As a christian, fasting is a very important part of my faith. I began practicing fasting while in college as a way to follow Jesus’ example of self-denial, devotion to prayer and focus on God and scriptures. No one ever taught me how to fast or how not to fast. I simply relied on what I found in the Bible and went from there. My first experience of fasting was a seven day fast. It was truly amazing and certainly a pinpoint catalyst of growth in my faith. Since then, fasting has been adopted in my life as an important part of my prayer life and faith journey.
As I began to fast, a started to pick up on physical nuances. I didn’t understand them, but I noted them and used them to teach other fasting newbies what to expect. Now, as I said, I’ve been practicing fasting for years, and have gone as long as 21 days on a fast. But, it wasn’t until recently that I began to know why I knew what I knew. I was discovering ketosis and didn’t know it!
1. I’d found that as I began to fast that I would develop brain fog, lethargy, and exhaustion around day 2 or 3. This happens when carbs are restricted and your fuel is used up. Those of us in ketosis know the dreaded keto flu. Well so do those of us who fast! No fuel! But there’s more. With the restriction of carbs, your body begins to dump levels of sodium. These dumps leave you, quite literally, feeling like you’re in the dumps! This is keto flu.
2. My breath and urine began to smell abnormally bad. I always warn those who start fasting of this. I always just assumed it was part of the detoxing. Actually, as your body searches for fuel from another fuel source, it begins to create its own, using fat stores to make fatty acids, the reslting product called ketones. These ketones show up in urine (called acetoacitate) and in your breath (called acetone). This is a good thing!
3. By day 4 there’s a drastic change. I go from feeling sick and tired and hungry to becoming superhuman. My energy sky rockets, my appetite supresses, and my brain fog clears. I feel on top of the world…and it doesn’t go away! Why? Because my body has made the switch from carbs to ketones, which are now running through by blood as betahydroxybuterate. I’m now in full blown ketosis.
Wait go back. Energy sky rockets? Yes. Ketones are like racing fuel compared to old unleaded carbohydrates.
Hunger goes away? Impossible you’re fasting. – We’ll actually, the ketones regulate your hormones to keep you alive. They will increase grelin which shuts off your hunger signals and decrease leptin from sending hunger signals.
Brain fog clears? Your brain is mostly fatty tissue. It thrives on fat. The ketones literally fire up your neuro receptors and transmittors like fireworks in the night sky. You think clearly and focus accutely.
Do you see now why God designed fasting as a spiritual protocol for us? He built our bodies to optimize during times of fasting to better enhance our prayers, worship, meditation, and spiritual cognition. Who knew?
For years I went knowing the effects of ketosis, knowing the brilliance and advantages but had no idea it was ketosis. Now for the really really good news. If you are one who practices fasting, and you’re ketogenic…well you’re almost cheating lol. You see, for us, our bodies almost stay in a fasted state, or at least it thinks so. Being in ketosis keeps our blood glucose so low that we are essentially always in fat burning mode. What this means is, when we begin our fast, we’re already adapted. We get to bypass all the negative markers and characteristics that one would go through having started a fast as a carb burner. In other words, fasting is now easy.
Even if you are not a Christian or interested in fasting for spiritual reasons, I encourage you to fast anyway. There are still an enormous amount of physical benefits to be found by regularly fasting. And if for no other reason, give your poor pancreas a break!