A TV story I saw peripherally described the latest trend in Silicon Valley as a “fasting biohack,” so I did a Google search. The first hit I got wasfrom an old Time magazine story about longevity; however, it was the lasttrend in that article. I found the story I was looking for in this piece from the September 2017 Guardian.
The fasting that the Guardian wrote about has been variously calledExtended Fasting, Intermittent Fasting, or consecutive full-day, water fasting. It is not my namby-pamby, modified 300kcal/day regimen. And it is not One-Meal-a-Day (OMAD) fasting, as I did unsuccessfully for a year. In fact, I now use OMAD for MAINTENANCE ON NON-FASTINGdays, and my 2 or 3-consecutive day 300kcal fasts to drop a few pounds when I gain a few.
The Guardian piece is well written and worth reading. It starts off telling about a Silicon Valley CEO who has just eaten a small dinner and will next eat four days later at a fancy sushi restaurant. “In the intervening days it’s just water, coffee and black tea,” they relate. Over the last eight months this CEO has shunned food for periods of from two to eight days and lost almost 90lbs. He describes “getting into fasting as transformative.”
How is it “transformative”? The Guardian story quotes the CEO as saying,“There’s a mild euphoria. I’m in a much better mood, my focus is better, and there’s a constant supply of energy. I just feel a lot better.” “Getting into fasting is definitely one of the top two or three most important things I’ve done in my life.” WOW!!!
The Guardian relates that “Intermittent Fasting first gained popularity in recent times with the 5:2 diet, where people eat normally for five days a week and then eat a dramatically reduced number of calories (around 500) on the remaining two days.” However, they say, this CEO and others like him “are pushing that idea further and with a focus on performance over weight loss.” It’s very significant that the Guardian picked up on that.
I can also relate to another comment: “Proponents combine fasting with obsessive tracking of vitals including body composition, blood glucose and ketones – compounds produced when the body raids its own fat stores, rather than relying on ingested carbohydrates for energy. This, they insist, is not dieting. It’s biohacking.”
“Ketones are a super-fuel for the brain,” says another, “so a lot of the subjective benefits to fasting, including mental clarity, are from…the ketones in the system. I’m focused on longevity and cognitive performance,” he says. This CEO doesn’t need to lose weight, so he does a weekly 36-hour fast and a quarterly three-day fast.
Another exec says, “The first day I felt so hungry I was going to die. The second day I was starving. But I woke up on the third day feeling better than I had in 20 years.” In my case, I have no hunger while transitioning from “fed” to “fasting” because I have been Very Low Carb for years, and thus I transition easily from fed to fasting.
The Guardian says, “There is a mounting body of scientific research exploring the effects of fasting. Each year dozens of papers are published showing how fasting can help boost the immune system, fight pre-diabetes, and even, at least in mice, slow aging.” Dominic D'Agostino describes other benefits of fasting here (#421).
The Guardian, though, ends on a cynical note. One of the Silicon Valley execs says, “He doesn’t think it will ever be mainstream.” “It seems too extreme. Everyone grew up hearing fasting was dangerous and super-difficult.” “Furthermore, no one makes money when people don’t eat. In this society, usually things that work against every entrenched economic interest are hard to take off,” he said. Alas, how true! And how sad, really.
This CEO concluded, “It sound(s) crazy.” “You need to be a weirdo like me to get into this.” I know what he means. My readership has fallen off since I took up Ketogenic 2 and 3-day Fasting. I guess I’ll just have to be content with the 75 pounds I lost with my 300kcal/day fasts and mytransformative state of mild euphoria.