How Intermittent Fasting Affects Your Body and Brain
- The more research I do on fasting, even for relatively short periods of time such as 16 hours, the more I become convinced that it is one of the best things you can do for your health.
- Fasting triggers the release of a compound called BDNF, which stands for brain derived neurotropic factor. The release of this compound is associated with improvements in learning and memory.
- If you’d like to read about some of the other benefits of fasting, click here.
- “Ketogenic diets can increase ketones four fold, whereas fasting has been shown to increase ketones by up to 20 fold.” (Ketones have many beneficial effects once released into the human body)
My recent experience with a 36 hour fast
For most of my life, I had to eat a tremendous amount of food to maintain my weight. My body just seemed to want to be skinny. At long last however, my metabolism seems to have slowed down a bit. After realizing this, I decided to try a 36 hour fast to see what would happen. Here’s a brief description of the experience.
- Ate dinner around 8pm, then began the fast.
- Felt fairly hungry throughout the day, which was a bit unpleasant. On the plus side, I enjoyed several benefits (this is a subjective report, so take it with a grain).
- Improved endurance during my usual 2.5 mile run.
- Improved mental clarity and focus. (I found it very easy to concentrate on my work, and was less distractible)
- Didn’t have to spend any time cooking, eating, or doing dishes. I’d estimate that I spend around 3.5 hours on these activities during a normal day.
- Woke up feeling a little weak / non energized.
- Broke my fast around 8am with an orange, some almonds, and a scoop of coconut oil.
- I’m writing this at 2pm on the same day. I’m now feeling normal.
- I posted this one several months ago but wanted to put it up again for newer readers. It describes what I feel to be the most astounding athletic achievement of all time: Finishing a solo journey across Antarctica with a 32 hour, near continuous final push.
- “In what could go down as one of the great feats in polar history, the American Colin O’Brady, 33, covered the final 77.54 miles of the 921-mile journey across Antarctica in one final sleepless, 32-hour burst, becoming the first person ever to traverse Antarctica from coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided by wind.”
My favorite song in this compilation starts at 5:43.
Molly Tuttle – Rhythm and Lead Switching
Imagining vs fantasizing. When you imagine, you think about how things could be. When you fantasize, you think about how your experience of things could be. I’m of the opinion that imagining is a great way to spend your time, and that fantasizing is not.
You might not get the answer to your question immediately, or even for a month, or year. But in the intervening time, you can get great answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.
One of my newest passions is archery. It can be frustrating when I’m not performing the way I’d like to, but I’ve developed a mantra that helps tremendously. Regardless of where my arrow lands, I try to tell myself this: Every shot teaches you something.
In which aspects of your life are you not practicing what you preach?
What scares you more: The possibility of your work might be panned when you show it to other people, or the possibility that you might get to the end of your life and wonder whether other people might have appreciated your work if you had showed it to them?
Can you show up and create, even when you’d prefer to consume?
How will this stack up over time? If I spend ten minutes doing something every day for a year, how many hours will I have spent doing it once the year has elapsed? (10 minutes x 365 days / 60 = 60.8 hours)
What could you benefit from doing more of? What could you benefit from doing less of? If you want to get rid of a habit, replace it with different, more uplifting one. If you want to engrain a habit, make it easy enough that doing it several times per week feels like nothing. If you want to start going to the gym, begin by going fifteen minutes every other day; and only lift weights that are five times lighter than those you’d be capable of lifting.
As our tools become more powerful, there is usually some sort of tradeoff. Once chainsaws started replacing axes, it became far easier to cut down a tree. And far easier to injure yourself while attempting to do so. Once the internet started replacing libraries as the place to go to find information, it became far easier to find what you are looking for. And far easier to become so distracted that you never find what you are looking for.
I’ve spoken with many people who have worked with the Amazonian hallucinogen ayahuasca. One man’s anecdote about his experience really stuck with me. It was quite simple. Shortly after drinking the ayahuasca, a voice in his mind kept repeating the same sentence, over and over: Focus on what’s happening in front of you.
Photo of the Week by @chaseschoberphotography
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