profile

Snafu, a newsletter about selling

Habits for Fasting & What I’ve Learned from Not Eating for 5 Days

Published 12 months ago • 5 min read

Tool I’m using: I’m on my last day of a five-day, water-only fast. I’ve tried several different blood glucose monitors, ketone monitors, and a variety of other devices to track my health during long fasts. My favorite is the KetoMojo monitor, which measures both blood sugar and ketone levels.

Supplement I love: Adrenal Health by Gaia Herb - While I don’t use this supplement every day anymore, I find it helpful when I’m particularly upset or something stressful happens (like my car crash last fall). During long fasts, I have pretty high adrenaline, and this supplement helps.

(Here’s also a video about all of the supplements I've been taking lately.)

Movie I’m distracting myself with: Chef. I love watching movies about food when I’m fasting. Interestingly, the sight of food on a screen doesn’t trigger hunger pangs.

Chef is a feel-good movie about a head chef, who, together with his son, starts a food truck and drives it across the country. As a former restaurateur, I love the nods to restaurant culture and the great cuisine.


What I’ve Learned from Going Five Days without Food

I haven’t had anything to eat or drink except for water for five days. That would have sounded bonkers to me just six months ago, but this is my fifth multi-day fast this year. ( Here's a video about my first 5-day fast.)

Tomorrow, I’ll eat my first meal in 130 hours. I’m really excited! But, honestly - I’m feeling great, have a ton of energy, and haven’t been hungry in two days!

Several years ago, intense stomach pain forced me to consider my digestion. But, it wasn’t until four close friends were all diagnosed with cancer last year that I began to study the benefits of fasting - both to improve my gut health and prevent cancer. And I went down the rabbit hole!

I had a lot of reasons to fast: To improve my digestion and gut health. To explore the performance-enhancing aspects of fasting. To be able to support my friends with cancer. Because I like new experiences! The more reasons we have to try a new habit, and the clearer those reasons are, the easier it is to begin.

Even without realizing it, I started small. I’ve been doing intermittent (partial-day) fasting for years without knowing it for years. When I danced ballet, I didn’t have time to eat for 6+ hours at a stretch. In the last few years, I haven’t made time for breakfast between work meetings. All of these were small steps towards fasting, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. The only way to attempt something big is by starting small.

Here’s what else I’ve learned:

We are capable of so much more than we think

I had no real notion that the body is capable of going multiple days without food. Having done something new that I used to believe was impossible, I’m inclined to consider what else might be possible that currently feels out of reach.

The benefits of delayed gratification

The marshmallow test, or our ability to delay gratification, is predictive of positive life outcomes. Unfortunately, I’ve always believed that I was bad at delaying gratification. Through this experience, I’ve come to realize that this is not true, and actually been enjoying this experience.

As an aside: fasting is the most difficult form of delayed gratification I’ve ever tried.

We are designed to go without food

Humans are made to go without food. Prior to this year, I didn’t realize that there’s a switch that flips, and our bodies transition from using glucose for fuel to burning fat. Far from my body shutting down, I’m more alert, more present, and more capable during long fasts even than during my normal life.

This is an altered state

I’m an adrenaline junkie and enjoy the altered states from things like cold plunging or exercise. Long-term fasting is certainly an altered state. I wake up with a lot of adrenaline, need less sleep, and have a very different kind of focus than usual. I couldn’t live like this all the time, but it is certainly an interesting experience.

Hunger pangs go away

I’ve always been afraid of what happens when hunger pangs get bad. It turns out that on the other side of hunger is… nothing. During the first 2 days of this fast, I was mildly hungry, on and off. Since then, I’m simply not hungry anymore.

I still get mildly hungry for a few minutes a few times a day, andI certainly have fantasized about food over the past five days! But, by and large, I feel great.

If you’re interested in trying fasting, I thought I’d share my top three habits for fasting:

  • Drink a lot more water
  • Go without breakfast for a few days (try intermittent fasting)
  • Pay attention to how you feel

Drink more water

Most of us would benefit from drinking more water. I still haven’t successfully created the habit of drinking enough water when I’m not fasting, but even during an intermittent (partial-day) fast, I carry a full water bottle with me everywhere. A key to my longer fasts is drinking a lot of water, especially when I feel hungry.

To start: Have water nearby as a cue to ask yourself the question, “Do I want a drink of water?”

Go without breakfast

Skipping breakfast has become a popular form of intermittent fasting, or eating all of your meals within a prescribed 8- or 10-hour window. The main goal of this habit, though, is to learn that hunger pangs go away, and that we aren’t fundamentally tied to eating every day or a specific schedule.

To start: Delay eating for a few minutes, when you get hungry. If you eat breakfast at 8am, try eating at 9am. If you’re comfortable swapping breakfast for brunch, try delaying brunch by an hour.

Pay attention

Most of us don’t pay attention when we eat. Amidst the demands of work and life, I often don’t. I’ve also used intermittent fasting as a crutch, when I don’t have time to eat. But skipping a meal is useless if you aren’t still paying attention along the way.

My number one habit for someone starting out fasting is to pay more attention. It turns out that the intense stomach pain that got me started on this journey was the result of years of stress, drinking coffee on an empty stomach, and a lack of attention. I wasn’t aware of how much the stress and astringent coffee were combining.

To start: Notice the sensation of eating a bite of food or a drink of water. When you feel the first glimmer of hunger pains, sit with them for a moment instead of immediately reaching for food.

Let me know if you like today’s focus on fasting! If you want to learn more and try fasting yourself, just reply to this email and I’m happy to share more thoughts with you, directly.

As ever, thanks for reading!

Until next time,
Robin

P.S. Nothing here is, or should be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your physician before trying fasting, or anything that might impact your health.

Snafu, a newsletter about selling

by Robin P. Zander

Learn how to sell without being salesy. For anyone who has something to offer but is a bit hesitant about asking people to buy.

Read more from Snafu, a newsletter about selling

Welcome to Snafu. Together, let's learn how to sell without being salesy. Work can be about more than doing time. Work is about helping people become more of who they want to be. If you're enjoying this newsletter, it would mean the world to me if you would share it with someone else. What friend, co-worker, or family member comes to mind? Forward it along! Was this sent to you? Subscribe here. ↓ Your work should change people In the last hundred years, we've gotten work backwards. I grew up...

7 days ago • 3 min read

Welcome to Snafu. And to the 846 new readers who have joined Snafu this week! Let's learn how to sell without being salesy. Today’s article is about the best attitude for sales. Was this sent to you? Subscribe so you don't miss the next one. ↓ The attitude required for sales In my early twenties, I ran a business working with children with autism. Autistic kids often lack the social standards that we take for granted. They rely on their felt-sense of those around them – their intuitive feel...

14 days ago • 3 min read

Welcome to Snafu: a newsletter about selling, persuasion, and how to change behavior. We just passed 8000 readers - thanks for being here! Today’s article is about five meta-learning skills everyone should try. Thanks for reading. Was this sent to you? Subscribe so you don't miss the next one. And, as always, please reply back with your thoughts and questions. ↓ Specialization is for insects - or important skills everyone should try Selling is interesting to me because of who you become...

21 days ago • 5 min read
Share this post