I decided to test out the 24 hour fast in order to rediscover “hunger” again, real hunger, not just the want to eat.
We don’t live in an environment where it’s easy to get hungry anymore which often leads to overeating, we tend to confuse hunger with appetite or thirst. Partaking in a 24 hour fast should allow for the hunger signals to be felt again. However, I was curious to see what I had an appetite for once the 24hrs is up.
What is it?
Pretty simple really, 24 hours without food. There are many variations but this one involved consuming ONLY water over a 24 hour period, called a water fast.
Most water fasts last 24–72 hours. Reasons people try 24-72 hour fasts vary from weight loss to religion.
There are many health benefits associated with fasting, including a lower risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes
Along with these potential benefits however, there are risks associated with a water fast. It can lead to dizziness, headaches, low blood sugar, muscle aches, weakness, and fatigue so people should be very careful with the activities they do whilst on the fast, avoid anything that requires extreme concentration that could be dangerous (including driving and operating machinery). People with gout, diabetes, eating disorders, older adults, pregnant women, and children should all gain medical advice and not undertake the fast without medical supervision. This is not something that should be followed long term.
Prolonged fasting can lead to anaemia, a weakened immune system, liver and kidney problems, and irregular heartbeat (source: www.webmd.com/diet/features/diet-myth-truth-fasting-effective-weight-loss). Fasting can also result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as muscle loss.
How I did it
Coinciding with a rest day from my workout plan, I ate breakfast as usual and then had lunch after my workout at around 2pm, from then, I only consumed water until 3pm the following day (my rest day as I thought my energy and concentration levels would be reduced).
How I felt
Fine until late at night, then I started to feel properly hungry – a feeling that I rarely get lately, it wasn’t an issue though, not uncomfortable. I went to bed, had a lovely 8 hours sleep and awoke well-rested. I absolutely LOVE breakfast so that was always going to be a sticky point for me, however hungry or not I feel, I always look forward to breakfast, whether it be porridge, yoghurt, eggs, full English or an Asian rice dish – I enjoy it all! After I got past the craving for any breakfast food or coffee I was fine again, and happily carried on until the 3pm time I had assigned as eating time 🍖🍴
Probably not too much more than usual, but I do drink a lot of water, I would say probably about 3.5l over the 24 hours. A lot of the water we consume in a day comes from food so there is a risk of dehydration if you don’t drink enough water.
What did I eat to break the fast
It is advised that you break a fast such as this with simple foods that are less likely to irritate your stomach such as a smoothie or a small balanced meal. I decided to go for a small portion of spaghetti bolognese (because we had some in the freezer and we’re in lockdown and don’t have much in at the moment)
It’s a cheap one – free (depending on your water source!)
You can’t really get much simpler than not bothering to buy, prepare or cook food for the day.
I did not undertake this with the idea of losing weight, the weight lost during these fasts is likely to be water weight anyway and will be put back on as soon as eating becomes regular again. However, if you are following a calorie-controlled diet and do not overeat the rest of the week, the overall calorie intake for the week will be reduced if you complete a fast so weight loss is possible, however, shorter, more frequent intermittent fasting protocols such as the 5:2 (reduce calories on 2 days of the week) or 16/8 (having an 8hr eating window each day) may be more worthwhile.
I didn’t find this that difficult and I achieved my goal – I felt hungry and actually quite enjoyed the feeling, we’ll see how it goes but hopefully, I will start listening to the hunger cues more and only eat when I’m actually hungry and stop eating before I’m over-full.