I decided to add an extended fast to my “keto on the cheap” strategy, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way that things turned out. In fact, it was such an amazing experience that I thought it was worth sharing here on the blog.
On December 5, 2019, I started an extended fast after my evening meal. I had my last bite of food around 7:30pm. I had originally intended to break my fast on Sunday evening, but by the time I had been fasted for about 40 hours, I decided to keep going as long as I felt great.
In March of 2018, I completed an extended fast that lasted about 93 hours. Looking back at my notes, it seems that I lost 6.4lb during that fast, but over the course of the next week, I gained most of that weight back. And since I’ve slept a time or two since March of 2018, I had to look back at some blog posts to see how I felt during that fast. Silly me only documented the first two days of the fast, and I didn’t do any sort of after action review, so I wanted to do better this time.
This most recent extended fast was my fourth according to my notes. While I only fasted for 89.5 hours this time, it seems that I did a lot better this time around and there are some great lessons to learn from this experience.
Before I talk about the nitty-gritty of the fast, I’ll share some stats. My starting weight on the first full day of fasting was 240.6. My weight on the morning after I ended the fast was 236.2. My lowest weight during the fast happened on the last day of the fast. It was 236 on the nose.
Some people set up all sorts of rules and restrictions for fasting, but my goal was to fast with zero-calorie beverages, coffee, tea, and possibly broth along with copious amounts of salt and the occasional teaspoon of butter if I thought I needed it. I get that “they” say that broth breaks fasts and non-caloric sweeteners break fasts, but I didn’t really care. I wanted to fast in a way that was sustainable for me, and it turns out that what I did worked amazingly well.
I’ve been listening to the 2 Keto Dudes podcast from the beginning, and I happened across an episode with Megan Ramos where she talked about “switching it up”. That’s actually what inspired the idea of the fast and the strategy that I was going to use afterward. Words can’t express my gratitude to the dudes for affecting my life without even knowing me.
So let’s talk specifics. I knew that day one was going to be relatively easy. When you eat a ketogenic diet, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of intermittent fasting because your blood sugar and insulin are controlled. You’re just not hungry. I knew it’d probably be challenging on day two though, and in fact, it was. There were some times when I dealt with hunger, but it wasn’t that kind of hunger that I used to experience while sugar-fueled. It was, however, persistent several times that day, so I dealt with it by drinking some water with some salt. It’s amazing how much salt helps with hunger!
When I wasn’t hungry that second day, I felt pretty darned great. I didn’t have a fresh battery for my Keto Mojo meter, so I couldn’t get blood ketone numbers, but I was able to track my blood sugar. On Saturday, what I’m called day two, my blood sugars were running in the mid 70s and there were a couple times that I felt a little low, but I knew I was just waiting for the ketones to ramp up so I could get that amazing euphoria and energy that usually comes around day three. And guess what. That’s exactly what happened for me.
On day three, my blood sugars were sitting in the mid 60s and I felt amazing! I wish I could have tracked ketones because I’m betting they would have looked amazing too, but honestly, I didn’t need numbers to tell me how I was doing. I felt so good.
Day three also turned out to be the day that I had 24 ounces of broth over the course of several hours in the evening. I was craving salt something fierce, and hot, organic chicken broth seemed to be the perfect vehicle for that salt. I remember fixing my first cup of broth and stirring ¼ treaspoon of lite salt into my cup. I tasted it, and it didn’t taste salty to me. I added ¼ teaspoon of pink salt, and I tasted it again. I could taste the salt, but it still didn’t taste salty enough. I added another ¼ teaspoon of pink salt, and finally, that was enough. I was shocked that I’d put that much salt in eight ounces of broth and it tasted “just right”.
By Monday morning, I’d already fasted 12 hours longer than I had intended to fast. People were asking me when I was going to break my fast, and I just kept telling them, “When my body tells me I need to.” I know that seems like a strange answer, especially coming from a fat person who clearly had issues with food in her past, but that’s how I felt. It was relatively easy, and I was determined to listen to my body.
When my husband came home for lunch around 11:45, I was starting to feel hungry, but I dismissed it as my body’s way of telling me, “It’s lunch time, Sarah. You’re supposed to eat now.” By the time Fred went back to work though, my hunger was more gnawing, and after trying to let it pass for an hour, I decided to break my fast.
So how did I break my fast? Well, I’ve heard stories about folks who had some uncomfortable side effects from breaking a fast quickly with lots of food, so at 1:00pm, I had about two ounces of summer sausage and an ounce or so of cheese. Then I put my lunch into the air fryer (three chicken thighs), and I ate that at 1:45pm. I had no intestinal distress whatsoever, so my body must have liked the way I did things.
Here’s the best part of my whole fasting experience though. When I did the 93-hour fast last year, it took me a week to gain back most of the weight I’d lost. This time though, the highest weight I saw on the scale after breaking my fast was 236.4. And today, five days after breaking my fast, I’m sitting at 235.2. That means that not only have I kept the weight off that I lost during the fast, but I’ve lost another .8lb this week! I’m thrilled!
So what did I do differently this time? Well, I credit my success to that podcast I mentioned earlier where Megan Ramos encouraged people to switch things up. In the first 96 days of my journey, I had pretty much fallen into the same pattern of eating where my calories were restricted, my eating window was restricted, and I was trying to meet macro targets rather than eating intuitively. After listening to Megan, I decided that once I broke my fast, I was going to feast like I meant it, and the only macro I was going to worry about was carbohydrates. As a result, eating intuitively, my near-carnivore diet managed to bump up my metabolic rate so that eating MORE calories resulted in more weight loss. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I was so shocked!
So to summarize, here’s the most amazing part about my extended fast and the week following it. In the first 97 days of my journey, I lost 18.8lb. From day 97 to day 105, I lost another 5.4lb. That means that means that 22.3% of my weight loss happened in those 9 days. I’ve never had results like that other than those weeks when I’m first recommitting to keto where I’m dropping water weight. It just blew my mind!
So what’s next? Well, I’ve been dealing with a cold this past week. I had originally planned to do another fast for 24 or 36 hours to keep things mixed up, but since I’m recovering from this cold, I’m just going to listen to my body. I’d like to be able to fast through my husband’s surgery next week because that’ll just make logistics easier for me, but if I can’t do it, that’s OK. Feasting is working, so I’m not interested in messing that up right now.
Today is cycle day 24, so I expect to see some water weight gain soon. I’ll do a follow-up post in a week or two though to keep folks posted on how things are progressing. As I’ve said before, the thought of losing fat and getting healthier during the holiday season is pretty darned encouraging. It seems like a pretty great way to start 2020!
- My N=1 Fasting Experiment: Day 1 — my insights and commentary from last year’s March extended fast
- Switching It Up with Megan Ramos — the podcast episode that gave me some new food for thought
- The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung — my Amazon affiliate link for the book that taught me everything I ever wanted to know (and then some) about fasting