About a month after my two-day, I decided to embark on a five-day fast. I was feeling decently, and my blood work appeared to be pretty stable over time, so I thought it was a good time to go for it. I had also noticed that my mindless eating was increasing and I knew there were a lot of social events during the five days that I chose. I knew that would be bad for me nutritionally, as social situations often encourage me to eat or drink things I don’t even want, just to feel like I am “doing” something and not having to interact as much. I’m definitely an introvert, even though most people don’t believe me.
Before starting the fast, I had a healthy salad, and then came home and shared a beer with my husband. I weighed myself, just to see where I was starting at. At this point, I had not talked to my doctor, so I didn’t mention that I was intending to do this fast. The next day, I was at my doctor’s office and we talked about the fast and I asked him to order some initial labs because I wanted to see if there was a change. I requested a CBC, CMP, lipid panel, and insulin (since it’s not in the CMP). I also added a GGT measurement as I never had a follow up one once my liver was back in good working order.
Once I knew my doctor was okay with my plans, I then told my friends and my husband that I had started a 5-day fast. I explained that I wanted to try and reboot my immune system after having just been sick and not liking that I still struggle with certain issues. The timing was suspect due to the large number of social interactions over my chosen time period, but I knew not grazing mindlessly was a definite benefit.
Day 1 went well, including the social obligation. Not eating nonstop encouraged me to talk more than I ordinarily would, so that’s a win! There was a delicious-looking plate of cookies that I would have enjoyed, but otherwise, I was okay going with food and wine. I had ordered a Keto-Mojo meter before starting the fast and it arrived in time for me to do an evening measurement. My glucose and ketones were perfect, so life was good!
On Day Two, I received my initial blood work results. It was crazy out of whack. It was just normal blood work, as it had only been 11 hours since I last ate! A month earlier, I had my well-woman exam and blood work, so I didn’t understand what had happened. I started a supplement (under my doctor’s care) right after that blood work, so I thought it may be the culprit, but mostly I was in shock at how much my blood work changed after being pretty consistent for six months straight. My glucose was high, as was my cholesterol, platelets, and all three liver enzymes, plus my triglycerides doubled from my previous measurement. My doctor said we would wait and see what the “after” blood work showed, but the weird blood work further confirmed my need to reboot my system.
Day Two was a lot harder than Day One. I woke up with a headache and it plagued me most of the morning/early afternoon. I also had higher than expected blood sugar in the morning and it lasted until around noon. I learned that elevated blood sugar in the morning can be normal as your liver releases stored glucose to help you wake up in the morning. By mid-day, everything was looking as expected. We had plans to attend a play on the night of Day 2 and I was definitely hungry, which showed by how much water I drank! I think my senses were heightened too, as during intermission, my husband got a package of peanut M&Ms and I could smell them strongly as he ate them. I don’t even like peanut M&Ms, but my body was definitely in tune to them!
Day Three progressed as expected, with the knowledge that my blood sugar would increase some in the morning, and my overall glucose levels were lower and started to stabilize, and my ketones were a little higher, but also fairly stable. I felt pretty good and as long as I was busy, I didn’t get hungry. But, once I started thinking about food, I just wanted to eat, even though I didn’t have cravings for anything in particular. I had an herbal tea for lunch (just tea and water, no additives) and I definitely found my senses in tune with the flavors in the tea. It was really quite nice, and did not have an effect on my blood sugar or ketones.
Day Four was interesting. When I woke up, my blood sugar was lower than I thought it should be – 59mg/dL. I took a hot bath and then felt hot and shaky. I decided to cool off and I felt better, but I was still more shaky than I was comfortable with. I started considering what I would do if my blood sugar continued to fall and I kept my meter with me, just in case I started feeling worse. When I next tested my blood sugar, it was up to 66mg/dL and then 71mg/dL. I was impressed; my body compensated for my low blood sugar and restored it to healthy values! By the end of Day Four, I felt fantastic. It was like once that switch happened, I was a different person, energetic, feeling great, and unstoppable.
Day Five was just as good as the majority of Day Four, if not better! My blood sugar stayed in the 70s (well, except for two measurements after I technically broke the fast by taking communion at church, not remembering that it’s food and contains carbs, duh). But that only took me to 89mg/dL. It came back down the next morning before my fast was over.
On Day 6, I got my blood work done at 8am and ate breakfast at 8:30. My weight went down by 10.8 pounds, but I wasn’t intending to keep it off at this point. This was only an experiment to see how fasting worked and if it was something I could use to help my stimulate a new eating pattern.
At the bottom of this post are a couple of graphs from my fast. You can see my weight reduction, my glucose, ketones, and GKI (glucose ketone index), which is a ratio of blood glucose to blood ketones (after unit conversion puts them in the same units). Dr. Thomas Seyfried published this value for his work on fasting and ketogenic diets. The lower this ratio, the better.
My CBC and CMP data was all very good. I did not see any signs of dehydration, liver, or kidney problems from my 5-day fast. My blood count, ions, liver enzymes, and kidney function all behaved quite nicely during the fast. In fact, my ALT and GGT, which were higher than expected prior to the fast, improved to normal values during the fast.
My fasting glucose went from a never seen before 101mg/dL to a respectable 74mg/dL. My fasting insulin level dropped from 7.6uIU/mL to 4.4uIU/mL. I was very happy with the reduction , as 7.6uIU/mL, while “normal”, is not where I wanted my insulin to be. When no food is coming in, there should be little need for insulin to be high. There just has to be enough insulin to open the cells allowing for the gluconeogenesis-formed glucose (since there’s no dietary source) to enter.
My blood lipids, while starting off insanely high, behaved somewhat as expected, just larger magnitude changes than I imagined: my total cholesterol went up 57mg/dL, my LDL increased 87mg/dL, and my triglycerides came down 72mg/dL. I think fasting just encourages mobilization of lipids and that’s why the LDL and total cholesterol increased. Surprisingly, my previously normal HDL decreased 16mg/dL. Everything I read said there shouldn’t be an effect on the HDL, but mine went down. Oh well, it’s just temporary. I was amazed to much my lipid values could swing in a period of five days!!
I did consider a possibility that my initial data blood test was skewed. I remembered that I could have possibly taken my supplements before my first blood work. I don’t think I did, but that could explain some of the results. Also, I did have ~8-10 ounces of beer the night before my initial blood work and maybe that had an impact? I feel like these lipid results could have been affected by supplementing DHEA over the past couple of months.
Introducing food back after this fast was quite fascinating. I noticed that my senses were very heightened. Things that should have been spicy had a kick, which is unusual for my desensitized taste buds. I also found food that was greasy (like hash browns and fries, I tried one of each) tasted like eating pure grease. When I tried a second bite in ketchup, the sweetness completely negated the oil taste and it was surprisingly tasty. That was really concerning for me! No wonder sugar us used to make foods more appealing!! I also noticed that I felt full more quickly, although that was short-lived because I didn’t really have a reintroduction scheme or plans to maintain my weight loss. This was just a proof of concept to see how it worked. The results were truly fascinating and definitely gave me information for my “real” attempt at fasting!