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[This post is a LONG one…  If you are not interested in diets or my specific notes on a diet / lifestyle / fasting, feel free to leave now and come back some other day.  You’ve been warned…  (LOL!)
This post is one of a series of posts about my current diet / lifestyle choice of performing 40 hour water fasts to try to lose fat and get healthier.  These posts are not intended as medical advice as I have next to no formal medical training.  The posts are based on my personal experiences / opinions and are purely anecdotal.  Please consult your personal doctor or other REAL health care professional before starting any diet or exercise regime.    —    KMAB]
This morning I completed my fourth 40 hour water fast.  I hope at some point I’ll start looking forward to them.  So far, they are more of just a grind (before I start).  Once I get going, they are not too bad.  The time does go by more quickly than you would think – and it “really” is just one day.  Then, you have “effectively” two days to eat.
General reaction…  I’m feeling fine.  Maybe a little healthier, even.  I’m not losing any significant amounts of weight (qualified statement), yet.  When I do veggie-juice fasting, I tend to lose a pound a day (sometimes two pounds).  This makes jumping on the scale every morning VERY psychologically encouraging / re-enforcing.  This method of fasting (40hr water fast) is not “intended” (by me) to lose weight as much as it is for losing fat.  The weight will come off as a by-product of fat reduction and is itself not the primary objective / goal.
The morning before my first 40 hours (Tuesday 19 April), I weighed in at 355lbs.  Today, I’ve had my second consecutive day at 350lbs.  This is 5lbs in roughly 11 days.  That is actually excessive!  The short term goal is .5 to 1lb per week.  This rate is meant to ensure I don’t over stimulate my metabolic response to a lack of calories.  For anyone who doesn’t know:  a prolonged shortage of daily caloric intake stimulates a “starvation reaction” in your body which results in a lowered metabolic rate (BMR).  This lowered BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) means you will burn fewer calories to maintain / retain as much energy (fat stores) as possible.  Your body doesn’t know you’re fasting.  It thinks you’re starving and therefore it starts “shutting down” / reducing cellular activities to extend the calories (fat) it knows it has.
More specifically (as I understand it…):
Triglycerides (in your bloodstream) provide energy for warmth, but they also provide energy for all of the other functions of the cell.  We all have cells, called “fat cells” (brown and white) whose job it is to extract “extra” triglycerides and cholesterol from the blood and convert them into “true” fat for longer term energy use when called on / needed.  First we burn the energy in the cell.  Then we burn the energy in the bloodstream.  Then we burn the energy in the fat cells.  The body – as an organism and as individual cells – is continuously monitoring how much energy is available and sending out messages (via chemicals / hormones – mainly insulin from our pancreas) about the needs for energy.  There is a spectrum of reaction.  It is not a true “light-switch” – on or off.
Fasting:  I start each fast period at 5pm…  (Info about hours in the fasting process is from various fasting websites.  All times should be taken as “about / around”, and not as absolutes.  No one’s body reactions function as on-off switches set to fixed timers.)
12 hours.  Food consumed has been burned. …  (to me 5am)
14 hours.  Body has converted to using stored fat as energy. …  (to me 7am)
16 hours.  Body starts to ramp up the fat burning.  …  (to me 9am)
18 hours.  Human Growth Hormone starts to skyrocket.  …  (to me 11am)
24 hours.  Autophagy begins.  …  (to me 5pm)
36 hours.  Autophagy 300% increase.   …  (to me 5am)
48 hours.  Autophagy increases 30% more.   …  (to me, 40 hours ends at 9am)
72 hours.  Autophagy maxes out.   …  (I don’t go here / this long.)
During autophagy, the cells remove unwanted molecules and dysfunctional parts.  Sometimes, autophagy destroys some of these molecules and parts.  Other times, the cell recycles these parts into new components.  The term “autophagy” derives from the Ancient Greek for “self-eating.”
Depending on the individual’s metabolism, significant autophagy may take two to four days of fasting in our bodies.  Autophagy is believed to begin when glucose and insulin levels drop considerably.  Animal studies have shown evidence of autophagy after 24 hours of fasting, which starts peaking at around 48 hours of fasting.  (These last three sentences are “evolving” science.  I have not found a definition of “significant autophagy”.  As near as I can tell, we don’t know the trigger levels or the peak point(s).  I think there is likely to be a spectrum for both.)
A key sign of autophagy is reduced appetite.  It’s likely due to changed levels of hormones like glucagon and insulin.  Specifically, levels of glucagon tend to increase during autophagy.  Glucagon helps manage your blood sugar levels and has been shown to suppress appetite.
Cells use autophagy to get rid of damaged proteins and organelles.  Autophagy “may” counteract “some of” the negative effects of ageing on the body.  Despite advertising claims, I don’t believe this (anti-ageing claim) is settled science.
While it may be difficult to properly measure autophagy, here are some signs of autophagy:  Low blood glucose – When your blood sugar drops, your body raises cortisol, growth hormones, and ketones.  This can enable the beginning of autophagy.  Elevated ketones – as your blood sugar lowers, your ketones elevate.  You can buy strips over the counter (OTC) for home use in measuring ketones in urine.  You can also get OTC blood meters.  I do not currently use either method for testing and am not planning to.  I do get blood workups prior to my doctor appointments at least twice a year.
Because you are fasting and you need a source of energy, your body will use stored fat.  Ketones are chemicals made in your liver.  They are known as “endogenous” ketones because they’re produced by your body.  Your liver turns fat into ketones, then sends the ketones into your bloodstream.  Your muscles and other tissues can use the ketones (energy molecules) for fuel similarly to glucose / sugar.
You produce ketones when you don’t have enough of the hormone insulin in your body to turn sugar (or “glucose”) into energy.  An insulin response (increase) occurs whenever we eat.  The level of response varies, but seems to relate to the amount of sugar molecules in the food.  Insulin regulates the use / burning of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose / sugar molecules from the blood into liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells.
All of this is kind of a circular explanation and very much a lay-person’s explanation for how (I understand) our bodies work.
Basically, AFTER 72 hours, your body has reached the maximum RATE of self-healing / anti-ageing.  Depending on the amount of fat you have in your body, you will continue to burn FAT (and other tissue) until your body chemistry says “I think we’re starving!”  At that point, your metabolic rate will start to fall as the body first tries to reduce energy consumption.  If that fails (you don’t resume eating), the body will begin to digest muscles and organs for their energy and proteins to protect the most critical body functions (mainly the heart and kidneys).  At this point, fasting for fat / weight loss is self-defeating, because you are losing proportionately more non-fat cells than fat cells.
Because I cut off my water fasts at 40 hours, I “only” have a maximum of 4 hours at the 300% increase rate in each cycle.  It remains to be seen how long it will take my body to adapt a long term response to this fasting regimen.  According to the fasting proselytizers, I (we) can continue the cycle indefinitely until I (we) reach a desired weight / fat level and then I / you simply play with the number of hours between cycles to establish a personal maintenance level.  I guess I’ll find out…
In the meantime, my plan is to continue my current alternating cycles for another 10 days to see how much weight I lose.  If it continues at this rate (5lbs lost over 10 days), I will extend the number of hours between fast cycles by 24 hours to slow down the loss (goal is .5lb to 1lbs per week).  Remember, the “goal” is fat reduction, NOT weight loss, while maintaining my metabolic rate (BMR).  This will (hopefully) maximize fat loss, weight loss and health all at the same time…
Two final points:  1)  Bile is stored in the gall bladder.  I had my gall bladder removed 10 years ago.  The body uses bile to emulsify (mix) fat in with water (blood) for transport around the body.  The gall bladder does not make bile.  Bile is made in the liver (like ketones).  Bile is made continuously and excess is stored in the gall bladder for quick release when we ingest fatty foods.  Bile use (gall bladder) and production (liver) is increased when we eat fatty foods, but it is a delayed response.  I have not been able to determine how this (use or production) effects fasting per se.  I do know if I “binge” on something fatty on breaking fast, I will have indigestion and get the trots – at least that’s what these first four cycles have shown.  Your response to renewed eating may vary.  And…
2)  I have seen numerous videos about “one-meal-a-day” and “alternate-day” fasting, which state most people cannot eat sufficient calories on an eat-day to make up for the calories not eaten on a fast day.  This is NOT true for me.  For whatever reason, I seem to be more than capable of making up for calories missed over a single day of fasting.  I spent almost two years trying OMAD, intermittent timed fasting and alternate day fasting.  All three seem to work (for me) for maintenance (slowed regaining) periods, but none of them worked for extended weight loss.  In other words:  they would help me maintain a plateau, but they didn’t help me continue to lose weight.  I should restate:  my goals for those diets / fasts / lifestyles were weight reduction, not fat loss;  and, both the intermittent timed fasts and the alternate day fasts were severe calorie restriction diets (days) – typically between 500 – 700 calories, NOT water fasts (days) – 0 – or near 0 calories.  I NEVER got to the 18hr (let alone the 24hr) mark without eating something.
Why do either of these points matter?  1)  because I am trying to reduce body fat, so it seems reasonable (to me) to assume fat transport is a factor.  And, 2)  because while 0 and near 0 days sounds more extreme than restriction, at least they offer an explanation for why you need to do it.  It appears physiological time (time between meals) is at least as important as calories.  This is an interesting wrinkle for me.
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On This Day In:
2021 Our Identity Crisis Continues
There’s No Hiding Place
2020 In Need Of Concerted Action
2019 Anything / Everything
2018 Touching A Nerve
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
I Have Realities In My Past
2017 Did I See You In Chapter 13?
2016 As I Recall
2015 Less And More Irritation
2014 That Marvelous Feeling
2013 Exceptional
2012 A Wild And Crazy Believer
2011 A Lack Of Scarcity
The Joy Of Prevention

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The end of day fifteen and the morning of day sixteen…  Live by the scale, die by the scale.
Morning weight:  355lbs.  (on Day 16)
I am up / down “3/18”.  As in, 3lbs up from yesterday and 18lbs down from my fasting start weight:  373lbs (the morning of Day 1).
As bad as it may be (for a dieter) to hit a plateau, it’s psychologically MUCH worse when you have a day to day gain.  One pound?  Okay.  Three pounds?  WTF?  (Pardon my language / expressions.)  Three pounds is either a healthy meal or it’s almost a half-gallon of water (or similar density fluid).  Since I didn’t eat and I don’t feel bloated (water retention), the most reasonable two explanations are:  1)  I’ve accidentally moved the scale, so it’s giving different readings;  or, 2)  the universe is unkind and / or unjust.  (I prefer to think it’s the second option.)  To make it even more painful, the scale wasn’t “bouncy”.  The needle was stable.
Now, please recall I take my weight two ways each morning:  forwards and back.  This means I stand in almost the exact same spot each morning, but on “forward”, I bend my knees slightly and lean as far to the front as I can while maintaining full foot contact, but with my weight shifted fully onto my toes.  For the “back” weigh-in, I straighten my legs and tilt as far back on my heels as I can without falling off of the scale.  Again, I still keep my feet in full contact with the scale.  This gives me (respectively) my high and my low weight for the day.  The two weights tend to vary about 5 to 7 pounds (as much as 10, but so far never less than 5), and they also tend to vary between themselves.  By this I mean, they don’t usually both go up or down the same number on any given day.  It’s usually 1 and 2 or 2 and 1.  I’m not saying they don’t.  I’m saying it’s far less common for them to correspond.  Today they both increased by 3lbs from yesterday’s weigh-in.
Of course, I have to consider what I may have done different yesterday from any other day.  Off the top of my head, I can only think of two things:  1)  I had a mug of black coffee in the morning;  and,  2)  I had more fruit juice in my blend than normal.  The day before I was a bit fed up with the taste of the blend and I felt a bit down on my energy level.  I countered that yesterday by adding more juice and less ice to the blend mix.  This was probably somewhere between 8 to 12 ounces of juice.  It is certainly possible the extra fructose contributed to the weight gain.  It’s hard to imagine it to have been the black coffee.
About sugar (well, about fructose) –  my understanding is sugar doesn’t (by itself) cause water (fluid) retention.  What sugar does is promote an increase in insulin (there’s that hormone again) which causes the body to retain sodium (salt), which in turn causes you to retain water.  The body has a very narrow band of tolerance for sugar (glucose in the bloodstream) which is maintained by increasing or decreasing the amount of insulin in the body.
About the coffee – I tried adding the coffee because the intermittent fasting book I just read said it was okay to drink black coffee or unflavored (black or green) tea – or plain water, and it wasn’t considered “breaking” your daily fast period.  I have never had coffee or black tea while on a fast before (in over 35 years) as removal of caffeine (like sugar) is usually one of the targets of a “cleansing” fast.  I have had herbal teas before while veggie broth fasting (over 30 years ago), but never while on a veggie-juice or veggie-blend fast.  My expectation was that it would make the hairs on my forearms stand up.  Surprisingly, it did not.  I also don’t feel like I got my usual coffee “buzz” –  that “ahh” sensation.  We drink Folger’s ground coffee at our house.  It struck me as fairly bitter.  Not as bad as back in my (ancient) memory of my Army days, but nowhere near as enjoyable as my sugar / half-and-half / Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Most of the year, I only drink coffee on the weekends.  This last year, with joining Costco and paying only 2/3rds the price for Bailey’s, I’ve been going through a pot-load of coffee on any given day.  (A pot-load is between 10 and 12 cups of brewed coffee.  The Bailey’s and half-and-half are on top of that.)
Ultimately, there is little to no chance to guess or deduce what may have caused the “bump”.  All I can do is continue down the path for a day or two and see if it really is an aberration or if something has fundamentally changed.  I just finished my morning (10:30am) mug of black coffee.  I guess we’ll see what we see tomorrow…  The next step will be to eliminate the coffee and see what that does.  Time will tell (or not).
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On This Day In:
2021 Said The Anti-Vaxxer
Ceiling Mash
2020 Is #45 In Good Spirits?
Alone With My Tears
2019 Learning To…
Day 15: Die By The Scale
2018 Just Wondering
2017 Until I Think Of Something Better
2016 Who Are You?
2015 Renaissance Reptiles
2014 Book Return
2013 Keep Writing Your Truths
Perilous Times For The U.S. Military
2012 The Victor
2011 Forging Away At My Deadlines
2010 Try This With Your Shoes…

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The end of day nine and (now) most of the way through day ten…
Morning weight: 358lbs.  (on Day 10)
I am down / down “1/15”.  As in, 1lb down from yesterday and 15lbs down from my fasting start weight: 373lbs (the morning of Day 1).  Compared to today (Day 10), yesterday (Day 9) was easy.  Maybe it’s a hangover from yesterday’s flu shot at the doctor’s office, or not, I don’t know.  I woke up feeling “fuzzy”.  I walked the dog (like every morning), but I kind of “woke up” every now and then realizing I was walking along just staring at the sidewalk.  The day was grey and overcast, so I wasn’t missing anything brilliant, but I really have little to no recollection of most of the walk.  I’m tempted to blame it on low blood-sugar level, but that normally feels weakening, not fuzzy around the edges.  Anyway, I got home and drank some “swamp-juice” and started feeling better.
Most of yesterday was just “chillin’.  I remain “mildly” surprised at how much extra time blogging takes up during these fasts.  It’s my own fault for trying to keep a running daily tab, but this “journaling” is the closest I come to actually writing.  Yes, I also do book and movie reviews on this blog, but I’m really slacking off on the book reading and I’ve got a running list of just over a hundred movies I’ve not reviewed in the last eighteen months.  Heck, I’ve got over five movies to review from this week alone!  Alas, if only there were more hours in a day and / or I were less of a procrastinator.
Before reading any further, remember I am NOT a doctor or a nutritionist.  I am only relating what I have viewed on YouTube and read over the course of my lifetime in books and magazines.  Take everything I opine on with a healthy bit of skepticism and conduct your own research.  To quote the famous Vulcan expression:  “Never trust anyone over 50!”  Me in particular…
Eat Less
I mentioned a few days ago that I believe losing weight comes down to three things.  ONE of them was to eat less.  I also mentioned I didn’t particularly believe this meant eating less calories.  Huh?  It turns out for many years we’ve been fed (pardon the pun) a line as to both calories and various food types.  It turns out that you really AREN’T what you eat.  When we eat fat, we don’t get fat and when we eat food high in cholesterol we don’t “get” high cholesterol.  It seems the body has an organ (the liver) which can make enough for you to live without eating foods with high cholesterol content.  BUT, that’s not the same thing as saying eating foods with high cholesterol will make your cholesterol rise.  From my limited reading (remember, I am NOT a doctor or a nutritionist), we don’t know if it does or not for “most” people.  We also don’t know if the bump / effect is permanent or short term and we don’t know if it (high cholesterol) causes any problems in the body.  We have evidence that folks who die from heart disease also frequently have high cholesterol, but correlation is not causation.  For all we know, the heart disease may be causing the high cholesterol, rather than the other way around.
According to one of the (many) online calculators, at 5′ 10″ and 358 pounds, my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is:  2750 and my Daily Calorie Needs (DCN) is:  3850 calories.  The BMR is how many calories you need if you are in a coma or sleeping all day.  The DCN is how much I need for a sitting job and light physical activity (aka: a normal life).  What this says is that (on average) I will burn 110 calories per hour if I do nothing but breathe, and I need to take in 150 calories per hour if I live my “normal” life.  This will leave me at a complete wash.  I won’t gain weight.  I won’t lose weight.  As most folks normally eat during a 16 hour period (8hrs per day of sleep), that “really” breaks down to about 240 calories per hour or three meals in that time span of 1,300 calories each.  (Yes, I am rounding my numbers.)
When considering these numbers, please recall both BMR and DCN are related to height and weight.  Since my height is not going to decrease by dieting, we really only need to think about weight.  As my weight decreases, my BMR and my DCN will both also decrease.  So, as I get lighter, I will need to progressively eat less.  Surprising, the difference is not linear for either.  If I were my “ideal maximum” weight for my height (181 pounds), my BMR should be:  1678 and DCN should be:  2349 calories.  Since my ideal weight is almost exactly half my current, I would expect my BMR and DCN at my ideal weight to also be one half (i.e. BMR:  2750 / 2 = 1375 and DCN:  3850 / 2 = 1925).  The two ratios are linear (corresponding) with each other, but they are not linear with weight loss.  So, something seems out of whack for calories…
It is generally accepted you need to burn 3,500 calories to burn off one pound of body weight (per week), or 500 calories per day.  That’s not eating slightly more than two candy bars or not drinking three eight ounce glasses of average juice per day.  That should be “doable” for most people.  Instead of four bars a day, I’ll cut back to one or two and voilà, in two years (-ish) I’m skinny.
The problem seems to be that calories don’t count as much as sweetness counts.  Fat / obesity “seems” to be more related to insulin than it is to calories.  And the primary purpose of insulin is to maintain blood-sugar level within a pretty narrow band:  too low, you pass out;  too high, you get sick (think:  diabetic coma).  So, the questions are:  “What do we know about insulin?  And, how can we control it?”
And…  more to come…
Oh, yeah.  The average Vulcan lifespan (in StarTrek:TOS) is 180 to 200 years.  The actual Vulcan expression is:  “Never take the advice of anyone under 50.”  Presumably, because they haven’t lived long enough to know much.
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On This Day In:
2021 Practically Worthless In Every Way
It Never Was
Frustrating Incentive
2020 You Too?
Six Degrees
2019 A Branching Stream
Day 9: One Day At A Time
2018 Pity The Nation (Part 2)
Day 1: Redux
2017 Good Blogs, Too
2016 My Prediction For #AmnestyDon
2015 Worth A Try
2014 I’m Feeling It
2013 May I Have A Little More, Please?
2012 Increasing Doubt
2011 You Can’t Touch This

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