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Is it possible to fast for over a year? Yes!

fast for over a year? - it is possibleIs it possible to fast for over a year? Yes!

There more I look into things, the more that I realise that so many things I thought were true are just not. We get into such a mode where we think that we know what’s true but the reality is we don’t even really know why we believe that to be the case. This is reminiscent of the monkeys with bananas up a ladder experiment.

One thing that’s starting to prove to be more and more true to me is “The world is not what we think it is!”.

Fasting and how our bodies work

I first started to read about people fasting in Paul Nison’s book, Raw Knowledge, Part II : Interviews with Health Achievers. At this time, the people were claiming to fast for a period of days or weeks and my first reaction was “that’s not possible”. I looked into it a lot more and it really is possible. And it’s not a big deal.

If you think about it a little bit, our bodies are actually made for fasting. Most of us know how easy it is to put on weight. To put on fat. If we eat a bit too much, the fat starts piling on really quickly.

Well, fasting is just the opposite of putting on fat.

In the wild, we would be looking for food a lot of the time. When we find plentiful food, we’d eat as much as we could. We’d eat until we were stuffed. This would be a natural reaction. Our body is very effective at storing excess energy from the food, energy that we don’t need that day, and storing it as fat.

It’s stored as fat so it can be used at another time when there isn’t any food available.

Our bodies are naturally actually very good at using the fat stores for energy. When we have enough fat stores, we actually don’t feel hungry. We only feel real hunger when the fat stores run out. What we feel today, that we think is hunger, is really just a craving or a glucose dip because we’re used to having high glucose levels all the time.

Our common practice these days of eating many times a day, every day, is really just not natural. We think that if we miss just one meal, we might be in trouble and faint, or something like that. It’s madness.

If we have fat stores (and who doesn’t?) our bodies are prepared for a time without food. We’re naturally prepared for a fast.

Is it possible to fast for over a year?

fasting for over a year - a scientific paper that shows that it's possibleAt the moment, I can’t remember where I first heard about this, but I read about a man who fasted for 382 days. Again, I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to find out more, so I searched out the paper published in Postgraduate Medical Journal of the University Department of Medicine, Dundee, Scotland in 1973. It’s for real! An extract from the paper reads;

Several years ago a grossly obese man presented himself for treatment. Initially there was no intention of making his fast a protracted one, but since he adapted so well and was eager to reach his ‘ideal’ weight, his fast was continued into what is presently the longest recorded fast (Guinness Book of Records, 1971). This report describes some of the features which emerged during the 382 days of his fast.

The man was 27 years old, and was 456 pounds at the beginning and 180 pounds at the end of the fast. Five years after the fast his weight was 196 pounds.

You can download a free copy of the scientific paper here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf

What to make of this?

This is in no way recommending that we should fast for long periods. There are obvious dangers that go along with this. The point I’m trying to make here is that fasting is possible. Actually, it’s natural and our bodies are prepared for it. We’re not going to die if we fast.

I’m often surprised that people think it’s shocking to miss breakfast. Then unthinkable to miss breakfast and lunch – “how could one function?!”. But, in reality, missing a few meals is no problem at all for our bodies. Even missing a day or two is no big deal.

There is one proviso here though. If we are currently eating regularly (always within a 12 hour period and most often with every 8 hour period) and our diets are high in carbohydrates and sugars, then our bodies might have forgotten how to burn fat for energy because it always has a constant supply of glucose. In this case, if we started a fast, our bodies will complain when it starts running out of glucose in the bloodstream and will try to prompt us to eat. We’ll have an urge and a craving to eat. It could take a bit of effort to get past this until the body remembers that it can use fat for energy and there’s no problem. Another approach is to change the diet to one low in carbohydrates and sugars before starting a fast. In this case the body will be more used to using glucose and fat for energy on a daily basis, so the transition to burning fat is no problem.

Some questions I like to ask myself are;

What do I believe is true? Why do I believe that? Can it actually be wrong?

Surprisingly often, the things I think really must be true turn out to be false. It’s not necessary to eat all the time. It’s actually better for us (allows our bodies to detox and reduce the stress of digestion, for example) and more natural if we don’t.

At the moment, I’m trying to concentrate on eating a lot when good, wholesome, organic food is available and to avoid food when it’s not. That way, I’m stocking up my fat supplies from good quality food and using that for energy when only bad food is available. If good quality food is available all the time, I’m making sure I have at least a 12 hour period every day where I don’t eat, and I’m finding it better to make that a 16 hour period, at least.

The world is not what we think it is!

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Do you have any experiences with fasting? Positive or negative? I’d love to hear about them.

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