow like marshmallows in a microwave.

Your brain needs constant sugar to operate because it doesn’t have the ability to store sugars. Fasting long-term is never a good idea.

Conclusion

So, after surveying a group of medical professionals it seems like they come to a general consensus that extended fasting is not a good idea. But how long you can fast and remain healthy still is a question that needs to be answered.

Fasting can be healthy for you. And if you read my post from yesterday on intermittent fasting – then you can learn to fast in a healthy manner. Or just follow my blog and read about why I’m doing and how it works (or doesn’t) for me.

If you do insist on going the long-haul up (which I do not recommend), then at least make sure you get the required vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Or stick to smoothies and something like broth soup so you get some kind of nutrition. But let me just say – extended fasting will likely be counterproductive in the end.

Resources

There were a lot of good resources mentioned in this discussion. I’m linking them below for anyone who wants to do more reading on fasting and how it works. I highly recommend checking out Dr. Jason Fung.

Dr. Jason Fung is a medical expert who has a lot of great information on fasting and weight loss practices. From a glance at his channel, he also has some great information on fighting obesity and curing diabetes. Dr. Fung also has a blog – too bad he’s not on wordpress.

Dr. Michael Moseley has several citations about extended fasting and research around the concept of starvation mode and homeostasis.

Dr. David Sinclair – a google search does not bring up a website under his name. However, there are many websites that have information about Dr. Sinclair. Here is a short interview on youtube about fasting. He does have an active Twitter account linked above.


Have you tried fasting before? If so, let me know what kind of schedule you do in the comments below. Remember – please see your doctor if you have any illnesses like diabetes or insulin resistance before fasting on your own. And also, remember — it is not recommended to fast more than 72 hours at a time. Please be safe.


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3 Comments Add yours

  1. jmarie1974 says:

    a great post, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mostlysingle says:

    Thanks. It was an interesting discussion. Next time I’ll ask folks to provide their credentials.

    Like

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